Tag Archives: by Tiffany Chung

Hasta luego, Madrid!

It’s crazy to think that my time in Madrid has already come to an end. Two months into being home and I still miss my students, friends and colleagues very much…and of course, the weather! Honestly, I didn’t expect these special young children to make such an impact on my life – but they did and I hope they continue to grow as people and learn new things 🙂

Leaving my placement at SEK El Castillo was very emotional. I had already predicted that there would be a water work display but it really made me think about the amazing experience I had out there and what fantastic people I had met. I would like to thank all my teachers at SEK for making me feel so welcome and being so so kind to me over the past year. Although it was a sad departure, I hope I can visit again sometime in the future as requested by my students! ^^’ honestly, I don’t think I could have worked with better children and teachers. They never failed to make me smile…

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FOTO GRUPO 1ºAla foto de clase

I feel very happy being able to share my placement story with others because I had been lucky enough to work with such a great school. Ultimately, I must thank Aston University for this opportunity in my life that I’ll never forget. It’s amazing how well prepared Aston are and how much they support you inside and outside of education. Thank you for giving me this time to grow as a person!

My next step is to enjoy the rest of my summer holiday and mentally prepare myself to tackle final year in September – its going to be hard but so worth it in the end. Hard work really does pay off and I hope to continue this positivity through the last year of higher education!

To anyone who has been reading my blogposts, thank you for your interest and I hope you’ve enjoyed my journey to Madrid with me. I really appreciate everyone’s support and love I’ve received this year and I’d like to wish all perspective placement students good luck for your placement year, it’s going to be one you’ll never forget. Make the most of it and enjoy life to its fullest whilst you can 🙂

It’s time to officially sign off. Thank you all again for your time!

– Tiffany

 

 

Final semester at SEK

The third and final semester of my placement here in Madrid has been eventful. A lot has been going on at school and I’ve done some exciting activities during this time. Work has been busy because the academic year is coming to an end so we’re having to sort out all the end of year grades, evaluations etc. The weather has drastically changed and we’re not in out high 20 degrees every single day – so nice! This is probably the one thing I will miss the most when I leave! ^^’

El Escorial – farm school : 27.04 – 29.04 

So, I got rewarded a two night three day school trip to the farm school back in May for my consistent hard work. My teacher and co-ordinator suggested this idea and I couldn’t have been happier. I was thankful and grateful that they managed to do this for me. I had such a great few days spending time with my teachers outside of the classroom! We had good food and spent the days laughing at the talking parrots ^^’ I’ll always be grateful for this reward because it showed that hard work really does pay off and it never goes unnoticed.

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Madrid Zoo Aquarium : May 2nd 

Since the weather was getting better, I decided to take a trip to Madrid’s zoo/aquarium! It was only 20 euros for entrance to both the zoo AND aquarium – bargain right?! It’s definitely worth a visit… we saw lots of animals, including BEARS!

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Madrid Open 2016 QF : 05.05

One of the highlights of my placement is watching Nadal play tennis live! I watched him play in the Madrid Open semi finals and it was amazing. The atmosphere was amazing! It’s such a shame that he lost in the semi finals but nevertheless, I still got to see him play 🙂 the stadium was very cool.

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Faunia : 26.05

Last Thursday, I went on yet another school trip to Faunia which was like a small zoo for children! My class are currently learning about animals so it was perfect for them to go and investigate about all the different animals that exist. This was my final school trip with my class and it was bitter sweet. I’ve been on 4 trips with these kids and I’ve loved every single one. Nothing beats seeing them smile so much when they’re away from the class ^^’

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As you can see, I’ve had quite a busy final semester… and I’ve been having such a great time! It’s sad to think that it’ll all be over in a matter of days!

Tiffany

 

 

 

 

 

What it’s like living abroad / in Spain

Living abroad is a scary yet exciting decision to make. It’s slightly different from moving away to live out for University since you can just casually take the train home whenever you like and whenever you’re missing your mum’s home cooked food. It’s a whole different story when you live in another country. It’s a new experience that you will remember for the rest of your life and it’s the honestly the best opportunity to learn to be independent and to gain new experiences. You decide where you would like to go and ‘break free’ from your standard home routine.

One of the biggest perks of living in a country like Spain is definitely the weather. From August to late October, the weather is beautiful (still)… but from then on, it gets a colder. Most people (myself included) assume that Spain is ‘hot’ all year round… please do NOT make the mistake of thinking this! It is most definitely not good weather all year round as I have experienced heavy rain, strong winds …almost as bad as England! Ok, maybe that was slightly exaggerated.

