As I was going through security at the airport I was thinking back to the last time I did this on my own. When I left for Canada 3 years ago I was shaking, almost crying and wondering why the hell I was doing this. This time, leaving to teach TEFL in Romania, and I was fine. It was nothing. I’ve spent enough time since in airports that it’s not that unfamiliar to me anymore. I need to remind myself to appreciate travel and how incredible flying is!
I didn’t go to university so this was my first experience of being dropped in a situation with a group of people my own age and expected to get along since high school. It definitely took me a couple of days to not see them as strangers. In saying that, everyone did gel very quickly, simply because we had to. I was sharing a room with 3 other girls. All 12 of us spent every meal time together, in between lessons, afternoon activities, after the kids went to bed. It was a case of become super familiar and comfortable with everyone THEN get to know each other.
The first week of teaching TEFL in Romania both flew in and dragged. By the end of it I felt like I had been there a month! My first night I had that cliche cold sweat, panicky night and didn’t sleep at all. I was terrified about having to teach a class. When I got there I was told I would need a translator, so the fact that all my lesson plans were “write about yourself” – “answer questions about this passage” wasn’t going to work. I can’t really remember what we did that day but I’m pretty sure I just got them to draw for 3 hours. It was awful. However, the next day (after another awful sleep) I pulled myself together and tried to power through without the translator. That’s the point of an English class right? Help them to understand English? Surprisingly it worked.
The week went by without any hiccups. My class were all very sweet, I was very grateful my first teaching experience was with kids so nice.
We went to Sighisoara, a very old and colourful town, that weekend after the kids had gone home and before the new ones arrived. It was really nice to get away from the hotel and see more of Romania.
For the second week I was more comfortable in the teacher role and began to really enjoy the classes. I had the youngest kids ranging from 6-8 years old. We played lots of games and lots of colouring, but I feel I got in a lot of English as well. My favourite day was when I asked the kids to teach me Romanian. I think it made them relax and feel like they were in control of the lesson, when by the end of it they had made a full English <-> Romanian Phrase Book.
That weekend was the big one. The reason for the trip. The reason I applied to the job. Dracula’s Castle! We had the full weekend planned so first off we drove out to Sinaia to see Peleș Castle. It was a very beautiful castle and afterwards made our way to Brașov where we were staying for the night. The next day we were up bright and early to go see Râșnov Fortress which was very cool. It was beautiful, the views were amazing and inside was like a little town! It would have been easy to spend the whole day there just walking around.
Then of course it was time for Dracula’s castle! It was very different from how I imagined it to be. I was expecting a dark, scary old castle but actually it was very bright and pretty. Old Drac definitely had a talent for interior design!
The last week was bittersweet. I was so ready to go home and I had another trip to Orlando to look forward to, but I was also sad to be leaving this place and routine that had become to familiar. So much so that my first day back home I couldn’t sit still. I had been so busy every day in Romania that I just had to keep moving. It was a good day for chores!
My students for this week were slightly older, 11 – 13 years old. I enjoyed being able to try out someone of my original lesson plans that were a bit too advanced for the other kids. I think I will forever be impressed that kids that young are so fluent in another language. It’s incredible! To fill up a lesson I offered to teach them a Scottish dance which they liked so much that they performed it for the Talent Show. That was cool to see! A little pinch of Scottish culture into their lives.
So after 3 weeks, a 3 hour flight, and 8 hour over night layover and another 40 minute flight I was finally home. Such an incredible experience. Teaching TEFL in Romania has helped me realise, or confirm to myself, that I want to teach. I want to pursue TEFL seriously.
Now just to pick my next destination.