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Make Yourself at Home while Teaching English Abroad

By Bernadette G., Auxiliar de Conversación in Madrid 21/22

How do I make myself at home while teaching abroad? There are so many things to do! Visit coffee shops, go to museums, meeting people or traveling around are some of them.

Visit Coffee Shops

Selfie in Plaza de Sol

One of the things I like to do in Madrid to make myself at home is to visit different coffee shops. This coffee shop is one of my favorites as it overlooks Plaza del Sol. Can you guess which cafe it is? It’s next to Kilometro 0! There are so many specialty coffee shops here to try. I need more time to explore!

Visit a Museum

Making yourself at home by going to a museum

What better way to make myself at home than by visiting the very artwork that my students are studying! At El Museo Reina Sofía, there’s so much artwork to see, especially those of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, and Diego Velazquez. It’s even more fun when I get together with my fellow auxiliares, who are from all over the world, and visit the museum during those times when admission is free! These are truly special moments that I will forever cherish! I feel even more at home!

admire my students’ artwork! Can you guess who this is behind me and where my school is located? Here, they celebrate hispanic culture just as we do in the USA. From Frida Kahlo to Santa Claus to Los Reyes Magos. I had so much fun trying Roscón de Reyes for the first time, singing along with the venezuelan song El Burrito Sabanero as well as singing other popular Christmas carols in both English and Spanish! We attended our school concert virtually and supported one another from our classrooms. I felt so at home! I’m so thankful to be here!

Make Yourself at Home: Learn About Spanish Culture

What better place to learn about Spanish culture than right here in Madrid! I didn’t know the significance of Meninas until my compañera de intercambio de idiomas of over a year told me about them. What I didn’t know was that this street art was influenced by Diego Velazquez, one of the most important artists of the Spanish Golden Age. The Meninas are available for free public viewing in many locations in and around Madrid. Each one has different messages regarding diversity and freedom of expression through art. However, the Meninas are only displayed for a short period per year so once I found out exactly where they were located I acted fast! I found a few of them near la Puerta del Sol and El Museo del Prado. Amazing!

Visit las Meninas in order to make yourself at home!

Meanwhile, at school, they’ve put up posters with heartfelt messages. One reads, “Give me a good teacher and he or she will put together a school premise without fail; will make up the teaching material; and, will make the attendance perfect.” This is so true because I observe my teachers every day at school and they certainly fit the description! The other message reads, “Life is like riding a bike. In order to maintain equilibrium, we must keep pedaling.” This message applies to everyday life and is especially important to remember when we experience our lows. So uplifting!

Bernadette making herself at home at school

Make Yourself at Home: Go to the Beach


So, is this Venice Beach, California, or Almeria, Spain? Both of these beach towns have a lot in common. From the boardwalk and bike routes to the homes and businesses that border the beautiful sandy beach. The sunsets over the sea are the cherry on top! At times I thought I was back home in California. Being here in Almeria definitely makes me feel at home! I’m so glad I took this opportunity during our holiday break to come here and tour Almeria!

Making New Friends

I love making new friends! I’ve made more in my short time here in Spain than I ever have in the past five years at home. When I’m feeling homesick, my friends know what to do! They always make me feel comfortable and at home! Another great way to get to know others is to enroll in a dance school! When I’m feeling down, my instructors and fellow students pick me up, make me feel included and at home. They made sure that I didn’t spend the New Year’s alone! What fun we had dancing in 2022! I look forward to making more lifelong friendships with my remaining time here! These are the days I never want to end!

Our Auxiliar de Conversación with some friends

And finally, but not least, the sunsets are gorgeous! Madrid is renowned for its incredible sunsets due to its geographic location. There are many miradores such as El Mirador del Cerro del Tío Pio’s and Templo de Debod where you can have an unobstructed view and take pictures. Just to see sunsets like this nearly every evening to end my day makes me feel more than at home! I’m in paradise!

Now that we’ve completed 1 of 3 terms at school, I can say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed establishing new relationships both at my colegio and outside of school. The pleasure of having these new relationships along with being in a place far from home makes it seem so magical and I feel right at home! Thank you!

A beautiful sunset in Madrid

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