When I was 20 years old I knew that I wanted to travel abroad, alone and I knew that I wanted to travel to Italy. A part of my heart was still in Italy since my first trip there at 17. Now all I needed to figure out was how I was going to pay to stay there for 2 months.
I went online and searched for jobs or opportunities in Italy. The only ones that I really came across were teaching English abroad and “au pair” programs. I immediately dismissed being an “au pair” because I knew that it was basically like being a nanny.
Teaching English didn’t seem bad at all; I always enjoyed teaching. I started applying to different companies and I received a call from one of them fairly quickly. The company was called “Scotia Personnel” and the lady that called me was super nice and explained the whole process.
I had to get a background police check, doctors note, references, and I had to pay a fee of $600. I remember hearing that I had to pay a fee and thinking “is this a scam?” but after doing research I realized that this was common for these type of companies.
The lady also explained that after I submitted all my documents and my profile about me that I would be matched with families and then get to make the final choice about where I lived. I got my first offer I think about 3 weeks later. It was an opportunity to work in Italy for 3 months, where I would live in a hotel separate from the family.
I thought that this sounded like a good opportunity because I got my own place, but I declined the offer because I could only go to Italy for 2 months.
So I waited another few weeks until I got my 2nd offer, which was living in Switzerland with an Italian family that goes there in the summertime. Although this offer was tempting (it looked beautiful) I declined it because I was set on living in Italy and learning Italian.
A week later I got my 3rd offer living with a family in the mountains in Northern Italy. They told me that it’s really cold there and once I realized that it was hotter in Canada than it was there, I declined the offer.
I kept picturing the beautiful beaches in Italy and the hot sun on my face. That is what I wanted.
I started getting nervous that I would never get a match that I was looking for.
My next offer was living with a family in Vicenza, Italy (Northern Italy). I decided to accept the offer. The family said that I would be living in their house for a few weeks and then I would have my own private apartment that would be ready soon.
I skyped with the lady and her two children and planned to leave for Italy in June.
I bought some souvenirs to bring to the family and I took a flight to Venice, Italy.
Vicenza was beautiful and was 1 hour from Venice.
The father of the family picked me up from the airport and brought me to their beautiful gated house. His mother lived next door and they shared a pool. I was happy.
Their kids were very young, they were only 3 and 5 years old. They were very cute.
However, It did not take me long to realize that no “Teaching” would happen. These two children didn’t even like the sound of English language and would cry constantly when I spoke English.
After only two weeks there, the mother and I sat down and discussed the progress. I expressed how it was hard to teach the children English when they did not want to learn the language and they were very young. She expressed that she didn’t care about the teaching but wanted me to start showering the kids and cooking for them.
I told her that I came to Italy to teach her children English and she said: “I thought this was an au pair program”. I showed her my forms of the offer where it said that I would be teaching English and she showed me her forms where it said that I was an au pair.
We realized that the agency had messed up…
The agency apologized to us both and told me that they would find me a new family where I would be teaching and not being a nanny.
This was a very uncomfortable situation for us both.
The agency found me other families that I had Skype interviews with (while still living in the other families house awkwardly) and I finally accepted a new offer.
I chose a family that lived on an Italian island in the summer. This island was called Ponza and was in the South of Italy.
I had never heard of the island before but after looking up pictures, I immediately said yes.
I mean wouldn’t you?
So I packed up my bags and travelled from Vicenza– to Rome– to Naples– to Formia- to Ponza.
I met the new family that I would be working for. I would be living in an “apartment” beside theirs.
When I got to the island I was in love… it was absolutely stunning.
They showed me my “apartment” which was a very little room that used to be a cave. The bedspread was covered with this “dust” that fell from the ceiling and the bathroom sink did not work.
I remember waking up in this cave covered in “dust” every morning, but I tried to not be disappointed because I was still on a beautiful island.
On my first night in Ponza, I went to dinner at this cute restaurant with live music. At this point, I was used to eating alone.
My server ended up asking me where I was from and I told her that I was from Canada. Then she excitedly told me that she was from Miami, Florida and that her grandparents owned the restaurant/hotel. She also told me that I was the first Canadian that she ever met on the island.
She invited me clubbing that night and I said yes.
Later that night, I went out with her and her other friends. I immediately became friends with them and spent the next month and a half hanging out with them.
I started eating lunch at the restaurant with her and her family, daily. They were amazing and so generous. Her nonna and nonno reminded me of my grandparents and I instantly felt at home.
After about a week of being friends with the girl from Miami, I told her about the cave that I lived in and she invited me to live at her grandparent’s hotel with her. I was so happy and I moved in.
Since I was now living and eating there, I started working at the restaurant at night.
My arrangement with the family I was working for was teaching the two boys English for a couple of hours a day. The rest of the day I could do what I wanted.
I also didn’t know how to tell the family that I had moved out of the cave so I waited a while and then told them. They weren’t very pleased and didn’t understand why I didn’t want to live in the cave where “dust” would fall on my face when I slept.
Nonetheless, I spent the remaining time enjoying the beautiful island, beaches, and the delicious food.
Teaching abroad was different than I had thought it would be, but overall it was a great experience.
If you are thinking of teaching abroad, I would recommend that you choose a family with older children and that you do a lot of research.
I was fortunate enough to make friends right away and it ended up being one of the most life-changing trips of my life.
Thanks for reading.