It all began with one of Chelsea’s exhausting mottos…if there is a will there is a way! She would stop at nothing to see us move abroad. She spoke with her mentor about her search for work abroad, contacted her contacts in the EU, and friends who had traveled and lived abroad. She applied for several jobs internationally and finally heard back from a friend about her success story with a website called GreatAupair.com. This struck Chelsea’s fancy and after several weeks of research and interviews Chelsea found Raquel. It was a match made in heaven! For several months Chelsea and Raquel wrote to each other everyday with out missing a beat. One afternoon we Skyped with Raquel and Raquel inquired what I was going to while living abroad. At the time I was still searching and looking for work. When Raquel suggested, “Why don’t you look into teaching English”. I thought that was a great idea and began to brainstorm ideas!
I started my research for schools in Madrid to teach English as a second language. My first thought was to teach adults business English. Chelsea wasn’t too sure how this would be possible when I came across TT Madrid. This school had it all! A full year VISA program that allowed me to stay in Spain. TT offered a full year of Spanish classes to keep one engaged and learning the native language, and all for an inexpensive price for what the program had to offer. Especially compared to programs in the United States. This was a dream come true, almost too good to be true… was our first thought.
I decided to pursue further investigation on this program, when I reached out to Helen, the student recruiter. This program was the real deal and after further questioning and finding out more on the program, I inquired about how to join the program. Helen set up a Skype appointment to interview me. We hit it off and I was approved to become a member the TT Madrid Class June 2016. Now that Chelsea had a job and I had the VISA that allowed me to work part-time 20 hours per week things were beginning to take shape. We now had the ability to live in Spain, income when we arrived, and a support group that later became Chelsea and I’s Expat Family.
Fast-forward to 8 months later, Chelsea and I were ready for our adventure. Our Charleston life and home was packed into six suite cases and a 10x10 storage unit. We had said our good byes to our friends and family, and we were on a plane to Madrid, Spain with our fur baby Cash. I told Chelsea that when we were on the plane to Madrid holding hands with Cash underneath our seat, I would be the most relaxed version of myself that I had been since we began this journey. I remember that very moment when my dream had become reality it was a liberating and an amazing feeling of accomplishment.
The following Monday after we arrived to the other side of the pond, was my first day of school. Being from a small city like Charleston with a population of 130,000 people, and moving to a large city like Madrid with a population 6.5 million people took me some time to get used to the public transportation system and speed of the big city life. However, I was pretty proud of myself, when I found my way on the metro and was about 15 minutes early to my first class. The first friendly face I met was Andrew a fellow American from Texas. He greeted me at the door and showed me around the school. Nerves aside after taking the tour of the school I began to feel a bit more comfortable with my surroundings. I was lead into our main teaching room, the Madrid room, where I meet my first classmate, Rachel, who was from Tennessee. We talked about where we were from, how we found TT Madrid, and what brought us to the program. Slowly everyone began to file in, and the diverse group of individuals from all over the World gave me a sense of peace, comfort, and excitement about what was in store for me while attending this program.
They sure weren’t kidding when they said this program would be an extremely exhausting, yet a rewarding experience. It was a full 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week, with weekends needed to prepare for the next weeks classes, as you got further into the program. However, as I went through the program I realized that is what it took to get you ready to teach. I found the course material difficult as I didn’t really have much English grammar training in my previous studies, but learned a lot about the English language. Our classes consisted of grammar, phonetics, class structures, lesson planning, actual in class teachings, observations, getting the feeling of being a language student, and so much more. We were taught a lot in a short period of time, and at times I remember just wanting this class to be over. What made the class were the professors. The professors really made the class entertaining and fun. Even though we were learning some dull material they kept the energy up and keep everyone motivated.
Finally we made it to the end of the course. One thing I learned from this experience was how we all learned how to lean on one another. TT Madrid class 2016 was a team and a family. With great pride I announce we all graduated and were now ready to do what we intended to do here in Spain. When I finished the class I took a two-week immersive Spanish language training course with LAE Madrid, a partner of TT Madrid. This was fulfilling part of my year-long student VISA requirement. I was given the groundwork of my language studies and given the opportunity to find my voice in Spain.
Starting a new career is not something to take lightly, there will be ups and downs and things aren’t as easy as just being handed 20 hours a week of teaching jobs right off the rip. As you persevere and work through the challenges you find successes. These successes have made me stronger, as I have earned them over time. It is a challenge and a gift all in the same, to have the opportunity to start a new career, and as time goes on it has only been getting better. One of my successes I have had was finding a jobs teaching. I have been gaining experience and learning how to be a teacher. Even though the program gives you the tools I believe it takes time before you are a “teacher”, at least until you find your own way in how you deliver your teachings. I have had some struggles to find a good block of hours, being an American businessman with no teaching experience. We receive constant support form TT Madrid even after we completed the course with multiple weekly updates from Helen on available jobs, and assistance with finding work. I believe as I continue to grow and gain experience as a teacher, I am certain my demand will rise.
When moving to another country, even with Chelsea and Cash with me, not knowing a single soul, and thrown into a new world and new environment was unnerving. In the TT Madrid course we were given a skill, we were taught how to fish so to speak, and now it was our time to catch the fish. This experience has also given us the opportunity to meet like-minded people and to learn about their journey through life. It has given Chelsea and I both the ability to look at things differently, learn new cultures, and create new boundaries for our selves.
It takes a certain type of person to make a leap of faith and move to another country, to start fresh in an unknown land. One of things that I had in common with my classmates is we were all connected, even with our differences, by that common thread of adventure, open-mindedness, admiration of other cultures, and love of travel. We just had our Thanksgiving celebration with our Expat family from the TT Madrid class and others we have all met along the way. I love that we still have a WhatsApp Chat going where we share successes, births, birthdays, and big announcements. We are a part of each other’s lives, and a sense if belonging is something that this program has provided Chelsea and I.
I knew I would get my TEFL Teaching certificate and take Spanish classes while living in Spain. However, what I didn’t realize was that belonging to a school like TT Madrid, and meeting the people involved in the program would impact Chelsea and my happiness as much as it has while in our year abroad. It’s not just the classes, the VISA, and certificate that make this program. It is the personal touch, the hard work, and dedication of the directors, and teachers that has made this experience worthwhile. As well as the culture and the sense of family in a new country with the people we have met. The relationships and memories we have built during this experience we will cherish for the rest of our lives.