I suppose I qualify as some kind of rare bird because my enrollment in two separate masters programs at Instituto Franklin – UAH. In 2016, I did the Master in Bilingual Education and Multicultural Education. This year I’m doing the Master in American Studies. Classes are winding down for the semester and I’m putting the final polish on my thesis, so, it seems a like a good time to stop and reflect on my experience with the Instituto Franklin-UAH.
I would like to say that my first impressions of the Master in Bilingual Education and Multicultural Education were strictly positive, but in reality, on my first day, I was mostly confused. I showed up two weeks late to the start of the program (my fault; visa hassles), and so when I arrived I got hopelessly lost wandering the labyrinth that is Colegio Trinitarios. Eventually, the charms of the facultad would reveal themselves to me, but in that moment, I was a lost puppy, and I showed up 15 minutes late to my first class.
When I finally found my class however, my bewilderment was replaced by a respect for the professionalism and friendly manner of my professor and fellow students. They welcomed me into the fold, had a chuckle about my visa issues, and my journey with Teach & Learn in Spain Master Program had begun.
I had been some years away from the classroom as a student, having finished my undergrad in 2013, so my student habits and skills were a little rusty. But with Teach & Learn, the brisk pace of the courses, coupled with the information load, interactive class structures, and general environment of get-er-done professionalism, and any slothful studious habits I may have had got shucked by the wayside. Survival in the program depended on it.
One of the joys of the program was making personal connections in the class and forming bonds. From the group project work to the frequent in-class presentations, as students we were in constant contact with each other. We also had a lot in common. There we were: Americans in Spain, studying in the same program, teaching the same kids, earning the same salary. We had plenty to laugh and commiserate about when we would go out for end-of-the-week-beers.
The course structure fit in nicely with our schedule as auxiliars. With Teach & Learn on Friday afternoons only, we had a full six days to plan and prepare for the week’s class. For me, this was perfect as I developed my routine and habits around the study I needed. The thesis was daunting at first, but with support from my adviser and support from my peers I soon had a writing schedule in place. The self-discipline I learned would come in handy in the year to come as well.
After graduation, I was full of the warmth a human feels when some momentous undertaking been finished successfully. Then, reality hit and I was faced with uncertainty over the next step. What to do? Go home and use my new knowledge and title to teach (with a hoped-for bump in salary)? Stay in Spain as an auxiliar? Go live in a cave in a mountainside far, far away from the nearest teenager? The options required some serious thought.
My brain was telling me to stay in California and make a decent salary. My heart told me find a job teaching in Mexico, somewhere close to some good surf. Then I had an idea: why not stay at Instituto Franklin – UAH and do the Master in American Studies. It would be a master official (as opposed to the master propio) which would grant me eligibility to PHD programs, and it would be compatible with my workload as an auxiliar. After reviewing the courses on offer and the various lines of research, I pulled the trigger and enrolled. The courses on offer looked to line up directly with my interests in history and literature.
The first semester was based on the Complutense campus, and the change of scenery was refreshing. The campus has a studious vibe–everyone within a square of mile of Complu appears to be either a student or professor–and it’s easy to remain focussed and on-track with the studies in such an environment. The workload was also intense, but as with the Teach & Learn in Spain Master program, students have a flexibility to choose a line of research that suits their respective passions. In my case, I chose a literature-themed courseload. This allowed me to research my interests and also draw off my studies for my thesis with Teach & Learn in Spain Master Program. Also, as I write my second thesis this spring, the experience in planning and researching and time management from last year has proven invaluable. In this way, the two masters courses have meshed together seamlessly.
Now, looking ahead to next year, I plan on enrolling in the PHD in American Studies program at Instituto Franklin – UAH. The program will allow me to study a line of research related to my passions, advance my career in an upward trajectory, and continue living in my beloved Spain. The encouragement I’ve gotten from the faculty and staff has been key in this decision. Beyond the academic side, they’ve been a huge help to me with everything from enrollment issues, to job ideas, to helping me find my dang classroom. I’m looking forward to working with them for at least another three years.
Stewart Merrit. Franklin Alumni Master Teach & Learn in Spain 2016-2017
He is a current student enrolled in the Master in American Studies 2017-2018.
He completed Teach & Learn in Spain Master in Bilingual & Multicultural Education on June, 2017.