Meet our expats: Matthew Higgins

26 September 2017 0 Comments Category: blog, Expats Interviews, Living in Spain


My name is Matthew Higgins and I have just moved back to Madrid to work. I am a languages and translation graduate and qualified TEFL teacher who has previously studied and worked here. Since I first ever came to Madrid, I have known that it is the place in which I want to live.

The first time I came to live in Madrid, it was June 2011. I was still a languages student on his summer break looking to spend time immersed in the language and culture. I instantly fell in love with the city. It has an amazing vibe, there are endless things to do, it is not too big and, for a capital city, the people are surprisingly warm and welcoming! I enjoyed my experience so much that I requested to spend the ‘Spanish’ part of my year abroad in Madrid. Studying in Spain was an invaluable experience because it immersed me in a Spanish educational environment and my Spanish progressed greatly.

I was accepted onto a Language Assistant programme and made the move in August this year after completing my CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) in July in France. I start my new job on 18th September in a semi-private high school. I can’t wait to start! It will be a completely different teaching environment to what I am used to, but II am up for the challenge to grow and develop further as a teacher.

To take part in the programmes like the one I will be working on, no Spanish is required (although obviously it is an advantage if you do speak the language). If you want to experience the ‘real’ Spain while earning a salary, I would urge you to apply!

The first image of Spain you had?

This is a funny question. I am afraid it is the stereotypical image of, tapas, fiesta, siesta and nice weather. Obviously, this is when I was a child and had never even been to Spain!

Favourite city in Spain?


Favourite food?


What word do you have trouble pronouncing or for a time you used to find especially difficult?

Perro – I still can’t pronounce the ‘rr’ even though I have been learning Spanish since 2009 and have a C1+ level!

And the worst thing?

The lifestyle. It is a lot less rushed than in Anglosaxon countries. People take time to eat and value spending time with friends and family.

And the worst thing?

The bureaucracy!

What didn’t you know about the Spanish?

I did not realise that so many people live with their parents into their 30s! I left home when I was 18 to study. For me, I could not imagine doing that! However, the economic crisis has prevented many people from moving out.

Name a typical Spanish expression

This one is hard to do as most of them as my favourites are not the nicest of phrases!

A kind of ‘hidden’ bad phrase would be: ‘ajo y agua’.

A ‘nicer’ phrase would be: ‘tomar el pelo’

Any myths or stereotypes you’ve found to be untrue?

The siesta is a thing of the past in Madrid!

Would you return to your home country?

No. I want to stay in Spain. Brexit is a terrifying prospect as I could lose my right to live and work in Spain.

Transport, weather, lifestyle, culture, language, food, travelling, siesta, history.

The transport in Madrid is excellent. The Metro runs until 1:30am and there are buses all night.

The weather in Madrid can get a bit too much in July/August, but that is the time to go to the beach anyway!

The culture is fascinating, particularly when you look at how varied it is in the different Autonomous Regions.

The food is amazing and it is very cheap, in general, to eat out. I love that in many places you get a free tapas with a drink. There are so many to discover too!

I love the Spanish language. Out of all the foreign languages I speak, it is my favourite one. It s a beautiful language. The vocabulary is so rich, it sounds very nice on the ear and there are so many different varieties of it. I find the Andalusian accents very charming, in particular!

Travelling is very easy. AVE trains connect many of the major cities and are not expensive if reserived in advance. The buses are very cheap too, although the journey times are much longer.

As I have only lived in Madrid, I have not seen the siesta in action, apart from on visits to pueblos and smaller towns in Spain.

The history is so rich and interesting. I studied it as part of my undergraduate degree. In terms of modern history, it is amazing how much Spain has changed since the 70s.

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