Antonella is one of our Barcelona CELTA graduates and is an Italian and naturalized American. She has 15-years’ experience in sales and marketing within the IT sector. She is currently travelling the world to pursue self-development and explore new possibilities. Find out more about her reasons for taking the leap, moving abroad and studying TEFL in Spain.
My third-life crisis
On May 29, 2019 I quit my job. It wasn’t my first time ending it with an employer, but it was the first time I had no clear plan as to what would happen next. The toughest part was revealing that to others without fear of judgement. After 15 years in corporate America (in the Information Technology sector), I was convinced that admitting to any lack of vision or clear purpose would elicit very little empathy and even less admiration, essentially marring my professional reputation irrevocably. The truth is I had battled varying degrees of indecision and discontent all throughout my career, but the allure of the business world with high pay and frequent travel perks was enough to appease my ego and quiet down my more existential aspirations – at least for a while. I learned to fake it and hide any doubts behind a thick veil of confidence reinforced by my intrinsic sense of dedication and aim to please. But over time it all became quite exhausting and my commitment started to fade, as did my enthusiasm. I found myself in my thirties with no clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. It’s a particularly tough reality to face when living in New York City, surrounded by millions of people in a devoted race to fulfill their grand ambitions. Rather than feeling inspired I became overwhelmed, paralyzed and awfully lonely. I reached a somewhat familiar place of exasperation where drastic ideas originate. That’s when I decided to quit my job and move to Barcelona. It would be the first step on a journey of exploration and self-discovery, a much-needed change to spiral out of creeping apathy.
Barcelona had captured my heart on a family trip a few years back. It’s a city that sizzles with energy, attracting tourists and immigrants from all over the world. It boasts a beautiful culture that places great value on family and human connection. Spaniards move at a much slower pace and taking a break or sitting down for a long meal are sacred rituals undisturbed by an obsessive need to be productive. It’s all about being in the moment enjoying company over a good meal and glass of wine. I thought I could learn a thing or two from a society where people aren’t defined by their work and work isn’t expected to embody one’s life passions. To top it off, Barcelona offers a utopic combination of beach and mountain right at your fingertips, with endlessly sunny skies and all the art and beauty your soul could desire. I couldn’t think of a better place to settle into while reassessing my life and planning my next move.
From Information Technology to TEFL
About a month before boarding my one-way flight to Barcelona, a hint of panic ensued. I was about to leave everything behind, pack my whole life in two suitcases, and head towards the unknown with absolutely no plans. My highly calculated, somewhat controlling side, which had been giving space to a more adventurous laissez-faire attitude, suddenly reemerged. I needed to find something to do and somewhere to stay in Barcelona to appease my anxieties, immediately. While I evaluated the possibility of enrolling in a master’s program to explore a long-time personal interest in the field of psychology, I recognized that I also needed a practical solution to earning some money while on this soul-searching journey abroad. I had learned about TEFL through my friend Liz. Her and I met through work and on our first business trip together we became kindred spirits. We were at a conference in Madrid where Liz had lived before and she was enthusiastic to share some of her favorite places. I was impressed with her language skills and infatuated with her stories as I learned about past adventures and a very unique experience teaching English as a second language. It was a great way to help others while meeting people and immersing in the local culture – just what I needed. So, I began my research.
Why Oxford TEFL
With the help of Google, I quickly narrowed down my options to the Cambridge CELTA as it’s one of the most reputable TEFL qualifications in the world. Oxford TEFL emerged in my results as one of the top schools in Barcelona. Its website captured my attention as I was immediately drawn to the impressive reviews and a very detailed description of the month-long course curriculum. A huge advantage was also the online application process and option to receive accommodation services. That meant that the school would be responsible for finding me a place to stay, rather than having to do so on my own from afar with very little knowledge of the city. I booked the course with no hesitation and became quite excited after my Skype interview with the admissions officer, who warmly welcomed me to the program. My new adventure was about to begin.
Antonella with her CELTA group
Finding comfort outside my comfort zone
I arrived in Barcelona a day before the start of the course. I was anxious. I didn’t know anyone. I immediately wondered if I’d made the right choice as I put my luggage down in my windowless room in a stranger’s house in a hectic part of the city. The next day I gained 8 friends, my classmates. Yes, it truly was instantaneous. We met and it’s as if we had all known each other already. We simply became closer over time, but we were never strangers. The 9 of us represented 6 different nationalities across a 45-year age span. We all had vastly different professional backgrounds and life experiences, but what we all had in common was a desire for change. More than a desire it was the courage to step out of our comfort zones that brought us together. My doubts vanished. I was exactly where I needed to be. At Oxford TEFL I entered a captivating environment of eager students and brilliant teachers. I met people from all over the world, across all ages and cultural backgrounds, all united by the desire to bring down language barriers and connect with others. I instantly felt a sense of belonging in this community of avid travelers and adventurers, people with wide open minds, big hearts, and great empathy. In the first couple of days, we observed the teachers at work and admired their talent. Their example inspired our long hours of lesson planning and preparation for our own chance at teaching. That opportunity came early, on the third day of the course. Like most of my classmates, I was anxious. I stepped up in front of the class and just like that I became a teacher. Sure, it was hard, choppy, messy, but it felt absolutely right and wonderfully natural. Over the next 4 weeks we continued teaching and learning, gaining knowledge, tools, skills, and more confidence and ease. We bounced from highs and lows on progressively less sleep and greater workload. We helped each other through the toughest moments, cheered each other on, and celebrated together every step of the way. In the end, we all walked away from the experience much richer, proud and grateful.
What lies ahead
I don’t know exactly what comes next for me, but I feel reinvigorated and quite content with being in the moment, here in Barcelona, settling into the city as I focus on improving my Spanish. Through this experience I was reminded that my light shines brighter when I share my path with others and stay true to myself. I was also validated in my choice to take a risk and try something new. Though the grass isn’t always greener, it’s wonderful to discover that it may be orange or pink or rainbow, but you’ll never know unless you leave your garden. And not knowing exactly where to go simply makes you human. But trying to figure it out is what makes you alive.
Thinking about making a change in your life? If you are looking for a new challenge or life abroad, why not consider the Cambridge CELTA course in Barcelona? Get in touch to find out more or apply here to get started on your adventure.