By: Jessica Person
The decision to leave the people you care about most in the world, travel halfway across the world and put the educational goals of a roomful of children in your hands is a big one.
Therefore, it makes logical sense it would take weeks, months or even years to make. However, this is not always the way life works, and in my opinion not always the way it should work. Sometimes you've just gotta take the leap of faith and trust that things will work out in the end.
I made my decision to teach English abroad in a total of 7 days.
The thought of teaching abroad had not even entered my radar as a post-graduation option before I entered the International TEFL Academy's headquarters in Chicago for a free information seminar. I thought that studying abroad during college was my last chance for a great adventure and that it was time to move on into the real world, get a big-girl job and start the never ending story of college loan payments.
You know that absolutely FANTASTIC piece of advice that completely settles your mind, makes you feel like everything will work out all right and that you are bound to hear a lot of during the parts of your life where you are struggling the most. It's the old “things will fall into place. Don't worry.” I never believed this advice for one second, and I don't think anyone who hears it does. I thought it was just one of those things people said to you because it's what they heard and were supposed to believe.
I must say that this is exactly what happened in this case. In the middle of my continual struggle to get some kind of job interview I heard about a free presentation that had something to do with travel and I decided to go to it because it was a trip into the city of Chicago that I don't normally get to take. The random choice I made to go to a presentation about travel led me to make a life-altering decision to teach English abroad. It wasn't a plan I had, but it seems more right than anything I had in my mind as a potential plan.
Sometimes in this life we have to think decisions through and weight out all the pros and cons and make the logical decision. However, there are the other, rare occasions when we have to ignore the lists we've made, the fear we feel and the possibility of complete failure and leap ahead into the unknown.
I knew if I thought about it long enough I would decide not to go - because you can always find the reasons not to do something if you look hard enough for them. I didn't even have to look far to find the negatives to this decision; they were jumping out at me - "but you're going to miss your family, and your grandma is not going to like this, and you are just putting off your real life again, what if you are terrible at teaching, what if you don't like teaching." And while again, it may not sound like the most logical thing in the world I decided to completely ignore all of these fears and doubts and to sign up for the online TEFL course before they could get the better of me.
I don't even feel like I really made the decision to teach abroad. I just knew that if i didn't do this, i would live with that "what if" feeling for the rest of my life and I decided that was a worse fate than going ahead and doing it and having a tale to tell.
Making this decision didn't make any of these realities or fears go away: my grandma still doesn't like my decision, my doubt about adapting to the work environment abroad and my fears of being homesick from the minute I step off the plane in my destination country are still present.
I do not yet know whether I will have a good experience teaching abroad or whether any of the things I fear will become realities but what I do know is I am willing to take the leap!
Jessica Person is a 22 year old graduate of Knox College with a BA in Psychology. She started traveling in high school when she went to Spain with her Spanish class and has no plan of stopping anytime soon.