Story telling 5: A Latin in America.

What's your story

Hi, my name is Gloria. I am 23 years old, and I was born in San Diego, California. My grandparents are from Chile and Mexico, my father was born in Chile, and my mother was born in Mexico. Both their families moved to the USA, when the children were small, so my parents were raised in the USA.

My father has never been to Chile, and doesn´t feel comfortable speaking Spanish. My mother speaks Spanish quite well, and we have visited her family in Mexico several times.I understand some Spanish, and I have taken Spanish classes at college, but I cannot keep a conversation. This frustrates me a bit, I would really like to speak to my Mexican family, and to independently travel around both in Mexico and Chile, in search of my roots. With my family and friends here in San Diego I only speak English. It´s true that s lot of people here speak Spanish, but if you want a good job, you need to speak English perfectly well.

I finished college last spring, and I am working at a health clinic as a nutritionist. I like the job, and I feel happy about living in San Diego. I like to be close to my family, and we spend a lot of our free time together. I like to make food and go shopping with my mother, and sometimes I help my father with gardening around our house. If I´m not with my family, I hang out with my friends, most of them have Latin blood like me.

However, I feel that there are a few dreams I should fulfil before I settle down with a family and a stable job. I just feel that I should take advantage of my young age and try out different things first.
I would really like to travel around the world a bit, especially to Europe.

I would, as I have already mentioned, like to visit and stay for a while in Mexico and Chile,
and thirdly, I would really like to improve my Spanish, and bring it to a conversational level. This might be easier said than done. I haven´t saved a lot of money, and my parents cannot afford to sponsor me for a long time. (I have 4 minor siblings, and my parents have been working hard to give all of us the best opportunities.)

Valladolid, México

I need to find a way where I can travel and earn some money at the same time, and in addition improve my Spanish.

I discussed these thoughts with my cousin and my mother some time ago, and they were a bit surprised that I was so clear about this, and that I wanted to do it NOW. My mother is a bit conservative, and she didn´t want me to go anywhere at all. She wants me to stay at home until I get married. She is afraid that if I go abroad, I will never return home, or that something dramatic could happen when travelling so I would get severely hurt or even worse…..She is like that, worried all the time, and she wants her children around as long as possible.

My cousin thinks more like me, and we have discussed doing this travelling together. She is planning to study medicine but would like to have a break before doing that. She is curious about most things in life, and is keen on discovering the world, and especially her roots in Latin America. She hasn´t told her parents anything about this, and she is a bit worried about their reactions. She is only 21 but feels that her parents sometimes treat her as if she were only 12.

The main obstacle for both of us seem to be the practical part of this, and that part is called money!
I have seen on line that there are some very rich families in Latin American countries that want nannies for their children that speak English. In Spain I have read about families who are looking for au pairs, working more or less under the same conditions.

Two women in front of a mountain

Lately my cousin has told me that she may not be able to persuade her parents. They think she´s too young, and that she should get her medicine studies done first. In addition, she is already fed up taking care of her younger siblings, and doesn´t want to spend her “free year” doing that.
I am not too happy about working with small children, and I´m afraid that I will be working all days without any real free time, and then, what´s the big idea?

Then one day when I was surfing the net without any specific aims, I discovered a web page about working as an English teacher abroad. English teacher? I had never thought about that before, and I didn´t know that it was possible. Could I see myself as a teacher? Isn´t that boring, and a lot of trouble with rude kids and disengaged teen agers? I left the web page immediately, and didn´t think more about it the rest of the day.

It was only that some days later that we spoke at work about cultures, different cultures and general assumptions we all had about these things, stereotypes and those things. One of my colleagues had travelled a lot and had in fact visited all continents.

She showed us photos and told us some fun anecdotes from her stay abroad. I was excited at the thought of travelling and learning Spanish. I stayed after work to have a talk with her, and one of my questions was how she solved the money issue. Then she told me about something called a Trinity College CertTESOL course, that she had taken in Madrid, Spain. After four intensive weeks with lesson planning, grammar reviews, teaching practice classes and a lot of other things, she got the certificate for having passed the course. The EBC centre in Madrid sent out her CV to around 360 private academies in Madrid, and the following weeks she was busy going for interviews. After 3 weeks she had more than enough work to live on and could really start enjoying life with her friends.

She took Spanish classes and worked 20 hours a week, which was enough to have some fun and to travel around Spain at weekends and holiday periods.

She said that we could meet over a coffee one day, and she could explain to me the procedures about signing up for this course, getting a student and a place to stay.

Three students

She also said she will advise me on tickets, leaving my job and my parents, my friends and the USA. “Oh, my God”, I thought on my way home, “is all this possible?”

Coming home the same evening, I ran up to my room, threw my things on the bed, turned on the computer and went straight to the website. After a while I wrote an email to the school.

Next evening at dinner I told my parents about my plans. My father went ballistic! “I can´t stop you from doing it, but I really don´t understand why.” “I mean, we have everything you need here in the States.” My mother was about to start weeping, but I could feel that she understood why I wanted to do this, and a bit proud that I was so definite about it. Before going to bed, she whispered to me, “I will support you with money for the ticket, if that becomes necessary.” She was most worried about me going there alone.

A few days later, I received a very friendly response from EBC, and later the same day we spoke on the phone.

I was told to fill out the application form. The preadmission tests were scheduled, I passed both and I got my acceptance email! Hooorah!! The few dollars I had saved were enough to pay for the course fee and the tickets. I would maybe need some help from my mother to survive the four weeks of the course while waiting for my salary…….

Now it was time to sort out the three remaining issues:

Booking a ticket, getting a place to stay and getting a student visa.

I got hold of a quite good ticket via London. EBC helped me with links to find a place to stay and informed me about the procedures for the student visa. All these things took some time, so I was happy that I didn´t wait until the last minute.

Be brave written on a blackboard

I had planned to arrive 4 days before the course started, just so I could get used to the city, check out the flat, and get myself used to the transportation system in Madrid. In the States we drive everywhere, in Europe they use a lot more of the public transportation and I like it. I will go on the metro in Madrid. Friend say the metro is nice and cheap. They told me we had discounted fares, because I was below 26.

Tonight, is the last night before the big day. My flight is tomorrow at 12:00 midday, and the atmosphere around the dinner table was a bit weird. My father didn´t say much. My mother took all opportunities to touch me and caress me, and my little sister had already started to move her things into my bedroom that from now on and for at least a year onwards, my room would be hers. I could hardly sit still and had to check over and over again where the passport and the tickets were. I didn´t sleep well that night, and I had a strange dream, almost a nightmare about arriving in Madrid and nobody understood what I was saying…………

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