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  • Writer's pictureNomads Media

Moving to Spain: From Gap Year to a Job in Education

Updated: Mar 12



Meet Koleen Yu, an English language teacher living in the vibrant city of Madrid. In a recent interview, she shared the fascinating story of how her journey took an unexpected turn from her initial plan of becoming a pilot to embracing a life-changing experience as an auxiliar in Spain.


Koleen's adventure began when a friend informed her about the opportunity to join the auxiliar program, a government initiative in Spain that invites native English speakers to assist in teaching English to students. With only two slots left, Koleen decided to take a chance and try something new during her gap year after graduating from university in June 2019.


Initially, Koleen had different aspirations. Her dream was to become a pilot and work with Philippine Airlines. However, as fate would have it, the airline wasn't accepting new applicants at the time. This unexpected turn of events led Koleen to explore the possibility of spending a year in Europe through the auxiliar program.


Her adventure started in Andalusia, a region in southern Spain known for its rich mix of cultures, including Moroccan and Spanish influences. Koleen vividly described falling in love with the people, the culture, and the architecture. This first taste of Europe opened her eyes to the beauty of exploration and the diverse experiences the continent had to offer.


The auxiliar program, as Koleen explained, is not just about teaching English; it's an opportunity to introduce students to different cultures. Auxiliaries serve as English language assistants, providing the speaking portion of language assessments while also enhancing the students' overall experience. The goal is to broaden their perspectives and foster an understanding of various cultures.


Before leaving for Spain, Koleen went through a preparation process. The auxiliar program requires applicants to be native English speakers with a diploma, making it a popular choice for those seeking an international internship. Participants receive a monthly stipend throughout the school year, from October to June.


Koleen's enthusiasm for her role as an auxiliar was evident as she described the fulfilling experience of being part of a program that encourages cultural exchange. She emphasized that auxiliaries stay with their respective schools and classes, contributing not only to English language education but also to the students' overall development.


The interview highlighted the unique nature of the auxiliar program, where teachers from various English-speaking countries, including the Philippines, the United States, and the United Kingdom, come together to create an immersive language learning environment. The program's impact extends beyond the classroom, fostering connections between cultures and building bridges of understanding.


As Koleen reflected on her journey, she acknowledged that what initially seemed like a temporary detour had turned into a life-changing adventure. The auxiliar program not only provided her with valuable teaching experience but also allowed her to immerse herself in the rich tapestry of Spanish and European culture.


Koleen's story serves as an inspiring testament to the transformative power of unexpected opportunities. What began as a gap year exploration turned into a fulfilling chapter of teaching and cultural exchange in Spain. It reminds us all to embrace the unexpected twists in life, as they may lead us to extraordinary and unforeseen adventures.

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