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Happy to be here

During my time as a Trinity University soccer player, I was dubbed "Most Likely To Be 'Pumped' About Everything." Perhaps this was simply a hint that I should try to expand my vocabulary when expressing excitement, but I think my teammates actually hit the nail on the head. Although there are certainly some things that I'm not so pumped about, I'm almost always enthusiastic to make new friends, taste exotic foods, try unfamiliar sports, and venture to faraway places.

I feel *extra* pumped to be writing this blog post from Madrid, as I've been daydreaming about returning to this lovely city ever since I studied abroad here during the summer of 2013. Just a few days into my 7-week program, I knew I would want to come back sometime soon, and for a much longer stay. 

Lovely-patio-airbnb-madrid
Private patio at our Airbnb, affectionately maintained by the hosts, Leo and Silvia

CIEE Teach Abroad provided the ideal opportunity to merge my desires to live in Madrid long-term, to expand upon previous experience in the educational world, and to pursue an unconventional lifestyle. The way I look at it, the chance to teach in Spain, part-time, for 10 months represents so much more than an English teaching opportunity.

4 awesome side effects of teaching abroad:

1. True immersion

When I studied abroad in Madrid, and also in Nicaragua, everything was programmed perfectly and curated lovingly by my professors. My classmates and I were set up with host families, internships, daily activities, weekend outings, etc. Now, I'm being thrown into life in Madrid with a bit of guidance, but very little hand-holding, which totally fits the bill for my current goals.

2. A break from the traditional 9-5

Don't get me wrong: I adored my position - and the amazing team - at my previous job (shout-out to Codeup!). That said, I didn't want to look back on my early twenties and feel that I'd settled for a more conventional path instead of pushing myself to achieve one of my lifelong dreams. So, after nearly 2 years of working in San Antonio, Texas, I said bittersweet goodbyes to my wonderful friends and coworkers, packed up my cozy apartment, and headed to Europe with my boyfriend, Tim.

3. Removal from the infamous comfort zone

New country, new language, new job, new schedule. As I gain a deeper knowledge of this distinct social, political, and cultural climate, I'll need to focus on remaining open-minded, asking many questions, speaking as much Spanish as possible, and absorbing information and ideas like a sponge. I can be fairly harsh on myself when my Spanish sentences don't come out perfectly, so this will also be a great time to practice cutting myself some slack and celebrating mistakes as a crucial part of the learning process.

4. Loads of free time

This makes me giddy! My journal is full of notes and doodles detailing various projects I'd like to tackle, as well as activities I want to participate in. So, I'm incredibly excited to explore the city and find ways to get involved in the community (most likely through dance, soccer, work, and entrepreneurship, among other things).

I'll be sharing bits and pieces of my journey in Madrid throughout the next 10 months, and I'd love to hear your feedback, as well as any questions you might have about the CIEE program, working as an auxiliar de conversación, my previous time abroad, or anything else!

Cheers,

Jenni

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