Teacher Connection: Michelle
“The most important relationship you have in life is with yourself.”
Michelle Nicchi is a selective, outspoken person and with good reason. She believes in enjoying life on her own or with good company, and doing so with a purpose. She doesn’t dwell on the past and instead thrives on adventure. She has big dreams for her future.
As our interview unfolded, I realized that this is a bold woman who knows exactly who she is and she is not afraid to say so. My first interaction with Michelle was a memorable one. She approached me as I was entering the metro after Spanish class and asked, “have you found a piso yet?” I said, “huh?” I had no idea who she was, but she must have recognized me. She smiled and repeated, “have you found a piso yet?” I looked back at her (in my mind thinking, does she know me?) and said, “well, yeah.” I mention this conversation because it explains Michelle’s character so well. She is up for a good conversation and knows no stranger. She is willing to assist whom she can, when she can. She is well rounded, friendly and has a heart of gold.
Since the metro encounter, Michelle and I have become friends. She knew that someone had canceled an interview for my blog last minute and Michelle being the kind person that she is, stepped up and volunteered to help. I didn’t ask her, she knew how much this project means to me and she offered. Our interview took place in Mallorca. I was on the trip as part of a post-birthday celebration and Michelle contacted me. I asked her what her plans were and she said, “hey, I’m spontaneous.” Michelle jumped on a plane and joined me for a day in Mallorca where I was able to interview and get to know her better.
Michelle, you are one of a kind, thank you for being you!
Meet Michelle, the dreamer:
Michelle is from Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Seattle, Washington to attend Seattle University. She thrives on putting herself in uncomfortable situations where she can learn and grow. She felt the campus environment was free-spirited and welcoming, which resulted in her learning how to be her most authentic self. She explained, “When you are your authentic self, that is when you are liberated and most happy. It is very important not to conform to what society wants.”
Why did you choose to come to Spain/Europe?
“I lived in Barcelona for four months during my senior year. I got my Bachelors in Psychology and I told myself I would return after I graduated. It has always been a dream of mine to live in Spain. After I moved, I told myself I would come back. I chose to live in Madrid because I wanted to be away from Barcelona, the party city. Madrid reminded me of New York City in many ways because it has the “big city feel” but it is cleaner. You only live once, I thought why not?”
When I spoke to Michelle about Spain, I could tell how much her dream meant to her. I could feel how much she wanted to make her dream her reality. It was special to share that moment with her.
What are your goals while you are here?
“I want to immerse myself in the culture, become bilingual, travel all over Europe and make friends with locals so I can learn from them.”
“The most important relationship you have in life is with yourself. It’s important to love yourself. It’s important to discover yourself by yourself. I am on this journey to do that, we come into this world by ourselves, and we leave this world by ourselves—so it’s important to figure out who you are by yourself.”
What are your classroom goals?
“I want to inspire the students by teaching them English in a fun and effective environment. I want to do my best to eliminate any negative behavior. I want to inspire them to see learning as fun and beneficial.”
Have you ever taught before? If not, what was your career field?
“ I worked in sales for a communication company and taught customers how to use the product. I did this by teaching one-on-one or in groups.
I also tutored kids in math in Arizona before I moved to Madrid.”
What do you think teaching in Spain will be like? Where are you teaching this year?
“Teaching will be fun and exciting. It will be a life challenging experience in a good environment. I am working at a school in Majadahonda, Spain. It is northwest of Madrid. I am teaching primary levels 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th. My English coordinator created my schedule. I teach English in natural science and social science.
(This interview occurred after Michelle’s first week of class so I was able to speak to her about her schedule and first week of classes.)
How has your experience been so far after one week?
“I love my school. I feel everything happens for a reason and I am very grateful that I was placed in a positive teaching environment with teachers that are providing positive reinforcement. I feel like I will develop great relationships with the other teachers. The director is extremely nice and is helping me achieve outside employment opportunities. I like that I have the opportunity to experience working with different teachers in different subjects. It will provide the opportunity for me to learn and experience different teaching methods.”
Why did you choose to teach abroad and also, why did you choose to teach in Spain over other countries?
“ I always wanted to live in another country for a longer period of time than I did in Barcelona. I wanted to live my dream of living in Spain for a longer period of time. I see Spain as my starting point in Europe and I plan to develop other career opportunities over the course of the year. Teaching is a starting point and a great skill to acquire. I want to learn to be bilingual over time and feel comfortable living in another country on my own. Then, perhaps move to another country and become trilingual.”
What would you like to accomplish while you are in Spain?
Michelle smiled, “I want to ride the wave of life and not take life so seriously. I want to enjoy my experience.”
What are your perceptions of Madrid so far?
Michelle said, “Madrid is a beautiful and diverse city full of endless opportunities.”
What assumptions or expectations did you have before you came here? Have you found them to be accurate or inaccurate?
Michelle smiled a big smile, “My younger brother lived here for 13 weeks. He expressed how much he loved the city and thought I would too. I only had good expectations.”
What has been the most difficult since you arrived?
“The language barrier in the beginning was the most difficult for me because normally, it would be easy to move to a new city without knowing anyone because I am outgoing and I could develop friendships. So, when it’s hard to communicate with other people, it is hard to make friends and establish relationships and friendships.”
What has been the best experience?
“It is everyday living in Spain. For example, being exposed to new beautiful neighborhoods. Being able to travel whenever—spontaneously being able to travel to Milan or Mallorca.”
How do you feel about the integration of the culture so far? Are there things that you have embraced or are hoping to embrace?
It took Michelle a second to answer, “There has been a huge difference with my comfort level from my first day living in Spain to my second month. For example, I was nervous speaking to Spanish to people when I needed to communicate, and now I feel completely comfortable and happy going to strangers and having random interactions with locals.”
Michelle’s interview took place outside of Madrid and it was different than my previous interviews because I added some additional questions about her first week of classes to our list. I enjoyed speaking with Michelle because I knew every response she gave me was authentic to her journey leading into our moment in Mallorca. We all have dreams that start as an idea, and then it’s up to us to make them a reality. What I found so inspiring about Michelle’s journey in Spain is that it’s her dream and she knows it’s hers. She won’t let the influence of anyone else detract her from her destiny. She is dedicated to her path and she is focused on her dream. That is her reality. The rest is history.
We will follow up with Michelle on her journey half way through the year. It will be so interesting to see how far she’s come on her goals.
Stay tuned for our next connection!
Ciao for now,
Leesa with two EE’s