ISEP student Diana Laura de Anda Padilla is a student blogger and part of our new ISEP Voices program. She is a design major from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), and is currently studying abroad at Linnaeus University in Sweden.
I can’t say it was in my plans, but I ended being a Spanish teacher for two young boys while I studied abroad in Växjö, Sweden. Teaching something to someone from your host country, whether it’s a language or any other skill, can give your time abroad greater significance.
Teaching locals can also be a win-win exchange. I taught Spanish and besides the extra money that I made, I also became very close with a local Swedish family. This unexpected opportunity led me to accomplish one of my main goals of studying abroad: learn the Swedish culture. While teaching basic Spanish words to the kids and playing games with them, I ended spending many hours with a real Swedish family. I learned the role of each member of the family, how the paternity permissions work in Sweden, the cultural food habits and even improved my Swedish.
We started the lessons in a very academic environment, but slowly progressed the teaching into a more casual environment. I would come over for a Sunday dinner, take the children on a nature walk or shop together in the outskirts of the city. I was also invited to a large family event, during which I got to know Swedish heritage, costumes and traditions. I got to meet so many wonderful new people who kept talking to me about the different culture perspectives. I also got the opportunity to know a village where I had never been before. It was definitely an unforgettable day and I never would have had that day if I had only been a student.
You may think that you are not interested in being a teacher, but my point is that if opportunity knocks at your door as it happened to me, just say, “Why not?”
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