I’m back with a new installment in my Travel Talk interview series! This time, I spoke to Hilary Leslie of Oregonian Overseas, who is currently in her second year of teaching English in Madrid, Spain as an auxiliar de conversación (language and culture assistant). I participated in the same program from 2011 to 2013, so I was curious to hear about her experiences and travel plans.
Hello! Tell us about yourself.
My name is Hilary and I’m an Oregon native currently living and teaching English in Madrid, Spain. I majored in Spanish at Elon University and studied abroad in Costa Rica and Seville which only intensified my wanderlust! Along with working as a language assistant, I’m completing a translation certificate online through UCSD Extension in hopes of becoming a translator in the not too distant future.
Sounds like a great plan. How has your experience been as an auxiliar de conversacion? Would you recommend it to others?
My experience as an auxiliar has been very positive! I work with some really inclusive teachers who have not only helped me improve my skills as an educator, but have also taken advantage of my artistic abilities to better the creativity and learning in the classroom. This is my second year as an auxiliar in the same school, so I’ve also been able to teach some of the same classes and see how my “kids” develop and grow.
I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone who likes a challenge, wants to live abroad, travel, or simply wants to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.
Glad you’ve enjoyed it as I did! What advice would you give future auxiliares?
I would tell any prospective auxiliar to be patient (especially with the application process) and stay focused while starting your life abroad. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, but it’s worth it in the end. I would also advise to really engage yourself in the classroom as much as possible. We work very little hours for the amount we earn, so put in what you can!
Very true. What do you like about living in Madrid?
I like how much Madrid has to offer. There are a number of museums, a million restaurants, parks, events…it’s much more cosmopolitan and diverse than other cities such as Sevilla (even though Sevilla is my favorite! :P). I love Parque del Retiro, especially in the fall with my camera, and wandering around the Puerta del Sol area. Discovering new restaurants is also great fun; my friend and I came up with quite an impressive list last year. Badila is the best for anyone in Madrid!
I feel you — Madrid is my favorite city in the world. What are your three favorite places in Spain?
Sevilla is my number one favorite, especially its gorgeous Plaza de España, Segovia, and Cádiz. Every city is so unique, it’s hard to choose!
Sevilla is definitely amazing. Where else have you traveled? What has been your favorite?
In Europe, I’ve traveled to Germany, The Netherlands, France, Scotland, Italy, Monaco, and Portugal. Out of those…I think Italy would be my favorite. Tuscany can melt anyone’s heart!
And the food in Italy is to die for! What do you have planned for the year ahead? What’s on your travel bucket list?
In the spring, my Sevillano boyfriend and I have a trip to London lined up and we will definitely return to Sevilla for La Feria. Other than that, I still have some more exploring to do in Madrid while adding to my blog, Oregonian Overseas, and continuing my translation classes.
My travel bucket list is so long, but some of the top places I’d like to visit are Iceland, Norway, India, Japan, and Australia/New Zealand. So many places, so little time!
Want to be a part of my traveler interview series? Let me know!