As a child I lived all over the world and called several different counties home. My father worked for the United Nations and this somewhat nomadic lifestyle was the life I was born into, so of course, I did not realise that our lifestyle was so different. As I grew older and stared work in London I would work few months to save enough money and head off somewhere on my travels.
One of my trips took me to Australia and I met my husband. Family life and commitments meant my wanderlust had to be curbed. Four years ago I found myself single again with my children almost all grown up – Sasha was about to finish school and head to university – the a little voice that lurked deep in the back of my head started saying that now was the time I could start thinking about make my dream of travelling and living abroad come true.
The only problem is that I would need money to live overseas for any length of time or I would need some kind of income stream. This presented a dilemma as it reduced where I could go with my current skills to just English speaking countries. I pondered how I could possible work in countries where my knowledge of the local language was not exactly top quality or in many cases non-existent.
After some research and analysis I decided that I could use a skill that I already possessed and knew was in high demand – English. I was always good at this subject at school and for many years have been editing and writing for others so why not develop my English further by learning to teach?
My Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) studies had to happen in conjunction with working full time and this meant when the schedule was really full my studies when on hold for bit. Luckily I found English classes a very refreshing break from my day-to-day work because the students were all so keen and eager to learn. They looked to their future with the view that learning English was a way to secure their future life.
My TESOL studies open up a whole new world. I was forced to exercise my brain in a totally different way and exposed to so many new concepts around the acquisition of a second language. Through my training I met an amazing array of individuals, all with incredible stories to tell, of their journey to settle in Australia. I also met teachers with interesting stories of where they had been and the things they had experienced.
One of the positives of being a TESOL teacher is that none of the students know my history. I am just their English teacher. They know nothing about my awards, my breast cancer journey or my business successes and therefore there are no expectations other than for me to help them learn English. It is really nice to be able to live in anonymity without people expecting me to live up to a reputation.
The other reason for this change is I’ve always told my clients they can achieve whatever they set their minds to and sometime I think they are sceptical. But I am walking the walk as well as having talked the talk.
I am demonstrating that, despite the fact I am no longer a spring chicken, I am perfectly capable of moving across the world and finding a job in a country that does not use English as its main language.
I’m paid a good wage in a country where unemployment figures are 24.5%, have a very comfortable apartment and am enjoying this new way of life whilst also, thanks to the business hours I keep, am able to keep a little toe in the business world by continuing to mentor, provide strategic advice and write.
I’m also sticking to my philosophy of choosing to only work with people who I have a mutual respect for. I’m working at an English Academy where the policy is to keep the fees as low as possible as the boss believes that education should be available to everyone and she offers many additional extra’s that other places would charge for and this is really valuable to those who have no jobs and so little money.
How long will I stay? Who know! Let’s see which way the wind blows.