Alumni Spotlight: Julien Milcent


Julien is originally from the suburbs of Chicago where he completed school at North Central College earning a degree is Mathematics and Education. He loves to travel and is looking forward to his Peace Corps placement in Indonesia next year. He is a newlywed who traveled to Guatemala as part of his honeymoon.

Why did you pick this program?

Julien: My wife had gone to Peru with Maximo Nivel and had a wonderful experience teaching English as a volunteer. Maximo Nivel is an organization with locations in Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Florida where they offer English and Spanish lessons, volunteer opprotunities, and teacher preparation programs.

Maximo Nivel had great reviews which certainly helped us make our decision. We decided to travel to Guatemala together to learn to teach English. Maximo Nivel offers a month long TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification program that we decided we would take together.

Recently my wife and I have been accepted into the Peace Corps where we will be teaching English in Indonesia. Maximo Nivel’s TEFL program will be an invaluable experience while we serve in Indonesia.

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

Julien: Guatemala is a special country with so much to do. It has so many natural wonders that you can explore from the picturesque Lake Atitlán to the refreshing swimming hole Semuc Champey—two of my personal favorites.

Lake Atitlán is a short trip from Guatemala City and a MUST DO when in Guatemala. The lake offers magnificent views with three surrounding volcanoes with lots of opportunities for hiking and kayaking. Public boats will shuttle you to the surrounding little towns dot the lake each with a distinct atmosphere.

Semuc Champey is a natural swimming hole with crystal clear waters. This place is a great place to relax or let your adventure side out with lots of cliff jumping. Guatemala has so much to offer: good food, wonderful people, and lots to do—anyone can find something they’d like to do!

Check out footage of our recent trip to Semuc Champey:

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

Julien: I would advise prospective TEFLers at Maximo Nivel not to take the work load lightly. The month long certification course a quite rigorous with papers and lots of valuable practical teaching.

That being said this program is as fun as it is challenging. The last week of the course is the most valuable—practical teaching week: where you take over the responsibilities of one of their English Teachers. This practical teaching experience is what sets Maximo Nivel apart from other TEFL certification courses. Maximo Nivel provides lots of support to their TEFLers and usually has potential employment opportunities upon completion.

If you are at all interested in teaching English abroad Maximo Nivel and their TEFL course will both prepare for such work and equip you with the tools to find work anywhere in the world.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?

Julien: This trip is meaningful to me on a few levels. First, this trip functioned as an unconventional honeymoon for my wife and I. Taking a course is not what you might expect to do on a honeymoon but for us it made perfect sense since that is how we met—Study Abroad in Ireland.

Secondly, I always wanted to travel to Central America. As someone who has traveled Europe, going to Central America was the obvious next step. I love soccer and Latin food which helped me find my niche in Guatemala.

Third, it is my personal goal to see as much of this beautiful planet and experience as many cultures as possible. My wife and I both have a touch of the wanderlust while wanting an outlet to serve. We coupled both of these desires with our intent to join the Peace Corps. While in Guatemala we interviewed and were accepted into the Peace Corps! Without a doubt, our determination to prepare ourselves for a potential Peace Corps placement was a major factor in our acceptance.