YYZ to LHR – Been there, done that!
When people ask me, “Why London,” I simply say, “why not?!”
Since I was a child I knew that Toronto life was not for me and I would someday move to Europe! I have always been an introverted person - my dreams and ideas have always been bigger than the realities of the world so, when I announced I’d be moving overseas, no one believed me! Being naïve I did not do my research and followed my friend’s advice to focus my search on north London. I spoke directly to his agency and moved in to his flat share just one month after graduation. Clearly, I was eager to land and start my life in as a cover / relief teacher.
With a passion for the Arts and graphics, desire to travel, and being a big kid myself, my teacher parents supported my plan to start my teaching career overseas so, clearly, it was meant to be and things lined up perfectly!
Everything was promising in the beginning – my agency consultant did everything right in getting me overseas in terms of logistics and paperwork but, just two weeks into the school year, a lack of support, misguidance in location recommendations (the area was rough!), and having nothing nearby the flat besides a Tescos (corner store) and a mattress store, I had no choice but to change agencies. Listening to my friend and moving to the North was just not for me and, to quote my mother: “You should have done your research!” and “Just come home already!”
Maybe I am a princess but I need more in an area where I live: gym, proper grocers, general cafes and being able to walk around at any hour of the day! So hunting for accommodations while being told by my agency I could not move to South West London had crushed this little Canadian cookie’s heart. The glass had shattered and my dream became a harsh reality! I later discovered this agency failed to share with me that they offered their refurbished rent-able house shares in the North for overseas teachers which seemed like a great idea… but how could you tell someone where they are to live if you are not paying the rent?
It’s mid-January. I have no job, just moved to Europe -by myself- and, frankly, I miss my daddy! Yes I am a daddy’s girl and leaving him, my entire family was hard; HOWEVER I am determined young Canadian cookie! February was my month! I found a new flat, a new area, and a new agency that seemed like a better fit in comparison. However; I was sent to numerous schools as a specialist of many subjects when I was, in fact, a newly qualified Art teacher. Also, this new agency treated me as a number and even after working with them for weeks I’d be asked, “which Amanda are you?” and “Where are you, again?” On top of that I have yet to meet a representative and see the office! I am human and so I cracked various times. Times to which I wanted to run home and chalk this up to an experience, not a life change; yet, the Canadian cookie was still determined.
It was harsh, but I decided to stick it out and seek out a career change. I’m not saying I’ll never go back to teaching, but knowing what was missing in my overseas experience and finding Impact, getting involved in educational recruitment seemed fitting!
If you’re like me and accommodations are your biggest worry here are some tips based on my experience: Look at your flat in person! Telegraphic lenses are always used and the flat might be beautiful but the area could not be; meet your flatmates – remember, you’re sharing a living space with these people! You can afford to live in London – keep looking!
Lastly, use us! Use Impact’s staff stories and experiences to answer questions you have! Ask everything; ask anything before coming over, ask questions after you arrive! From what is an Oyster Card to where can you get poutine in this country, eh?! We are your tools- your extended family! I cannot stress enough, use us and let us help you!