Teaching Abroad in Bocairent, Spain

Ryan Gomez and I spoke for the first time since our initial interview when he began his journey. I wasn’t sure what Ryan was going to say about his experience so far in Bocairent. He had moved to a small town in eastern Spain that was entirely different from what I had known while living abroad. We had been communicating electronically by text but we finally got the chance to speak over the phone. Ryan has been one busy person teaching abroad. He filled me in on his language progress, his latest trip, and more.

Dinner with Ryan Gomez


Although Ryan and I met in August 2018, it’s always a pleasure catching up with him. Whenever I talk with Ryan, I always get the sense that he is someone I feel like I have known for years. I remember Ryan’s initial goals that he explained before leaving FSU’s campus. It was so pleasing to hear that not only has Ryan assimilated into his life in Spain, but he has also learned to speak Spanish. He explained that his use of Valencian is mandatory in his small town. There are certain phrases that he uses in town that are not used in other large towns or cities. He had just returned from a trip to Alicante, Spain where he laughed and said, “I would use a phrase that I speak in Bocairent and people would look at me like, ‘huh?’”

Learning the Language

For those who are unfamiliar with Spanish, and language in general, when you live in a pueblo or small town like where Ryan lives, you could have a phrase that literally means one thing but is referred to as another. Ryan explained, “the most common phrase I notice is that in a Valencian bar, one might ask for a tanque when ordering a large beer. In a Castellano bar, the bartender would lift and ask, jarra?

The point of this reference is that it is possible for one word in Spanish to mean two different things, or for one word that means large beer in your vocabulary (in Ryan’s case) is referred to as totally a different phrase and gesture in a couple towns over. For first-time global professionals and language learners out there, you know exactly what this feels like!

Meet Ryan, the man who knows no stranger:

What is a typical day at your school like?

“The typical school day begins at 9:00 AM. I usually show up around five to ten minutes before that. The students have two 45-minute class periods followed by a 30-minute esplai (recess). Afterwards, the students line up and re-enter the school for two more class periods. After class, they have extracurricular activities from 12:30–1:15 PM. From 1:15–3:30 PM students and faculty have a lunch/siesta break. Most of the students go home during this time. The ones who stay get fed lunch and have different things to do or play with for a few hours. The typical day concludes with two final class periods and everyone leaves for home at 5:00 PM. Fridays are different in that the day concludes/the weekend starts at 1:15pm!”

How many people do you work with (language assistants included)? How many classes do you teach?

“I work with four different English teachers throughout the week. In all, there are about 25 to 30 teachers and administrators in total working at the school. I interact with most of them on a daily basis. When it comes to other language assistants… I’m the only one. I am the Highlander, so to speak.

Friends travel abroad

As a language assistant at the school, I work in 10 different classrooms spanning grades 1st – 6th once per week. I work twice per week in four 3rd and 4th grade classes. During the extracurricular blocks, I work with a group of 6th graders to reinforce their English speaking skills and conduct a weekly reading club in the library.”

Are you forming working relationships with coworkers?

“I’d like to think so! They always make me feel welcomed and included when I go to work. I’m proud to say I’ve memorized every teacher’s name! Outside school, I have hung out with a lot of the teachers. For example, a lot of us go out for lunch or dinner at least once per week, and a couple of us guys get together every other week to play paddle ball and have a drink afterwards!”

Are you forming bonds teaching your students?

“These students are awesome. They’re so happy all the time. I’m slowly remembering their names but it’s difficult because the names, surnames, and second surnames are all the same! As the school year continues, I’m learning little tidbits about each student’s personality and how to get reactions from them. Some are more outgoing and willing to stutter out a question in English, while others are more inward and you have to pull it out of them. And some of these little guys are tricksters! One student has yet to give me an official high-five. He has offered his hand and moved it every single time. It’s been five months now.”

Does the school foster the creation and maintenance of these relationships inside and outside the classroom?

