TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF!
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
All over Europe, but mostly in Germany.
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
Returning to Europe. I loved it during study abroad, and after graduating, this seemed like a perfect time to continue the experience. When I came across the International TEFL Academy website, it seemed perfect for me.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I looked around at a few options, and for coming to Germany, I knew I needed to get TEFL certified. It seemed that the International TEFL Academy certificate was widely accepted. I also found the recruiter at ITA to be very helpful. It seemed to me that this would be a good place to invest my money and time to improve my chances of getting a job here in Germany.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
How did you like the course?
I enjoyed it. I felt that I had enough time to work at my job and get all the assignments done. I had a very good experience with the practicum (student teaching).
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
I am starting my job soon, but it definitely gave me enough knowledge to get job offers. As I start teaching, I will see how much it really helps. I believe that it will really help me be a better teacher, and hopefully be able to do this for the foreseeable future.
TEACHING ABROAD IN FRANKFURT, GERMANY
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
Germany, because I lived here and studied here before, bust mostly because my girlfriend is German.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
Only a few weeks so far, but I plan to stay at least a year. If I really like teaching, I will stay longer
How did you secure your English teaching job?
I applied to every school I could find, and heard back from a few. They have offered me contracts, although some just part-time.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Likely starting 20-30 hours per week at The New Language School in Heusenstamm, Germany.
How did you get your work visa? If you didn't get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.
I do not have it yet, but it is being processed. The school is helping me with the process; I need to prove that I am doing a job only an American could do.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I am going to be working at least 20 hours per week at the main school. I have other offers, and will teach occasional courses at these schools. All of the contract offers I have are worth around 18-23 Euros per hour. I work freelance, so I don't receive any sort of benefits. Most students are young business professionals (25-45 years old). I don't receive vacation time per se, but I will theoretically be able to create my own time to return to the US in the summer. I don't foresee myself making enough to really save up. Living expenses and taxes are quite high in Frankfurt.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I will be moving in with my girlfriend. It is proving to be difficult to find something, especially while I am getting the visa sorted out. I am temporarily staying in her room, but her flatmates don't want me to stay too much longer.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc. about your country:
Culture: Germans are a pretty unique people. They love bureaucracy and rules. But they can be fun people when they want to. Germans tend to be very hard workers.
Public Transportation: The public transportation system is extensive, convenient, and generally timely, although somewhat expensive. A one-way ticket costs 2.60 euro. It is completely realistic and plausible to live here without a vehicle; I did it for a year in college and plan to do it again now.
Nightlife: The nightlife in Frankfurt is good. There are bars for everyone: "posh" bars for the young professionals, bars for old people who have lived here forever (also good for young people and students), gay bars, all sorts of clubs, and plenty of cafe-bars, in which one can order beer or wine at any time of day. A liquor license costs something here, but not even close to what it would cost in the US. Therefore, subway stations, kiosks, newspaper stands, and supermarkets all sell alcohol.
Social Activities: It is worth noting that drinking in public is legal and relatively acceptable. The only place I've been told to not drink is on a bus. There are plenty of social activities. The local movie theater has countless movies in English, although often several months after they were out in America. There are many public swimming pools, both for winter and summer. There are an adequate number of parks to walk in and have a picnic. Cafes are a great place to hang out and talk to friends. Gyms are pretty easy to find, and cost less than the US, from my experience.
Food: There are more than enough options for restaurants in Frankfurt. I experienced a nice Afghani buffet once, as well as an unforgettable African restaurant, in which one shares food with the whole table and eats using a strange thing that can only be described as a towel made of bread. As far as food shopping, within cities there are many options, but they are small and will not have nearly the variety we Americans take for granted. That being said, if necessary, one can find what he/she wants if one looks hard enough.
Expat Community: I haven't had a ton of experience with the expat community, but I have found a website where people post everything from questions to group invites. I have not looked too much into it, but I may once I get a bit more settled in.
Dating Scene: I have a girlfriend already, but Americans might find Germany a little different for dating than the US. People are generally more private here, and it is less likely that two people will randomly start talking while out at a social event together. There are many Germans who are certainly interested in showing off their English, and there is no end to the Germans who will be impressed by even the slightest German ability.
Travel Opportunities: I could not imagine a better base to travel from than Frankfurt! It is incredibly close to Bavaria, and has many nearby cities worth checking out. There are many ways to travel cheaply, from buses to shared tickets for the whole country (up to 5 people). Besides that, it is very possible to fly to any major European city (i.e. the ones worth visiting). During my study abroad, I traveled cheaply to many different cities. I generally used a bus. I was able to do a 4-day Prague trip for about 150 euros total (including everything - food, travel, accommodations, beer, other expenses).
If you can't tell from what I've already described, I love Frankfurt. I have seen many cities around the world, but nothing feels more like home to me than Frankfurt. It is one of the most international cities in all of Germany. It is a great place to be for people who speak no German, assuming they want to live in Germany.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
Rent: We haven't settled on an apartment yet, but it looks like it will be somewhere between 300-400 per month with everything included. That is for a two-bedroom, split between two people (meaning 600-800 total). I would not call that cheap by any means. There are ways to make it cheaper. Renting a room in a large apartment is a viable option, but it is hard to come by these opportunities. If one looks a bit outside the city, one is more likely to find something cheaper and faster.
Food: Food can be as cheap as you want. If you avoid expensive foods, you can certainly spend less than in America. Restaurants are comparable with America (New Jersey) in price, except tip is not necessarily expected here.
Social activities: Can run up the bill, but it's definitely cheaper than NYC, Philly, or AC.
Transportation: Is expensive within Frankfurt, but it is quite cheap outside of it. Getting from Berlin to Munich in a day can theoretically cost as little as 7 euros, although would take many hours.
Communication: Smartphones are somewhat cheaper per month than in the US. Basic phones can be quite cheap.
Travel: Is much cheaper than one would find anywhere else in Europe or the US; Frankfurt is the center of Europe (geographically).
How would you describe your standard of living?
Decent. I definitely won't become rich from this, but can support myself.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
My girlfriend has been living comfortably off around 1000 Euros a month (after taxes and everything), but she doesn't pay for public transportation, and also doesn't have a high food bill.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS IN FRANKFURT, GERMANY
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
If your # 1 priority is to have a job all lined up in advance I would honestly not recommend trying to work in Germany. You need to come here personally before getting a job, and it is bureaucratic hell trying to figure out the visa and residence permit and everything else. Maybe after already working for a while somewhere else, coming to Germany would be easier.
If your top priority is having everything all done in advance, I would recommend trying to work somewhere where you can interview from your own country and figure out the visa and accommodations beforehand. It makes it a lot less stressful when you actually arrive.
If you are ok with the way it the hiring process works in Germany, it's a great place to live!
* Editors note, every country has different hiring situations and requirements, jobs in advance are one of the factors to decide which is right for you. Speak with one of our admission advisors to understand the process and also review our country chart to compare hiring processes. Part of International TEFL Academy's job guidance is to assist you with the preliminary details (but of course your employer is your final work sponsor for their system to process your paperwork).
For more on Michael's adventures, read his article: Trust me, it's worth it!