How Seville stole my heart, part two.

Here’s part two of why I stayed to become a TEFL teacher in Seville. Look at part one here.

Honeymoon in New York
Finding my own life
Her English improved and my Spanish became bearable. We had a few ups and downs, but mainly because, deep down, I was still unhappy in Seville. If I was going to stay, then it had to be for more than just love.
I got a new job with ELI, one of the best English academies in Seville. The new opportunity had a better timetable, more money, a real contract, and weekly training. My first term was hard. The academy demanded well planned lessons, preparations for exams, and a lot of commitment. My boss was great and she showed me the ropes and I made a few expat friends. I enjoyed teaching kids and teenagers again and working for an academy had a real family feel.
Despite working hard, teaching in Seville also gave me time to live. I had enough free time to keep fit by running and going to the gym and also get into one of my hobbies; writing. I began to write a travel book about my experiences travelling the world and teaching. I never would have had the time living in England. I became healthier too. Spanish food and the general way of life are much healthier than back in England. Three day weekends meant more time for travelling and we’ve visited most places in Andalucia.
My parents came over to visit a few times and both families got on great. It was tough translating the whole time but we had a good laugh. I began to settle in Seville and stopped missing my travels so much. We moved in to a flat together and I became settled.
Commitment
During the next five years I really enjoyed teaching English. Thanks to help from my boss and the decent training I became a better teacher and seeing my student’s progress was a great feeling. I learnt Spanish mainly by myself, but I did a short course with a language school to consolidate my understanding. Learning Spanish really helped me feel part of the society compared to when I first arrived. I’ve accepted that I’m always going to be a guiri and I understand the humor and way of life over here. I don’t get short changed so much anymore either.
My girlfriend and I became closer, as did our families. During every Semana Santa the brothers and father would suggest that I participate, but I wasn’t ready. My father is catholic, but we never got baptized as they left the decision to us. I had to understand the faith more.
Asking my wife to marry me was a nerve wracking experience. I took her away for a surprise weekend in Cazalla de la Sierra in the countryside and asked her to marry me in a spot overlooking a valley. She said, “Yes, of course,” in English. When we announced to the family I realized what was in store.
“If you’re going to get married, then it’ll have to be in a church,” said the mother.
“Yeah, that’s fine with me,” I said.
“Which means you’ll have to get baptized,” said my fiancée.
“Ah,” I said, not having thought it all through.
Special Day
I won’t lie; I was scared by religion. However, I was up for finding out more about her faith. I had a lot of questions, but my catechesis teacher was brilliant. Salvador was a modern man and made understanding everything easy. I did the two-year course in about three months and my family came over for the baptism and communion. My father was especially proud, and yet again the two families became closer.
That Holy Week I became the first foreigner to participate in the family’s brotherhood. You’re talking about a 200 year-old tradition. It was an amazing experience and the family really welcomed me into their faith. I’ll do it again every year.
A few months later we got married. Our Spanglish wedding was perfect. Seeing my wife on our wedding day was a proud and emotional feeling, and having our families unite was unbeatable. The honeymoon in New York was quality too.
So I’m settled here now with my Spanish wife and new family. I miss mine at times, but it’s great because they visit a lot, which my mum loves as it gives her an excuse to come to sunny Spain, maybe it’s worked out for everyone after all.
Go for it
If you’re thinking of making that change and living abroad then I’d recommend it. At times you’ll struggle to accept the new culture and feel isolated, but with commitment and patience you can make it happen. And who knows, you might find the person of your life.
For more information
Books which have inspired my time as an expat in Spain include: Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart and A Load of Bull by Tim Parfitt.
Interesting books on Spanish history include: Ghost of Spain by Giles Tremlett and The Return, a novel by Victoria Hislop.
Useful Links
Learning Spanish
There are plenty of Language Academies to learn Spanish in Spain. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Lingua schools have centers in Barcelona, Madrid, Salamanca, Valencia, and Malaga. A few colleagues highly recommend this language school. 
Don Quijote, named after one of Spain’s most famous novels, has centers in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, Cadiz, and Valencia. 
Unispain have even more places to choose from all over Spain.  
Teaching in Spain
I have found most of my jobs by being in the city and walking round with my CV. When you arrive grab a copy of paginas amarillas, make a list of the language schools and then set off with smart clothes. However, if you want to search the job market then you can use these websites.

Living in Spain
My spain is a great website with forums to get advice on living in Spain.
Spain Expat has a lot of useful information on everything from business to living and finding work.
Expatica could be of help to find a flat, a job, or general advice about life as an expat in Spain.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and it inspires you to get out and live your life!
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Author: Barry OLeary

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6 Comments

  1. The Mighty Alex Case!

    Thanks for writing a comment Alex, big fan of your posts. Romance is a big part of the TEFL world, let's face it. Thanks for the tip for my tagline, just goes to show that the best teachers make mistakes too. Good to see you're reading my blog. Thanks, any tips to get more readers?

    Barry

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  2. I am so happy to hear about your wonderful experiences. wishing you lots of fun and goodness in your life. I will be in Seville soon but to learn Spanish. Decided to wait to do the CELTA. Anita

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  3. ‘Appreciate the insight. I found Seville itself, its traditions and the surrounding countryside (Donana, El Rocio, Italica etc..) to be very inspiring for a long-stay holiday, but, culturally, very "alien" to my northern European sensibilities. I'm glad it still holds out to a certain degree against the relentless march of "globalisation", that even staunch traditional regions such as the Basque Country have sold out to..

    I suspect you would need a significant relationship for the incentive to compromise on the kind of cultural choice, broad horizons and open-mindedness we are used to in London; very difficult to let go of… However, I do have an old friend (also in an LTR) who has carved a very comfortable niche for himself teaching English in Seville and has lived there happily for over 30 years. He did say the hardest thing for him was getting used to the "rhythms"; ie obligatory siestas and late nights.. It took him 3 years.

    I wish you all the best in your new life. I think the trick is to make the move early enough in life, as you have done, in order to be able to adjust and compromise to the degree that’s necessary, in a place that still remains very much “old” Europe. donna

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  4. Hi Donna,

    Thanks for writing in such lovely prose. Are you a writer yourself?

    Yeah, you're right about having to have a relationship here. Seville can you jaded and bored, it lacks life and things to do. I´m so bored of walking by the river. It does take a while to adapt and I guess you are always comparing stuff to home, sometimes Seville wins! It took me ages to get used to Seville, and now I've been here 8 years I know there are better places to live, but it´s home for the moment.

    Thanks for writing!

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  5. Somos expertos en la enseñanza de inglés a jóvenes y adultos. Nuestro departamento de enseñanza ha desarrollado unos cursos TOEFL y contenidos adaptados al dominio del idioma, oral y escrito.
    En TOEFL-Madrid llevamos años trabajando y sabemos las necesidades de nuestro clientes, ofreciendo diferentes cursos TOEFL.
    Nuestras academias de inglés te ofrecen cursos TOEFLy clases orientadas a la preparación de exámenes oficiales de inglés, cursos intensivos de inglés para estudiantes universitarios. Una de las mejores academias TOEFL en Madrid en preparación de exámenes oficiales.
    http://www.toefl-madrid.com/ 

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