Ok, so I’ve sold all my belongings including my car, packed up what remains and bought a one way ticket to London. I have decided that I want to live in Germany and the only way for me to do that is to teach English as a second language. So, I registered for an intensive course with TEFL Institute so that I can get my certificate.
At the time I did not realize that the London Olympics would also be taking place at the same time that I chose to live in England and get my certificate. It has been really interesting to watch the Olympics as they are happening, see the streets covered in Olympic and British patriotism.
Everything has come together so perfectly like it was all meant to be. My relatives in England are even opening their home to me for this 6 week journey to transform myself into an English teacher. I will forever be grateful to them for opening their home to me and making this adventure start out smooth.
I chose to do my TEFL program in London, rather than in the US because thanks to my relatives, it was cheaper. Otherwise I would of had to go to Chicago where the company is based out of and find housing there.
I chose to go with the TEFL Institute program because they had a great support team who gave me a lot of information and answered all my questions before I finally booked my class. I had to make sure I was choosing the right company as it was going to cost $2,000 to get my TEFL Certificate.
I got to London a week early so that I could do some sight seeing before classes started and to adjust to the time change. I wanted to be fresh and ready for this course. I knew it was going to be hard and I was going to have to study a lot to make this new dream happen. London is my favorite city and I could walk around it for hours.
Once the class started, it was a little sketchy. The room was in a building, with no TEFL advertisements and the front desk had never heard of the program. Eventually other students mingled in, so I knew I had to be in the right place.
The class was a very mixed range of 9 students. Very small and personal. Most of the students were Americans and the rest from around Europe from all age ranges. We eventually all got to know each other pretty well as we would spend the next 4 weeks every day together between class, studying and hanging out.
On our down time, we did some of the touristy sights. Having been to London a dozen times before, I had already done a lot of the main things, but I did finally get to do some new things!
An interesting fact about Parliament is that it was the palace of every former monarch up until King Henry VIII decided to move out after a fire. Ever since, it has been the seat of government. After a second fire in 1834, the old palace was almost completely destroyed, leaving behind what we can see today which is now known as the House of Parliament.
A common misconception, “Big Ben” is not the name of the world famous clock tower. Instead, “Big Ben” refers to the massive, 13-ton bell that chimes within the tower. The clock tower’s name is actually St. Stephen’s Tower. During Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee year in 2012 the tower was renamed Elizabeth Tower.
I attempted to go see the Olympic stadium with my cousin while she watched one of the sports that she had a ticket to. Unfortunately, security was so high that if you did not have a ticket, there was no chance in hell you could get anywhere near the Olympic stadium and see everything they had built. But I sure tried! And got jam packed stuck in a huge crowd of people who also had the same thought as me. I showed my true patriotism by sporting my red, white and blue. After some time, I gave up and met a fellow TEFL student, Melissa, at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Of all the times I have been to London, I have never been inside St. Paul’s Cathedral nor even seen it up close. So when my friend said she was going, I joined in and the two of us had the crazy idea of climbing the 259 steps to reach the top of the Dome and get a fantastic view of London. Inside the cathedral, you are not permitted to take photographs, but we sure tried! And failed miserably by getting caught and yelled at by a mean old lady. By the time we came back down, our legs were so shaky we had to sit in front of the cathedral on the steps. We decided the best remedy would be to walk 10 more feet and plop down at a delicious little pub and grab some grub.
The cathedral is one of the most popular and recognizable buildings in London with its dome that has been dominating the skyline for over 300 years! It is still used in many major royal functions such as funerals, weddings and birthdays. During the Second World War, the cathedral received some serious damage during the Blitz and in 1940 a bomb was successfully defused before it could go off and cause more damage. The cathedral underwent some a 15 year restoration that was finally completed in 2011 and was the largest project in the UK ever.
The view from the top is just amazing with all of the new skyscrapers which dominate the London skies. It was well worth the climb, but be sure to bring some water with you before you go, as you will be incredibly thirsty by the time you reach the top!
Everywhere we went, there was Olympic insignia which made for some pretty awesome pictures. Anywhere you went, you heard people cheering with pride as they watched the games from a pub or park. London set up all sorts of big screen TVs throughout the city for people to sit down in the park and watch some of the games for free. We decided to head over towards Tower Bridge where we found a Dutch pub called the Dickens Inn. Here we spent an evening watching the games and drinking. We even encountered a group of Dutchmen dressed in their bright orange outfits to support their home country. Naturally, we had to take a picture with them!
I never go to London without seeing at least one play. It has been a tradition in my family since the first time we went and saw Cats. So my cousin Kim and I decided to go see the musical Mamma Mia! which was fantastic! I highly recommend it! The songs are amazing and the acting incredible. The props were not nearly as gorgeous as actually watching the movie. There is something better about actually feeling like you’re in Greece when watching this movie/play. Makes me wants to get on a ship to Greece!
We also went up to the Nottinghill Carnival which is one of the largest street carnivals in the world! There were so many bright colorful costumes as floats drove past. The streets were super crowded and the music was incredibly loud, like ear-splitting loud. It was amazing to see the beautiful flamingo/Las Vegas style costumes in person for once instead of always on the television. Now I really need to go to Rio again for Carnival!
After 6 grueling weeks, I received my certificate to become a TEFL English teacher. It was much harder than I had originally thought it would be. Learning the grammar forms and tenses was incredibly hard because as a native speaker, we don’t learned the grammar tenses like that. All the Europeans though already knew the tenses perfectly so I had a lot of catching up to do. By the time I received my certificate I looked pale and sick from the stress of studying so hard. The date after, I naturally came down with a week long cold that left me in bed. But at least I can say now, “I’m a teacher!!”
My TEFL advisor had told me there would be a council on site to help me apply for a job in Germany. There was no such advisor. There was a teacher who got hired for the month to teach the class who handed me an old book with recommendations for applying for a job in Germany. She tried her best though to help us. Unfortunately for me, I needed to physically be in Germany first before anyone would interview me. I had a few interviews via Skype while still in London, but once they realized I wasn’t there, they were no longer promising.
Immediately, I bought another one way ticket from London to Frankfurt. Again, things just came together so perfectly and I was so glad my good friend Samy also let me stay with her while I look for a job! It would have made it much harder to get a job in Germany, as before you can send out your CV (Resume) you need to have a German address and phone number. Luckily, she was ok with me using her address and she set me up with a phone.
I will surely miss this fantastic group of friends I made during my time here. We came from far and wide all for the common goal of teaching and have made friendships that will last a life time! We had such a good time together and truly helped each other to study and understand everything. It was such a great class, but there were some iffy spots.
Be sure to check out this post: