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Monday, April 20, 2015

Teaching English Abroad: How I Made The Decision (The Real Story)

I can't believe my TEFL course is almost over! 11 weeks went by really fast, and soon after I'm finished there will only be 12 more weeks until I'm off to Europe. I definitely had higher hopes for how much I would have in savings right about now, but things don't always go as planned. I started a GoFundMe account which you can donate to here (please help spread the word)! Hey, if some random girl can get her irresponsible trip to Vegas paid for by strangers, then I should definitely be able to get my teaching trip paid for. I haven't lost hope in humanity yet...don't let me down!

As I mentioned in another post, I started working as a substitute teacher for extra income and to prepare me for my own classroom. It's been fun and nerve racking at the same time. Although, I wish it was more consistent. I'm beginning to worry I won't be going to Europe with the fat savings account I was looking forward to. I never understood how other blogs only highlight the awesome stuff and give the illusion that dropping everything and just going is something can that be done in a day. For me, the decision had been building, but I guess the official verdict did actually happen over night. Some of you have been asking how I came to this point and how I decided. So, here's my story.

After graduating in the fall, and taking way too long to get to that point, I really couldn't think of a job I wanted to go after. So many of my friends had known exactly what they wanted to do way before they graduated and it always secretly worried me that I didn't have that. I wasn't one of the lucky ones in that sense. After taking some exploratory classes, I majored in sociology, which came easily to me. Throughout school I took tons of extra humanities classes, but never enough in one subject to earn a minor because, apparently, I have ADD and like to make things difficult for myself. By the time I graduated, I had traveled to Italy (twice), worked at multiple internships and had a well-rounded resume from all my jobs in high school and college. I worked as a preschool teaching assistant my sophomore year on a work study program and I can honestly say, that was my favorite job. The only problem was that I didn't want to be a teacher, so I didn't see it benefitting me in the future other than learning lots of patience and gaining some parenting skills (seriously, anyone in college who thinks they want to have kids at any point in their lives should spend a week in a toddler classroom-- holy fuck). Having to take a closer look at myself when the high of finishing school had dissipated, I began searching tirelessly for jobs in all the fields I had experience in. I had a great resume and impeccable cover letters, but I just couldn't shake the overwhelming feeling of dread when thinking about sitting in an office all day being a part of the corporate American rat race.

I found myself searching around for international jobs in my down time, which is when it hit me. What's stopping me from going? Absolutely nothing. I just finished school, had no tangible job leads, I had no mortgage, no kids, and no real responsibilities that couldn't be taken care of remotely. That was the "over night" decision I was talking about. I had no plan and surely no specific job in mind, but I had to find a way to do this. Traveling had been my dream since I was 9 after learning about the magic that is the rain forest in Mrs. Meyer's fourth grade class. My family is not rich and my mom didn't even get her passport until I decided I wanted to take advantage of a summer and travel abroad for the first time after saving all spring, so this was going to take a lot of work.

One night, during my boyfriend's lunch hour, I showed up and surprised him. A lot had been on my mind during that time when the high wore off and I needed to see how far I was going to take this idea of mine. As he sat across from me at the table consuming his food, I sat there silently until finally I blurted out "I think I want to start applying for international jobs". At that point, that's as far as I had gotten and wasn't prepared to answer any of the questions he had, but was surprised when he finally reached across the table, took my hand, looked at me and said "I know this is something you've always wanted to do and traveling is your passion, so I'm not going to be the one to stand in your way". I broke into tears in the middle of a quiet Panera Bread, and all I could say was thank you. From then on, I began my search. I had looked into teach abroad programs before and had even been in talks with an advisor from International TEFL Academy 3 years before, but the timing wasn't right since I was still in school and was only flirting with the idea. A few weeks after the talk with my boyfriend, I get a phone call from that same advisor. Out of blue. On my birthday. I couldn't believe it. He didn't even know it was my birthday (I asked him later), which is when I couldn't call it a coincidence any more, even though I don't believe in coincidences in the first place. I took a bit more time to consider my options, but what I was really doing was planning how to put my deposit down for the class and where I wanted to go. A few weeks later, after many phone calls and emails with Matt The Advisor, I took the leap and registered for the next class. That was my move and everything from that point on was going to be different. Since January when I enrolled, I have asked my boss for more hours at work, gotten a second job as a sub to save money and work around my main schedule as a nanny, and used my tax return to buy my plane tickets. This shit is real. I honestly can't believe how everything seemed to fall into place for me to get me where I am, which is why I am not as worried as I should be about my current savings account. There is just this serene sense of faith I have that I am right where I am supposed to be and I couldn't be happier.

My ticket is non-refundable since I got the cheapest price possible, and I will soon be TEFL certified, so there is no turning back now. I started going through my stuff and donating clothes, and trying to sell things I don't need. When the time gets closer, my furniture will be split between a storage unit and keeping it at the apartment to loan to my boyfriend for the time being, but that's another worry entirely. For now, I am just focusing on being as cheap as possible cutting way back on brunch with friends and Friday nights out. I have a goal that is growing nearer and nearer, so from now until July, I will be pinching those pennies.