“Living and teaching in a small town has definitely helped me build relationships. There’s really no escaping everyone, haha! Whether I’m shopping for groceries, going to the gym, or meeting some friends for a drink, I am always coming across groups of students playing or other teachers going about their day.

The school where I work is pretty special. I can honestly say all the adults get along, across all ages. The only real dispute I’ve witnessed or heard about was between two teachers who were arguing about which song to play in the morning to welcome the students in.”

What is your favorite part of the day? Why?

“Like everyone, my favorite part of the day is recess/almorzar! During the 30-minute esplai, I am free to do whatever I want. I always brew up some coffee and either go out to the schoolyard and chat with the other teachers, or sit at a computer in the teacher’s lounge and read up on the daily news from the US. On some rare occasions, I walk out onto the pitch and dominate the daily soccer or handball match that is being played.

One time I scored a goal that was so epic even I was impressed. The entire courtyard went into a frenzy as students swarmed me from all sides. We were all cheering and jumping! I was throwing kids up into the air. If they could’ve lifted me up onto their shoulders, like in Rudy, they would have. The student body had to be corralled back into the building with whistles to be heard over the endless shouts for “RRAAAYYYAAANN!!! RAAAAYYYYAAAANNNN!!!!” We chanted our way back to class and countless high-fives were given. Defeating a bunch of eight-year-olds does wonders for self-esteem.”

How is material being taught to students? Is there a specific method being used?

“Every teacher I work with has their own method of teaching. Most follow the units in their class and activity books. The books come with CDs that contain many different ways to deliver the content, most of which center around interactive games that make the students follow along in their books.”

How do you prepare your lessons for each class? If you don’t plan lessons, how do you prepare for class?

“I am not supposed to be preparing the lesson plans for my classes; I only assist with the implementation of them. However, at least every other week, I am asked to prepare a presentation for the classes or conduct one of the lessons. My presentations are usually on American holidays and our culture. An example of a lesson I’ve taught was teaching the “h” sound in English, which the Spanish language does not have. We used different types of interactive games that forced the students to make the sounds. “Horse. Holly. Helicopter!”

Do you work at a bilingual school? What does that mean to you? What does that mean according to the community of Bocairent?

“I don’t work at a bilingual school. All the classes are taught in the Valencian language at my school. The students do have a castellano (Spanish) class and English class built into their curriculum, but we don’t qualify as a bilingual school.”

What standards are your classroom teachers using to measure the performance of their students?

“Teachers measure their students’ performance using mostly standardized tests. There is an exam at the end of each unit. An exam might be out of a possible 40-50 points and each question is worth a specific amount. The teachers and I also check the student’s activity books frequently to make sure they’re keeping up with the daily class work and homework. I don’t give the students their marks unless I’m conducting the “Speak to the Teacher” portion of the exams.”

Vista Bocairent Spain

Does your school have a set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help their students succeed?

“Our shared goal is to show and teach the students that we care about them and their education. When they feel loved or cared for, it gives them more confidence to continue. When my students want to show me their work, I pretend it’s the most important thing in the world. They usually turn around with a big smile on their face, go back to their desk, and continue working.”

Looking back at our first Teach Abroad interview, what have you learned most about yourself since your arrival to Spain and/or Europe both in the classroom and out of the classroom?

“This adventure in Spain was all about leaving everything I knew behind and discovering who I really am. I have always lived within close proximity to my friends and/or family members. For the first time in my life, I am in complete control over how I spend my free time and thoughts. I’ve come to realize that I’m actually a pretty bad-ass dude. I like the man that I am. There will always be haters out there. But for the most part, I know I have a positive impact on the people I interact with.

Patience is Possible

I’ve also learned a level of patience I never knew was possible. Learning Spanish while teaching English has been something that happens poco a poco each day. When I first flew here with my father in September, I could barely muster a few words to the airline worker in Miami checking my bags in. By November, I had my first five-minute conversation with another teacher, entirely in Spanish.

