I arrived in Spain in July, to a small town just outside Barcelona, where I lived with the Masoliver family for a month and looked after for their eleven year old granddaughter, Carlota.
I’m really passionate about travel that is educational and that enables you to know the country as more than a tourist. I thought about what I like doing and I knew that I enjoyed teaching English as a foreign language, so this was the perfect opportunity.
Tip – If you are thinking about doing a project abroad, I’d say it’s really helpful to think about what you enjoy at home or skills you have that you could use in any country. Sometimes it’s tempting to go for something because it is in a great location but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will enjoy the activity when you get there, if it’s something you’ve never been interested in.
I worked Monday to Saturday afternoon but I was happy to do whatever Carlota and her older sister Gabriela were doing. Carlota’s grandmother is also a
wonderful cook and prepared traditional Spanish meals every day, so I didn’t ever want to miss out on that.
My day began at 9am, I’d wake Carlota and we’d go down for breakfast. There would be toast and jam, cereal, milk and fruit laid out and there was no rush as there often is in England at breakfast time.
I’d then set up the garden table with textbooks and pencils and wait for Carlota to complete her “Why do we have class in the morning?” speech and show me all her mosquito bites in an attempt to take time out of the class. We worked for an hour and a ha
lf through the grammar book, then I’d think of a writing and speaking activity that helped her to put into practice what we’d learnt.
After class it was time for the beach, which was only a ten minute walk away. It’s quite common for Spanish people to go to the beach just for an hour or so, to cool off and to spend time outside before it gets too hot.
Maria Jose would be cooking away when we arrived back, usually two or three pans on the go and something else sizzling. Meal times are really important in Spain; everyone sits around the dinner table and takes their time. We would usually have something like pasta, rice, fish, potatoes or paella as lunch is their main meal and eaten later, at 2pm.
The siesta until 5pm was when I’d get a little time to myself to read or speak
to people at home and it was probably the only time that I didn’t hear Carlota,
as she would watch a film before we had our second class. I dedicated this class to reading and by the end of the month we’d worked through watered-down versions of three Classics. I knew Carlota could read well but to make sure she understood, I’d ask her to describe the story and the characters, and what she thought would happen next.
After class we’d do our activity of the day (I wasn’t asked to do this but I was really fond of Carlota and I wanted her to enjoy her summer holiday and do something fun as she was away from her parents). On Mondays we baked, Tuesdays painted, Wednesdays were treat days s
o we’d walk to the beach to get FroYo and Thursdays we went cycling round the town. Carlota could have a break from speaking English on Fridays so I’d walk her to a friends house and collect her later on. Despite everything Carlota learnt in class I think this was most beneficial to her as she had to engage in every day conversation and I could see that she started to respond in English without really thinking.
Later in the evening Maria Jose and Javier would go to mass so Carlota, Gabriela and I would watch the Disney Channel and curl up on the sofa. We’d then have dinner around 9.30pm (I did get used to this eventually!) which was something lighter like quiche, an omelette or salad and then go to bed.
The family couldn’t have been more welcoming and made me feel really comfortable, I also never expected to grow so close to Carlota or for her to feel so relaxed with me. I definitely miss it a lot and this is something I’d really recommend looking into further if you are considering Au Pairing.