Four years ago I was in an auditorium in Vietnam alongside my teaching colleagues and we were listening to a lecture that only served to strengthen my already iron-clad resolve to travel. I don’t think that this was the point of the lecture, rather the opposite. Our esteemed Principal was pointing out the differences between teaching in an International school and the life of a TEFL teacher. At one point during his speech the following phrase was uttered: “You are not travellers who teach. You are teachers who travel”
It instantly became a catchphrase in our staff room.
The point that he wished to make crystal-clear of course, was that we were teachers first and foremost. Any desire to travel came second. Employment at the school was to be our main priority. This is a perfectly valid concern for an employer but it made me even more determined that one day I would be able to give up the classroom, if only for a short while, to become a traveller that (maybe) teaches.
At the time I was so heavily in debt that travel was impossible, the only way that I would be able to satiate my wanderlust was to work overseas and that is how I came to be sitting in that auditorium in the first place, dreaming of the day when I would finally be able to swap the red pen for a backpack.
That day will arrive on Thursday June 9th – just less than a week from now. To say that I am nervous about giving up a secure teaching job that I really enjoy in order to survive on my savings of the last few years, is an understatement. Teaching is hard to give up: the money is pretty good, English jobs are generally easy to find and the holidays are amazing. Not only that but you become attached to classes, students like stability and switching teachers at an important stage of their education is unsettling for them. It is easy to feel guilty for abandoning a class.
But there comes a point in life when you have to pursue a dream, or it will only ever remain a dream.
So, I have put the lid back on the red pen and I am dusting off the backpack. Who knows how long I’ll be out of the classroom for. Maybe months. Maybe years. Maybe the dream will be everything I hoped it would be, or maybe it will make me long for stability and security again. But for now I am saying goodbye to the Teacher who Travels and hello to the Traveller!
And I can’t wait.
Have you given up a job you loved in order to travel? How did you feel before you went? How did it work out? Do you miss your old life? I’d love to know! Please leave a comment.