Alumni Spotlight: Sanda Zolic


Sanda Zolic is a newly certified CELTA English Teacher from Croatia. She's a passionate globetrotter and is endlessly in love with dancing, photography, teaching, good music and good people. She enjoys languages, writing, and poetry and is hopelessly in love with New York City.

Why did you pick this program?

I picked Celta because teaching seems to be something I've spontaneously became to be very comforable with and since I've heard so many positive reviews about Teaching House and this Cambridge accredited program, I decided it would be useful to really further improve my knowledge and skills.

I'm happy to say I made a good decision, I thoroughly enjoy teaching and hope to continue along that path.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

Thinking way back about the first time I visited New York- there really isn't much someone can say to prepare you for that whirlwind of chaos and energy, you just take things step by step and emerge into it; there's hardly a rite of passage other than learning how to swipe your metro card with attitude, but thinking about this program, I wish someone told me it's going be, at times, a bit more than you can handle. Also, recommended pre-course literature should be considered almost mandatory.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Probably that I can do and endure a lot more than I give myself credit for. There is nothing like stepping out of your comfort zone that makes you realize that and appreciate everything you go through.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Today when travelling, and the world basically, became more accessible than ever before I think it's almost redundant to explain the advantages of going abroad. Hopping on a low budget flight can sometimes cost less than a restaurant dinner so I say-why not? Use every chance you have to travel, experience different cities, countries, cultures, mindsets and mentalities. Step out of your comfort zone, it's only when you step out of it that you learn to appreciate the place you call home.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Apart from the obvious and often very painful distance from friends and family, for me it has always been food, as trivial as that sounds. I have a weak stomach that can not muster a lot of unfamiliar food and I often come across a bit impolite when I turn down that mutton biryani or sugar-laden chai latte. It's hard to be a traveller who can not take much of local cuisine. Luckily local wine never seems to be an issue and people are generally very understanding. I know it's a silly thing to mention but it's a terrible feeling to smell all the wonderful spices and know you'll probably have to stick with bread and butter.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Every morning I took a ten minute walk to catch the direct train to Teaching House. It's a very busy and hectic subway station and the escalator is always broken. Needless to say it's a long descend to reach the train platform by stairs, people walk down keeping the same pace, packed like sardines.

One morning I noticed a girl somewhere around my age, trying to walk down those stairs with a giant suitcase. Mission impossible. I stopped to help her but made the situation even more comical since now there were two clumsy blondes handling a suitcase that probably weighed more than two of us put together. People were just walking by, yelling at us for clogging than narrow staircase untill this random guy just walks by, barely even asks anything, picks up the suitcase and carries it all the way down to the platform like a feather.

He was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs and they seemed to strike up a sparkling conversation. I had to say goodbye and rush to catch my train but, as hopelessly romantic as I am, I instantly imagined two of them twenty years from now retelling a story of how he helped her carry a suitcase.

Regardless, it's small acts of kindness like this that always restore my faith in humanity.

What made this experience unique and special?

All the stories I mentioned, students at Teaching House, random acts of kindness, and craziness mixed with tons of laughter, positive energy and support.

Everything about this experience was unique, special and unforgettable and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

I don't even know where to begin but the most recent unforgettable experience would definitely be Sleep no More at McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea. The whole idea is based on an interractive theatrical action to deliver spoken and dialogue deprived Shakespeare's McBeth. I went to see the play with a very dear friend of mine and since the whole point is to get lost inside the hotel and drift through the dimly lit hallways on your own, I somehow ended up back at the bar in the middle of the show and at that point it was super hard to even tell if the bar is just a part of the set or not.

I headed right back in to catch the last scene, ran into my friend who I didn't even recognize since everyone is wearing masks and got lost again trying to find my way out.

Sleep no more is the most surreal and by far one of the best experiences I ever had in New York. All the credit for that goes to my friend who persuaded me to go, without a doubt in my mind, one of the most amazing people I know.

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

Be prepared for a very humbling experience. It will completely change the way you think about teaching but it will prepare you well for your future career. You will study hard, you will be tired and sleep deprived at times but if you're lucky enough like me, you will endure all of that while being surronded with amazing people who help each other out on daily basis. Find a good local deli for quick snacks and coffee, eat well, sleep well and enjoy your time at Teaching House.

What is one thing you probably shouldn't do in New York?

Rely too heavily on the MTA service and the weather forecast. Two of the most variable things in the world.