As mentioned in my previous blog, I didn’t last long in Australia. I had a working visa for one year, but flew off to Thailand within five months. I’ll be writing about the things I hated about Australia in a future blog, but here are some things that I loved when I was Down Under…
1. Experiencing an adventure
By far the best part of my time in Australia was my three-week adventure up the East coast, in towards Alice Springs, and then back down to Sydney. Australia is an amazing country to travel round. There’s a real party atmosphere and so much to see. The three highlights were group tours I did.
The first was a camping tour by 4wd on Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. I was slung in a group with eight strangers, most of us got on, apart from a bossy Italian bloke who we nicknamed Gandalf. Exploring the island was great fun and we had some fun drinking sessions. The best parts were watching killer sharks from Sandy Cape and swimming in Lake Mckenzie.
Despite getting shipwrecked for six-hours because the ‘Skipper’ misjudged how far our boat was from the shore, doing my PADI while sailing round the Whitsunday’s was amazing. This trip wasn’t really about the people, they were a dull bunch, but the experience of diving on the Great Barrier Reef was brilliant. Once back on the main land I did a tandem parachute jump. Falling through the air with the Whitsunday Islands in the background was invigorating.
The last highlight was a three-day camping trip in the outback around Ayers Rock. This giant mound is a must see if you’re in Australia. The camping trip was helped by a funny guide who reminded me of Steve Irwin (RIP). Seeing Uluru at sunset with a g lass of champagne was the best part though.
2. Feeling safe
After living in fear in South America, thanks to several incidents with the locals, arriving in Sydney was a relief. I could walk around with a watch on and not worry about someone wrenching it from my wrist, and carry my wallet without panicking about getting mugged. While living in Sydney I never had any problems. I saw a couple of fights between beered up Brits and Aussies (I wasn’t involved, promise), but that can happen anywhere. Australia is a safe place to live and travel if that’s one of your concerns.
3. Living in Sydney
I did get a bit bored in Sydney, mainly because I missed the adventure of living in a different culture and learning a language. If I went there now, I’d probably love the place. Sydney has everything: a great nightlife, decent restaurants, beautiful beaches, excellent surfing, plenty of activities to do, and more importantly, teaching jobs. If you get work with a decent language school then you can live well in Sydney.
As I was saving money, I did a lot of walking around Sydney. My favourite places to chill out in were Darling Harbour and Bondi Beach. There are loads of places to visit in New South Wales too.
4. Teaching mixed nationality classes
A great aspect of teaching English in Australia is that your classes will probably be mixed nationalities. It’s only when I go back to London for the summer that I remember how much I enjoy teaching mixed nationality classes (unless you’ve got Turkish and Greek students together).
It might mean more planning because you actually have to explain everything in English, rather than providing quick explanations in their language, but I enjoyed having a class with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Brazilian, and Polish students. Seeing them mingle was fun, especially when the boisterous Polish lads were trying to chat up the shy Japanese girls.
5. Earning good money
I know, it’s shallow, but after earning between $2 and $5 an hour in South America it was satisfying bringing home almost $500 a week, and tax free. I taught about 25 contact hours a week and spent a lot of time planning and studying the grammar so I didn’t get caught out by the Chinese students (see my last blog). I managed to save up about $3,000 in three months, which I spent pretty quickly on my trip, but who cares; I had a great time and will always remember my time in Australia.
So there you go. Australia is a great place to live as a TEFL teacher. The TEFL market is booming over there and jobs are waiting. Are you thinking of going to Australia to teach? Or are you there now and disagree with what I said. Leave a comment and let me know.