Why I Chose CIEE’s Madrid Program, the Visa Process, and More
This past spring was my final undergrad semester and as my college years came to a close, I felt gratitude for all that I had experienced while attending the University of San Francisco through the Black Scholars scholarship program. During those four years, I got to live in a city that had the fun, eclectic characteristics of urban life, along with the revitalizing nature of Golden Gate Park and the surrounding ocean. I was taught by dedicated, inspiring and gracious professors, created friendships that will last a lifetime, and grew more into myself.
College was a transformative time and given the fact that most of my college years coincided with the pandemic, the transformations that occurred out of its uncertainty made it particularly impactful.
Why I Chose Madrid
One thing I didn’t get to do in college as a result of Covid was study abroad. However, during the spring break of my last semester, I found out about opportunities where I could teach English in Spain and settled on CIEE’s Madrid program. I chose this program for three reasons:
- I speak conversational Spanish and I felt more comfortable living abroad in a country where I had a foundation in the language.
- The CIEE program helps participants throughout the entire process: matching you with a school, getting your visa, and creating ways for you to find community. Essentially, the program helps set a foundation for your life abroad.
- I needed time to reflect and explore more of the world and myself before committing to my next post graduation steps.
Prior to Stepping Foot in Madrid: Tips & Tricks
Visa: The visa process is intensive and depending on where your consulate is, it may be challenging to book your visa appointment. I had to get my visa at the Spanish consulate in Los Angeles which can be a difficult place to get an appointment. I was almost discouraged from doing the program because of how difficult the process was! But, after many days, weeks and frantic moments, I finally had my visa appointment. My advice (particularly for participants using the consulate in Los Angeles) is to be persistent with checking the site to get an appointment. I even had a couple of my family members checking on the site for appointments as well (the more people who are checking throughout the day, the more possibility there is that you will get an appointment!).
CIEE Support: Stay on top of the emails and documents CIEE sends and ask the CIEE team questions when needed. Also, attend the webinars!
Group Chats: Set your boundaries with CIEE participant group chats. If you need to put a chat on mute because it is stressing you out, do what you need to do! With the help of the CIEE team, you should not need the group chats to get essential information. While the chats have their perks for getting to know people, finding roommates, and potentially finding housing, you have time during orientation to do all of that.
Disclaimer: I was in the September 4th orientation group which gave me several weeks to get adjusted to life in Madrid and make friends. I suggest getting to Madrid in an early orientation group or arriving a little bit before your orientation starts, especially if you do not have housing in place before you arrive (which many people don't).
To be TEFL certified, or not to be?
I am not TEFL certified and although I have not yet started teaching (more to come on this topic once I start teaching!) I have experience working with youth in the past and grew up in a family of teachers. Lastly, throughout my education, I was an active and dedicated student which I believe will help me feel comfortable being proactive and useful in the classroom setting.
I hope this first post has been helpful for those who are thinking about pursuing this program and I look forward to providing more tips, stories, and guidance throughout the coming months!
As I sit on the train on my way to my first day of school, I share some reflections on my first week as an Aux in Madrid.