Teaching English abroad turned out to be quite an adventure. Who knew? Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I had just graduated with my second degree and still had no idea what to do with my life. Like many other young university graduates, I decided to take some time traveling around the world before I entered the corporate world. The mere thought of living day in and day out in the concrete jungle without a set path gave me anxiety. I loved my city, my friends, above all, my family. Yet I needed to remove myself from my comfort zone.
I booked a ticket to Portugal with the intention to spend a few months there to clear my mind. I was living in a tiny medieval village where everyone knew who you were and where you were going. This was really difficult for me at first. I used to the big city lights, noise, and the hustle and bustle of people walking by. Yet here I was faced with the sounds of nature and small-town chatter. It was beautiful.
I was working a few odd jobs to earn some money. I started working in a small café, and on the weekends I was an English tutor. Through some networking, I met a Cambridge University teacher trainer. She runs an English institute in the city. The one condition she had before I became part of her team was to complete my TESOL certification with OnTESOL, where I completed the 120-hour Advanced TESOL certificate with the additional 20-hour TEYL specialization.
Everyone Experiences Culture Shock
I have to say that my OnTESOL mentors gave me tons of confidence and courage. I knew I could do this. I’m a fighter. I created a bond with my TEYL tutor, who turned out to be one of the authors Cambridge University raves about.
I wish I could thank her personally. Today I am a full-time English teacher at the Cambridge University School for English. Teaching English as a second language is exhilarating. There will always be hurdles to overcome, such as cultural and language barriers. I have been here for three years and I am still adapting.I fly back home once or twice a year. I love my career, I love where I live and I love the challenges I face every day.
If I could give one piece of advice to soon-to-be-graduates and fellow alumni, it would be to simply hang in there. The adventure of a lifetime awaits. You just have to find the courage to push through that door. They say we all have our calling. Some reach that point sooner than others. I suppose that’s part of our journey in life.