Conor studied music technology and philosophy at the National University of Ireland. He taught with Meddeas in a school in Bilbao, Spain and plans to return to the country to complete a PhD
Why did you go to Spain with Meddeas?
I was looking to undertake the next step in my teaching career. I had taught in Italy for several months, but wanted to commit to a year somewhere new.
Meddeas offered me the opportunity to move to Bilbao, Basque Country, and provided as much assistance as possible to ensure my transition from Ireland was a smooth one.
Favourite memory of your experience?
The weekend before I left Bilbao, a good friend (a fellow teacher from my school) and I went on a coastal road-trip of Basque Country. We went to all the small towns that you can only reach by car. I loved it, but it made me incredibly sad that I would be leaving soon for China.
What friendships have you kept from Spain?
The two girls I lived with in Bilbao were the best housemates I could have asked for. They were incredibly helpful and patient with me and I really miss hearing them sing in the evenings.
I will be travelling back to Bilbao this summer and I cannot wait to see them.
Learning the language of a new culture is the easiest way to make your stay enjoyable
Did you improve your level of Spanish?
I spoke no Spanish before moving to Bilbao, and I learned some (as well as Basque), however I have significantly improved my Spanish since moving to China, as my plans are to return to Spain and complete a PhD in the near future.
As such I spend 40 to 60 minutes every day practising my Spanish before, or after, lecturing. I really do love studying Spanish (Basque is incredibly difficult though, like Mandarin).
How has this experience improved your professional life?
My experience in Bilbao enabled me to move on to university lecturing in Tsinghua, Beijing. Teaching mixed-level students in Bilbao, as well as Cambridge exam preparation, really developed my CV.
Now I lecture philosophy and English at the best university in Asia. I know this position would have been incredibly difficult to achieve without the excellent experience in Basque Country.
What advice would you give to someone joining Meddeas?
Learn Spanish. Learn whatever the chief language is of your region (for me Spanish and Basque).
I wish I had started learning Spanish and Basque and I feel I could have travelled and enjoyed the country much more had I bothered to study more of the language.
Learning the language of a new culture is the easiest way to make your stay enjoyable.