I come from a solid middle class family. My mom divorced my ex-step dad when I was a freshman in high school. This means I got to see what it is like for a strong woman (love you Mom!) to take care of three kids and manage a household while working full time. It taught me to be intentional about saving and spending.
I knew I wanted to travel, and that I would have to pay for it myself, so I saved my money. I started babysitting two or three nights a week. When I was old enough (16 in Portland) I got a job at Arby’s and started working 15 hours a week AND babysitting. I did all of this while playing sports, maintaining my 4.0 GPA, and volunteering in my spare time. Finally I bought myself a trip with a group of random students in high school to spend one week in Italy and one week in Spain when I was 18.
Since then I’ve been able to get paid to travel! If you were still in college I would highly recommend Camp Adventure. When I was 20 I got involved with Camp Adventure Youth Services. They paid for my flights, lodging, and gave me a stipend to pay for food and a tiny bit of fun on the side (I also earned 16 elective credits per summer). I went with them to Japan and Italy for three months each. If I could work with them now I still would (hey Camp A, if you are reading this and have an overseas opening over the summer I’m your lady!).
Right after I graduated from undergrad I was briefly in the Peace Corps. While in Peace Corps (in Azerbaijan), after four months I quickly realized that I wanted to teach in my own classroom and not live with a family of smokers (I hate all kinds of smoking!). One day if I were married and retired, I would like to take my spouse with me and be a teacher trainer for the Peace Corps because I think it is a great way to serve the world.
Now I’m an international teacher. Not an ESL teacher, though I am trained to do that too, but just your run of a mill teacher like you would find in your local neighborhood school…but working with kids whose families work for oil companies in Venezuela. My job pays for my house, my utilities, my healthcare, pays me a salary similar to that of a US teacher, gives me a car to drive around town, and pays for my flights to and from the US every year. They also will pay for me to finish my second Master’s degree (a Master of Education in International Education from Framingham University).
Here is a list of 42 other ways to make money and travel the world. Some things the author mentions that I like the sound of: work in a hostel, house-sitting, website/graphic design, teach dance lessons, teach yoga, work on a cruise, and WOOFING.
I am currently a 4th grade assistant teacher (this is my second year), and am currently getting my Masters in Education with an ESL endorsement. Would my experience in the classroom qualify, or do schools more generally look for experience with your own classroom?
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Schools generally only count paid full time experience, but it sounds like you have a great start. Your experience will probably give schools more incentive to hire you as a first time teacher though.