After studying abroad, Brianne Recker (IES Abroad Granada Customized Program, Spring 2016 | University of Michigan—Ann Arbor) knew she wanted to go back abroad and started applying for programs to teach in Spain. Since returning, Brianne has taught in Granada and recently moved to Madrid where she is a high school English assistant. Read on to discover Brianne’s motivation for teaching abroad, how she made it happen, and her advice for other alumni looking to do the same.
IES Abroad: Tell us what you’re up to in Spain.
Brianne Recker: I'm working as a high school English assistant with the Auxiliar de Conversación program. This summer I also worked as an English teacher and social media coordinator for the Middlebury Interactive Languages Granada Spanish Language Academy, a high school program jointly designed and implemented by IES Abroad Customized Programs and Middlebury Interactive Languages. In my free time you can almost always find me rock climbing, which has been incredible here, because Spain is a top international rock climbing destination!
IES Abroad: When did you decide you wanted to go back and how did you make it happen?
BR: Pretty much right after leaving Granada (which is where I studied abroad) I knew that I wanted to return to Spain. My senior year of college, I applied to programs to teach in Spain, and I'm still here over a year later!
IES Abroad: What is it to be back in Spain, this time as a teacher?
BR: I studied in Granada, and now I live in Madrid, and there are definitely a lot of differences between the cities. Madrid is bigger and more international, and though I certainly miss the beauty and quaintness of Granada, Madrid has been wonderful to me. I've met so many amazing people, and the city always has something new for me to discover!
IES Abroad: How did study abroad influence your desire to go back? Is there anyone who influenced you in particular?
BR: Study abroad certainly had an immense impact on my desire to move to Spain after graduation. After having made so much progress with my Spanish while studying abroad, I knew that coming back to Spain would be a way to ensure that I continue to develop my language abilities. Additionally, my host family in Granada made me feel so welcomed and comfortable in Spain, which certainly had a lot to do with why I felt so at home during my stay and had such a desire to return after I left.
IES Abroad: What advice would you give to alumni who want to go back abroad? Are there any challenges to consider? Are there tools or resources that they should be aware of?
BR: Make it happen-the only thing stopping you is you! Going back abroad is certainly a challenge, so you have to make it a priority if it's really what you want. For example, I was able to graduate a semester early to work and save up money before moving. However, there's no better time to go back abroad than when you're young, and making the decision to do so is the most important step. I encourage reaching out to other people who have gone back abroad (friends, acquaintances, alumni from your university) to ask for tips and guidance—we're always happy to help! I have also found a lot of great blogs, at least in my case of moving to Spain as a language assistant.
IES Abroad: How did your study abroad experience help prepare you for teaching? Are there any lessons you continue to draw upon?
BR: Studying abroad in Spain certainly introduced me to the cultural differences between Spaniards and Americans, which has been infinitely helpful in working with teenagers here. Additionally, I continue to draw on the techniques that I observed from the incredible instructors that I had at IES Abroad Granada. At the end of the day, bringing energy and passion to the classroom is the best way to connect with students, and I learned that first-hand from my teachers during my study abroad experience.
IES Abroad: What’s next for you?
BR: For now I plan on continuing to teach in Spain, but in the future I'm interested in working in the translation sector or even with a study abroad organization such as IES Abroad.
For more information about IES Abroad alumni, visit our Alumni page.