Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | December 8, 2011

My Experience Living and Teaching in Lugo, Spain

Work Abroad / Study Abroad
My Experience Living and Teaching in Lugo, Spain

Alyssa Barras, alumna from the Spanish Major program

Introduction by Dr. Fátima Serra, Department of Foreign Languages

The Education Office of the Embassy of Spain is offering another round of positions as Cultural Assistants in Spanish Schools. Seniors or recent graduates get the opportunity to spend a year in Spain as a teaching assistant in a school at the elementary, middle or high school level. The requirement is to have an intermediate level of Spanish, no need to be a Spanish Major. The beauty of the program is that you get paid, around $1,000 a month and you still have time to register in a University to progress in your studies, to teach additional tutoring sessions, or simply enjoy life in Spain.

For more information, check the links below:

We currently have two SSU alumni participating in the program, Daniel Godden and Alyssa Barras. Alyssa sent us an account of her experience in Spain so far. It is impossible to over emphasize the wonderful opportunities and doors that study abroad opens at the personal and professional level. Both Daniel and Alyssa participated in the semester program in Oviedo, Spain, and gained the confidence to apply for these teaching positions offered by the Spanish Ministry of Education. The semester in Oviedo is a great affordable program for all Majors. The Universidad de Oviedo offers courses in Spanish language and culture, as well as others in business and a variety of disciplines in English. Dr. Fátima Serra can help anyone interested in either study abroad or the Cultural Assistant Program.

The following is what Alyssa Barras wrote about her experience in Lugo, Spain as a Cultural Assistant. It is a joy to have seen Alyssa grow into the confident, competent professional she is now. And you should hear her Spanish!

Last May I graduated from Salem State with a Spanish major and had the good fortune of being selected for a program to live and work in Spain for a whole year. I have been here since August and I would like to share my experiences with you.

I am a teacher’s assistant in a school of just 92 students outside of Lugo in a small village called Corgo. The students are 3 to 11 years old (preschool to sixth grade).  I teach six English classes and two arts and craft classes in English as well. The children are eager to learn and are very well-behaved. The education system is a lot more relaxed here, especially where I am teaching, in a village, so they support any activities or lesson plans you want to introduce to the students. Creativity and flexibility are keys to being successful in the Spanish classroom. The students have so much interest in learning English and the ways of life in the United States. The teachers are all welcoming and friendly people. The faculty and I eat lunch together during break and go for walks after.

My favorite class, the 1st grade girls. Left front to back: Sophia, Laura, Paula, and Andrea. Right front to back:  Saray, Raquel, Eva, and Beatrice

My favorite class, the 1st grade girls. Left front to back: Sophia, Laura, Paula, and Andrea. Right front to back: Saray, Raquel, Eva, and Beatrice

When I first arrived to Lugo I stayed in a hotel for a few days while I looked for a flat.  I thought I would struggle, but with welcoming arms from the hotel workers and the teachers I felt at home. The teachers met with me my first days there to help search for a flat.  My second day at the hotel I met another Cultural Assistant named Val from Chicago. We became very good friends and decided to look for a flat together. We looked at four flats in one day and chose the last one we saw, and it has been great living where we are. We have our own rooms, a living room, and a kitchen, and the price is great. It is very easy to find a flat with websites like, milanuncios, and many more. The monthly pay is 700 Euros a month which is plenty to live on.  The food here in Lugo is fairly inexpensive, and from what I hear “se come bien en Lugo,” it is true.  If you go out and order a drink they give you several plates of tapas and before you know it, you’ve already eaten a whole dinner!

In addition, there are plenty of opportunities to do private English lessons on the side.  I set up an account on where you can create a free account advertising what you are looking for. I made two different accounts, one looking for a conversation partner and the other advertising that I give private English lessons. I teach about five tutoring sessions a week along with working 12 hours a week at the school.  There is plenty of free time, so I enjoy teaching and lesson planning on the side. There are also academic schools that are looking for English teachers as well, and they pay pretty well. Even though it may seem like a lot of work, it is completely enjoyable so it doesn’t feel like work, and there are many holidays that give you the opportunity to travel.  Whether or not there is a lot of work, the people in Spain know how to enjoy life. The first week I arrived to Lugo it was during the fiestas of San Froilan.  The streets were filled with people, carnival rides, games, food stands, and concerts.  The festival lasted about two full weeks, I couldn’t believe it. It was a ton of fun and a great way to meet some Spaniards.

There was a facebook group called Ladies in Lugo that one of the teacher’s assistants made before we arrived. It was a great idea because we all were able to communicate with one another by answering anyone’s questions that arose. It also made it possible for us all to meet when we arrived to Lugo. We planned a meeting point, had a drink and some tapas and now we are all good friends!  Overall, I love it here and I love the city. My favorite part is the wall (la muralla) that the Romans built in the 300’s. It is a huge wall that wraps around the inner city. You can climb stairs to get to the top of the wall where there is a jogging path that overlooks the city.

Everything has gone smoothly thus far with the help of my prior experiences in Spain.  I did a semester abroad in Oviedo, thanks to the help of Professor Serra for giving me the confidence boost to fulfill not only a dream, but an experience that has enhanced my knowledge and personal growth beyond my own belief!  Some tips I would give to someone who wanted to do this program would be to study abroad first, and to get a feel for what traveling is like in another country whose native language is different than that of your own.  I am enjoying every moment while I am here. If you have a passion to educate others and want to grow as an individual, there is not a better time or experience than this.  I had to quit both my jobs in the US to be here and not a day has gone by that I have regretted it!

For further questions or comments you can contact me by e-mail:

[Instructions: Use the pictures from the folder, not from this file. Use the captions below:]

Picture 1: *This is a picture of my favorite class, the 1st grade girls. Left front to back: Sophia, Laura, Paula, and Andrea. Right front to back:  Saray, Raquel, Eva, and Beatrice.

Picture 4: we made lollipop ghosts for Halloween and candy bags to trick or treat with!

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