The Experience of an Exchange Program

Blog, London

In my first year teaching English, I had the wonderful opportunity to help out with an exchange program to London. Twenty-one of our 16-year-old Spanish students travelled to London for four days where they stayed with a host family from a school in Surbiton, a neighbouring suburban city of London. The English students also spent four days in the students’ home in Badalona, a neighbouring city of Barcelona.

During the program, our students formed close bonds and friendships with the English students; it was truly beautiful to see young people with different mother tongues getting along so well. Many students were even in tears when they had to say goodbye to their new friends. They all, however, made a promise to keep in touch and see each other again.

For a few of our students, it was their first time on a plane and their first time travelling so far from home without their parents. At the tender age of 16, the program offered the students an opportunity to see a different country, to expand their cultural awareness and, of course, to learn English.

During the program, I saw significant improvements with a few of our students in regard to their ability to understand and communicate in English. Since the students lived with English-speaking families and still communicate with their English friends through WhatsApp, they have no choice but to apply their knowledge and dive right into the language. The English students’ level of Spanish, however, wasn’t as advanced as they have only been learning Spanish for two years while our students start learning English at three years old, which urged our students even more to use English.

The program puts the classroom into the real world and immerses the students in the English language. I believe this type of program is the perfect way to motivate young learners to foreign languages when they usually might be intimidated or embarrassed in a classroom setting. As I teach English to three-year-olds to 16-year-olds in Spain, I see that the hardest part is to motivate students to learn English. With an exchange program, the students interact and apply their learning to other people their age who are learning a foreign language as well. In this setting, the students became learners as well as teachers. It is an excellent way to teach leadership skills and encourage students to continue their language learning journey. It is important for young people to become a global citizen and to interact with people from different countries and learn about other cultures. A vital way to do this is to learn new languages, especially English, which is the most widely spoken second language in the world. An exchange program is a perfect way to mobilize learning to the real world and show students that the world is so much bigger than just their school.

How Teaching Abroad Changed My Life


I have always had this reoccurring dream. I saw myself teaching in another country. The thought of travelling and experiencing a new culture and learning a new language rippled through my hidden adventurous spirit. I was a bird in a cage crying out to be set free.

It was not until I shared this dream with a wonderful friend that he told me to just go for it. He told me to just take the risk and listen to my heart and not to settle for a life I’m not happy with. He told me to be true to myself and develop my interests and talents. He told me to just spread my wings and fly. His advice grew on me and step by step I began my transformation.

I took the Oxford Seminars TEFL course and they connected me to CAPS (Conversation Assistant Programme for Schools). I filled out an application and completed a Skype interview and after a few months of patiently waiting I was accepted into their Plus Program. I was on my way to Spain.

So far I have been in Spain for five months and it has been the best decision I have ever made. I went from the worst year of a broken long-term relationship, familial pressure and a soul-crushing job to the absolute best year of my life. This experience has completely changed me and helped me discover who I am.

I have travelled to Naples, Italy and around Spain. I will soon be venturing to London, Paris, Rome, Malta, Casablanca and Lisbon. I have met the greatest people, amazing teachers and people I consider my family. There are so many people who have helped and supported me and my heart is overflowing with gratitude towards them. I have learned that I love travelling, languages, photography, poetry and even painting canvases! I followed my passion for writing and combined it with my new-found love of travel, photography and poetry to create this wonderful blog. I have developed fluency in Spanish, picked up some Catalan and learned how to make delicious typical dishes. I have learned about Spanish and Catalan history, art, traditions and cuisine. Most importantly I realized that I am a natural teacher and this is the job I was always meant to do. Now I have been accepted into a highly competitive education program in Canada to become a certified teacher.

It is amazing how much one person can learn in so little time. I have realized that the reason the flower could not grow was not that it was a defective plant, but because it needed to change its environment to a fertile field where it could blossom and develop beautiful, vibrant petals. Sometimes we go through different periods in our life when we feel that all hope is lost until someone wakes us up and reminds us that we are full of light and love. I had my mentor guide me on this path and now my heart is full of nothing but love and gratitude for him. So now I will pay it forward to you.

The greatest advice I can give you is to follow your dreams. Let my story inspire you to wake up and do what you always wanted to do. We all go through rough times, but if you hold onto hope and work hard you will see that que será, será; life is what you make of it, so make it a beautiful work of art.

Sitges Carnival

Blog, España

Carnival is a time to wear colourful costumes to lose your individuality and experience social unity. The tradition reverses everyday rules and norms and combines elements of circus, costumes, masks, parties and street parades. Carnival is originally a Christian holiday before Lent to overindulge, be gluttonous, satirical and grotesque.

