Preparazione – (Italian) Preparation
Waking up early in the morning and feeling as though your life is so very boring is really not a great thing to wake up to. As someone whose main purpose in life at that very moment was to go to work and then go home again, I had that feeling. Yes, I loved my work, I didn't feel that it was just a job to pay the bills. I did genuinely enjoy it. However, I laid there and thought work was about the most exciting part of my life, and that made me feel quite sad.
There I was, 30 years old, single, no kids, pet free, reasonably solvent (slight addiction to expensive beauty products) and I was doing absolutely nothing with my time. I felt like I was wasting it. I felt a bit sorry for myself, something I detest as I really have no reason to, and I thought nothing exciting was going to happen for me. Ever.
Almost all of my friends, and now my Sister (thanks Charlotte for taking the pressure off of me to produce a Grandchild!) were having children and/or getting engaged, married, buying houses, getting a dog.... you know, all of those live changing things, and I wasn't doing anything! I was the friend who was always told, "aww, there's plenty of time". I was the friend who let other non-single friends have a go on my Tinder so they could have a laugh at the sad world of 2017 dating. I was the friend who always congratulated other people on their amazing news or life changing announcements. I'm not bitter about that, far from it. I am so so happy for each and every one of the people I am thinking of in this moment. It's their lives and their own wonderful adventures. But I wanted my own!
So laying in bed that particular morning, it was then that I started preparing for this next part of my life....
... and today, 4 months later, I flew out to Italy... to live.....
There have been many things that I have had to think about and consider in the run up to taking this huge step.
I can honestly say that now it is happening, I have never been so excited, nervous, anxious or thrilled about anything else in my 30 years of life so far. That shows me that I have always perhaps been a little afraid, and probably far too lazy, to do something like this before. I kicked myself up the arse and was reminded that I can go out and do these extraordinary things.
This time I've decided it's different, so I started looking at my options. There were many, many things that I needed to think about… Could I do it? How much would it cost me? What would my friends and family say? What about my career here? It was a long old list.
Before I told anyone (even my own family) I started looking online at different TEFL course providers. I wanted to find a reputable, reliable and supportive provider. After working for a successful training provider myself I had learned the importance of using a company who could actually deliver what they claimed. Granted, I haven't completed the course yet but hopefully I won't be eating my own words in 4 weeks time! (you'll have to stay tuned for that...)
My research led me to International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT). On their website I discovered there were so many options available, including options that would take me to Italy. I considered completing an online course, that way I could complete it alongside my career in the UK and then go abroad afterwards. But I decided against this idea, although it was cheaper and although I was pretty skint, I know me and I know I wouldn’t have completed it.
I watched every video of theirs on YouTube (reviews, information videos etc) and I read every testimonial I could find online! I looked at all the information I could about what requirements are needed to work in Italy as an English Teacher. I read all the information on the intensive 4-week residential courses and eventually chose Florence.
As an EU citizen, I can go to Italy and live and work there - you get three months and then you need to declare your intention to stay longer. No VISA's are required for EU citizens. Who knows what will happen after Brexit but hey, I’ll cross that bridge later. Some employers across the world ask for teachers who have a BA in Teaching (or sometimes just a BA level qual of any kind - something I don't have), but after lots of research I discovered that many employers in Italy only require a TEFL/TESOL qualification. Some like TEFL Teachers who have previous teaching experience – which I do have!
I spoke to my family to see what they thought, “go for it” they said. We talked about the fact I was thinking about doing this now, literally planning to be flying out the day before my very first nephew would be due, and they still encouraged me. Of course my family want me to be happy. We all agreed that it would be probably more of an upheaval to move to somewhere like Birmingham, as the traffic stinks! Living close to Stansted we could get to Italy in 4 to 5 hours, door to door, if we really wanted.
Luckily, my beautiful baby nephew decided to arrive 2 weeks early so I got to spend lots of time with him before I flew out. Yes it made it a lot harder to walk out of the door at 4am in the morning to get to the airport today, but at least I haven't missed meeting him. Brodie is the most gorgeous creature I have ever seen! There is a picture of us together below when we first met!
Anyway let me get back on track.... I had to look at my finances – doing the math, the first month in Italy was going to cost me. I will just add here there are many cheaper ways to move abroad, for example you can complete the TEFL course at home online for a fraction of the price.
I talked this through with my family and we worked out a way that I could do it. I handed the notice in at my place and got my deposit back, which first paid the deposit for the course and then started to fill up my savings account. I moved into my Sister’s (thanks Charlotte, Matt and Mum!) to save money on rent as they charged less, and I sold EVERYTHING I didn’t need – which was actually most of what I owned. Car boot sales, eBay, Facebook Marketplace… all were utilised! I was more careful with my wages and every few weeks money went straight into my savings, so it soon started to add up. Of course, it went out again as well (bloody car!), but I was getting there.
At this point, no one else knew of my plan.
I spoke to ITTT and booked onto the course, and they informed Tuscany Learning Centre (where the course takes place), who then got in touch with me directly. Everyone was very helpful, especially Kristen at TLC. We spoke on Skype and she answered all of my questions - I had a lot of them!
Accommodation for the course was booked by an agent in Florence (organised by TLC) and I selected the type that I wanted (options included own room in apartment with other students – my choice, shared room in apartment with other students, own apartment, hotel or homestay), all varied in cost from around 300 Euros to 1000 Euros for 4 weeks - I arrived today and was greeted by the landlord and after I managed to drag my huge heavy luggage up to the fourth floor (I thought I was going to die!) I was able to start settling in for the next 4 weeks. The apartment is great, very Italian!
The day came to let work know of my plans with 8 weeks to go. Only my Manager saw how I felt about this as I burst into tears before I could even get the words out (something I do apologise for, Rachel - you looked so worried for a moment!) I thought people would feel I was deserting them. I was very wrong, everyone was so supportive and my 12 month sabbatical was arranged - something I am extremely grateful about. Hopefully my experience as a TEFL Teacher will also translate in my role in the UK afterwards, and I can go back and show them everything I have learnt!
After that day it was all a whirlwind of work (busy period!) and organising myself.
I had to ensure that I had all the documentation that I would need and I did a lot of research into things such as what to do if there is an emergency and if I could use my mobile phone in Italy without it costing me a fortune and I even tried to lose a bit of weight before my departure as well. HAHA. Failed. I blame my Sister for always having a full fridge!
One of the more fun parts of the preparation was trying to learn some functional Italian before my departure! Duolingo app for your phone is fantastic (although now I am here obviously it has all been forgotten!)
I gradually told people about my plan, but I didn’t really announce it properly until very recently. This adventure is like my version of having a baby or getting married - I want it to succeed!
Now, after all of the planning, organising, saving, waiting, working and packing, here I am! I've just got back from having a bit of an explore - Florence really is beautiful.
I better go, I think I'm going to get an early night as I am bloody knackered!
I hope this post hasn't been too horrendous (remember it's my first time!)
I'll fill you in again soon and I'm going to add posts all about my TEFL course experience as well! There is lots more to come as I'll be moving again after the course when I (hopefully) secure a role as an English Teacher!
See you soon, love from Nicola x