Meet The International TEFL Academy Staff

 

Sarah Grace Gleisner

Admissions advisor

 What is your role at international TEFL Academy?

I work at ITA as an Admissions Advisor.


What's Your Story?

I love trying new things and exploring new places. Growing up in the Wisconsin countryside, that meant camping with my parents around the Midwest. Then, I went to college. My parents were surprised when, as a first generation college student, I wanted to study abroad. They had a lot of questions, starting with “What’s the point?” and ending with “How are you going to pay for this?” We talked it through, I did more research, I applied for scholarships, and then I went for it. After graduation, when I chose to teach English in Japan, they were slightly more enthusiastic. At least I would be making money. They even got passports and came to visit me!

Since then, I’ve made it my mission to help others go overseas and have good experiences when they get there. As a graduate student, I taught the study abroad pre-departure course. Then, I worked for the study abroad office at the University of Illinois. Wanting a change of scenery, I found a position with the Institute of International Education and moved to Washington, DC. Five years later, I came back to the Midwest for a love interest and work on the Fulbright Program. At ITA, I get to continue helping others make the life-changing decision to live overseas and put together a plan to make it happen.

Japan Teaching English Abroad

 

Where are you from, where did you go to college & what did you major in at college?

I grew up on a gravel road outside of Chili, Wisconsin (population: too few to count). Granton, Wisconsin is the “big town” where I went for K-12 (population: approximately 400).

I went to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville for undergrad. It was a big adjustment since I was used to having fields out my front door. After a couple semesters in engineering, I switched majors. I was doing really well in my classes, but my heart wasn’t in it. Instead, I earned a double major in psychology and speech communication. After teaching in Japan, I earned a master’s in communication from the University of Illinois.

What countries have you visited?

Japan, England, Thailand, China, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Wales, Scotland, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Liechtenstein.

Top 3 on your list?

Japan, Thailand, Italy

Describe your first experience traveling abroad

I used my first passport to study abroad in London. Having never been overseas or used public transportation before, I was a little overwhelmed at first. It wasn’t always smooth, but it was worth it! I made great friends and learned to handle the challenges that came my way.

 

Sarah Japan

Japan Teaching English Abroad

japan teach abroad

Long term travel experience

I taught English in Shiga, Japan, through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. I also studied for a semester near London, England.

 

What is your favorite international cuisine?

Udon (a Japanese noodle). When I lived in Japan, I went to the same udon restaurant at least once a week, watching them make the noodles by hand, and becoming close friends with the owners. Even though I didn’t know what to think when I first tasted it, udon became one of my favorite foods.

 

Best Travel Story? 

I skipped the graduation ceremony for my master’s program and took a trip to Spain. I considered myself an experienced world traveler by then, but I fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. I was gathering my things and getting ready to board a bus when a man asked me for directions. A minute later my purse was gone. I had to borrow money and change my return travel plans to get my passport replaced. I was so angry with myself! A couple days later, I was wandering Madrid with very little money feeling a bit melancholy. A man asked me for directions and I almost didn’t help him. I clutched my purse before giving directions. When I randomly ran into him later that day, he recognized me, thanked me again for my help and then, surprisingly, treated me to a lovely dinner (way nicer than I could afford). I still shake my head at how trying to help someone with directions could lead to such drastically different outcomes. That same trip, when I finally made it back to the US, the airline lost my luggage. I walked through customs with a small bag and a temporary passport. The glowering custom’s agent demanded an explanation. Then, after I explained, he softened, pulled out his wallet, and insisted on giving my money for the train! Moral of the story: Some people are jerks. Most people are amazing. Be cautious, be true to yourself, and be open to the kindness of strangers.

 

Favorite: literature/media/music

BOOKS: My favorite genres are travelogues and autobiographies. I like learning other people’s stories and trying to understand their perspectives. If I had to pick favorites, I would go with Apples are from Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins and Until We are Free by Shirin Ebadi.

WEBSITES: https://semi-rad.com: I love the insight and adventure (sometimes international, almost always outside). Of course, I also love travel booking websites.

MUSIC: Variety is the spice of life.

PODCASTS: Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life (makes me think about the topic as it relates to other places I’ve lived), Dirtbag Diaries, Freakonomics

 

Why do you like working at ITA?

I believe in our mission 100%. It’s an honor to help people think through their options and get the training they need to work as professional English teachers in a location of their choosing. As a bonus, my colleagues are awesome. Everyone has international experience and great stories.

Sarah Grace Gleisner International TEFL Academy