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Teaching English in Brasov, Romania: Alumni Q&A with Jenny Polcyn

What is your citizenship?
United States

What city and state are you from?
Seguin, TX

How old are you?

What is your education level and background?
Some colleg

Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Some international travel with friends, family, business, etc. 

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I came to work at a camp in Romania in the summer of 2016, and I fell in love with the culture. I was unsure of what career path I wanted to take, and I was taking classes to become an elementary teacher at the time. I started to look into what the requirements to teach English in a foreign country were, and I started to talk to others who had spent time teaching abroad. I knew pretty quickly this was something I wanted to pursue, and that this was the chance of a lifetime.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I was nervous about living on my own in a country where I had no connections and I didn't speak the language. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of young people in Romania speak English, and that it doesn't take long to pick up on the basics of the language.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
Most of my friends and family were surprised that I wanted to move so far away since I had never mentioned wanting to do anything like this before, but they were all very supportive and many of them have come to visit.

Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I decided to get TEFL certified because I knew it was the best option for working abroad, and I wanted to give teaching a shot. I chose International TEFL Academy because I heard really awesome things about it and many people recommended it.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Course

How did you like the course?
I really enjoyed the course, and I think it was really helpful in preparing me for teaching abroad. The instructor was helpful and gave good advice. It was a bit difficult finding a practicum location, and I didn't receive as much help finding one as I had expected. International TEFL Academy was helpful and understanding when I didn't finish my practicum by the set deadline.

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
TEFL training helped me with teaching students of all different levels of English. It can be challenging when you have advanced English students mixed with new students, but I was able to use information from the course to help teach both at the same time.

Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I chose to teach English in Romania in the city of Brasov. I had visited Romania before coming to teach here, and I loved the culture. I knew that this was a place that desperately needed English teachers. I didn't want to teach in a location that was full of only expats, and this was the perfect place to find a good mix of locals and internationals.

How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
I have been in this country for one and a half years. This will be my last semester teaching here.

During which months does your school typically hire?

Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?

How did you interview for this position?
Skype/phone interview

What kind of visa did you enter on?
Work vis

Please explain the visa process that you went through.
I came without a visa and the school helped me fill out all the paperwork required to get my visa. I began applying for my visa 1 month after I arrived, and I had it in my possession after being here for 6 months.

What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers? Please check all that apply
Native English speaker

What is the best way to apply?

Tell us about your English teaching job!

Hours: approximately 40 hours per week

Pay: 350 euros ($400 USD) each month

Savings: No, I am not able to save while working at this school. It is enough to live off of and go out a couple times a month. 

School type: The school is a Christian school, but most of the students who attend are expats from other European countries who have moved for their parents jobs.

Vacation time: The summer is paid vacation and there are several holidays during the year which you get paid for.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
When I first moved I lived with a coworker from the school, but in the summer they helped me find a new apartment. The apartment is very small, but a perfect distance from the school and the center of the city.

Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...    

The culture in Romania is very different from that of the U.S. They are very traditional and they have a lot of superstitions. The transportation is pretty reliable and easy to figure out. The city is not very large, so it doesn't take long to get from one end of the city to the other. The bus prices are very cheap, but the state of the buses is not very good. They occasionally break down, and they aren't very clean on the inside. There is not much of a nightlife in the city where I am located. It is a quiet, more traditional city.

The food is very inexpensive, and there is a lot to choose from. They have very good traditional food, but they also have a lot of international food. They have a lot of bakeries and shops along the street that sell breads and pastries. There are not a lot of expats in this area, especially not Americans. The closest airport is nearly 3 hours away, but plane tickets are very cheap from there.

What are your monthly expenses?

Rent/utilities: $100-$150 (Rent is paid by the school)
Food: $60/month
Social activities: $50
Transportation: (Paid by the school)
Phone/communication: $15/month
Travel: Varies

How would you describe your standard of living?
My standard of living is quite comfortable. I have my own space, all the amenities I need. I live in a very nice neighborhood, and I never worry about my safety.

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
The cost of living in Romania is very low, so it is easy to have a comfortable lifestyle even though the pay is so low. If you have some money saved up before coming, you would have no problems living an above average lifestyle compared to most Romanians. $600/month, including rent, would allow you to have a comfortable lifestyle.

What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
I would recommend teaching in Romania because it is not overcrowded with other internationals. It's a hidden gem in Europe. The pay tends to be very low, but the cost of living is also very low. I would not recommend it if you are planning to save up money, but if you don't mind living a less luxurious lifestyle in exchange for a laid back life, this is a perfect place. My advice when planning to teach abroad is to find out what the school expects of you. When I arrived, I didn't have a clear understanding of what my responsibilities were, so I was very unprepared and unorganized for the first couple of months.


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