Monday, April 1, 2013

Prepping in Canada

How did this upheaval of my life start?

Wayyyyy back, in 2005 I went to Spain for 6 weeks to study the language, volunteer, and visit Europe for the first time. I loved my experience back then! Spain was absolutely amazing, and so different from Vancouver. I loved speaking a second language; I was able to have conversations in Spanish by the end of my trip. Plus the place I volunteered at suggested I could apply for a paid position with them, especially since I'd already volunteered and had a wonderful time doing so. Thing is, before I left on my trip I had just started dating someone in Vancouver, so when I returned I had a choice between staying in Vancouver, or going to Spain to work. I chose love.
Fast forward to 2012, I was single and now had the freedom to do what I wanted. I knew I had to leave Vancouver; I'd lived here for so long, I was feeling almost comatose walking the same streets and visiting the same places over and over again. I felt restless. Originally, I thought I'd move to Ottawa, get a government job, learn French, and make a difference in the world (blah, blah, blah).
It took a trip to Italy in the Fall to attain that "eureka" moment. I was chillin' on the hotel patio, having just swam in the ocean in Giardini. Mt. Etna was right in front of me, and the weather was nice and hot. "This is my kind of life," I thought. I realized right then and there, that I had to move to Spain. The dream I had in 2005 was about to come true.

When I returned from Italy, originally the plan was to get a youth mobility program visa (Canada and Spain have an agreement), go to Spain and try to find work. After speaking with people from Spain, and researching the dismal economic situation, it became clear that while it was possible I'd find work, the likeliness was lower than if I'd chosen a country that had a stronger economy. I did extensive research online and discovered the North American Language and Culture Assistant program. I had absolutely no idea the Spanish government hired native English speakers to teach their people.
I had never taught a class before, but when learning Spanish I relied on language exchange / tutoring to advance my knowledge. I decided to formalize my teaching skills, even though it wasn't required, so that I could look more attractive to employers in Spain. I registered for a CELTA program (a type of TEFL) here in Vancouver. I had to lie to co-workers about what exactly was this class that was taking up all my time. Although they helped create the lie: they would ask, and I would answer, "Grammar class", and they assumed I meant Spanish grammar. I didn't correct them. ;)
The CELTA program has been great so far; I have taught beginner and intermediate students studying English here in Vancouver, and my tutors say I'm doing very well. I anticipate passing in April. In the meantime, I have applied not only to NALCA, but to BEDA and UCETAM as well. The latter two are more stringent in the kinds of applicants they're looking for. They are more geared towards people who want to be teachers long-term. Originally I had entered CELTA thinking the teaching thing was just going to be an easy way to get into Spain, but after teaching my first class I realized I actually really like doing it!
So far NALCA has accepted my paperwork, it's just a matter of them sending me a posting in Spain and me accepting. The other two, I'm waiting. (Waiting, waiting....) I am so excited to see who accepts me. I've barely told anyone here at home, but once I'm accepted I will be throwing a big-ass party!
The only thing that makes me truly sad about leaving, is that I'm leaving behind very, very good friends. Plus my family will be farther away from me. I am very nervous about going; I've lived in Vancouver for a long time. However, I know in my heart this is the right thing to do. I've had this dream for so long, and it's finally coming true. This is the right time.

April 1, 2013

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