Maricela (or “Mari”), a Bridge grad, has been teaching English online for three years and working as a freelance writer for two. She has lived and taught in four different countries and is currently living and teaching English online in Scotland. As the world deals with a global pandemic, Maricela talks to us about her experience teaching English online during coronavirus and her concerns about living as a digital nomad.
You’re a digital nomad, traveling and teaching English online remotely. Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into that.
I left home, California, and moved across the country at the young age of 19. This experience made me pretty fearless and confident in my ability to be away from those I loved for the sake of some adventure! I completed my BS in Psychology entirely online from Oregon State University as I traveled around the United States.
During my last semester of school, I discovered the wonderful world of teaching English online. I thought that there would be no way I would be fit for the job as I was yet to graduate and had only worked as a nanny and Spanish tutor in a private school. Still, my extensive experience with children, tutoring, and overall passion for teaching and learning, made me a perfect fit. And, I could finally take my adventures across the pond!
How did you choose your TEFL course, the 120-Hour Teaching English Online 2-course bundle?
As I began to travel more, and my expenses grew, I realized that I would have to take my online English teaching career to the next level by receiving my TEFL certification. While researching various programs available to me and ultimately deciding that I wanted to receive my certification from Bridge, I received some fantastic news. I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to complete the Bridge 120-Hour Teaching English Online 2-course bundle through the platform I was teaching with, and continue to teach with today. The course proved to be exactly what I needed at the time and continues to impact my teaching style every single day.
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What did you like best about that specialized course?
I learned so much valuable information from this program that the 120 hours seemed to fly by. Before I knew it, I had completed the program. I can confidently say that it has changed my approach to teaching in a way I did not expect. It has made me more aware and passionate about tailoring my lessons to each student’s unique needs. Learning about all of the theories, methods, and proved approaches to teaching a second language has proved invaluable to me. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a student’s progress from lesson to lesson.
Did you claim your Bridge digital badges for the course you’ve completed? If so, was that difficult to do? Where have you shared those?
I did claim my Bridge digital badges when I completed my course and have added them to my Linkedin, resume, and my email signature. I have found that these are extremely helpful when interviewing for a new job, providing evidence of my experience, or to show off how hard I’ve worked! The process was very simple and there was very detailed help along the way if I ever did feel stuck or confused by how to add them to certain platforms.
Where are you living now and how long have you been there?
I am currently living in a tiny town in the Scottish Borders, Scotland. It is as picturesque as it sounds and I live on a cobblestoned street! My dream! Edinburgh is only an hour away, and the English border is 15 minutes from my front door, meaning I have had many once in a lifetime adventures so far. I have been here since June 2019 but have spent time in Italy, France, and Iceland in between. If you are wondering why Scotland has been my base for this long, it is because I am engaged to a wonderful Scottish man.
Tell us what your job is like.
I currently teach with GoGoKid and have loved the whole experience. I have worked for other platforms that I have thoroughly enjoyed but have worked with GoGo Kid the longest. I have several regular students and teach a lot of trial classes, which I love! I make my own schedule every three weeks, depending on what traveling or appointments I may have planned. My day starts at 9 am and ends at 1 pm and is usually fully booked, which I am very grateful for. My students range in age from 4 years old to 14 years old and are all so different and so fun to teach.
The world, and especially Europe, is currently feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Does that make you especially grateful you chose to teach English online?
The Covid-19 pandemic has become such a massive part of everyone’s daily lives. It seems almost surreal. My day to day work schedule doesn’t require me to leave home unless I want to, so at first, I did not feel the effects entirely. It wasn’t until I began to realize how quickly and drastically the world around me was changing that it began to affect my daily life. I am so beyond grateful to get to work from home and not have my career be affected by such a crazy situation. I have always been grateful to be able to work from anywhere in the world, but especially now, I know just how lucky I am!
How has the virus impacted daily life for you in Scotland?
Day-to-day life in Scotland has changed drastically for me despite both my partner and I working from home. Living in a small town as I do, people are usually always milling about, doing their food shopping every day, or walking their dogs. Our restaurants are always full, the pubs warm and inviting, and socializing with my neighbors while walking my puppy is usually the highlight of my day. Now, there is no one outside, our puppy walks are pretty lonely, and I am always worried about our elderly neighbors. I have found comfort in making care packages for our neighbors I know are especially at risk and unable to leave their homes as often as I can. But even that seems to be slowing down as we continually run out of food and paper goods
How is the pandemic affecting your future plans as a digital nomad and online teacher?
Since every day there is a new development, all of my 2020 plans are up in the air. I had planned to move back to California for the rest of the year before heading to Canada to live for a few months. However, now I don’t even know when I will be able to see my family again. With all of the uncertainty that surrounds us right now, I am very thankful that I do not have to worry about my job or income. Being a digital nomad and teaching online is something I can see myself doing for a very long time, especially now that I see how quickly everything can change.