Why the change of lifestyle……an answer to the question so many are asking

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 was 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 was successful in achieving my goal because I took a very strategic approach. I had a plan.

Today 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.

Hasta luego
Michelle

Move to Ecija…update

I spent the morning travelling to what will be my new base for the next little while. Ecija, with a population of just over 40,000, is a little over an hour from Sevilla in the province of Andalusia. It’s been referred to as the frying pan of Andalusia as temperatures can soar in summer to being the hottest in Spain!

Ecija has been a Roman and then a Moorish town. It has lots of narrow, winding cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, 11 towers, a pile of churches (not sure how many yet) and of course a bull ring.

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One of the 11 towers – snapped from the main square

Anne, who hails from Belgium originally and has also been to Darwin, picked me up from the local bus station. She is my new boss and has been here for 3 years. First task of the day was looking at apartments. I am delighted to report I’ve found one already and move in tomorrow.

Everyone seems very friendly but hardly anyone speaks English so my mastery of Spanish is going to have to come along pretty quickly and at least I can already understand a lot of what is said if they speak slowly!

This afternoon (read here 5.30 pm as that is when afternoon seems to start) I went for a walk though town. Shops were full of people at 7.30 and squares filled with families of all ages with kids in prams, on bikes, kicking footballs and roller skating before heading home for dinner. Anne informs me that in these parts we don’t say ‘Buenos notches’ till after 10 pm at night.

I also now have a Spanish mobile number thanks to a lovely Moroccan girl serving me and between a cross of Arabic, French and Spanish the phone is operational! I was also complimented on my Arabic pronunciation which I am amazed and pleased with given it is so very many years since I have used the language.

Tonight I am in a delightful little pension that is located in an 18th century house complete with traditional courtyard and right in the old centre of town. My room is massive and comes with the most enormous bathroom complete with claw foot bathtub that I intent to relax in a little later this evening and fantastic wi-fi connection – talk about a contrast!

Michelle

 

 

QUICK UPDATE…..Paris

Been 10 days since my last blog so here we go……. been having a wonderful trip catching up with Denise in Paris, Helene & Pierre in Belgium and Paolo in Amsterdam with no time to blog 🙂

Paris – riding the metro from Orly Airport it was wonderful to be met by Denise at the top of the stairs of Saint Michel-Notre Dame.  A very short stroll and we were at her apartment on Ile Saint Louise (one of th two natural islands in the middle of the Seine) which is very large by Paris standard. Wonderful to have my own room with a window that looked straight out to the Seine. Dumped the bags and off we went to purchase fromage, vin rouge, baguette and fruit for our supper. Just love all the little boulangries, other patisseries and other cute shops.

Over three days Denise and I spent hours meandering, chattering, sipping vin rouge and of course a little shopping too – we had a whole year of news to catch each other up on and it was just wonderful and we were blessed with the most glorious weather for walking about. It was also great to be able to have a washing machine instead of the handwash Chinese laundry going on in the hotel bathroom each night.

Wines galore!
Wines galore!
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Exploring some of the perfumeries
Denise and myself having fun in Paris
Denise and myself having fun in Paris

 

Have had 3 job interviews so far. Each was very different and most interesting to see the questions that they ask. It’s a bit weird doing the interviews over Skype but hey, it’s all a new experience. Although I have been offered a couple of things, none are offering full-time work so I need to carefully consider what I will do and where I might base myself in terms of getting the most work but I shall think about that one next week.

More to follow on Brussels, Amsterdam and Seville which is where I am currently and it is gorgeous but that is another update – so stay tuned.

Michelle