Benny Mouckley (BA'03)
Seizing life-changing opportunities
Toronto native Benny Mouckley was sold on Spain while spending eight months studying in the country when he was a Dal student. He was struck by the beauty and student-friendly vibe of the old city and knew he wanted to return.
“Within a year I had moved to Barcelona and seven years later and I’m still here,” he says. “I did the International MBA program at EADA and then spent a couple of years in a job I didn’t love. So I decided to start my own company.”
Benny is the owner and managing director of SuiteLife Barcelona, a real estate and relocation company that helps foreigners and expats move to Barcelona. He started the company just four years after graduating from Dal with a double honours degree in Spanish and Sociology. The company has been growing ever since and was even featured in an episode of HGTV’s House Hunters International.
“About 50% of our clients are Spanish and we spend much of our day doing business in Spanish,” he says. “So the time I spent studying Spanish at Dal helps me every day.”
Benny entered Dal’s Spanish program because after growing tired of studying French grammar in high school, he wanted a change and be able to actually converse in another language.
“I was extremely lucky in that I had Dr. Kirk for Beginning Spanish 1020 and he changed the course of my life,” he says. “He was the best professor I had at Dal in any discipline. He was so passionate about Spanish, it was infectious. He saw how much I enjoyed it and told me about a summer program his daughter had done in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I spent the next two summers living there and studying Spanish.”
Dr. Kirk also encouraged Benny to explore a couple of the Spanish program’s study abroad opportunities. So instead of graduating after four years, he stayed in school for an extra year to study for four months in Campeche, Mexico followed by eight months in Salamanca, Spain.
“I loved each program for different reasons,” he says. “I loved Campeche because few people there speak English. In terms of being ‘immersed’ this experience takes the cake. It’s hard to communicate with those around you when you feel like you have the vocabulary of a 6-year-old, but my Spanish improved by leaps and bounds.
“Salamanca was entirely different and was my first love affair with Europe. I met some of my best friends from all over Europe there and fell in love with the Spanish lifestyle. By the time I was finished and on my way back to Toronto, I knew I’d be back soon.”