This week I chatted to Rachel who currently lives in Torremolinos.
Firstly I wanted to know why Spain?
It’s a fairly long – but quite a romantic – story! Almost four years ago I went on a solo holiday to Tenerife, I was changing jobs at the time and had a few weeks break. I just wanted to relax and really switch off for a week. While I was there I had a “holiday romance”, as one does, with a nice Spanish guy, and we liked each other so much that we continued a long distance relationship. After a year he made the brave decision to move to the UK. He was able to get a job that he really wanted in Leeds and I had a good job as an Engineering Project Manager in a glass factory.
After a year and a half or so the wet and windy North of England wasn’t filling us with much joy and I no longer enjoyed my job – so much so that I was looking for a complete change. In December 2016, my boyfriend was offered an opportunity to move to somewhere in Spain and I didn’t need to give it a second thought! During our visits to see family I’d fallen in love with Spain (especially Andalucía, where he’s from) and I’d been taking Spanish classes more or less since we met, so I was really up for it. His company chose Málaga as his destination and within a blur of two months we’d packed up, said our goodbyes and we were here!
Give us three reasons why we should move to Torremolinos!
1) The Paseo Marítimo – In Torremolinos it’s not adjacent to any big roads so it makes for a really nice walk next to the beach – or run, if you’re so inclined – in either direction! I love it first thing in the morning before it gets crowded.
2) It’s a happy medium – Of course it is touristy, but it doesn’t feel as completely overtaken by tourist culture compared to other parts of the Costa. We live towards the Playamar area and there are quite a few hotels, but there’s just as many Spanish people going about their normal lives, which is what we wanted.
3) Food – something that should always be a factor in any top 3! There are loads of nice little tapas bars and authentic places to have dinner or a typical breakfast. For me this was really important as a) I’m very passionate about food, and b) As I knew I would be working, I didn’t want to feel like I was on a permanent holiday – I wanted to feel like I was really living here!
So tell us, before Spain you were …
As I mentioned, I was working as an Engineering Project Manager in a glass factory. My degree is in Chemical Engineering and I’m a typical Type A, so Project Management was something that I got into easily. I’d always worked in manufacturing – including where they make Gillette shaving gel in Reading – since I graduated. It is a tough environment though. Very male dominated! In two of the place I worked I led Women’s/Diversity networks within the site and having a support network of women has always been very important to me. That’s why I was keen to seek out something similar here as I knew it would help with the big change I was undertaking – thank you Costa Women!
And now you have transitioned from engineering project manager in Leeds to English teacher on the Costa del Sol – tell us more!
I was working in an environment that was becoming damaging to my mental health and I’m a firm believer that personal wellbeing should always come first. I’ve always had a lot of friends or colleagues from other countries and had some experience helping them with their English. I loved giving training in my previous jobs, and since the barebones of the English language is formed by various structures and formulae (to my engineering eyes, at least) the option of becoming an english teacher really appealed to me. I signed up to do a TEFL course (I can recommend TEFL in Spain, in Malaga), which I completed in June and then applied to some academies local to where I’m living. I did some private classes in the summer and started on a full timetable at the beginning of October! No regrets!
Perhaps one day I’ll go back to some sort of Project Management but as it’s a very communication- centric job, I know my Spanish isn’t quite up to it for the time being.
3 top tips for teaching English as a foreign language
1) Do a TEFL course in person (not online). If you need to teach to make enough money to live you will need to have a reputable teaching qualification, most schools pay less if you are unqualified. This seemed to be the most important requisite when I was applying (over experience).
2) Apply to academies in person if you can – compared to the UK, Spain is a fairly techno-phobic country. While at home you might be used to firing off emails, it’s not as much part of the culture here. Academy owners want to see your personality and whether or not you are a fit with their school, they’ll be happy for you to just go in and have a chat about any teaching opportunities.
3) Be ready for children and teenagers – I wasn’t really sure what age group I wanted to teach and I was up for anything, but as learning English in schools is so important – and passing exams – in Spain, it’s very difficult to get enough hours teaching only adults. 75% of my classes are with children or teens.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Dealing with how disorganised in illogical things can be here! I don’t know how many times I’ve uttered the phrase “But this doesn’t make any sense!” whilst trying to sort out all of the ‘official´things you need to do when you move here. I’ve adapted a little bit and have come to not be surprised by things now. Teaching involves plenty of planning, which goes some way to satisfy my need for organisation!
Differences in education in UK to Spain?
They have so many exams and tests here – and a lot of homework! Most of my teenage students have 3 or 4 exams per week. However, they do seem to take their education quite seriously (and they do a lot of extra curricular classes and activities). The long summer holidays is their time to switch off but during the school year they know that they need to concentrate on studying. But all the same characters that you’d find in a classroom in the UK are here too! The importance of learning languages is something I find really impressive – and I wish we saw more of it at home.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given
Don’t take everything (or anything) personally. I think over the years I’ve taken personal responsibility for the bad moods or bad attitudes of countless number of people, even if I’ve accidently got in someone’s way at a train station, and this is one way to really make yourself feel like c**p. Everyone is important, but you’re not SO important that everything that is wrong is your fault. And of course – wear sunscreen. (LOL – love that one!)
Favourite childhood book?
That’s a tough question. I’ve always been an avid reader. I think it has to be Matilda by Roald Dahl. I so wanted to be her!
What was the last thing you paid for on your credit card?
The weekend before last I bought a Nespresso machine. I had a ‘big’ birthday this summer and had a bit of money from relatives so I thought – Ok, now I’m at this age, it’s time for a fancy coffee machine!
What are you hoping Santa brings you?
Nespresso capsules! And books – always books.
Something you will achieve in 2018
I’ve always moved a lot, I’ve lived in 5 different cities in the last ten years (excluding my hometown) but I hope here is where we’ll stay. I hope to achieve the feeling of being settled somewhere.
Where do you see yourself living in the next 10 years?
I really hope I’m still here! I don’t see us moving back to the UK, and here seems a good place to stay and raise a family.
5 thoughts on “Costa Women Meet …. Rachel Kenney”
Thank you an inspirational blog, I have fallen in love with Spain but currently commuting back to the UK to work! and was thinking about teaching - great information thanks again!
Thanks Harriet! Have you looked at Esme's blog http://costawomen.com/forums/topic/1842/what-is-all-this-tefl-about which might also help!
Thanks Ali I will check the link out
Hi Harriet, thank you for your comment! Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or want any more advice! 🙂
Thank you Rachel I will do 🙂
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