A series of intimate little teaching and travel blogs reflecting my time spent on this wildly beautiful island over the past few years.
I had contemplated working abroad many times in the past as I have always loved travelling. Unfortunately my own shortcomings only served to repeatedly hinder myself. Putting up all psychological and practical barriers known to man, I remained in my safe zone, secure job, town of birth, family, friends, creature comforts and routine.
Finally realising that I could combine my love of travel with my love of English, I embarked on this career path relatively late in life and now I would like to share my realisation with you. I hope that if you are contemplating a change in your life, especially in terms of teaching away that this series of little blogs may provide you with a seed. Take courage, trust in the universe, step over your safety barrier into your new unknown...
you never know it could look something like this...
Let me just add a little reality check. My tired teacher's mind has created many nightmares of late from evening work, planning overload, viewing of Swedish crime dramas and excessive reading of second world war novels to the point of obsession.
I know I paint a picture of 'living the dream' to all my Facebook friends but it's not all 'escape to the sun' and sipping Aperol spritz under a shady palm.
Teaching English as a foreign language can be and often is bloody hard work. For those of you who have already veered down this slippery but exciting slope, you may identify with the mental exhaustion to the point of 'what's my name?' not to mention the names of my students. Unless of course you are one of those 'lucky' teachers who can just roll up to class without having done any planning and can still deliver an Oscar winning performance. In which case, I applaud you.
However a recent experience managed to wipe this rather dark grey slate momentarily clean.
I stepped out onto the sandy white beach, peppered with algae, the cerulean sky and the cobalt bay glittering in the dazzling morning sunlight.
A stunning scene before my eyes. How unusual that I was seeing these images before me. A change from the sinister night visions.
The dark demons of night echoed in the shadowy masses ebbing and flowing peacefully just under the surface, slipping smoothly from my mind.
A weight lifted. Realisation dawned.
I wasn't dreaming at all but actually living and breathing this little piece of paradise.
Finding myself surrounded by the natural beauty of Cala Brandinchi lovingly called Little Tahiti, I was very much awake.
No I'm not in French Polynesia but rather closer to home in Europe.
The second largest island in the Mediterranean.
Why? What am I doing here?
Some happy twist of fate landed me here more than 2 years ago after I had been looking for a teaching contract in Italy. I assumed I would find something on the mainland or 'the peninsula' as the Sards refer to it. I searched and searched on various tefl websites but to no avail. For months and months I persevered, seeking out positions for EFL teachers in Rome, Venice and Milan as well as lesser known towns along the East and West coasts.
There was always something which didn't feel quite right to me. Too many kids classes, Saturday working, less than 1,000 euros reward for 1 months hard toil, sharing with other teachers half my age...The list seemed endless.
However as Autumn turned to winter 2016 I found some more interesting advertisements for the Italian islands. Now I hadn't considered these.
Sardinia. (I didn't even realise it was an 'Italian' island at that point).
Suddenly I felt an injection of interest and excitement, not to mention my alter egos of anxiety and nervousness.
What if I actually found a suitable position?
What if I was accepted?
What would I do then?
Give up my home, my family and friends, a good social life?
It was actually my younger sister who propelled me into applying for these potential posts. Her opinion was that unless I applied and was accepted the choice just wasn't there. I needed to apply to give myself that chance.
So I did.
I had an interview lined up for an EFL teaching position in Syracuse, Sicily. I was all set, waiting enthusiastically for the dulcit tones of Skype to begin, but nothing.
After half an hour I messaged the D.O.S. only to be told that they'd had a power cut and weren't able to interview that evening.
A subsequent interview was arranged and suffice to say, I'd lost my focus and enthusiasm. The moment had gone.
After a bout of flaking confidence, which happens quite regularly in my world, I then prepared for my next interview, for Sardinia. Yes, I'd received another email following a successful application. As I felt I'd got nothing to lose at this point, I must have appeared calmer and maybe more natural or even enthusiastic.
I felt immediate excitement as the interview began, mainly because the D.O.S. disclosed that she was hoping to create a relaxing contract with minimum stress. I could resonate with that after an intense 9 weeks of residential summer school in London. Also her text book of choice happened to be 'New English File'. The one text I kept going back to during my summer school experiences.
Familiarity. On the same page. We seemed to connect somehow.
I recall her saying she would be interested in working with me and I agreed even though I was a little despondent about the look of this place called Nuoro. I'd already 'Googled' images of it and suffice to say that from a distance it reminded me of a mini Hong Kong full of concrete apartment blocks stuck in the wilderness, erected in the wake of Mussolini.
However after some painful decision making - I'd also received a local job offer in the same week and recently met a new partner - I decided, with the encouragement of a dear friend and my sister, to accept this intriguing opportunity. Furthermore my previously bruised but not broken heart responded to the call for solace and healing through a new adventure...