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First Day of Class - TEFL Certification in Chicago
Written by: Kimmy Nguyen
Last Updated: May 5, 2021
After long weeks of debating whether or not to take a TEFL/TESOL course online or in person, I made the intuitive decision to come to Chicago to complete the 4 week TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course to obtain a teaching certification. I have always wanted to visit Chicago, especially during the summer months, but the timing has never been quite right. I kept waiting for someone to want to come with me to the Windy City, but I could not wait anymore! So it only felt right that I come to Chi-town to take care of some business and explore. Plus, the idea of taking an online course definitely did not seem too enticing. I wanted to fully immerse myself in the TEFL course and in a new city, and you can bet I am paying a pretty penny to be here right now.
At the time of writing this I am currently staying at the Chicago Getaway Hostel for roughly $40 bucks a night in my own private room. The room feels a lot like a hotel, but I am using a shared bathroom and kitchen area. This is not my first hostel experience, but compared to European hostels….this is definitely a 5 star accommodation. The place is clean, convenient, and peaceful. I slept like a baby last night! I chose this hostel mainly because of its convenient location to the International TEFL Academy, where I have to go to class 5 days a week.
The walk from the hostel to the school is only about a 10-15 minute walk and it is in a safe residential neighborhood. I am so glad I decided to go with this hostel instead of staying at an AirBNB that would have required me to take a bus or a train to the school every day. Being able to just walk where I need to go is ideal.
I was worried about being late to class today, because for those of you who don’t know me…I am almost always late. But everything went smoothly this morning. I even got to the class 15 minutes early!
I had a few nerves and fears today about the class. It felt very much like the kind of “first day of school” nerves that I used to get before starting a new grade level during my public schooling days. I threw on my best fall attire, packed my backpack with all my class essentials, and went on my way. As I was walking to the school, I couldn’t quite imagine what to expect of the school, the class, my classmates, and the content of what we would be doing for the next 4 weeks.
Fortunately, all the nerves were laid to rest quickly as today’s class progressed. It was a pretty easy going day for the most part. We met the two course instructors that are in charge of the class, and got to know each other through ice-breaker and warm up activities. The class was required to do a two minute “how to” presentation on anything we wanted. I chose to do mine on how to make an origami star from a strip of paper and it seemed to go well. There were a wide range of “lessons” that were demonstrated, which included things like sun-salutations yoga poses, how to tie a Windsor knot, crafting a mini bow & arrow, and how to play Yankee Doodle on a virtual piano.
The classroom is small and intimate because there are only 12 students in the class. My classmates seem to all be around my age, with the exception of one older gentleman. There is an even number of guys to girls, most of whom are not from Chicago. The best part about it is to be able to speak to people who share my same interests of traveling and working abroad. I have always felt so uneasy speaking to my family and friends about this new endeavor because most of them think it is a wild idea. Some encourage it, but most people would never pack up and leave everything they know in search for the unknown. Now that I am able to be in a room full of people who want to do the exact same thing, it feels liberating.
I was all ears when teachers and advisors briefly shared their own ESL/travel stories. They each gave their short spiel on where they have taught and how they ended up back in the states. It’s always so interesting to hear these stories, because all of them have been to more than a few places and each have had such a unique journey.
Even though today was an easy-going “introduction” day, it was a long day. Class was from 9:30am-6:00pm with a few breaks here and there. I was zoning out during the second half of the day because of the overload of information and the mini food-coma I had from the free Costa Rican lunch they provided us. The course seems like it will be intense, but I keep thinking if I survived 8 weeks of intense Series 7 training…I will definitely survive this. I have 19 more classes to go and I am sure that it will fly by quickly but hopefully not too quickly.
Chicago is welcoming me with open arms, and I am going to fully embrace every moment of it. The city has the metropolitan feel that I love, but without the chaotic hustle bustle of bigger cities like New York or London. I may just fall deep in love with this place and its people. This is only the beginning of a new chapter in my life and my excitement is mounting.
Update: Kimmy is now teaching English in South Korea!
Kimmy Nguyen is a twenty something year old from Atlanta, Georgia with a BA in Business Administration. She has worked in a few different professions before deciding that teaching English abroad would satisfy her hunger to travel and share her experience with the world. She earned her TEFL certification in Chicago and has since taught English abroad in South Korea and Vietnam.
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