If you live out for University then you’re pretty much half way there to living abroad. You’ve already entered the independent life and you’re fine to fend for yourself (kinda). If you’re lucky like me, you’ll meet great people on your placement and you’ll make lots of friends! But some aren’t as lucky and find themselves quite lonely – it’s really important to venture out and at least attempt to meet new people…otherwise you’ll be isolating yourself in a foreign country that barely speaks your language! Believe me, you don’t want this to happen to you.

Money is something you have to personally watch over when you’re living abroad because before you know it, 3/4 of your Erasmus has gone and you don’t realise what and where you’ve spent it all on! Most the times you will eat lunch or dinner out and eventually that will add up. If you have a kitchen, try and cook as much as possible! But that’s not saying you can’t go out and treat yourselves to a nice meal every so often. Thankfully, we have our Erasmus and Student Loan to rely on and think about getting a part time job whilst you’re out there. I currently tutor three students every Saturday for two hours for extra English classes. My placement is unpaid so I took the initiative to get myself a job to earn some income.

Transport is great in Madrid – I pay 20 euros a month for access to the metro and buses which saves SO much money. One journey to Madrid city centre from where I live costs 3 euros 60 alone. If you’re from London, then you’ll be more than used to using the underground or taking buses… if you’re not, you’ll learn to use the metro ever so quickly and nowadays, we have smartphone apps to help us get around on them! It’s all about learning and finding your way.

Be open to trying new things…this is important. Wherever you end up, the country might not be 100% to your likings and it might not offer everything you’re used to having. Travel to different cities, try new food, meet new people – just have as much fun as possible and make the most of your time abroad. There are tons of different cuisines in Madrid – from the typical Spanish tapas to Japanese food, Chinese, Indian, Turkish etc.

The Spanish culture is very different from the English. In Spain, everyone is very laid back and some people are not so polite. There’s a lot of pushing and shoving involved on the metro and lack of personal space. But this is something that you get used to …eventually! Your normal dinner 6:30/7pm dinner routine will be pushed back to 8pm, sometimes 8:30pm. Again, something you have to adapt to and you learn about another culture whilst on your year abroad ~

The last thing you want to do is finish your year abroad regretting this and that – so make the most of it and choose your destination wisely 🙂

Tiffany

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It’s not ALL about working or studying!

Yes, your primary purpose of your YA is to work or study but it’s not all about just studying or working. Your 9-5, 5 days a week might be the norm but the weekends, public holidays are for you to go out and venture! If travelling and trying new things are right up your street, then this is your time to shine. Don’t be one of those boring students who refuse to move off their bottoms ^^’

Here in Spain, I’ve had quite a few long weekends (public holidays) which has allowed me to travel to different cities in Spain – perfect! I have lived here for 7 months now and I feel very content with the things I have done, places I’ve visited, up until now.

Valencia 
Not long after I first moved to Spain, my roommate and I took a very spontaneous trip to Valencia. Literally, one day after work we decided to book our journey there and our accommodation…if I remember correctly, it took us just 30 minutes to get everything sorted. We went back in September so the weather was still pretty warm/hot! The food and beach were beautiful!

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Segovia 

Segovia was a small historical town that didn’t offer a lot but the buildings and architecture there was absolutely breathtaking. We were able to have lunch just by the 2,000 year old Roman Aqueduct and enjoy the good weather.

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Barcelona

My roommate’s family were visiting Barcelona so we decided to pop over too! It took us two and a half hours to get there by train and our train tickets cost…a lot! But it was so worth it. I was able to see so many things and try new food. This is the life you want to live! Oh and I even got to visit Camp Nou football stadium 🙂

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Cuenca 

Again, Cuenca was a very small city that really cool aspects to it. The city is known for its ‘hanging houses’ …though we only saw the one ^^’ the red bridge in the photos below was extremely high! >__< and I have a huge fear of bridges… so yes, I soldiered on with my eyes closed, gripping onto my roommate.

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Toledo 

Toledo was our most recent day trip out and it was a really nice day. The sun was out to play and it made our day that much better. All these small cities are very beautiful ~ though there isn’t much to do there at all, it’s just nice to do some walking in the peace and quiet where you can see amazing sculptured buildings left, right and center.