By December, I was having daily engagements with neighbors and strangers in my favorite restaurants. Last week, I gave a bilingual, hour-long lecture on American culture to over 100 people. Basically, I can speak Spanish now! I can’t wait to see how much more I improve before I leave. I’ve also managed to pick up over a dozen words and phrases in Valencian too, so that’s always fun to throw out there while conversing with the locals. This is just the beginning. If anything, my experience in learning a new language has shown me that I’m capable of learning other things too! It just takes time and patience.”

“I came to Spain to experience another culture and learn a new language. In the future, when meeting somebody for the first time, I want to be able to tell them I lived, survived, and thrived by myself in another country.” – Ryan Gomez (first interview)

Wrap-Up of Teaching Abroad

Overall, “Raaaaaaayaaaaan” sounded optimistic and like his happy-go-lucky outgoing self. Most importantly, he sounded enthusiastic about his teaching experience. We spoke about life in a small pueblo in Spain and how a south Floridian acclimatized to his surroundings.

Friends in Bocairent Spain

Ryan is thriving while teaching abroad in Bocairent, Spain. He has become the town English speaker, teacher, coach, and friend who not only teaches at the primary school but also guest lectures at the secondary school on his days off. He not only has met his initial goal of learning a new language, but he has also learned to live and speak the valenciano dialect and its colloquialisms. Stay tuned for our third interview with Ryan to find out what his future holds.

by Leesa Truesdell

Settling in After Moving Abroad to Teach

Without a doubt, the process of getting “settled in” to my little town was the most stressful portion of my entire experience teaching abroad. Relocating to another country when you don’t speak the language is already a formidable task, but when you’re basically living off the grid without a reliable mode of transportation, simple things like being at a police station at a specific time takes a little more effort. This is a quick recount of how I got myself established (bank account, apartment, etc.) during my first few days of moving abroad to teach in a small mountain town in Spain.

What Needs to Be Done When Moving Abroad to Teach?

I’m participating in the North American Language and Culture Assistant program organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports in the Valencian Community. Anyone who searches “teaching in Valencia” will read about their issue of paying language assistants, auxiliares, on time. The best advice former auxiliares give is to submit all your paperwork to your school as soon as possible. In order to complete my paperwork, I needed to set up a bank account, purchase a Spanish SIM card, find a place to live and begin the process of getting my tarjeta de identidad de extranjero (TIE) card. This would allow me to leave and re-enter the country once my temporary visa expired.

I was fortunate enough to have either my dad (who speaks Spanish) or my landlord, Isabel, with me for the majority of this experience. Others might not be so lucky. In the program I’m participating in, when you first learn of the institution you’ll be working at, you are given contact information for the school and its Director. Touch base with your school immediately with any questions or concerns. Someone there will speak English and should be able to help you complete each task. When moving to a small pueblo in Spain, you, or the person helping you, will need to be able to communicate in Spanish. This isn’t a big city, like Valencia or Madrid, where every employee speaks at least some English.

A Catch 22 When Moving Abroad to Teach

bbva bocairent bank

The toughest part about acquiring all the necessities for living abroad is that you need each item in order to get the other! For example, in order to open a bank account, we were asked to provide a phone number and home address. However, it’s difficult to purchase a phone plan and SIM without being able to provide a bank account number. And most people won’t rent you a flat unless you can prove you’ll be able to pay and they have a way of contacting you (via phone).

After being rejected by Santander, I was able to open up a Spanish bank account with BBVA. The man who helped me said to make sure I came back once everything else was taken care of. This way, I could finish inputting the rest of the information later on. That was a huge victory at the time! [TIP: Upon opening your account, make sure to ask for a copy of your Bank Certificate. Your school will need one to process your paperwork].

