Alumni Spotlight: Mimi Karabulut

Mimi is currently an extremely happy teacher in Shanghai, working with an incredible group of second graders. She has taught in many cities in the U.S. and is having an amazing first experience abroad.

Why did you choose this program?

Teaching ESL in Shanghai

I chose Teaching Nomad because they were an organization I felt I could trust. When first looking at teaching abroad, a lot of my research led me to believe there were many scams and problems with the majority of programs I could work with.

Teaching Nomad immediately put me in connection with a very knowledgeable, open, and honest person I felt a connection with. That, compared to any other site and service I considered, was what led me to work with them. More than anything, they were prompt, helpful, and eased my transition to moving across the world more than I ever expected.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Once I gave a specific region I was interested in and listed some parameters (city size, etc.) the rest of the work was done from there. My program provider suggested positions I apply to and I did, and if I received interviews, I knew I could count on them to ask questions before, during, and after the interview was over. After I accepted a position, the school I was working with took care of the rest of the work.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Advice I would tell anyone considering going abroad: muster every ounce of open-mindedness you have in your body and exert it every day, until it becomes habit. Be willing to try new things, and don't be afraid of the unknown. All of that sounds so trite, but it's also so true.

You will meet people from all over the world -- South Africa, Columbia, France, Switzerland, China -- all in the same day. You will have moments where you will not be able to read the menu, the waiter will not understand you, you will know what you just ordered, and you will have to guess what you just ate. You will walk down a street and see things you have never seen before -- and in those moments -- in all of those moments, you just have to embrace it.

Going abroad is about stepping outside of what's normal and comfortable for you and what you're used to. Embracing it will open your mind that you will take with you for the rest of your life.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

After I secured my position with my school, more of my time was invested in my school than in working with Teaching Nomad. We had a back-to-school event, and I know if I had any questions here, I could ask my program adviser. My experience has been one of less hand-holding than other programs, but that's also what I was looking for.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

I didn't have any many fears going abroad because I reminded myself daily, and sometimes, multiple times a day, everything was going to be different, but I am a competent enough person and am surrounded by a competent enough group of people that any problem/fear that I had could be taken care of. And also, I planned a lot.

I knew that my cell phone was a lifeline for me (contacting people, figuring out where to go, etc.) so I always carried a portable charger with me. My first few weeks, I always traveled with people I knew so that I could minimize problems. And above all, I trusted that I would be taken care of if any problems arose, and I was!

What's the best way to be prepared for moving abroad?

Google everything and anything about country/city you're moving to, and ask and ask again. Wander into internet forums, rekindle relationships with old friends, and their friends, and their friends of friends, and make use of those alumni groups or clubs or frats to find out more. And don't believe everything you read or hear. At the end of the day, it's good to be prepared, but also remember -- you'll never be prepared for it all.