My name is Robert, and I’ve lived in Australia most of my life. About 18 years ago I went to the U.S., intending to stay a year, but ending up staying for good. I’ve also lived in at least seven other countries, for periods ranging from 5 months to two years. These experiences have certainly shaped my curiosity about and love of different cultures. I majored in Psychology and History with a sub-major in English, all the while working for the Australian government but I was bored with my job and didn’t think I could make a decent living with my degree, so I decided to do an MBA. For the next 40 years, I worked as a management consultant and also in senior management positions in different industries from Banking to Mining, travelling to different countries on assignment.
In 2014, having had enough of the stress and pressure, I decided to retire from the business world. I wanted to keep occupied, however, and was looking for a job online, hoping to work with a non-profit organization, when I stumbled across an advertisement to do a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). And thus began my third career, doing something I love! After the TESL course, I immediately got a job in Mexico, followed by a one-year stint in Turkey. I then got a position teaching English online. I do find that my business and management background comes in handy teaching ESL because many of my students are young adults who work in companies and government institutions. Having learned several languages, five of them reasonably well, I appreciate what it takes to become fluent in another language.
My adventure with English Getaway (EG)
Sometime early in 2017, I saw an advertisement posted by EG and was immediately interested. I’d been to Spain several times before and had even done part of the Camino de Santiago by bicycle. Apart from that, my ancestors on my father’s side came from Spain. In short, I love the country, so I applied and to my great delight, was accepted for the August retreat.
My one week with EG in Asturias ranks as one of the memorable experiences of my life, which is high praise, as I’ve had multiple adventures, including five months hitchhiking in Europe and England and three months camping around the U.S. and Canada. While this was a more sedate experience, it was endless fun for the other participants and me. At the same time, I had the satisfaction of seeing our students visibly and markedly improve their confidence and speaking abilities.
Our hosts, Paula and Zach, were just incredible and warm and welcoming. I felt at home right from the beginning. We got off to a promising start. On the first day, we had to “sign an oath”, under threat of expulsion (just joking) that only English could be spoken, even among the Spanish students. We (more or less!) kept our promise not to speak Spanish, although it was sometimes difficult because I speak passable Spanish!
I don’t want to spoil the surprise by giving too many details. Let me just say that I was expecting one week of just sitting around chatting and I was stunned by all the activities that were designed to maximize opportunities for the students to develop and practice their English and gain confidence with multiple activities. Within a couple of days, we were all very comfortable with each other, and we got to know each other’s idiosyncrasies and talents, which were in abundance.
Our hotel, a converted palace, was beautiful and set in the gorgeous and idyllic countryside amidst the hills and mountains of Asturias. The food was gourmet quality, and it became a challenge to try to limit my food intake.
The weather allowed us at least one outing that week, which meant hiking into the mountainside and nearby village. One of the students was an environmental scientist and botanist who had extensive knowledge of plants, so some of us who were lucky enough to be walking near her got a detailed education on the flora along the way.
On the very last day. in the early afternoon when the program officially ended, we were finally allowed a break from English, and there was almost a reluctance to launch into Spanish, so conditioned were we by our “oath”.
Yes, I met some very interesting people, and we keep in touch through Whats App. Three months after the program, I caught up with one of the students in Barcelona for lunch. And if I ever find myself in the northern regions this year or next I will certainly look up the other students who came from there as I know they’ll be happy to see me. I’m forever grateful to Paula and Zach for giving me this opportunity and would consider it a privilege if they welcome me back.
¡ INFÓRMATE AQUÍ SOBRE NUESTROS CURSOS DE INMERSIÓN EN INGLÉS !