TEFL Advisor Cassiopia lived, studied and taught in Italy for a six years. Since returning to the US and moving to Chicago, she has been helping others get into the TEFL field with the TEFL Institute.
"I went to Rome as a first-time traveler, knowing nothing about Italy, the Italian people, or the language (except for pizza and spaghetti!). I had heard they had American universities there and decided to move there on a whim. I was 19 and ready to try something new and quickly learned that I was in for a lot of change and some challenges, too. After my first trip to the supermercato, I experienced my first bout of culture shock. After looking for and failing to find peanut butter, jelly, and Cinnamon Life cereal, I instead left with mozzerella di bufala and prosciutto - an excellent upgrade, I now know.
As I settled into my new life, I realized I wasn't ready to start university, but I wasn't ready to leave either. I quickly learned about TEFL and began my teaching career. I spent the next year and a half learning about la dolce vita and teaching English as a foreign language. I then decided to relocate to Malta to attend the University of Malta. As amazing and absolutely breathtaking as Malta is - perfectly situated in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia - I realized I had already fallen in love with Italy and quickly returned to Rome to study International Affairs at John Cabot University. I had finally found my footing, and completed my four year degree while teaching English on the side.
After six years living in Italy, I didn't just learn about Italy, Italian and Italians, I lived it. When I decided to return to the States, I became aware of how much I had embraced it. I soon learned about the term 'reverse culture shock' as I began to live my American life again. Even though I have been back for a few years now, I still find myself saying random spouts of Italian and elaborately gesticulating. Italy is now and forever will be part of who I am. As they say in Italy, la vita e bella."
Check out more TEFL stories from our alumni and staff around the world!