I cannot believe it’s almost been two years since I boarded my flight for my study abroad experience in Valladolid, Spain. Being an extremely nostalgic person, I can’t help but think of my time in Europe at least once a day. In fact, yesterday marked one year since I spent a weekend in London with an English friend of mine. Being the extremely nostalgic person I am, I cried
There’s nothing more I yearn for in this world than to see the world and keep on traveling to my heart’s content. Therefore, I highly encourage everyone to study abroad and take advantage of any opportunity to travel to foreign countries. There is nothing more eye-opening than visiting a new country and getting to experience new and distinct cultures.
Teaching Abroad with BCA
Studying abroad through BCA allowed me to experience so many enriching and unique opportunities. While I was abroad in Valladolid, I taught English twice a week at an elementary school and gave free English lessons at an immigration center twice a week. These two experiences led me to pursue more international teaching opportunities abroad.
Children’s Spanish Program at my College
In order to maintain my connection to Spain, I’ve continued to use my Spanish as much as possible in the United States. As a Spanish Education PK-12 major, I had previously worked within the Children’s Spanish Program. This is a community based program on Elizabethtown College’s campus, which is available to children living in Elizabethtown, PA. This is an immersion program where children meet on campus once a week and learn Spanish from a Spanish Education major (me!).
I had always loved serving as a lead teacher in this program, but was even more excited to teach in the program after returning from Spain.
Fulbright Application Process
Since returning from Spain, I’ve done everything in my power to seek opportunities that would allow me to return to my second home abroad. Before I studied abroad, I knew of the highly competitive and prestigious merit-based grant and scholarship known as the Fulbright program.
Within this program, students from across the United States compete for an all-expenses paid, grant-funded graduate study, advanced research, university lecturing or classroom teaching experiences abroad. The program is designed to establish mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.
I always knew I wanted to work abroad, but being abroad for a year deepened my interest in working abroad and specifically teaching in Spain. That’s why as soon as I returned to Elizabethtown College in the fall of 2016, I sought out the Director of Prestigious Scholarships and Fellowships. He assisted me throughout the rigorous and tedious development that is the Fulbright application process.
Teach for America Program
As soon as I applied for my Fulbright, I knew immediately that an English teaching position in Spain was my calling. Therefore, I was pleased to receive news that I had been chosen as a semi-finalist for a Fulbright position in Spain in January of this year. Thus, started the waiting game.
I had to wait two more months to find out if the Spanish government in Spain had selected me as a principal candidate for this position. During my waiting period, I thought it would be best to have a backup plan, just in case I didn’t receive the Fulbright grant. Since I am studying to become a Spanish teacher, I thought it would be an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience to take part in the Teach for America (TFA) program.
The Teach for America program seeks out candidates (who show leadership capacity, motivation and who share the belief that all students are capable of learning) who they then send out to teach in low achieving schools around the United States.
So, I decided to begin the application process for the program and was shortly afterwards granted an interview with TFA in January. Shortly after my interview, I was grateful to receive an acceptance into the program! The committee at TFA decided they would send me to the state of Connecticut, where I would be able to teach Spanish in a secondary school setting for a minimum of two years. My future was beginning to look bright!
Before I knew it, it was March and the end of the two longest months of my life. I started checking my email feverishly, awaiting an email from Fulbright, but nothing, then March 16th came around. After an evening of teaching in the Children’s Spanish Program, I opened my email and saw that I had received an email from the Fulbright program. I immediately dropped everything and read that I had been selected as a principal candidate for the Fulbright program! That’s right! I am going to teach English at an elementary school in La Rioja!
Teaching in Spain – The Future is Bright!
I am beyond grateful, thrilled and honored to receive such a prestigious award. I already told my host mom (from when I studied abroad in Valladolid) and we’ve already discussed when we’ll be meeting up to see each other when I’m abroad! No, I didn’t forget about Teach for America. I contacted them and let them know of my Fulbright acceptance. They were more than happy to allow me to defer my acceptance with them! It appears that the next three years of my life are set!
In my heart, I know that living abroad and teaching is what I ultimately want to do. I can’t wait to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to work abroad – teaching in Spain, discover more of Spain and to continue exploring the world around me.
About the Author – Nelli Orozco, Year 2015-16 BCA Valladolid, Spain Alumna
I’m Nelli Orozco and I’m a senior from Elizabethtown College, majoring in Spanish Education PK-12. I am studying to become a Spanish teacher and was fortunate enough to spend my entire junior year abroad in Valladolid, Spain! When I am not studying Spanish, and teaching I spend my time reminiscing on my time abroad!