When offered a chance to teach in Italy this summer, I immediately said yes. I had been living in Los Angeles at the time in an attempt to live what I thought was my “American Dream.” I had finally grown tired of people telling me that living abroad was “unsustainable” and that I should be pursuing my artistic passions at home in the U.S. where I supposedly had a real chance of getting ahead. I returned home after teaching at a university in Nicaragua for a year, full of expectations for my literary career. I began searching internship opportunities in New York, LA, and Miami. I sent my resume to nearly 100 different publishing and production companies, and I waited. A month into being home, I could barely remember why I had left my old life or understand why people believed that life was automatically better here. Still, I held out hope that I had made the right decision by coming back.
By: Chelsea Johnson
Participating in the hybrid program with ITA in León, Nicaragua, was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career. I had taken the online TEFL certification course, which worked really well for me because I was able to get TEFL certified while also working and saving up money to move to Nicaragua. One of my favorite parts of the course was the 20 required practicum hours, which I had to complete by observing, tutoring or student teaching. I completed my practicum hours in Fort Collins, Colorado, by observing several different ESL classes as well as designing and teaching my own class for two Saudi Arabian children who were in the U.S. for a month.
Even though I completed my required practicum hours in the U.S., when I found out about the hybrid program in León, I knew it would be right for me. I had already been planning on moving to León, so it was perfect that that’s where ITA NIcaragua (ITAN) is located. It was added practice with real EFL learners in Nicaragua, and I would receive feedback and assistance with my teaching. Also, it was something to do for my first week all alone in a new country where I didn’t know anyone or have any plans. In the end, it turned out to be all of those things and so much more!
By: Kaitlin Emmons
Don’t fight it. No goodbyes, only see you laters. Rip the Band-Aid off and coast.
I can’t tell you how to adjust to life abroad; all I can do is share my story with you. Everyone has their own routines on race day. Maybe you have heartfelt farewells with every human you know, or maybe you leave without saying goodbye, whatever works for you. I’ve lived abroad on five separate occasions and the worst part is the two weeks before leaving. Without fail, every single time I am devastated, I convince myself I am going to die. I don’t pack until the day before and I sob hysterically when I have to say goodbye to my dog. It’s to the point now where my parents just laugh at me when I cry at the airport.
And then suddenly it dissipates. As abruptly as the eff-it moment when you click the confirm flight payment button, the anxieties vanish. Bare feet shuffle into the daunting body scanner in airport security. The whirligig spins and I am free.
By: Chelsea Johnson
Besides having traveled with my family, my first experience abroad was when I studied in Bilbao, Spain, for a semester of my junior year in college. I loved everything about it, and when I got home, I was itching to go abroad again.
I signed up for a three-week program in Chile through my university and earned a scholarship to participate. After studying abroad twice, I worked for the College of Business promoting education abroad in my peers. I loved encouraging other students to step out of their comfort zone and study abroad, but after a year, I was starting to get a bit envious! After graduating with two degrees and honors in December 2013, it was obvious to me that my next step would be international. Everyone around me in the business school would be joining corporate America, but I started waiting tables to save money and figure out how to get myself on a plane.