Sophie Mead: 2013 English Language Assistant in Chile

Sophie left behind the familiarity of university life in Glasgow for a long-anticipated opportunity to live and work in Chile, more than 7,000 miles from her Scottish home

Tell us about your experience of working as an English Language Assistant.

Based at the University of Tarapacá, I taught students in their early twenties for 12 hours a week. I worked with small groups to improve their spoken English, using authentic, cultural materials to prompt topical discussion. I also took part in extra-curricular activities, which included choreographing a Christmas show and performing on stage with my students.

How did you immerse yourself in the local community?

I made an effort to speak Spanish with the teachers and adapted quickly to the Chilean accent. I even picked up the slang words. I played an active role in university life by taking yoga, dance and surfing lessons. My mentor teacher and other colleagues introduced me to local people of my own age, and before I knew it I had a new circle of friends.

What are your favourite memories of living in Chile?

My highlights include taking part in Arica’s annual carnival, in which I paraded as a flag bearer, starring in a tourism advertisement for a local media company and spending Christmas time in the rural South with a Chilean family.

I also enjoyed sharing my Scottish culture with the people I met, in and out of the classroom. I even took part in a local radio programme to talk about my opinions on the cultural and educational differences between our two countries.

What skills have you gained to make you stand out from the crowd?

The experience has boosted my confidence in speaking Spanish and afforded me the opportunity to operate within a formal workplace. I’ve developed a sense of independence and resilience, in addition to vital organisational skills.

And, of course, by becoming a part of the local community, I’ve reaped the benefits and overcome the challenges of living and working in a completely new cultural context.

Intersted in being an English Language Assistant? Visit our website for more information.