“Are you ready to be transformed?” she asked as we gently rocked back and forth on my second story porch sipping lemonade. Although this sounds like the beginning of a classic book set in the summertime South, it is actually a very real moment of my life.
To understand this question fully, some background information must be relayed. 1.) The “she” I speak of is a mentor, dear friend, and former college professor of mine whose opinion I hold in high esteem. 2.) We were indeed sitting on the porch of my ap
As I finished up my master’s program and my second year of teaching, I had not choice but to think, “what’s next?” I contemplated and applied to additional master’s programs, I thought about teaching a third year at my school, I applied to jobs across the country and sought the advice of those I still consider wiser than I. The end result in many of those conversations ended up being something along the lines of “you can do whatever you want!” which was uplifting and frustrating at the same time. At that point, options were more frustrating than settling. But what should I do? What is the best thing to do? What do I want?
With all of these decisions in mind plus a full schedule as a teacher and several weekend classes to attend as a master’s student, my brain was overloaded. Very much burnout and very much seeking a new environment, I applied on a whim to teach English in Spain as part of the Spanish government’s Language and Cultural Assistant Program. With a recommendation from my former boss, a few emailed transcripts, and answered essay questions, I was granted acceptance to the program and faced with a big decision. Should I continue my personal and professional life in the United States exploring my passions and cultivating relationships? Or should I jump into something completely different in a foreign country?
I think it is pretty clear what choice I made, but it did not come easy. It must be stated that although my family thinks I am an avid fearless adventurer, I am a more reserved traveller. I have travelled out of the country twice, both in college on guided trips by my favorite professors. In the United States I travel relatively often for work and my long distance relationship with my boyfriend, however, all of these have always been “safe”. I travelled with people I knew and I always had a failsafe. In Tanzania and Costa Rica I failed to use the local language because I was too scared of making mistakes. I didn’t want friend or stranger to see me stumble.
That day on my porch, Ann asked me a pivotal question. “Are you ready to be transformed?” “Moving abroad changes you, it changes your perspective and your experiences. It challenges you in ways that no other experience will. You don’t have to be ready or willing to be transformed”, she elaborated, “but do anticipate that if you do decide to move abroad, you need to be in a place where you are willing to be transformed.”
I let that question marinate as I made my decision and I am still thinking of it today. Truth be told, this is scary. People often view me as a person that does well at things. It is wonderful to be viewed that way, but it makes it even harder to fail—to have people see you fail. To learn a language, to move to a new country, you have to fail and that is difficult for people who aren’t used to it.
I’d like to think that I am ready to be transformed and ready for experience of