Experiencing new cultures and traditions through a teaching opportunity with Essex Abroad

Jacob is one of our Essex students who took part in the British Council’s Language Assistants programme teaching English in Spanish schools during 2021/2022. We asked him about his time abroad and the challenges faced along his experience…

Why did you choose this specific program and why did you choose Spain?

When I applied for my year abroad I originally applied for the British Council assistant-ship in Chile, however because of the pandemic it was not advised for me to travel to South America because most of the schools were closed and I wouldn’t have had the full school experience. Therefore I was asked if I wanted to transfer to do the assistant-ship in Spain and I chose to do the program in Murcia. I chose Murcia because I had been their previously and knew it had a great mix of not only beaches and coastal areas but also the city.

What benefits did this program have on a personal and academic level?

After my degree I want to become a teacher so doing the British Council assistant-ship has allowed me to gain vital skills that I can take with me to my teacher training next year.

I have been able to develop as a person too because this was the first time living on my own, therefore I learned to become more independent and to carry out administrative tasks that I have never had to do before. During my time in Spain I feel like my communication skills in Spanish improved massively because I was talking to native Spanish speakers everyday and made new friends to go out and socialize with.


What is the best memory from your time in Spain?

My best memory of Spain was finally getting the keys to my flat because when I first arrived it was difficult to find suitable accommodation within the center of Murcia. Therefore, when I received the keys for my flat it was a relief that I had found a permanent place to stay for the full duration of my year abroad.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face during your time abroad?

For me, the most difficult part of the year abroad was before I had even left England. I was part of the first year of students that needed to apply for a visa and there were long delays at the Spanish Embassy in London, as a result it took me nearly five months to obtain my visa to go to Spain.

What would you suggest to anyone considering taking the same or a similar program as you?

My suggestion would be to make the most of the experience because for me, it was one of the best experiences I have had, being able to meet new people and learn new things about the Spanish culture. Also, to try things and traditions that you are not close with, to submerge yourself fully into the culture.

Inspired by Jacob's story? Find out more about Study Abroad opportunities.