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Teaching English in the Republic of Georgia: Q&A with Sarah Feigelson
Written by: Sarah Feigelson
Last Updated: January 15, 2021
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
I taught English abroad previously
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Southeast Asia, India, the Balkans
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I love traveling and I have always wanted to be a teacher so I figured teaching English abroad would be a great combination of the two.
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I received a job offer to teach English in Singapore but I needed to get TEFL certified for it. I chose International TEFL Academy because it seemed like a really great program and the dates fit perfectly for my schedule.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Chicago, USA TEFL Class
How did you like the course?
I really enjoyed the course and I learned a lot about teaching English. The instructors were very informative and always provided helpful feedback. The practicum was a great learning experience and it really helped prepare me for teaching abroad.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
My TEFL training gave me good experience creating lesson plans and thinking on my feet in difficult situations. I learned about creating emergency lesson plans or coming up with a plan when you are put on the spot. This paid off when I was teaching in Georgia and my co-teacher left me on my own and told me to teach without any preparation.
Which country did you decide to teach English in and why?
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
How did you secure your English teaching job?
I found an ad on Dave's ESL and applied through Greenheart Travel.
How did you get your work visa? If you didn't get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.
I did not need a work visa to teach in Georgia (it's technically a volunteer program with a stipend, a tourist visa is good for 12 months).
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I worked about 15 hours a week. I made roughly $300 a month so it was more of a volunteer position. I was not able to save any money and even went into a bit of debt so that I could travel while I was there. I worked for a public school, teaching grades 1-6. The students were great but the Georgian teachers rarely discipline them so they were quite rowdy at times. Some of my co-teachers were more open to my ideas than others. I received 15 days of vacation time, which was quite a lot since I only ended up working for 8 weeks. All in all, Georgia was an absolutely amazing experience.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I was assigned a host family to live with. The family consisted of a mom, dad, two teenage sisters, and a 10 year old brother.
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc. about your country:
Drinking is a big part of Georgian culture. Most family make their own wine and liquor. It is perfectly acceptable to drink cha cha (basically homemade moonshine) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Minibuses, also known as marshrutkas, are the main source of transportation. They can be crowded and the drivers tend to stop whenever they feel like it for whatever reason but they are the cheapest and best way to get around. Bread and cheese are large staples in Georgian cuisine as well as various forms of meat. The mountains are absolutely beautiful and there are so many amazing sights to see in Georgia.
What are your monthly expenses?
I was paid 500 GEL a month. I had to pay my host family 100 GEL a month for rent and two meals a day. Eating out at restaurants is generally pretty cheap but I would usually only eat out on weekends. Beer is super cheap but liquor can get pretty expensive. Staying at a hostel or guesthouse ranges from 15-30 GEL a night. My phone was provided for me but I had to buy the credit. Although everything in Georgia seems so cheap, I was usually broke half way through the month and had to dig into my American savings account in order to afford traveling on the weekends. (see cost of living question below)
How would you describe your standard of living?
I lived in a city so my standard of living was pretty good. I almost always had electricity and hot water.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
I could have lived comfortably on my salary of 500 GEL / month if I didn't travel so much. I barely spent money during the week when I stayed with my host family but money disappeared very quickly on the weekends.
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
Be open-minded about experiencing a culture that can be very different from your own. Some things that you think are rude or weird might not be so abroad and vice versa.
I would absolutely recommend teaching English in Georgia.
Sarah loves traveling and had always wanted to be a teacher despite studying something completely different in college. When she received an offer to teach English in Singapore, she realized she needed a TEFL certification to do so. She quickly found International TEFL Academy, took the Chicago In-Person TEFL Course, and responded to an online ad for a job opening to teach English voluntarily in Georgia while living with a host family.
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