Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Year Abroad stories: Anu Abicht

In this blog post, Spanish MA (Hons) student Anu Abicht tells us about how she discovered a passion for teaching yoga during her Year Abroad in Almería, Spain.

By Anu Abicht, Spanish MA (Hons) student

Anu Abicht in Almería, Spain
Spanish MA (Hons) student Anu Abicht during her Year Abroad in Almería, Spain

I spent my year abroad in Almería, which is in the south of Spain and located on the “Costa del Sol”. As the name of this coastal stretch suggests, there is sun all year round and, with those most beautiful sunsets, you really can’t stay in a bad mood for very long. One step outside and you were on a sandy beach with turquoise water and palm trees and an ancient castle in the distance. Who wouldn’t be happy there? 

For me, Almería not only meant happiness, but it also gave me the opportunity to turn my hobby into my future career. I had been practicing yoga for a while, but always just for fun. I hadn’t even really thought about becoming a yoga teacher, but then I did my Year Abroad.

Teaching my first yoga class

One afternoon, I was socialising with the other international exchange students on the beach, and it was just the normal spiel and small talk about what you’re studying and what you like to do. I mentioned that I liked to do yoga. Some of the girls told me they also wanted to try it and if I could do it with them once. I agreed, and a few days later we met next to the palm trees to do beach yoga together.

I had never taught a yoga class before, but I remembered something I read about “anticipatory confidence”, that you have to convince yourself you know what you’re doing and just throw yourself right into it.*

So, I began: “Let’s start in child’s pose…”, and my voice automatically followed along, giving shape to what I had learned about yoga so far, the anatomical knowledge, the philosophy, the breathing techniques. 

After that first experience, the word spread quickly, and more people wanted to join me for beach yoga. I decided to make a WhatsApp group chat, so I wouldn’t have to text five people individually about time and place.

Once I had the group chat, a friend who was organising the beach volleyball, shared the link to the group chat on his and, within a short time, over a hundred people joined my chat. He told everyone: “Do you want to do yoga? Anu is a yoga teacher”.

I remember thinking: “Oh, but I’m really not a yoga teacher”. But in the end, what is it that makes you a yoga teacher? The fact that you teach yoga. And when 30 people came to my last class after four months of teaching, I felt that I could really say this about myself.  

Trying out new hobbies and activities

Without my year abroad, I don’t think, I would have discovered my passion for yoga teaching. The international community was perfect, you have hundreds of exchange students right there that are all open for new experiences and lots of them will love to join in with any kinds of activities that you propose.

This is your one opportunity, make wise use of it! Any kind of hobby or interest you have - use it! Explore where it can lead you. Who knows, maybe, like me, you will find out what you want to do in the future for your career, or maybe you will just have a beautiful semester or year spending the time doing the thing you love with a lot of new friends. 

Anu Abicht, Year 4, Spanish MA (Hons)

There were lots of other people during my time in Almería, who I noticed because they also brought their hobby to the student community. There were a few people who enjoyed DJing and started DJing in the nightclubs, organising club nights and rooftop events.

There was a violinist who played on the promenade and in concerts, and there was always a crowd of other exchange students to watch and support him. There was a girl who gave zumba classes and a guy who organised a chess tournament. There was the volleyball group and a girl who started up a hiking group to organise hikes. There was an artist who was never short of new people to portrait. A drone photographer who had people joining in for his videos.  

And I think this is really inspiring how all these people were able to engage in their passion during their time abroad with help from the international and local student community.

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* Adele, D. (2009). The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice. On-Word Bound Books.