Working in Italy: How Life Changed My Travel Plans
It took me about a year to fully plan for my idea of traveling abroad, if you can possibly “fully” plan such a thing. I was careful to look at train and plane tickets, visa requirements and consulate information, where I wanted to go first and how I wanted to get there, the order of the countries I was going to visit and the specific areas in those countries.
I also did quite a bit of research on teaching abroad in various countries in case I wanted to stop off somewhere if I was running low on money. But I figured on that last part more as a backup plan than something serious, as I’d never been enthralled with the idea of teaching and I also didn’t want the situation to turn into me having the same life I had in the U.S.; (a.k.a. a job, bills to pay, adult responsibilities, etc.) but living overseas.
Well, they say the best-laid plans often go to waste, and I can certainly vouch for that. I moved to Italy, completed my TEFL certification program, and found myself more inclined to stay and be with the friends I had made instead of gallivanting off by myself somewhere. There went the idea of not living anywhere permanent. And despite saving quite a bit of money (the most I’d ever had in my life), about three months into living, I suddenly found myself feeling bored and more importantly, becoming broke. There went the idea of not working in Italy.
It’s funny how life sneaks up on you and changes your plans. Here I am doing exactly what I didn’t want to do: being a responsible adult in a foreign country.
So, how to adjust to this sudden change of plans? Well, I started looking for a job. Given Italy’s distressing economic situation and my status as an American, my options for jobs are pretty much limited to teaching (in a school that doesn’t require a visa, unless you’re lucky enough to have one), au pair or babysitting work, or working as a tour guide. I decided to stick with teaching since I already had the TEFL certification anyway. Why not put it to use? And as luck would have it, it didn’t take me long, and I actually found myself with two jobs at different schools. I started teaching at the end of January.
And let me tell you, I was incredibly nervous about it. My job required me to travel to people’s houses to teach English rather than them coming to a classroom. This meant I had to figure out how to navigate the city and more importantly, navigate its (rather unreliable) public transportation system. Add that with diving into a career I never wanted or imagined for myself and the extra bonus of teaching children (a group of people I prefer being around about as much as I enjoy getting the plague) and this should give you a good idea of how stressed I felt when I first started working. Thankfully, the nerves that come with starting any new job ceased as I got settled into teaching, and I’ve found myself quite enjoying my lessons.
Of course there are days when I don’t feel like teaching, but I’ve found that when I set aside my bad mood when my lesson starts, I feel much better at the end of the day. And, grammar nerd that I am, I get to explain it to people who actually want to learn it and can geek out to my heart’s content. How rewarding is that?
It’s funny how life sneaks up on you and changes your plans. Here I am doing exactly what I didn’t want to do: being a responsible adult in a foreign country. I’m not doing what I thought I wanted, but working has given me plenty of challenges I wouldn’t have otherwise faced, and a little bit of money to do what I really love: travel. And next month I will be working as an au pair for an Italian family in Sardinia, a job that will have its own unique challenges and experiences for me.
As I expected, I’m rather nervous about it (what was I thinking, moving in with children?) but I’m looking forward to it. Bring on the summer!