By: Alice Denny
My first big solo trip took me to Europe for two wonderful weeks in 2014. I traveled around northern Italy and southern France sharing meals with new friends and exploring as much of these beautiful new places as possible. But before I knew it, the trip was over, and it was back to a 9-to-5 office job. When I took that trip, I found that I loved traveling, and there was something particularly attractive about doing it on my own. The feeling of independence and finding a way while on my own was refreshing, and I knew that feeling didn’t have to end with that short trip.
It was last November when I started hatching my plans for an extended bit of travel. I talked with fellow travelers, read up on visas and possible jobs abroad, and then I found the International TEFL Academy. Teaching English abroad seemed like a pretty big leap. I graduated with a degree in Biology in 2013 and hadn’t given teaching much thought. But the more I read up on this school, its resources, and the training it gave its students, the more it seemed possible. Not to mention that the advisor I chatted with multiple times on the phone took the time to answer every single one of my thousands of questions. It seemed like a real possibility. I would be able to live abroad for awhile, make money, and gain a completely new set of skills.
So last winter I signed up for the Online TEFL class and jumped in head first to the world of teaching. The course was the right mix of flexibility and responsibility; I needed the flexibility because I was working full-time, but I was also desperate for the responsibility it gave me in the live practicum portion of the course when I was able to work with real students to complete my training. I honestly was a bit nervous since I’ve been out of the school routine for a few years, but it was perfect, and before I knew it, I was certified.
Life in Spain has been beyond pleasant so far. I chose Spain because I had beginner level Spanish that I was eager to improve, and I have never been before. The pace of life here is slow and casual, with it’s long meal breaks and late nightlife, it’s easy just to relax with a few beers and friends and watch the day go by. Although I’ve only been here a few short weeks, I know that this trip was exactly what I needed. Just last weekend I spent the day on the beach with my host family, playing in the sea, soaking in the Mediterranean sun and feasting on paella in the later afternoon. I thought to myself that I somehow did everything right, and it was all going to work out. It simply could not have been a more lovely day and certainly would not have been possible without taking a bit of a leap to journey to a new part of the world.
Alice Denny is 24 years old and originally from the north suburbs of Chicago. She worked in environmental outreach for two years before heading to Barcelona, Spain in September 2015. For more on her adventures, check out her blog: http://aliceabroad.com