Teaching English in Amantea, Italy: Alumni Q&A with Emily Mitchell

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What is your citizenship?
United States

What city and state are you from?
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA

How old are you?

What is your education level and background?
Bachelor's Degree

Have you traveled abroad in the past, if so, where?
I studied abroad in Italy.

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I've wanted to be a teacher ever since I was little and studying abroad sparked my interest in traveling, so when I discovered I could combine both of those things by teaching abroad, I knew it was something I had to do.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
My visa, money, a long distance relationship, and living in a different country by myself.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
Most of my family and friends were super supportive and excited for me. My mom was actually the one that pushed me to take ITA's course in the first place. Everyone had their concerns, and some people just couldn't understand why I would move and travel abroad alone. My boyfriend was less than thrilled, but in the end the long distance was not the end of the world.

Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
ITA was one of the first programs I found when I decided to see if it was possible to teach abroad. I did a little bit more research, but after I set up a phone appointment with one of their advisors to get more information, I was completely sold because of how thorough my advisor was, not to mention my endless questions she was always able to answer. I also love how they have so many resources available to you for a lifetime. You can tell they really want to help their alumni find jobs doing whatever they want to do.

Teach English in Italy

Which TEFL course did you take?
I took the 11-Week Online TEFL Course.

How did you like the course?
The online class was perfect for me. I was student-teaching when I signed up for the course, and I never felt overwhelmed by the assignments or other requirements even while being in the classroom. It was very convenient for me to be able to do the work on my own time. My instructor was very helpful and always made sure we knew he was available to answer questions or help with anything. I think the practicum is really helpful for people who don't have any prior teaching experience. My only complaint is that the course is extremely redundant if you already have training as a teacher.

I was able to use some of my assignments with some of my students. The grammar module is also pretty helpful. I haven't had explicit grammar instruction in years and teaching ESL in a US public school is completely different than teaching English in a language school abroad in terms of the way it's taught in both those settings.

Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Amantea, Italy. I arrived here in 2019 and have already been here for one year. Italy was on my list of countries I was looking into. Honestly, I got really lucky by securing my job while I was still in the US.

What school, company, or program are you working for?
Centro Studi Linguistico

Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?

How did you interview for this position?

What kind of Visa did you enter on?
Student visa.

Please explain the visa process that you went through.
My school provided me with the paperwork for my student visa because I took Italian classes with them. They gave me the contract and other necessary documents, while I put together everything else needed for the student visa process, so it was relatively easy for me. They provided me with housing, so that part was covered for me also in the visa process. It was still kind of stressful making sure I had everything, and more importantly, that everything was accurate. The worst part in my opinion is waiting for the consulate to mail everything back to you. I waited for weeks and had myself convinced I was going to be rejected or not get my stuff back in time for my flight!

TEFL Italy

What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers?
TEFL certification and native English speaker.

What is the best way to apply?
They reach out if they are hiring.

Tell us about your English teaching job!
My school was a language school and my typical hours would start around 2 pm and could end as late as 9 pm, unless I had an adult student come in the morning. School age kids came after their regular school days, and adults would either come in the mornings or evenings when they finished work. I was paid a minimum of 750 euros for 20 hours per week. If I worked more than that (which I usually did) I was paid a certain rate per lesson. They'll accept anyone at anytime and private lessons pay per lesson, so my hours changed a lot. My busiest months, I worked about 35 hours a week, whereas when we went online because of COVID, I only worked between 20-25 hours. My school had all ages of students, from little kids to adults, and all levels of English proficiency for all different purposes. I had ample time off for holidays, otherwise I didn't take much time off because there were only two other English teachers and they had their own schedules.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
My school provided me with a flat. I didn't pay rent, but I paid my electric and wifi for each month. My flat pretty plain, but I can't complain for not having to pay rent or furnish it! I lived a couple steps from my school and like 5 minutes from the beach. I didn't have roommates because our other two English teachers live in the town permanently. If they had hired other English teachers from abroad, I would've had roommates.

Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...   
Living in southern Italy definitely is not for everyone. While the people are some of the nicest and most helpful people I've ever met, it sometimes seemed like I was living in a past time period. If you're super prompt and work best on a set schedule, this might not be the place for you. I got used to it and was able to adapt, but I know not everyone could. It can sometimes be a little chaotic and most people run on their own schedules. Transportation isn't the most reliable or available in the south. The only options in my town were trains and busses, but those couldn't take you everywhere you might need to go. For the most part, I was able to take trains everywhere I traveled within southern Italy up to about Rome. If I needed to fly, I took trains to Naples or Rome, because the airport closest to me wasn't super accessible by bus or train.

My town was super small, so there really was no nightlife or expat community. There were lots of good restaurants and shops in my town, but no clubs or bars or anything like that we'd think of in America. I'm not too sure about the dating scene because I'm in a long term relationship, but I could see how it might be a little difficult since the towns around me were also pretty small.

The food is incredible. Everything from food in supermarkets to restaurants is so fresh but also so cheap. Pizza is the main thing you'll find in restaurants. I think almost every restaurant in my town is a pizzeria, which is definitely not a bad thing, unless you're worried about packing on a few extra pounds. There were also some really good, fresh seafood places or places with fresh, local Calabrian dishes.

I know some of my points aren't exactly positive selling points, I just can see how some people may not be happy in a small town in southern Italy. For me, I loved the small town community and hospitality and felt that I was completely immersed into Italian life and culture, however I did feel isolated at times because it was extremely difficult to meet new people and branch out.

What are your monthly expenses?

I didn't pay rent, but my electric bill was about 100 euros every two months, wifi about 35 euros per month, and phone plan was 8 euros per month. I cooked in most nights, so my grocery bill was about 50 euros a week. When I went out for dinner, depending where and what and including drinks was maybe 20 euros per person. Most of my money was spent on travel. Train tickets aren't very expensive unless it's a far train ride, and flights are pretty cheap within Europe depending on where you fly in and out of.

Italy TEFL

How would you describe your standard of living?
Very comfortable.

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
It really depends on what all you have to pay for. I would say between 800-1,000 euros in the south would be comfortable if you don't have student loans or anything like that to pay for

What advice would you give to someone looking to teach English abroad?
Do it!! If it's something you're considering even a little bit, just go for it. It's easily the best decision I've ever made for myself. Make sure you find a country, city, and school that's compatible to you. Be flexible and open-minded but always trust your gut instincts. I would definitely recommend teaching in Italy, it just depends on personal preference if you want north or south, or small town or big city.


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