1) Where and what did you study and when did you graduate?
I officially studied History with Study in French (a ridiculous name for something that was just History and French) at the University of Bristol. I graduated in 2013.
2) Where do you live now?
I’m currently living in Mexico City.
3) Tell us about your job...
Well, it’s more like two jobs. I am a volunteer Campaigns and Research Assistant at Amnesty International’s Regional Office for the Americas, which is based here in Mexico City. On a day to day basis, I do a lot of administrative tasks, calling people up and requesting meetings for my seniors, transcribing interviews, translating documents from Spanish to English - can be anything depending on whatever is urgently needed that day! Everything I do is in Spanish, which is great for me, as language learning is my biggest obsession, and I’m thinking of trying to get into interpreting (although my future plans tend to change week on week!). The field of human rights is as challenging as it is rewarding and I’m learning every day. I also work online as an English and French teacher, with a site called iTalki. That keeps me in tortillas and beer, and it’s also fantastic because I get to meet students from all round the world. I also keep up a variety of side projects, including blogging about my life in Mexico and language learning projects, and occasionally getting my guitar out and doing the odd concert here!
4) What did you want to be when you were younger?
I think it flitted between either a professional cricketer or professional footballer depending on which season it was! My teenage years were also suitably spent thinking that my rock band was going to go stratospheric, whilst doodling anarchy signs on my schoolbooks without having a clue what that meant.
5) What did you do immediately after leaving university?
Immediately after finishing my exams I moved back to my hometown of Chichester to work for a medical insurance company, answering client’s calls about their holidays and insurance details (‘Do I need a visa to go to Spain?’ was a particular classic, as well as the chap who wanted advice on carp fishing in Guinea-Bissau). I was really lucky to be able to live at home and raise some cash, which I desperately needed due to my imminent move to Mexico, where I went to work with the British Council’s Language Assistant Programme, working as an English teacher in Mexico City. I fell in love with teaching and I fell in love with the country, although things were often a little complicated at first. I accidentally got adopted by a Mexican family who I’m living with during my second (current) stay here, which was one of the most amazing happenings of my short life. My immediate post graduate experience set the foundations for almost everything I’m doing now.
6) How did you feel about your future when you graduated?
Incredibly positive actually, perhaps even too much so. I was looking forward to life after university so much maybe I didn’t make as much of my last year at Bristol as I should have done. My third year studying abroad in Bordeaux had been so wonderful I was itching to head out of the country again.
Don’t drink! I rushed back with my parents to play in a five-a-side football match and think the three glasses of wine I consumed significantly contributed to our defeat.
8) Would you have done anything different?
Honestly, not much. There were lingering temptations to move to London and try and get on a graduate scheme, but I know now that that kind of life would have done me no good at all. I might have tried to have learnt more Spanish before I left, because house hunting and making friends when I arrived in Mexico City was seriously complicated when I arrived because of how terrible my language skills were. In university terms, I do kind of wish sometimes I hadn’t spent so much money in awful clubs and joined some more societies, particularly outdoor ones.
9) What inspires you?
Perhaps more than anything, new experience. As cliched as it sounds, I read Kerouac’s On the Road when I was in India at nineteen, and it absolutely confirmed to me the kind of life I wanted to live - constantly meeting new people and getting to know new places. A great chat in a language that isn’t my mother tongue, usually over a beer, usually leaves me with a warm feeling that life is worth it! The fact that my amazing family supports me is also a massive inspiration that I couldn’t live without.
10) What would you like to say to our graduates looking for inspiration?
Firstly - and most importantly - not knowing what you want to do is a strength, not a weakness. There is nothing you should be doing, no matter what anyone says. I’m now going to utterly contradict that statement with my second point. Second point - if you don’t know what you want to do, you could do a lot worse than being an English teacher abroad (I’d really recommend the Language Assistants Programme with the British Council). You’ll meet loads of new people, probably learn a new language (if that’s your thing), get to know a new culture and you’ll probably fall into your next project by accident along the way. You’ll also be able to support yourself and really get to know the culture of the place in a way you wouldn’t if you just passed through. If you hate it, it’ll probably only be a maximum of one year of your life, and the UK isn’t going anywhere….
11) Your three favourite words
adjunct, dew and órale (A Mexican exclamation that can mean about 20 different things depending on context and tone - from ‘I completely agree’ to ‘You’re obviously nuts’)
Thank you so much Charlie for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope that you keep living your dreams in Mexico City and write the odd song about it too! If you would like to find out more about Charlie's journey and his language learning escapades, check out Pincheguero Blog.
If you are, or know, an inspirational graduate living their dreams, please fill in the form on the right hand side of this page. We'd love to hear from you!