This year the Sitges Carnival ran from Thursday, February 8th to Tuesday, February 13th. The carnival is one of the world’s top 10 carnivals and one of the biggest in Spain. The carnival attracts more than 300,000 people every year and the town becomes a constant party zone for seven days and nights.

The Sitges Carnival is full of colours, costumes, feathers, dancers, theatrical performances, a large gay community and more. There are around 50 floats and 3,000 participants marching through the centre of Sitges to the waterfront. People of all ages and backgrounds travel to enjoy the carnival; there is even a children’s parade during the day. The biggest events during carnival week in Sitges are Rua de la Disbauxa and Rua de l’Extremini.

Carnival begins on Jueves Lardero, or Dijous Gras in Catalan, and is a day of gluttony. The Spanish and Catalan people enjoy the Catalan butifara (sausage) and a Spanish tortilla (omelette) andThe Carnival King arrives. The festival ends on the following Tuesday on the Burial of the Sardine where a sardine is buried to symbolize the abstinence from fish, meat, alcohol and sweets for the following 40 days leading up to Easter.

As Sitges is about a two-hour train ride from Barcelona, I had the pleasure of enjoying this memorable and eventful parade on Sunday, February 11. The parade was bustling with crafty costumes full of colours and feathers, various themes like ancient Egyptians and Willy Wonka, upbeat music and a lively atmosphere. The parade lasted over four hours and was loads of fun. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me, so I only have cellphone-quality picture. Nevertheless, I absolutely enjoyed this exciting experience that I could never have imagined if I only lived in Canada.

Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund

Blog, España

On Wednesday, December 6, 2017, I fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams to see my favourite soccer player, Cristiano Ronaldo, play at the Santiago Bernabeu. I was in Madrid for four days and leapt at the opportunity to watch a live UEFA Champions League game with my favourite team, Real Madrid. The experience felt surreal as if I wasn’t actually in the same vicinity as these world-class players.

Unfortunately, the security guard did not allow me to bring my camera inside and I could not take any good-quality photos. The only photos I could take was with my phone, which has a terrible zoom and takes low-quality images.

Regardless, it was a brilliant match and Ronaldo put on a fantastic display of amazing agility, speed and accuracy, proving why he is one of the greatest footballers of his time.

Borja Mayoral started the game with a goal in the first eight minutes of play. Only four minutes later, Ronaldo received the ball outside of the left corner of the 18-yard box and blasted the ball to the top right corner of the net, scoring a tremendous golaso. With this goal, Ronaldo became the first player in history to score in all six matches of the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Real Madrid was up 2-0 when Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang picked up the ball from the Madrid defenders and sent the ball to the back of the net.

At the start of the second half, Aubameyang scored an equalizer and became the hero of the match to all of the passionate Dortmund fans.

With a powerful volley from Lucas Vásquez in the last nine minutes of regular time, Real Madrid was back in the lead.

The match was a tight game, but the home team, Real Madrid, came out the champions with a 3-2 win.

The day after the match, Ronaldo travelled to Paris, France where he received his fifth Balon d’Or on the Eiffel Tower and levelled Lionel Messi’s titles.

How amazing it was for me to see two five-time Balon d’Or winners within five days of each other!

FC Barcelona vs. Celta de Vigo

Blog, España

As a massive football fan, you cannot travel to Barcelona without enjoying a match with some of the greatest footballers in the world. The experience felt surreal as if I was not actually living the moment and seeing stars like Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique only a few feet in front of me.

On December 2, 2017, FC Barcelona played a home game at Camp Nou against Celta de Vigo. Thanks to the generosity of the art teacher at my school, who is a season ticket holder, I got to see this match live, only a few rows away from the south net.

The game was full of excitement and action with a total of four goals scored, two from Barça and two from Celta. The first goal was a spectacular counter-attack from Iago Aspas who scored off of a rebound. Only two minutes later, the Magic Man, Lionel Messi, blasted the ball to the back of the net.

Shortly after in the first half, Luis Suárez scored a legal goal that was disallowed as an offside.

Barça took the lead in the 62nd minute of the second half when an offensive attack between Messi and Jordi Alba ended with Suárez hitting the back of the net.

With only 20 minutes left of the match Celta’s Maxi Gómez got an equalizer goal after Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti got what looked like a pulled hamstring and had to leave the game.

The game ended with a 2-2 draw and was a brilliant display of attacking, defending, goal scoring and goal keeping.