Wi-Fi, Phone, and Data Plans

With my bank account temporarily taken care of, we went to buy a SIM card I could use in Spain. When teaching abroad, you will need to purchase a phone and data plan. Everyone I’ve met in Spain uses WhatsApp to communicate. This means having a ton of minutes hasn’t been that important for me. However, unless you’re asking for WiFi passwords every time you enter a shop, you might eat through some data.

After consulting with the two electronics stores in my town, I decided to go with Simyo, a Spanish provider. I get 2.5GB and 20 minutes for 8 euros/month and no contract. You can set your account up online and just pre-pay through the computer. This way, you don’t have to keep going to the store to pay each month as I did at first. I eventually bought an Internet plan for my piso from the same store for 18.15 euros a month.

How to Find a Home Abroad

Finding somewhere to live in another country when it’s difficult to communicate with the other person is a fun time! My dad and I were, fortunately, able to find a place to put our luggage while we house-hunted. Any town that’s big enough for a school, no matter how remote it might be, will have at least one hotel you can use for a temporary base of operations. Idealista.com and Airbnb provided a few options for renting, but I wanted to see the places in person before making any commitments.

Aside from walking around looking for “se alquila” signs in windows, the best place to find an apartment, piso, in a small town is by asking the people! Everyone knows each other! My dad and I picked out the cafetería that looked the busiest, and he started chatting around. I just stood there next to him smiling and nodding my head a lot. We eventually left with a few names and numbers.

bocairent school

Living Comfortably and Affordably

It only took two attempts to find something that checked off enough boxes, was affordable and felt right. Although my piso looks like it hasn’t been remodeled since the Spanish Civil War, it’s spacious, clean, close in proximity to everything important, and all the utilities work. Since I don’t have a car in Spain, living only a 2-minute walk away from my school is very important. It gives me more flexibility during the 2.5-hour siesta break we have every day.

Your money definitely goes a lot further when living in a small town. An auxiliar in central Valencia is paid the same amount of euros as an auxiliar in Bocairent is. However, my total expenses for rent, utilities, phone, and the Internet is less than 400 euros per month in a four-bedroom flat. You won’t find that anywhere in the cities.

bocairent townhall


Once I had a place to call “home,” I needed to take all my information to the ajuntament (town hall) and get my empadronamiento form that showed proof of residency in my town. This was the final piece necessary before I could obtain my TIE card.

One More Hurdle and I Can Finally Settle Down

euro electronic moving abroad to teach

Submitting my paperwork for the TIE was the toughest part of getting my ducks in a row in Spain. The paperwork had to be submitted at a national police station. In my little region, the closest one was 10 km away in Ontinyent, the next town over. The station did not take appointments by phone. The only way to be seen was to show up before the doors opened at 8 am in hopes of receiving a number and timeslot to come back for the actual appointment.

Isabel, my landlord, decided to pick me up in the morning. By 6:00 am we were standing outside the station shivering in a line of a dozen people. An English-speaking couple behind me said they’d come earlier in the week to try to get a number. Unfortunately, they had been turned away because the line was too long. At 8:00 am, an officer opened the door and started addressing the line. At the same time, a wife and five kids hopped out of a car and stepped in line with the dad in front of me. Luckily, only two of the kids were allowed to stay in line. I ended up receiving one of the last numbers of the day!

I Didn’t Speak Spanish Yet

Luckily I had my landlord with me. Nobody in the police station spoke English and I didn’t speak Spanish yet. The entire appointment lasted an hour and consisted of the worker talking to Isabel in Valencian, Isabel turning to me and repeating his words in Spanish, me turning around to look for the person she must’ve been talking to, and then turning back to shake my head, smile, and say, “No entiendo.

moving abroad to teach puzzle

Last Piece of the Puzzle

Eventually, we figured it all out. I needed my US passport, an extra passport photo, the NIE number on my temporary visa, the empadronamiento, and my carta de nombramiento that shows how long I’m working in the country and how much I’m getting paid. This is sent in an email when you first learn of your school assignment. The last step was to pay the 15.76 euros transaction fee at a nearby bank, and then run back to the station where they gave you a temporary TIE certificate. I had to return to the station a month later to pick up the physical TIE card.

