5 Best Moments of 2015

Happy 2016!

I know I should’ve posted this yesterday, but I was a little busy rushing around for last minute NYE things & just generally enjoying a day off work. I want to do a little reflecting on the past year, and how awesome it was for me.

5. Successfully Adulted

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Logan and I moved in to our first apartment sans roommates! I adopted a furry baby, got a big girl job at a marketing firm, and started paying my student loans. So obviously you can see I’m adulting pretty hardcore.

4. Returned to good ol’ USA

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After 10 months abroad, Logan and I returned to our home country. No truer statement than “no place like home.”

3. Traveled around most of Europe

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Logan and I visited Cologne, Amsterdam, Geneva, Lisbon, Venice, Rome, Paris, and Prague. Experiencing all the cultures was an amazing experience. Not to mention all of the delicious food!

2. Lived and worked in Spain

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I did something I didn’t know I was capable of: teaching! A year of learning, teaching, living, eating, drinking, and hanging out in Madrid resulted in lots of Spanish learning, fears conquered, and introspection.

1. Got ENGAGED

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BFF, soul mate, lover, and my all time favorite human asked me to spend forever with him.

 

Can’t wait for the adventures 2016 has in store for me!

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Thoughts & Feelings: Missing Spain

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This time last year the boyfriend and I were settling into our new lives in Madrid, Spain. When I say settling I actually mean we were panicking about finding a place to call home, what our jobs as ESL teachers would be like, and your other typical culture shock feelings. I’m super happy that we are back home now, but I do miss some things about the land of tapas and vino.

Eating tapas every weekend

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Ok, so this is a really superficial point, but the food there is just so delicious! I still daydream about cured meats and cheeses served with warm bread. Not to mention how cheap it all was. Menu del Dia was the daily restaurant deal where you got 3 courses, a bottle of wine, and a loaf of bread for 10 EUROS!

Feeling brave all the time

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I went to Spain without a very high level of Spanish proficiency, so every time I talked to anyone in Spanish I felt really really brave. The smallest tasks I accomplished (successfully understanding a cashier, asking for directions, or figuring out how to order) left me feeling so proud of myself.

New experiences galore

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Living abroad almost feels like being a baby again where every experience you go through is something new. Traveling to new places every weekend, or going to stores I had never heard of – everything was so interesting and different from what I was used to.

I don’t regret not going back to Spain to teach again, but there are definitely some things I really miss.

Lessons Learned from a First Year ESL Teacher

1. Creativity is key

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Did you ever have a teacher who exclusively taught from an outdated, horribly written textbook + workbook combo? I did. And do you know what I learned from them? NOTHING. I’ve learned that classes should be really fun and engaging and as a teacher you should always try to make it seem like a different form of entertainment. Any subject can be interesting if you sprinkle some creativity into it. (I once made a dating game to practice physical description words)

2. Teaching is exhausting

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As a student you don’t fully comprehend or even try to understand the effort your teacher is making. Your job as a student is to sit, listen, and learn. Your job as a teacher is to facilitate, present, listen, ask 1 billion questions, get everyone involved, try to be creative, manage the classroom, I could keep going but I think you get the drift.

3. Don’t underestimate your audience

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Just to clue you in, in my classes I talk in English 100% of the time. Even with my super young students (5year olds), and they can still understand what I want them to do. They can follow directions, and even answer a lot of questions. It’s easy to disregard small kids’ intelligence, but I wouldn’t.

4. Things will go wrong, learn to BS

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How many times was the Internet down, my PowerPoint was broken, or an activity I planned didn’t take up the whole class period? More than once. But thinking on your toes is essential in teaching. I learned to BS my way through a class period by playing a random game, thinking of a last minute activity, or resorting to asking tons of questions.

5. Become fluent in body language

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It is SO easy to tell when students (or any audience) is not interested in what you are saying or doing. When you notice people’s eyes starting to glaze over, you have to switch it up and be a bit creative (refer to lesson 1). Don’t just keep doing what you’re doing because it’s obviously super boring.

So I know most of you aren’t ESL teachers, but I think the lessons I’ve learned as a teacher can be applied to any career field. Being creative and adaptable, knowing your audience, and thinking on your feet are invaluable skills for anyone.