5 Things I Learned Teaching English in Mexico
What can I say? I absolutely love traveling. I love variety. I love challenges.
It was sort of a last minute decision listening to my heart when I booked a plane ticket to Mexico only a few hours before going into 10 days of silent meditation. I quickly emailed the language school director that I had been in contact with accepting his offer, then jumped on the bus to the course location. A few days after the meditation, I was on the plane towards Cuernavaca and began teaching only two days after my arrival.
Being a nomad, changing countries was not new to me. I had never lived in Mexico before, and only visited Playa del Carmen for a short vacation years ago. Needless to say, I was beyond excited.
Deciding to teach English, next to life coaching practice and freelance writing projects, was a new challenge. Though I have taught English before in various countries, doing it along with coaching and writing too was something new. I was stoked to serve the world as an educator once again.
My visa allowed me to stay for only a half a year, but let me tell you, those 6 months were some of the most magical and life-changing months of my life. I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I absolutely loved the school I was teaching at. It had everything one could ever wish for in a job: a wonderful and relaxed environment, an awesome boss, great colleagues, and some amazing students full of love. I loved teaching and I was excited to go to work every day. I was truly lucky to be a part of it all: teaching, coaching, and writing.
Teaching English is not only a wonderful way to give back and to learn about another culture, but it is an excellent way to connect with yourself. I have learned several life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
5 Things I Learned Teaching English in Mexico
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t be afraid to be funny. Laugh at your own jokes.
I realized that students didn’t always understand me. They didn’t always understand my jokes either. But if I was comfortable and laugh, they would laugh too.
Don’t get embarrassed. Ever. The world will not end, I promise.
One day, without realizing that we had a leak in my classroom during the storm, as I sat down, I found myself in a puddle of water; with a completely soaked butt, I looked like I just peed in my pants. Teacher’s nightmare, right?! There was nothing else to do but to laugh without any embarrassment, to laugh at myself and to make fun of the situation. The world didn’t end and my pants dried.
Don’t put too much emphasis on your looks. Life is not about your outer beauty or your skin color. It is not your clothes that people will love you for.
Touching my face often has always been one of my ‘bad habits’ my poor grandmother used to scream at me for. But when my hands are always colored with blue board markers, touching my face quickly makes me look like a Smurf. My students find it funny, strange, and even embarrassing, but I know they still love me for who I am—despite my weird Smurfette-look.
Be yourself. Don’t take anything personally. Be proud of who you are.
It is not enough that with my light skin and light brown hair I looked different, my students there truly enjoyed noting their observations, including my funny runner’s tan, my fast walking style, my refusal to put chilli on my fruit, my lack of ability to master their favorite dance, bachata, and so on… If I took all the comments to heart and analyzed them all, I would be simply depressed for the rest of my life. Instead, I took the approach of being myself and being comfortable in my skin.
Love and trust are the most important in life. Loving someone, believing in them and trusting them is the most important gift you can give. It never goes unreturned either.
Besides of course preparing my students well for a major oral exam they were terrified of, I found it incredibly important to tell them and to show them that I believed in them, trusted them and supported them with a full heart: I knew they could do it. Just like I provide a space full of unconditional love to my coaching clients, I always provide a loving environment to my students as well.
This love never goes unreturned—and it is just beautiful.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate Freelance Writer, Holistic Life Coach, Educator, and World Traveler. She has coached women from all around the world, worked with abused children in Kenya, taught English in Mexico, volunteered on an olive farm in Turkey, hitchhiked in Costa Rica and climbed volcanoes in Guatemala to name a few of her happy adventures.
Kat is helping other travelers, nomads, expats, and dreamers to create their version of happiness, health, and freedom. She invites you to join her best-selling 21-Day Mind-Body-Soul Shake-Up Cleanse and 365 Days of Journaling eBook.
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