Moving Abroad to Teach Got Better

I hope that sharing my experience of moving abroad to teach and settling into a small town in another country can help ease the concerns of others thinking about taking the plunge. I finished all these tasks in only three days in total. So although those three days were one long headache, at least it was over quick. The rest of my teaching abroad experience has been a breeze!

by Ryan Gomez


Learning to Live in Bocairent, Spain

When I first made the decision to leave the United States and teach abroad, I envisioned living in one of Spain’s many major cities: Bilbao, Barcelona, Madrid, or Seville. I would leave everything I knew and loved behind and dive headfirst into the jungle that is a European metropolis. There, I would be one stranger, walking amongst a sea of strangers. I had mentally prepared for the “little fish in a big pond” scenario. I daydreamed about what it would be like befriending the other language assistants working in the same city; how we’d develop a special type of bond that could only come from surviving and learning together in a different country. As nervous as I knew I would be, I thought I would at least have a support system.

bocairent bull statue

I had spoken with numerous people who’d lived in Madrid or Barcelona, and who always talked about how remarkable those places were; how every day was a new adventure. I had met a few people who studied abroad in Valencia, who told me how fun the nightlife was and the various people they’d met from all over the world. I definitely had a strong image built up of how my year abroad might be.

Expectation vs. Reality Abroad

That all changed when I finally received my placement in early July 2018. I was placed to live in Bocairent, a small pueblo about 1.5 hours south of Valencia. The place appeared only once in the Spain travel guide I’d purchased and the name wasn’t even on the book’s map for the Valencian Community. When I Googled the town to get more information, there wasn’t much available.

There were some famous caves associated with the locale. The population was around 5,000 people. The closest train station was 10 km away in the neighboring, larger town of Ontinyent. The bus only passed a few times during the week and once on the weekends. The town’s Wikipedia page consisted of only a single line. And to top it all off, I was the only language assistant placed to live in Bocairent. I had distant Basque relatives living in the north and would have loved to live close to them. This is when I learned there would be no support system and limited opportunities for travel.

The only things that kept me excited and sure of my decision to go forth with the language program and live in Bocairent were the pictures of Bocairent on the Internet. The place looked like something out of Middle Earth. A town built into a mountain with a long bridge connecting it to a regional road and the rest of civilization. The streets were tight and the homes were medieval-looking. There were pictures of people dressed in extravagant clothing marching in parades. The idea of living “off the grid” and assimilating into this small town seemed like an adventure of a lifetime. I would be Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, only better, and real.

Getting to Bocairent (Father-Son Bonding)

ryan gomez at soccer gameMy father and I spent the week before my arrival to live in Bocairent touring the Basque Country in the north of Spain with our relatives. We went to an Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid fútbol match the night before we left for Bocairent, and as you could imagine, we were moving pretty slowly. Neither of us had Spanish SIM cards yet and our phones were dying. They were basically useless (pro-tip: electric outlets in Spain are different than those used in the U.S… purchase an adapter beforehand!). With all that said: we had to rely on ol’ fashioned maps and screenshots.

My dad is the Man. He drove the entire way south using my cousin’s car (I haven’t driven a manual vehicle in 10 years). Navigating the autopistas and autovias of the Spanish highway system is difficult enough, especially when you barely recognize the language. We only had two mishaps: getting off at an incorrect exit because we confused the APs and the As… and driving off in the opposite direction looking for a gas station. We finally made it to Ontinyent seven hours later. Google Maps had only estimated six.

