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Michael smiling in front of broken glass mural
The truth is, no matter why you originally set out to do it, living and working abroad ends up being so much more than just a shiny spot on your resume, or another accomplishment for you or your parents to brag about.

 This article was originally published in the Arts Co-op Newsletter in Spring 2015.

Michael Welk went to Spain to teach English for his co-op and shares about his adventure in a new country.

When I first started applying for jobs overseas, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted; all I knew was that I needed a change, and some time to grow. So I started taking resume classes, and thought hard about what I wanted in life before applying for several positions teaching English abroad.

As a first year student, I was surprised to get a couple of bites relatively quickly, and after a little nail-biting of my own (not literally, to be clear), I had secured myself an internship in a small village on the coast of sunny ol’ Spain, working with Catalan students on their English skills in a private Catholic school.

It was a dream come true, and boy-oh-boy was I excited. What a job! What a location! I was in for another bitter-sweet taste of life, though not the first one since I’d made the decision to leave home.

Movies, and the stories you hear from acquaintances, tend to gloss over the challenges of living abroad and focus on the good times instead. Don’t get me wrong, the glamour is there, but it can be hidden under piles of official documents, uncomfortable cultural differences, lonely nights, and painful self-reflection. But this is actually the best part. Changing your attitude changes the world – or to be more specific, it changes your world!

The truth is, no matter why you originally set out to do it, living and working abroad ends up being so much more than just a shiny spot on your resume, or another accomplishment for you or your parents to brag about. It can be the start of a new you, an opportunity to begin recreating yourself in a better light. In the end you’ll have a lot more friends to call, tons of great stories to tell, and amazing memories filed away for when you need them.

SFU Co-op Student

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