Under the Spanish sun

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Westhoff returned to her beloved Spain on a school trip with students and their ACIS tour guide snapped a memorable photo at Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain on August 7, 2011. Philippa Couch

Sheila Farzani, Cub Writer

Everyone has wondered what the secrets to happiness are in life. In a land of intricate, old architecture and people relaxing in parks blooming with greenery, the answers may appear. Spanish teacher Hayley Westhoff’s experiences in Spain brought her self-discovery about her passion for teaching and the simple joys of life.

Graduating from college at age 18, Westhoff felt pressure on entering the career world.

“Upon graduating from college brought the pressure to enter the “rat race” to become successful and make money,” she says.

With a business degree, she went to Spain to become fluent in Spanish to open more doors for the job world.

Spanish is in fact the “No. 4 most spoken language in the world,” stated in an online source.

Her parents bought her a one way ticket for her first trip to Spain as a graduation present and Westhoff made the big move on graduation day.

“I fell in love with it,” she says. “I told myself at that point that one day I would live there. I was introduced to a Spaniard and I asked, ‘What do you do (for a career)?’ They looked at me with confusion as if I had three heads. I realized that people don’t ask that question when meeting someone because a career is not what defines a person. That was a learning moment for me.”

This experience changed her view on what really matters in life rather than just money and prestige.

“Spaniards work to live, not live to work and they always prioritize family and friends before anything else,” says Westhoff.

Siestas, three to four hour lunch breaks spent with family, are her favorite memories. The love shared by Spanish families is “remarkable,” she says. This encouraged her to have similar gatherings with her own family back home.

At the end of her trip, she concluded, “Money can’t make you happy. Doing something meaningful that you love does.”

She was good at her old job and received good pay, but she felt miserable and never stopped to “smell the roses.”

She says, “I changed my career (formerly Business/Marketing) to what I was always passionate about: teaching.”

Westhoff returned to graduate school to get a masters degree in Education.

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