Erasmus+ Internship during a Global Pandemic: Part 2
Joshua is working as an English Teacher at OneWay language school in Seville and this is what he has to say about living in Spain:
Seville is such a beautiful city that has offered more than I ever thought it would. It is the perfect mix of a bustling city with loads going on, but small enough that you can get to know it pretty quickly. Living in La Macarena district allows you a little escape from the touristy centre and forces you to communicate with a bunch of locals who most likely don’t speak English. If your reason for coming out to Seville is to learn Spanish, then it is definitely one of the best places to live.
At some point I thought the novelty of being in a new sunny city would wear off, but each day I seem to have a ‘pinch me I’m dreaming’ moment. Like when I’m cycling to work in a t-shirt in November because its still 25°C; or when you and five friends order a ridiculous amount of cañas and tintos but the bill still only comes to €28; or when you’re wandering down a street and a man comes round the corner strumming his guitar and screaming flamenco at the top of his lungs. Sometimes it feels too romantic to be true, but the reality is that Seville is a city where people are proud of who they are and they don’t hide away from that.
The work aspect of the internship has also been enjoyable. It has been my first teaching job since gaining my TEFL qualification and I’ve learnt a lot on the job. I work at One Way as an English Teacher and teach classes from ages 4-18. When I applied for this placement I was made aware that you are thrown in at the deep end at One Way… And that was no lie. After a quick 30-minute meeting, where I was given a pile of information, I was sent on my way to teach my first class. If you prefer to not be spoon-fed and are happy to learn from mistakes, then I recommend giving it a shot. It is a very small but super friendly team of staff who make you feel like a family instantly. Anuska, the receptionist, is honestly the backbone of the school – and teachers – and always has a warm welcome for teachers and students.
You are treated like a full teacher at the job, rather than an intern. But with that privilege comes responsibility. I am expected to cover a syllabus over the term getting students to work towards different Trinity ISE exams. Included in the job is a lot of lesson planning, marking and general organisation to ensure that students are on the right track. In terms of a first teaching experience, One Way is invaluable not only for the CV but also for the actual tangible experience that I’ve been able to gain from it. Not to mention what I’ve learnt about myself as a teacher.
Highlight of your internship so far:
However, being truly honest – and truly cheesy – I want to say that the group of friends I have made are my real highlight. None of the experiences in the list above would have been as good without the company of such beautiful people.
Before heading out to Seville I was worried I’d be a bit older than everyone and might not be able to get on with people. I kept reassuring myself that out of 16 people in the B3ST group, I’d be sure to make friends with at least one. Little did I know that pretty quickly I’d forge some unforgettable friendships with a group who will have long lasting memories for me. Each day I’m reminded of how different we all are and how we have different reasons for being here, but that just adds to the excitement and interest. I have learnt a lot from them and am so excited to see where people are headed in life after this internship.
Emotions aside and back to my normal tone: a safe 2nd highlight is the fact that you can find beer for €1 at Bar Mi Negro y Yo. Good for the bank balance, bad for the liver.
What weekend trip would you recommend to others?
Over the Dia de la Hispanidad long weekend a small group of us booked an Airbnb in the Algarve, Portugal. We rented a van and hit the road for the 2.5 hour journey. It is very straight forward to get to Portugal from Seville and takes such little time it seems silly not to try it out.
We had this huge house in some small town, it had so much land and hundreds of trees surrounding it. The place was beautiful and we all felt very lucky to be living this life while friends back at home were looking at a potential new lock down and a rainy 6°C weather forecast. However, we let the guilt subside and managed to have an incredible weekend. We barbecued, we swam, we danced, we ate. We did everything you should do on a hot bank holiday weekend. I have never seen a sunset as powerful as the one we watched set over the harbour that weekend. The sky was awash with intense colours and the sea was powerfully reflecting them back. I thought Seville had good sunsets, but this one took it to the next level.
On the last day we drove home via the Benagil caves, which are these amazing natural structures you can only access via the water. We decided to get a boat ride, rather than paddle board or swim, because the sea was really choppy that day. The boat ride was hilarious, the sea was throwing us in all directions and the driver was purposefully hitting the waves at certain angles to make the little speed boat literally be at 90°. They took us into a few different caves, some enormous and lit up by the sunlight streaming though, some tiny and dark because they never see daylight. It was a brilliant experience and was a perfect way to end the weekend. But the best part was that on our way home (the time at which you normally start feeling the holidays blues) we realised we were heading back to our already fantastic lifestyle in Seville. A holiday from the holiday!
Thoughts on doing an internship during a pandemic:
Unfortunately, there would be loads more of those weekends that we were planning on doing but thanks to Miss Rona we have had to curtail any excursions outside of Seville. Other trips we had planned were Granada, El Caminito del Rey, Ronda, Tarifa, Cordóba. Hopefully things will ease up before the end of the year and we can catch a few of these places before people fly home.
It has been an interesting ride dealing with living in another country while there is a pandemic happening. You feel torn because you want to make the most of your experience here but also feel a moral responsibility to not spread the virus. For the first few weeks we all felt relatively untouched by the restrictions in place. Bars and restaurants were open until 1am, and groups of 10 could sit together. That lasted for a few sweet weeks, and then one day came the news of an in-house curfew. It was something that stressed me out for a while, I wasn’t able to comprehend being forced inside at a certain time. Slowly I’ve gotten used to it and have been able to get creative with socialising and we have found alternative ways to enjoy ourselves.
One benefit is that it has given me more time to actually explore Seville properly. Rather than jetting off on weekend excursions, it means we spend much more time in the city and see fully what it has to offer. Sometimes its nice just to sit in a tapas bar or café and watch the world go by. There are so many lovely squares or plazas that you can sit in and enjoy the sun.
Advice to future interns:
Push yourself to speak the language when you’re here. It is very common for English people to be embarrassed to give the language a go, but Spanish people are very accommodating and will allow you to make mistakes. While it is great to make friends with the other interns, I think it is really important to try and make local friends. Spending time with Spanish people is really the only way to properly excel your language abilities.
Keep an eye on the spending. Everything seems really cheap and so its easy to end up eating and drinking out 24/7. While the Erasmus grant is super helpful it is nothing like a salary – and I definitely forgot that in my first couple of months!
Get a bike! I bought a second hand bike for €80 and it opened up the city to me so much more. Force your friends to get a bike too and you can cycle everywhere together. Its so much fun. There is the Servici bike hire scheme, but from what I’ve heard the bikes are pretty terrible to ride and you don’t save a huge amount more than if you buy your own bike.
This placement is a fantastic start for anyone who has thought about living abroad but not sure if they’re ready to take the leap. You are guided through every step of the way and have support from 3Si and B3ST basically all hours of the day. It is a fantastic spring board into teaching abroad and without it, I’m not sure I’d have the confidence I now have as I begin to look for jobs and housing in Spain. ******* Thanks Joshua for sharing your experience with us!