Language Barriers and Locals

The craziest part about the trek to live in Bocairent was how my dad and I were able to communicate with the owners of the flat we were staying at: we couldn’t. We had to Facebook Message our cousins in the North to call the owner (who wasn’t even in town at the time) to let him know we were close. The man had left his keys with the owner of a pastry shop but the shop was already closed. The keys were given to the owner of a women’s hairdresser store and they were driving around looking for us (we didn’t know any of this). With this limited assurance, my dad and I hopped back in the car and finished the last 10 km of our little odyssey.

traveling spain abroad

The road from Ontinyent to Bocairent is a dark, winding path through the mountains. Nervous and tired, negativity settled in as we zig-zagged further away from civilization. Finally, I saw a bright light off in the distance. Right there on the side of the highway was my new home! The entire town of Bocairent was fully lit in the night sky, and it looked glorious! My dad and I both said, “Oh, that’s cooooool,” at the same time.

My dad and I crossed an entire country by car without a GPS. That is a memory that will stay with me forever. It was at that moment I knew this would all work out and I had made the right decision.

family dinner in bocairent spain

by Ryan Gomez

Moving Abroad to Bocairent, Spain

teaching abroad Spain ryan gomezRyan Gomez is a South Florida native who is moving abroad to Bocairent, Spain. He is contracted to work as a language assistant for one year. I had the opportunity to meet with Ryan twice before he left on his quest to teach. My first impression of Ryan was that he was such an outgoing soul. He sat in front of me with a smile, not having any idea what his future in Spain would be like. After speaking to him a few times, I am so happy to present Ryan’s first impressions of his new life in Spain and his teaching-abroad experience.

Meet Ryan, the man who knows no stranger.

What made you decide to relocate to Spain in particular?

“I wanted to come to Spain to reconnect with my ancestral history and to teach abroad. My Dad’s side of the family is from the Paίs Vasco, also known as the Basque Country. I had never met them before arriving at the airport in Bilbao. My father hadn’t been to the Paίs Vasco to see his family in almost 30 years! Moving here again gave him the opportunity to see everyone he remembered from his childhood. It also allowed me to see a different side of him.

“I was never taught Spanish growing up, even though I live in South Florida with the last name Gomez. I promised my abuela I would learn, and I was finally in a position to take the leap. What better way to learn a language than to thrust oneself into another country and force it?”

Why did you choose to move to Bocairent?

“I have worked in the Florida public education system for five years (three in high school; two in college). If you stay working at a company for multiple years, usually your salary starts to increase along with your expertise. This isn’t the case in public education. From a fiscal standpoint, there’s really no incentive to stay in the education system for consecutive years. Even if I had remained teaching in Broward County for the next six years, I would only be making about $2,000 more a year than when I was first hired. So if I can step away for a year, immerse myself in another culture, add lines to my “life resume”, and realistically not miss out on anything… why wouldn’t I?!? I can’t think of a better way of putting my skill set to good use.”

moving to downtown Spain

Have you ever taught before? If not, what were you doing before you decided to move and start teaching abroad in Bocairent? 

“Yes! My first job after graduating from FSU was teaching high-school History and Government classes in my hometown. I also coached the JV baseball team. After three years, I moved to an administrative position in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at FSU. After two years of working in that office and talking to hundreds of students from every corner of the world, I decided to take my talents abroad.”

What did you think teaching in Spain would be like? Where are you teaching?

“I actually had no idea what to expect. Beforehand, I had been told that everything is more relaxed in the Spanish education system and that the teaching profession was respected in the country. So here I am, teaching abroad in Bocairent. It is a very small pueblo in the Valencia region with a population of just over 4,000 people. I can’t tell just yet, but I assume it is going to be VERY different than South Florida.”

Moving to Bocairent, Spain

What assumptions or expectations did you have before you came here?

“I am going to be a language assistant at the primary school in the pueblo. I have only ever worked with young adults who have access to their phones and the Internet 24/7. While I think I still thrive in that environment, I assume this teaching situation is going to be más fácil.”