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So, this is what I have been up to so far during my placement – visiting other nearby cities and trying to try new things all the time. Not only have I visited other cities, but I’ve discovered some really cool places in central Madrid too which I’ll update you guys on soon, for those of you who are looking for a placement in Madrid 🙂

Spain has so much to offer so I would definitely recommend doing  your year abroad here! ~

Tiffany

 

A Day in a life of a TA (teaching assistant)

The word “placement” may seem daunting to some yet exciting to others. What’s great is that Undergraduate students are offered two opportunities in which you have to fight for (just like you would when you apply for a job) – a study and/or a work placement. The beauty of having choices and options is that you get to find something that is suitable to you, something that you enjoy doing and perhaps wish to pursue as your future job. Some students prefer to work, some prefer to study, some want to do both.

And me? I chose to work.
I’ve been working as a Grade 1 Primary (5-6 y/o) TA (teaching assistant) for over three months now here in Madrid and I’d like to give a closer insight on A Day In A Life of a Placement Student!
08:30am09:10am
Wake up call and get ready for work.
09:1511:am ; first period
I arrive at work for 09:15am and begin working.
After greeting other teachers and my students, I assign a ‘captain of the books’. The students read English books every morning, either individually or in pairs and I sit with as many of them as I can to listen to them read and to offer support. From the first day I started, I’ve been able to see each student’s capability in reading, writing, speaking in English. To this day, three months on, I can see much improvement by majority of my students. Hearing my students speak, read and write more and more English to me everyday is beyond rewarding.
11:00am11:30am ; break time
Break time is when I get to grab a snack and drink from the staffroom and hangout with the other GAP students here. Sometimes I work my break and carry on with any videos or worksheets I have to work on.
Every Wednesday, I have duty. I am on playground duty during break time and second break too. I watch over the students along with another teacher and deal with any problems or conflicts that occur on the playground – which is usually the case of one student not wanting to play with the other.
11:30am12:30pm ; second period
 
 
12:30pm-14:00pm ; lunch break 
Usually, at 12:30pm, I take the class over to the dining hall and make sure they all sit down and eat their lunch.
From 12:30-13:00pm, I pour the students’ drinks, I make sure they are eating their lunch (some kids are very picky) and I help them with their change over. Honestly, it is a little tiring running up and down the tables making sure everyone is OK and hearing my name get called constantly gives me a headache (the students have to get permission to change their dish).
13:00pm-14:00pm is my lunch. I eat at 13:00pm and I usually go back to my room after I’ve eaten to relax. Living just 5 minutes away from your workplace is very convenient.
Every Thursday, I teach English to two primary students during my lunch break – one aged 8 and one aged 11.
14:00pm16:00pm ; third period
In this period, the students sometimes have other subjects such as music, art, swimming.
16:00pm-16:30pm ; final break 
The students get a further half an hour break at 4pm because their school day begins at 09:15am and ends at 5:15pm. This is quite an unusual time period for a normal school day but I guess it’s because SEK is a private school! The students get a snack which is normally a sandwich, chocolate or fruit.
16:30pm17:00pm ; last period 
The last half hour is normally tidy up time where the class ends and there’s a small re-cap on what has been learnt throughout the day. The students take quite a while to tidy up after themselves so that pretty much takes up the entire half hour!
17:00pm-17:30pm ; bus route 
On Mondays, I finish work at 5:30pm because I take the kids to ruta (bus route) after school ends and my job is to keep an eye out on them whilst they get picked up by their specific teachers. The system is strange but it works.
20:00pm ; dinner 
I have dinner with my colleagues (other GAP students) at the school dining hall everyday. All meals are provided – breakfast, lunch, dinner. This gets a little repetitive so sometimes I go out to the city or a nearby town to eat.
Most days I finish at 16:00/16:30pm but on Mondays I finish at 17:30pm. To keep myself occupied, I have taken up tennis lessons at the University next door to work. I go to tennis class every Tuesday and Thursday at 18:30pm-19:30pm. On the weekends, I travel out to Madrid or try and make a day trip to another city.
Any type of placement is not a restriction – especially if you are doing it abroad. It’s really important to do as much as you can whilst you’re out there; meet new people and travel to new places.
– Tiffany
Doing a placement abroad or any placement is a huge challenge. You must be brave and have a lot of courage to complete it. It’s a new and different experience that takes time getting used to. Yes, it is tons of fun and offers you so much…but there are also minor struggles such as being homesick. Living in another country and getting used to its culture plays a big part. You must be open to trying new things.

How I got my Placement | What my Placement is.

As promised, I’m going to tell you all about my Placement and how I got it.

