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My Story: The Life of an American English Teacher in Barcelona

tefl graduate barcelona

Meg Murray took the Trinity CertTESOL course in Barcelona in October 2015. She is originally from New York, USA. She has been living in Barcelona for 9 months so far and obtained a long-term student visa via our visa service. Here, she explains what she is doing now and offers an honest perspective on what life is like in Barcelona.



If you had asked me two years ago where I thought I’d be now, my response probably would have been something along the lines of “working a corporate job in New York City.”  Living in Europe never would have crossed my mind.  Sure, I love to travel (it’s more of an addiction really) so teaching English in another country had always been in the back of my mind as something I wanted to do but I never thought it was an actual possibility.  I mean, in the US you graduate college then you get a job.  That’s the plan and I followed the plan.  I studied music business in school, after college I was working in the entertainment industry, going to parties and concerts, it was great.  But I had graduated college just as the economy got bad and my dream life turned into working a crappy job I hated to make ends meet.  Nonetheless, I was still always saving up for my next vacation.  After talking to my friend Rick, who had taught in South Korea, I realized that I needed to stop searching for “The American Dream” and start searching for my own.  Since I didn’t have a location in mind I started researching TEFL programs and I found Oxford TEFL.  It kept coming up as one of the best and I really liked the support it offered and the fact that it was Trinity accredited.  But the deciding factor for me was the careers service Oxford TEFL offers – Regina has been an irreplaceable part of my experience here.  So once I picked the program I needed to choose the city.  Oxford TEFL has six different locations to choose from: Barcelona, Prague, Malaga, Cadiz, London and Kerala, but Barcelona had the most appeal for me.  Beach, mountains, museums, culture and bonus, I could learn Spanish while I was here. So I packed my bags and here I am.

study TEFL abroad
Meg at a Barcelona viewpoint with friends

I found an apartment through the Oxford TEFL Accommodation Facebook group and it turned out to be amazing.  I had three fantastic roommates who made me feel right at home.  I actually just moved out of that apartment three weeks ago into a new place.  My new apartment is right across the street from Monumental, the old bullfighting ring.  It’s also just a few blocks from the Sagrada Familia, a fifteen minute walk from Oxford TEFL, fifteen minutes from the beach and directly across the street from a metro stop; you can’t beat the location. It definitely helps that Barcelona is super easy to get around.  They have a great public transportation system but Barcelona is small enough that you can pretty much walk everywhere if you want.  I live with three great guys from all over Europe.  One’s from France, one’s from Italy and the other is from Germany.  I have a huge bedroom with a double bed and tons of closet space, washer and dryer, a big terrace and (my personal favorite) an amazing cleaning lady.  The best part is that it only costs 400€/month everything included.  In New York City that wouldn’t even get you a cardboard box in some back street alley in the Bronx.  It still amazes me how cheap Barcelona is.

lifestyle barcelona
Hiking near Barcelona

Life in Barcelona is amazing.  I love that I can pretty much make my own schedule.  I have class at 8am every day, followed by a long break where I can lesson plan for my classes, then I have 2 hours of Spanish classes.  Each afternoon/evening is different. Most of my classes are private students so some days I have 3 students back-to-back and some days I only have one.  And every Thursday I go with some teachers and friends to a bar near Oxford TEFL called Zafra for a language exchange to help improve my Spanish, which I like to call laughably adequate.  I will admit though, it did take me a little while to get used to the timetable here: siesta, dinner at 10pm.  I love it, though I don’t think I’ll ever get used to not be able to going to the grocery store on Sundays.

Barcelona nightlife
Meg with friends

I have a great group of friends here (some of whom I met while taking the TEFL course at Oxford TEFL) and there’s always something to do.  Of course you have the touristy stuff (my first day I got up and went straight to the Picasso museum) but Barcelona is so much more than that.  If the mountains are your thing there are some great hiking trails.  There are also some great places to go horseback riding.  If you’re more of a beach person, you’re in luck.  Not only does Barcelona have some great beaches but you can also go up the coast a bit to Costa Brava and find some really great spots.  In fact, my friends and I found a beautiful little cove just this weekend.  The water was so blue and clear; it was perfect. They also love a good festival here.  It seems like every week there’s another festival or fair.  And let’s not forget the tapas and sangria.  It’s so easy to meet up with friends for a quick drink after classes.  And of course then there’s the best part: travelling.  It is super easy to travel around Europe; I’m always on the lookout for travel deals.  The airport can be reached by the metro, making it super convenient.  Since I’ve been here, I’ve gone skiing in Andorra, spent spring break in Madrid and gotten lost in Berlin for a long weekend.  There are a lot of great day trips you can take too, all easily accessible by train.  Montserrat is a beautiful monastery with some great hiking trails and gorgeous views.  Girona is a great little town just outside of BCN, which has become one of my favorites.  You can also check out Figueres and the Dali museum.  I’m currently planning my next adventure.  Maybe a long weekend in Lisbon.  What do you think?

Even though I’ve been here for almost a year, it’s hard to remember sometimes that I’m not on vacation: this is my life.  About every other week, I still stop myself and think: “Hey, I live in Spain! This is pretty cool.”  My only regret: that I didn’t do this sooner.

Would you like to study or live in Barcelona? Get qualified to teach English in only 4-weeks with our Trinity CertTESOL course and take advantage of our visa support (non-EUs) and free lifelong careers service. For more information visit this page, get in touch or apply here.

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