Teaching in Spain vs. Thailand

Authored By:

Lauren S.

Pit Stop Before Thailand



my new happy place

♬ After Last Night (Sped Up Version) - sped up nightcore

When researching CIEE's many programs, I struggled to decide between Spain and Thailand. They both sounded like beautiful countries to live in and each offered their own benefits. Though I chose Thailand, a couple of my friends went to Spain, and their program started before mine. So, why not go and visit them on my way to Thailand?


Four young women smiling in Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain
Cheesing in front of Plaza Mayor

I packed up my things and caught a flight from the US to Madrid. My friends picked me up from the airport and showed me around their new city. We visited Plaza Mayor (pictured above), Puerta del Sol, the Prado Museum, and much more. As excited as I was to explore Spain, I was most looking forward to catching up with my friends and hearing about their experience thus far as English teachers. 

A young woman wearing two pairs of glasses smiling in front of Salvador Dali's painting titled "Sterile Efforts"
Selfie in front of Salvador Dalĺ's Sterile Efforts at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

Teaching in Spain

One of the biggest differences between CIEE's Spain and Thailand programs is that in Thailand, your housing is provided while in Spain, you have to find housing yourself. My friends had recently moved into their apartment on the outskirts of town, three of them sharing a living room, bathroom, and kitchen with their own bedrooms. At first, finding housing was competitive, and they had to stay at an Airbnb for the first couple of weeks. However, they found the perfect place with about an hour's commute by train to their schools. They both teach at different schools to high schoolers from low-income areas and teach about 20 hours a week. For some of their classes, they co-teach, and for the rest, they teach solo, so the amount of lesson planning they must complete varies from class to class. 

View of Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain taken from up high with many visitors walking around
Found a lookout point to see Almudena Cathedral and its thousands of tourists

Living in Madrid

Madrid is the art capital of Spain. Enormous museums, lavish parks, and rich history fill the cobblestone streets with wonderous sights everywhere you turn. Plus, the food is absolutely delicious. I ate all the tapas and sangrias I could have and walked miles around the city. Their public transportation system makes it easy and accessible to get around the city quickly, giving you more time to explore. There is so much to see in Spain that you cannot experience it all from a short stay. Taking advantage of an experience such as teaching through CIEE would allow you more time to immerse yourself in the culture and explore all that the city has to offer. 
I was there for 4 days and only checked off half of my "must-see" list, so I plan on visiting again soon. Though I do not speak Spanish, many signs and restaurant menus were written in English, and the people were very kind and welcoming. Madrid was a spectacular adventure, but I am excited to get settled and embrace my new journey here in Thailand.