Why CIEE and Arriving in Spain!

Authored by:
Sarah S.

Sarah S.

¡Bienvenidos a mi blog! Hace dos días viajé desde San Diego a Dallas a London a Madrid. No puedo creer que finalmente estoy aquí, en España. 
Nice, that was my Spanish practice for the day. Anyway, I’m finally here in Spain for my year abroad! I’m so excited to be blogging about my experiences while traveling, so stay tuned for updates about my life in Madrid. First, a few things about me and why I chose CIEE…

My name is Sarah, and I’m a recent graduate of Davidson College. I wanted to study abroad during undergrad, but, due to COVID restrictions, I wasn’t able to. When I heard about CIEE from my cousin (who taught in Madrid a few years ago), I figured it would be the perfect way to fulfill my desire to live and learn abroad! I also enjoy teaching and have tutored students of many ages for the past few years. CIEE’s Teach in Spain program will help me pursue this endeavor in a way that allows me to explore a new culture. I opted for the four-week immersion course, as my Spanish skills are definitely in need of some TLC (see first paragraph). I also plan to spend the extra four weeks familiarizing myself with the city and its opportunities. 

The journey here was not as easy as deciding to enroll! I, unfortunately, missed my connection in Dallas due to weather, so I was re-routed to Madrid through London. Though “visiting” the UK for the first time was interesting, my luggage stayed in the Heathrow airport without me! I definitely recommend the use of AirTags while flying internationally, so that in the case of delayed luggage, you can track the progress of your belongings. From my phone, I can see that they are en route! As I am currently sans luggage (and sans clothing), I was able to do some shopping. If need be, you can find great essentials in Gran Vía, at larger stores like Lefties. Don’t forget to keep your receipts, though! With them, you should be able to get refunded through your travel insurance. I also recommend asking your hotel concierge to call the airport regarding the missing luggage on your behalf. They are very experienced in dealing with these sorts of things.

Tearful goodbyes and stress aside, I am super pumped for this opportunity. For the next few days, other participants and I will finish our orientation period. After that, we’re off to stay with our host families for the following weeks! I plan to look for an apartment during that time. Though I’m not quite sure where I want to live, I’ll be teaching elementary-age students at a school in San Fermín. I’m super excited to have been placed at this location because it’s relatively close to City Center. To prepare for my role as an Auxiliar, I completed CIEE’s TEFL certification course. The class is a comprehensive guide to ESL classroom competence and is full of tips for activities and best teaching practices in new environments. The course was quite a bit of work, but I feel much more confident in my teaching abilities now. 

During the next few days, I’ll reflect a little on my preparation process for the journey and give some tips for packing, etc., as well as some things I wish I had done differently. I’ll also note some action items I have to address once I get settled, like finding a SIM card, applying for residency, and figuring out the metro system (yikes). 

Until then!


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