How I Found my Way from Teaching in the UK to Running my Own Business in Spain

Moving to Spain was, and still is, the best thing I’ve ever done. When I first arrived, it all felt magical. I loved making new friends, trying new activities and staying out late. It was great, I felt like I was back in university. Except, I didn’t like my job. This is my story of how I found my way to get exactly what I want from life.

The path to get to where I am now hasn’t been linear and has included drastic shifts in both my personal and professional life. Each change has been the foundation for what was to come afterward. Each step placing an additional brick to help me build the life path I walk today.

The life path that led me here

I grew up in a small town west of London with my parents and two sisters. I was a very quiet and shy person growing up. I wasn’t very confident and worried a lot about what others thought of me.

I’ve always been interested in languages, which nudged me to think that one day I’d love to live abroad. I intended to go to university to study French, but after failing French in high school that dream quickly crumbled. I was quite interested in teaching but had been put off by the idea because I thought that my personality wasn’t strong enough to stand up to difficult parents or kids.

Also, I found out that if I wanted to get into teaching, I’d need an extra year at college before embarking on the journey into university. So that’s what I did. That extra year was tough though. I enviously watched all my friends find their way into their new university lives.

But the following year, I’d get my turn too.

From there my life path unfolded quite conventionally. I started university, met my then-boyfriend, finished university, moved in with my boyfriend and started teaching.

That should have been my happy ending.

Need to make a change

During my first few years of teaching, I started to get itchy feet. I wanted to go travel and explore the world.

I wanted to go live abroad but my then-bf wasn’t a teacher and didn’t speak any other languages. This seemed like a roadblock that would greatly limit employment possibilities anywhere else but home.

This wouldn’t hold me back for long though, as eventually we broke up.

I felt free. I could go wherever I wanted.

I researched my options, applied to a few different jobs in places I thought I’d love and let fate choose my destiny. Within a month I was offered a teaching job in Madrid, Spain.

My new Spanish life

I’ve fallen in love with Spain and have no intention of ever moving back to the UK.

For the first few years of my life here, I was on cloud 9. I loved everything about my new life. Well except for my job. But I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying my new life. I had found my way to a path that suited me and I wouldn’t let this job ruin that.

To make it all even better, a few years later I met my fiancé and eventually moved to his little town outside of Madrid.

But my work life continued to be miserable.

When Diego and I first moved in together, he witnessed a very stressed version of me. I’d come home crying most days, not sleeping and battling nightmares from the dissatisfaction I felt about work.

Then, one day I jokingly said to him: “Imagine if I taught English in this town. How lovely would that be!”

He looked at me said: “Why don’t you? You can use my nan’s empty house”.

Two days later I handed in my notice at work.

The drastic detour from teacher to business owner

I had no idea what was in store for me. I wasn’t sure if this crazy idea would ever work, but I knew I couldn’t stay in the situation I was in.

Looking back, I am grateful that my experience in this last school was so awful because it was this horribleness that gave me the push I needed to get out and pursue this new path.

If this last school hadn’t been so drastically negative for me, I might not have been brave enough to take this risk and leave it.

But I’m glad I did.  

A year and a half ago, I opened my own little English academy. I teach English to kids through cooking, play, drama and songs.

I am not going to lie and say it’s been clear sky and smooth sailing.

Many folks in town aren’t satisfied with what I’ve decided to offer. I’ve been asked by multiple parents if I will do exam prep, which doesn’t interest me and goes against my beliefs are a teacher.

There were a few times I nearly accepted because I didn’t want to turn people away, but then I remind myself that this is my business and I can steer it into the direction that I please.

My fiancé regularly reminds me that my happiness is more important than whatever money I could make taking on these clients that aren’t for me.

Constantly redefining my path

A few months ago, a lot of children left the academy.

I panicked and started questioning my own abilities. I wondered whether I was really able to make this path I had chosen work for me.

“Maybe I’m a bad teacher, maybe these classes aren’t working, maybe I should pack it in,” my mind rambled on.

I started job hunting and was quickly called in for an interview for the first day back after Christmas holidays.

I turned up at the school and instantly hated it. I had flashbacks of my last awful school, which encouraged me to turn the job offer down.

That evening I walked into my academy, having not seen my kids at all throughout the holidays. I got so many cuddles, told how much I had been missed and some had even gotten me a little holiday present.

This warm return helped me reconfirm that this is where I wanted be.

It took me going to that interview to realise that I am actually very happy with what I have and I don’t want to give this up. I’ve lost some families along the way because my classes aren’t what they are looking for. But I’ve also got a lot of children with me today who have been with me since day 1. That’s what I try to focus on.

What I do won’t please everyone and it isn’t supposed to please everyone.

The surprise inner shifts

With all the changes that a new business has brought into my life, the biggest change has been with my mindset and my belief in myself.

I had to stop focusing on how many kids and families I lost and instead shift my attention towards the amount that are happy with me and the number of new children I have received along the way too.

When I was a kid, I would hear someone’s opinion of me and immediately accept that that’s who I am. I was told that I was shy, quiet and not very sporty, so that became part of my identity.

Moving to Spain and making new friends has allowed me to try new things without those old labels lingering over my head.

Shedding these labels was an immense source of new-found confidence. This new trust in myself helped me set up my own small business, and also has pushed me to get into sports for the first time in my entire life.

I hated sports as a child and was always the last one picked for teams. I just accepted that that’s who I was. I placed myself in the ‘non-sporty’ box to never be questioned again.

Until now!

Around a year ago I decided I wanted to get into better shape and so I started trying to find some sport or physical activity I might enjoy. Some of my friends in Madrid had competed in races and I’d always been jealous of their ability to run.

I decided to try it.

The first time I went, I started listening to a song but before the song had finished, I was so tired that I went home.

Then, I tried again following a running plan and can now run 10 kilometres.

I now wake up, go for a run in the Spanish sun, have lunch and then go to my academy.

I can definitely think of worse ways to live my life.

About the author

Becky Mullins is an English teacher at My 5 Senses Academy for kids in Ciempozuelos, Madrid. She’s a qualified primary school teacher and has over 8 years teaching experience in the U.K. and Spain. Becky completed a Bachelor’s degree in Education at Gloucestershire University in 2010. In her free time, Becky enjoys going to the centre of Madrid to go running and see friends.

Interested in reading about how Becky found her way, but don’t have time right now? Pin it here!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. So proud of your courage and achievement in seeking a new life and fulfilling your dream.
    Well done Becky.
    Love, Nana, xx

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