“It’s about putting yourself out there to make it the best you can!” — Morgan Yearout
I met Morgan over the summer in our online pre-departure course for CIEE part of which required uploading information and writing in a course discussion board. It was there that I got to know Morgan (virtually) through her posts, which were often up within a day or two. I enjoyed reading her posts and it became a weekly routine for me; read the assignment then read what Morgan had to say.
Over the course of the weeks leading up to our arrival in Spain, we became friends. We would talk outside of the CIEE course framework and discuss our upcoming life-changing journey. It seemed beyond coincidence that, after arriving at the airport in Madrid, I ran right into Morgan! First impressions mean a lot, and she’s confirmed everything that I believed from our online interaction. She’s someone who has a bright spirit, which will uplift your own to new heights. I used to think of myself as a planner, and then I met Morgan. She brings planning to a new level. A level that makes you think, well, hey she’s got this. Why duplicate efforts? Let Morgan plan the trip since she loves doing it!
Oh and she’s got a laugh that is contagious. HONK HONK!
Meet Morgan, the Go-Getter:
Morgan is from Moses Lake, Washington. In her adolescent years, she grew up in a town called Royal City, Washington. She considers this the place where she grew the most as a person. She later attended Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” as Morgan would say!
Why did you choose to come to Spain/Europe?
“I had the opportunity to visit Spain twice in the past four years and Spain captured my heart despite my brief encounters. I longed to return. It’s hard to articulate my feelings with words but essentially Spain is everything and more I could want in a place to visit and reside. It’s a beautiful country that has unique differences in each region. Each place varies from the other in terms of food, pace of life, architecture, day-to-day routines, and historical influences. The reason I moved here for a year was because my previous two-week stints weren’t enough to experience it all. I was also looking for a different kind of challenge. I am always pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and learning a new language was something that would be a real struggle for me. Duolingo just wasn’t going to cut it!”
What are your goals while you are here?
“My main goal is to feel rooted here and learn Spanish. I want to check off a couple of European bucket list items too. These items include a road trip through northern Spain, going wine tasting in Rioja, visiting Morocco, and Portugal (again) to get scuba certified.”
Have you ever taught before? If not, what was your career field?
“I was a Senior Manager for Revenue Management at Hilton Worldwide. Essentially, I was responsible for training and developing team members to be most effective at hotel rate setting and supporting them in their career growth.”
What do you think teach abroad in Spain will be like? Where are you teaching?
“I think it will be challenging from the perspective that I won’t necessarily know the subject matter well or have time to prepare for a lesson. I am uncertain about what the political landscape of the school will be but I hope to build relationships with the teachers easily. Based on my experiences in Spain so far, I don’t think it will be that challenging. I’m excited to be teaching at a bilingual high school though! It’s an age group that I can relate to from my experiences back in the States, I have done plenty of community service with this age group. My students should have a foundation of English already established. I will be working in Madrid city center. I do not have too far to commute.”
Why did you choose to teach abroad? Why did you choose Spain over other countries?
“I thought it would be a good opportunity to immerse myself into the Spanish culture, learn Spanish, and explore Europe in a cost-effective way! I initially started applying to South Korea because the pay is better and it would be a potential culture shock and a greater challenge for me. Then, I deliberated on why I would really want to teach abroad and what I want to gain from it. Also, at the time of my application I was in a really rough spot at work, getting sick and nauseous almost every day from stress and lack of sleep. I was looking for a way out to still get paid, take a break, and re-evaluate my life decisions since life flies when you’re doing the “8-5” rat race.”
What would you like to accomplish while you are in Spain?
“The main things I want to accomplish are to experience Spanish culture and not just as a tourist, I want to see what sticks and what doesn’t long term for my own lifestyle changes based on the Spanish way of life. I want to travel extensively, build long-lasting friendships, and converse decently in Spanish.”
What are your perceptions of Madrid so far?
“So far my perceptions are that it is a hard-working city, siestas are necessary to keep the balance of work and family. Locals live a life of moderation in everything they do. For example, working out, drinking and eating AKA not overindulgent (obviously there’s going to be outliers), very community/relationship-based, and they are a social society. They have a deep understanding of their roots, appreciation/pride, minimalist, resourceful/conservationists and tons of green space. I love all the outdoor activities the people of Madrid engage in. Madrid has a plethora of cultural experiences with museums, theatre, matador, monuments, dance performances and classes.”
What assumptions or expectations did you have before you came here? Have you found them to be accurate or inaccurate?
“I typically live in a way where I keep expectations and assumptions low so that I can just experience things as they are and embrace them. That being said, my perceptions of Madrid I have stated and I have found most of them to be accurate for Spain except I didn’t expect this city to be so vibrant and full of life. I imagined it would be more like a typical big city with a lot of buildings and people; but truly, this city is electric, especially at night! I also didn’t realize how much of an emphasis on work/life balance there is. Especially when it comes to maintaining strong family and friend relationships. They really make time for each other and it’s a rarity to see a Spanish person not with at least one other friend or family member unless they are en route to meet up. It’s a very cohesive society based on what I’ve been exposed to.”
What has been the most difficult since you arrived?
“Truly, not much. I think it’s all about perception of the struggles we encounter. I think dealing with the government red tape with getting the Visa, needing a passport to get a SIM card, and the last minute sexual assault form were a nuisance but well worth it!”
What has been the best experience?
“I have several: Running through Retiro Park and seeing new sites every time that take my breathe away, running along the river and enjoying the various vibes of leisurely folk picnicking, the skate park, the playgrounds, the runners, people on roller blades, walkers, and bikers on the trail, and the café vibes; so much variety! Other best experiences have been finding quality friends in Madrid through the CIEE program to explore the beautiful city and other parts of Spain with. It’s beginning to feel like I have a family here in a very short period of time and I am blessed for that. I also really appreciate my living experience since I am doing Babel Bridges and have a fabulous host family to house me all year. The parents have a 13 year old and 10 year old boy and they are like my “brothers.” They are so warm, welcoming, and kind. The Mother and Father are also so pure hearted, sharing, patient with communication barriers, and open-minded. I have been accepted into the family as one of their own since day one and I cannot be more grateful.”
How do you feel about the integration of the culture so far? Are there things that you have embraced or are hoping to embrace?
“I feel well integrated based on my time here. It’s about putting yourself out there to make it the best you can! I have a host family so that by default has helped a lot. I also am involved in private Spanish courses so I can converse better with locals. But overall, I think I’ve embraced the culture and had a pretty good idea of what I was signing myself up for before I got here.”
Morgan knew from the moment she stepped off the plane (and probably way before that) what her goals were while living in Spain. It was clear in her predeparture posts online, and now after we arrived that Morgan wants to challenge herself beyond the point of planning. She wants to go above and beyond what she normally would in order to prove to herself, and herself alone, that she is not only willing but she is able to push herself outside her comfort zone. Morgan has already crossed off two of her bucket list items. She took her road trip to north Spain and she frolicked with the camels in Morocco. I can’t wait to see what adventure and story she has for us next time.
Stay tuned for our next series of Teacher Connections in 2017! We will follow up with our cadre of teacher’s that we interviewed already to learn more about their life in Spain.
Ciao for now,
Leesa with two EE’s