Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Murray


She is bubbly, enthusiastic, energetic and loves to travel. Loves to experience new cultures, cuisine and meet new people in this strange and wonderful world.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose the level 5 TEFL combined programme because it offered a good solid course along with a 20-hour classroom practical course. That was definitely the thing that sealed the deal for me.

I had never taught ESL before in my life, let alone managed a class. However, in my previous employment, I worked my way up from a receptionist to sales administrator and eventually had to train new employees in to do my previous roles. I knew I could teach; the TEFL Academy helped with growing my confidence in TEFL.

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

My course provider helped us along the way with getting our TEFL course started and with any problems along the way. They do offer internships in host countries with jobs once it's completed. But we decided to sort employment here in Phnom Penh ourselves. We did enough research on working in Cambodia. We felt confident that we could gain employment. But knowing the TEFL Academy offered internships was a safety net, kind of.

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

The one piece of advise, especially if you're new to teaching, is to take notes while you're doing your course. I have a whole refill pad full from my TEFL course and reference it from time to time. Be prepared for it to be difficult but so rewarding at the same time. What I would say to people thinking of moving abroad and working is: have confidence, be careful, research A LOT, take a leap of faith and enjoy the ride.

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

I'm not sure if I am what you would call an average person when it comes to taking a TEFL course. My boyfriend and I both worked full-time, 40+ hours a week while taking this course. So our average week would be work Monday to Friday. Wake up Saturday morning, head down to the kitchen, set up our laptops and get studying. Go to sleep, wake up Sunday to do it all over again. It was hard work and some weekends we didn't want to study, but luckily for us, we never had that problem on the same weekend; we always pushed each other to study when the other didn't want to.

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

I had never moved out of Ireland before, so the whole thing was pretty new and scary for me. But my boyfriend had lived in Australia for 8 years. He was my rock, just full of the assurance that I could do it. My biggest fear was finding a job and an apartment. I knew once I had the two things I would be fine. Which I was. The biggest problem is that the person in your head causing self-doubt. Don't listen to them.

If you had the opportunity to do all over again, what would you change?

A thing I would have done different is, pack fewer clothes.

I don't wear half of what I brought. I brought pictures from home and stuck them straight up once we moved into our apartment, which settled me in straight away. Bring a lot of bandages, bug spray, cold and flu medicines. I have had some minor accidents while traveling. I burnt my leg off a motorbike exhaust 3 days into my holiday in Thailand - disaster. My boyfriend got carpet burn during our first Jiu-Jitsu class. We get sick almost every second week working with kids because they're constantly sick.

Just be prepared for everything :) and most importantly HAVE FUN!!