During the summer holidays of summer 2014, I had already started thinking about placement and what exactly I wanted to do. I’ve been wanting to be a teacher for a very long time and with the help of working at KUMON for three years, I was able to comfortably decide on which field I wanted to get myself involved in – teaching. Originally, I had the idea of teaching in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is basically my second home – where my parents were born. I love the country. I spent a few weeks emailing International schools in HK asking whether they would take on an intern for one year. To my disappointment, all responses were negative. Nowhere in Hong Kong were looking for/taking on Undergraduates with no real qualifications… Which is fair enough. It was definitely worth asking! Even if I did get a ‘no’ from everyone. I then decided to stop looking as it was during our summer vacation so I didn’t really want to stress myself out before second year of University had even started!

Second year had started and that was when the real search began. I turned to Aston Futures. I’m sure you are very familiar with Aston Futures by now…and if you’re not, what are you waiting for? Get yourself in there with the website! I actually began looking for teaching internships in Asia… There were many on offer in China, Vietnam, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for! So after a while, I gave up                  …on looking for teaching placements in HK.

My next option would be to do my year abroad somewhere in Europe and to my luck, there were several teaching opportunities in Spain – I guess you could say I was spoilt for choice! So in November 2014, I applied for a TA – teaching assistant role at a Spanish International School called SEK El Castillo, Madrid. I was nervous to apply because it was my first placement application but with the ever so useful help from the Blackboard resources, I was able to update my pretty non-existent CV and write up a well-written cover letter. A few days later of applying to this placement, I received an email offering an interview! I was quite surprised at how quickly the process was going – of course, I didn’t know what to expect, being my first application.

The Interview
My interview was held via Skype and was not as formal as I thought it would be. I had prepared by researching the institution and practiced speaking with a confidence attitude. Again, I used Blackboard to help me with what I should expect during the interview.
The questions asked weren’t as ‘serious’ as they could have been. I’ve heard about job interviews and the random questions they ask you to catch you out but my interview was more of a ‘get to know you better’ one. My employer asked several questions from my first year grades to what I want to do in the future to do you like to clean. (Quite a selection, eh?)
I think my interview went fairly well and I was even told that I was ‘beautifully spoken’!
I was told that I’d get told whether I’d been shortlisted in a couple of months so it was a pure waiting game from then on.

On January 23rd 2015, I was offered the role. I received an email of congratulations in the afternoon and I was ecstatic! I didn’t stop applying for other placements after this one – I think I applied for 4 or 5 in total so it felt amazing to be offered the job by the first application!

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What is my placement? 
My job role is an English Teaching Assistant at a Spanish International School called SEK El Castillo, Madrid. I live next to the school in University halls with full board – this means, I have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the school canteen.

I assist two classes of 20 students (40 in total) and I work with Primary 1 (kids aged 5-7). Some of my responsibilities are;

  • marking work
  • checking their diaries
  • playground and lunch duty
  • preparing classroom materials
  • creating presentations for the school blog
  • taking/picking them up from swimming

I actually don’t speak much Spanish myself but I’ve found that I’ve picked up some words and phrases during my first 4 months here in Spain, so I feel like I can understand a little more than I did before. It also helps that the majority of my students can speak English, despite being so young.

Sometimes I teach the classes alone when the teachers are off sick or busy with some other job – this is a great opportunity for me to gain some teaching experience! After all, I’m just an assistant. But saying that, my teacher treats me like another teacher and my students give me full respect of that role.

Working with young children is rewarding and fun…they always know how to make you smile and your relationship with the students grow ever so quickly. I feel like I’ve grown closer to all of them so much and I know that they appreciate my presence (they tell me off when I am not there haha).

If you’re someone who enjoys working with children and being creative, then teaching could be the role for you. You’re not restricted to one role… you play a big part within the classroom and you’re always occupied.

Feel free to comment with any questions!

– Tiffany

My Class

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Hello, Hola!

Buena noches! (Good evening! For the non-speaking Spanish readers)

As this is my first post on the Student Blog, I’d like to introduce myself a little bit before I proceed onto the more important stuff ~

My name is Tiffany (from Leicester) and I’m a third year English Language undergraduate on my placement year abroad. Some of you may know me/have heard about me from Badminton Society – last year I played the roles of Social Media Marketer as well as Captain of the women’s team. I enjoy playing the piano, sports, travelling and working with children.

For those of you who have already succeeded in finding a placement – to work or study – congratulations! And for those who are still in the process of securing one, keep going. Whatever  you do, do not give up! Finding a/the right placement is a scary process but don’t let that idea put you off. You may struggle at the beginning but just remember there are so many other students out there in the same position as you – all searching for the same thing.

It’s not easy, but it’ll be worth the effort and patience.

Tune in to my next post to find out what my placement involves!

Happy New Year, all

Tiffany

Feel free to check out my other Placement blog over on Blogspot! ^^ www.myjourneytomadrid.blogspot.com

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