What are your perceptions of moving to Bocairent so far?

teach abroad dinner ryan gomez Spain

“For someone who loves history, Bocairent is rich in it! The village was founded in 1256 after Jaume I the Conqueror and his Christian armies expelled the Islamic Moors from the region during the Spanish Reconquista. The pueblo was literally built into a mountain and some residents still inhabit the medieval style homes in the older parts of town. It looks like something you’d read about in The Lord of the Rings. Most of the population lives in the newer developments. 

“So far, everyone has been incredibly friendly. There is definitely a small-town feel to the place. Everyone knows each other and has noticed the “stranger” running up and down the streets during the day. I think I have been offered help in one way or another every day. Yet I can’t know for certain because I only understand about 60% of what is being said to me (haha).”

What are your goals while you are teaching abroad in Bocairent?

“I came to Spain to experience another culture and learn a new language. In the future, when meeting somebody for the first time, I want to be able to tell them I lived, survived, and thrived by myself in another country. For a long time, I have had the urge to live somewhere else and recreate myself. I can’t imagine what will occur in the next eight months…and it’s exciting! It makes me feel so glad that I came to teach abroad.”

What has been the most difficult adjustment to make since you arrived?

“I have been preparing for this move to Spain for an entire year to teach abroad. I took two semesters of Spanish language courses at FSU and practiced with Rosetta Stone for at least 30 minutes per day. Even with all my practicing, I am still feeling a language barrier. However, I am learning castellano Spanish faster than I could have ever imagined. Ironically, Bocairent is a very small, isolated pueblo where the official language is Valencian/valenciano (what the Spanish call it)/valencià (how the locals refer to the language), rather than Spanish.

“Valencian is seen on every street, sign, and building. Everyone speaks it. When someone first asks me a question, it’s in Valencian. My 1st and 2nd graders ONLY speak Valencian. I’ve  been here for just two weeks and I’m confident I’ll pick it up quickly…but that fun fact has added to the minimal early frustrations.”

What has been the best experience?

“The hospitality in this place is amazing! I am from South Florida. People don’t go out of their way to help anybody, ever. When my dad and I first arrived in Bocairent and were lost, we stopped in the road to ask a group of people sitting in front of a bar for directions. One of the ladies jumped in the car with us to show us the way.

“The elderly woman I am renting a piso from has quickly become my guardian angel. Doña Isabel tells me I am “the son she never had.” This woman has helped me complete all the documentation I need, she’s driven me to neighboring towns to complete said documentation, she’s bought me groceries, and she has already had me over for cena. Two weeks in… and she’s my best friend in this town.

“The principal of the school asked if I had a car. When I said, “no, I am going to buy a bike,” she called her husband and they gave me a bike for free. I am not used to this level of kindness. This has been incredible.

“And the kids make me laugh! I feel so popular during the school day. While switching classes, the students all run up to me and yell, “HELLO, RAYAN!!!!” and high five me and ask me questions. It’s only my first week working at the school and I feel like a rock star, haha.”

How do you feel about your integration into the Spanish culture so far?

““Poco a poco” is the term I am hearing a lot. Little by little I am getting the hang of things and integrating into the culture. I have been in Spain since September 10th. Even if I were to leave tomorrow, this has already been a life-changing experience. I am really excited to see what the future has in store!”

Moving to Bocairent

The Wrap-Up of Moving to Bocairent

After hearing Ryan’s impressions of his town and his school, I can’t wait to see what will happen when we check back in February to learn more about teaching abroad in Bocairent. Will Ryan be more proficient in Spanish? How will he feel after the cultural differences really set in? As many researchers point out, the honeymoon phase can last six weeks or sometimes up to 12 weeks for longer trips. If someone ever feels the urge to get homesick, it usually (on average) kicks in toward the end of this time. Stay tuned to see what Ryan will have to say in his next interview.

by Leesa Truesdell