Bye Bye Instituto Franklin-UAH ❤
The time has finally come. All those Friday evenings spent in Alcala with my group of awesome classmates talking about our experiences in our schools in Spain and learning about international education rather than traveling around Europe with our 3-day weekends. All those weekends spent slaving away on my master’s thesis. All those times when I was ready to throw in the towel rather than let my depression and anxiety consume me. It all led to this moment, and I can confidently say that I DID IT! The week leading up to this moment was filled with ups and downs and sappy goodbyes.
Read on to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The day before graduation I received an email from my thesis advisory saying that I got a perfect score on my thesis. I wasn’t super shocked, since pretty much everyone who put effort in their thesis got 10’s, but as I read on my heart began to flutter. Written just after the box with my score was: “I have recommended your thesis for publication…” My heart stopped. Although I hadn’t come close to winning the Alice Gould award, there was still hope for me to get some recognition for my hard work. All those weekends and afternoons spent slaving away at the computer and writing for hours and focusing on the words while countless strikes and protesters protested outside my window paid off.
The other good thing was that I will still be writing for the student blog and left the university with a good rapport. I made connections with the staff and other people in Madrid who work in education. I made a name for myself in Madrid and that is something I am really proud of. I will honestly be very sad to leave Instituto Franklin and everyone in it.
Armed with an international masters degree, I was super excited for all the career doors to open. I did my best to collect as much information and knowledge as possible during my classes. I also made connections with people in the field of education in Spain by going to several seminars and open discussions on the topic of international and bilingual education. I thought this would give me an advantage in the job market, but unfortunately, that has not been the case. Finding a career in international education abroad is very difficult, and working in Europe is impossible. In order to get a work visa you have to either:
A. Get married to a European
B. Get sponsored by a company (which is nearly impossible)
C. Get a lawyer and apply for a work visa after living on a student visa for at least 3 years (Spain).
None of those options worked out for me, so unfortunately after my year here in Madrid I’ll have to say bye bye to Europe.
Immediately after finishing my last class in Alcala I starting packing my things and mailing boxes back to the US. I could not WAIT to get the hell out of Madrid. You’re probably wondering why, but as I mentioned in my first post from Spain things here were nothing like what I had expected. Although the situation at my colegio and piso did get better with time, I was still going through hell. Graduation day for the kiddos was sadder than I thought it would be. The kids hugged me and said they would miss me and told me not to go. I was even given a small gift from the 6th graders that said “Te queremos profe” which means “We love you teacher”. Graduation day was great and I enjoyed watching the kids do their end of the year dances, even the racist one done by the 2nd graders.
Things went downhill during my last week of school after the kids had gone. I had been asked to write an end of the year report on my experience in the bilingual project. I wrote about my experience honestly and gave what I thought was constructive criticism. I said that I felt the microaggressions within the school, I felt isolated from the Spanish teachers and other auxiliars, I wrote about the lack of organization in the overall project, and I offered suggestions for improvement. I said all of this and gave positive praise where it was due, recognizing that my situation could have been much worse. I’ve heard horror stories from other auxiliars that make my school look like a walk in the park.
After sending this report to my coordinator, the other teachers starting ignoring me or being hostile. I even saw teachers giving goodbye gifts to the other auxiliars, in secret, thinking I wouldn’t notice. I even had teachers talking to me about how I was wrong in my feelings and perceptions, they wanted to believe that I had a good year. I told them that I nevermentioned any of these things because back in December they wanted to fire me. Why would I stir up more trouble when it could have meant losing my job? The petty part was that on the last day of school I came in to jot down some activities and more suggestions for next year, even though I won’t be returning, and we all had gifts waiting for us on our desks. The other 2 auxiliars at my school were given the same gift, a handmade makeup bag with a thoughtful personalized card, and I was given a piece of paper with lemons and a small coin purse with cacti. So yea, you can see how they felt about me :). Needless to say, none of them tried to get to know me, not even my coordinator, and if that is the impression they want to have of me, then that’s fine. I’m not going to lose sleep over their opinions anymore.
As I said earlier staying in Europe was not an option. I spoke with my lovely Giulio about our options because as many of you know we have been doing a long distance thing for over a year and a half. We came to the decision to go back to South Korea for another year to get back on our feet as a couple and (for me) financially. Once in Korea I am playing with the idea of getting my official teaching license as a back-up plan. I’m also excited because during my two years in Korea I didn’t have enough time to visit some of the countries I’d really wanted to see like Japan, Taiwan, China, Cambodia, and Singapore! So that’s the plan! Look out for more posts from back in Asia ya’ll!