CIDE: Hi, Lauren! When did you study at the University of Deusto? What do you remember about your stay in Bilbao?
Lauren: I studied at the University of Deusto from October 2010 to May 2011. I spent a whole year in Bilbao so I have a lot of good memories. If I had to choose one, I would say it was my first soccer match at the San Mamés Stadium. It was a unique experience. I got there with my Athletic T-shirt and a sandwich for half-time and I felt like a real “Bilbaína”. We won and I was so proud! Aupa Athletic!
CIDE: Why did you apply to the Ministry for a conversation assistant grant?
Where are you working now?
Lauren: When I was studying in Bilbao, I met my boyfriend. I still had another year to finish my degree in California but I decided to return to Bilbao after I graduated. I found the conversation assistant programme-it is one of the only ones where you can get a visa and not have to pay programme fees- and applied for a position in the Basque Country. They don’t guarantee the location you request but I was incredibly lucky and got a position at a high school in Bilbao. Now I’m working at a high school in Rekalde in Bilbao and living in San Inazio in Bilbao.
CIDE: What is the school like? What do you like about the job? What have you found difficult?
Lauren: I really like the high school I am working at. I work with young people from 12 to 18 and there is not a dull moment. I have ten different groups and I meet with each one once a week. I really enjoy seeing the different personalities in each group and how they have developed during the year. I play a different role in my classes: I’m not the teacher and I don’t give them grades so we have a more relaxed relationship. The work is not difficult and basically it’s a great opportunity to live in Spain. That really makes it all worthwhile.
CIDE: So, would you recommend the conversation assistant programme to other students? Would you give them any advice?
Lauren: Yes, I would recommend this programme, but there are some things you need to keep in mind. The programme has had some payment issues. Most of us in the Basque Country have not had any problems this year, but I have a friend in Murcia who didn’t get his first pay until January. It depends on the autonomous community but it’s important to come with money saved. Anyway, it’s a good choice after university and I can’t imagine being anywhere else right now.