It’s only five weeks or so until the summer holidays. It’s amazing to think I’ve been working at the school for almost sixteen weeks now.
For many of the TLG teachers in Georgia the end of school will mark an end to their adventure here. Most of the teachers from my orientation group will be heading home at the beginning of July, around the six month mark. Only a handful or so that I’m aware of will be staying until the end of the year or longer. It will be interesting to see what effect this will have on my experiences for the rest of the year. I already have some very good friends here who are staying until Christmas and this is great news. On the other hand however – and I admit this is to be expected – some of my close friends are heading home in July and will not be returning. I will definitely miss these people, there is no doubt about that, but it’s good that we live in the age of Facebook and Skype to stay in touch. Interestingly, my 2007 edition of Microsoft Word recognises ‘Skype’ as a word but not ‘Facebook’. Make of it what you will!
I have to admit that over the last few months I seen less of friends friends than I did at the beginning of our Georgian adventure. One of the reasons for this is the various health problems I’ve had – pneumonia, temperatures and stomach problems, for example – which for a time kept me in the confines of my house. Very frustrating I assure you. One of the consequences of being at home more often, and this ties in with why I haven’t seen friends as much in recent times, is because my relationship with my family has become much stronger. I am really happy that I enjoy living with them and at times I feel I have as much comfort and security as I do at home in Scotland. I would have to say I am genuinely grateful for my current situation and feel very fortunate to have such a warm and loving host-family.
I know many TLG’ers who have had issues with their respective host-families. With a programme as big as this it’s always going to be inevitable. I feel so fortunate because, quite frankly, I wouldn’t change a thing about my experiences so far here in Georgia. Granted, I’d rather not have the occasional health issue, but in my eyes this is only a minor inconvenience given just how happy and content I am here. My host-family have told me plenty of times that we are a family for life and I will always be welcome back in the future. In fact, they have also expressed their desire for me to stay in the country for good and even marry a local Georgian girl! I tend to have a ‘never say never’ mentality so I certainly won’t rule it out...
Over the past few weeks I have started to think about what I will do next year. As far as working abroad is concerned, it is something which needs plenty of thought. I think it’s important for me to begin this thought process now to give myself time to assess all of the potential avenues for the year ahead.
I have considered the possibility of teaching in South Korea next year, enough so that I have even posted my CV/resume on a few of the ESL websites. The lure of money is certainly enticing. South Korean schools, both private and public, pay around the highest wages in the world for ESL teachers (English as a Secondary Language), only second to Dubai as far as I’m aware. Having had plenty of responses from various schools around the country so far it would be perfectly feasible for me to teach there next year, or even sooner if I was to choose to do so. However, I am of course contracted to the TLG programme until December of this year, and I have absolutely no desire to cut short my time here.
Aside from looking into the possibility of teaching in South Korea, I have also been considering staying in Georgia into 2012. The reasons for this? Feeling happy and content here are certainly big factors. I’ve yet to have any significant problems living in this country and I don’t envisage this changing over the coming months. Furthermore, I feel I am picking up the language quite well. I’m almost mastered their alphabet (33 letters as standard) and I can pronounce almost all of them. Reading is much more manageable than it was a few months ago, albeit it’s still a slow process. I am currently trying to learn some grammar too. Since coming back from Turkey I have realised just how much Georgian I know, because as I alluded to in a previous blog, I knew next to no Turkish when I was there. Coming back to Georgia it was so refreshing being able to speak to people, even if it was just the basics.
If I was to stay in Georgia in 2012 I could easily continue with the TLG programme. I’d certainly consider this, although I’d ideally be looking for something on the side. Private tutoring, perhaps. I’d likely be living in my own place and I can’t say I’d be able to survive on the TLG income alone. I am going to keep my eyes on some of the Georgian jobs websites over the coming months to see if there are any opportunities in the city. I’d love to work for the British Embassy or British Council, but to be truthful I’m not sure how qualified I am. I’ll just be patient in the mean time and continue to browse relevant websites to see if there are any potential opportunities for me.
To surmise what I’ve said in the above paragraphs, I only really see myself being in Georgia or South Korea next year. Of course, I could always end up in a different country, but in all probability I will be in either Georgia or South Korea. My long-term ambition is to become a teacher in the UK, whether it’s teaching in a primary or secondary school (that’s elementary and high school respectively, for our American friends), but I don’t feel I am ready for that just yet. I want to make the most of being young and I feel travelling the world – and teaching English along the way – is the best way to do this for me.
I am very excited about my future prospects. Wherever I will be I know I will always be appreciative of coming to Georgia because it has given me an experience unlike any other. Leaving Scotland was a brave move for me because I had never been away from my friends and family for any great length of time. But retrospect is a fine thing and looking back it was probably the best decisions I have ever made.