Even before heading off to university, Jennifer caught the travelling bug. After taking a gap year before becoming a student, she travelled extensively throughout Asia and Australia; getting a flavour for the sights, sounds and tastes of various cultures.
It was no surprise then that upon completing her PGCE and achieving QTS she was looking to relive the experience once again – but this time with a profession and a career to support her.
With the help of The International Teaching Partnership, Jennifer was once again was able to return to the places she loved the most all those years before.
Jennifer tells her story here.
Jennifer, why did you want to teach abroad?
From the moment I returned from my gap year, I was hooked on travelling and experiencing new cultures. I’d experienced the thrill and togetherness of expat living and I just knew that’s how I wanted to spend my life.
Having visited Asia and Australia on my gap year I knew that I was always going to return. For me, I knew how important it was to gain a professional qualification first. I couldn’t just travel for the rest of my life, even though I wanted to!
I am as passionate about teaching as I am travelling so combining the two was a no-brainer.
Where do you work now and what’s it like?
I work at a primary school in Sydney and I’ve been here for almost one year. Whilst there are similarities to The UK due to the language and cultural heritage, there are many differences.
From my experience, teaching in Australia is about teaching and not necessarily about the data and tick boxes you’re expected to complete back in the UK. I’ve found teaching a lot easier here because I have more time to plan my lessons and less time carrying out bureaucratic tasks set by the government.
Overall, I’ve found that UK teachers are well respected and in demand. I think around 5% of primary school teachers in the country are from there.
What do you do when you’re not teaching?
Barbeques on a Friday are a massive thing here. Once everyone finishes work, that’s it the ‘barby’ goes on and there’s a range of food that gets piled on them – not just shrimps! In fact, the Australians have got barbecuing down to a fine art. There’s always someone doing something, whether you’ve been invited by colleagues or by new friends.
In spite of the BBQ, I would honestly say that my life is much healthier in Australia. I feel as though everyone is motivated and encouraged to engage in sports and be fit and healthy. Whilst jogging through Sydney’s botanical gardens may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, the weather is so encouraging and it makes you want to go outside. I have so much more energy. I know it sounds like a bit of a dream but I’ve started doing yoga outside in Queens Park which would be impossible back at home in Yorkshire.
How did The ITP help you fulfil your dream of working abroad?
The International Teaching Partnership was really good at providing me with a range of Skype interviews for schools around Australia. I was able to gauge what they were looking for and what type of school it was and they were able to understand more about my experience and teaching style. Before long I had a couple of conditional offers – based on the success of my visa application.
What would you say to people looking to do the same?
Funnily enough, one of the questions I get asked the most is ‘what’s Christmas like in the summer?’ Having experienced it a couple of times now I would say it’s something worth experiencing! Running into the sea and floating about in the Sun while everyone back home is watching it tiddle down with rain helps put into perspective how amazing it is.
My advice would be, if you’re passionate about teaching and are excited enough to change your life and work in another country then you should do it.