What is your favorite travel memory?
It's hard to get better than climbing Mt Kilimanjaro with an amazing group of international travelers in 2014. When you spend six days sharing everything from food to tents and stories, and all the while you're working (and walking!) toward a goal you can literally see, it makes it so rewarding when you finally get there. I'm very lucky to have a packed shortlist, and I would say working on a vineyard in Bordeaux and being in Berlin when Germany won the 2014 World Cup would also be right up there!
Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
I am baffled that Budapest, as a whole, is not a bigger tourist destination. I've had the good fortune to visit during summer and winter, and there is always something to do - whether you're there for the famous thermal springs, the nightlife and ruin bars, for a glimpse into the communist past, to go crawling through caves underneath the city, or for the incredible Sziget festival. It is just an amazing place with so much going on, and it's also supremely affordable for most budget travelers. At the other end of the spectrum it's easy for me to pick on a familiar nemesis for Aussies abroad - London. It's a fascinating city but I found it difficult to really get under its skin - it felt like a great place to live, but it was hard to get into as a traveler.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I had never done any teaching work before coming to Angloville, but now I think I've found that it really suits me and there's something really refreshing about finding ways to convey new information to people. Now I find myself constantly thinking about different ways to try and make learning interesting - whether it's using multimedia materials, physical activities, research tasks and everything in between. I've also come to appreciate that most people learn best in teams or in the company of others. I guess I had too many memories of shutting myself in a room in the days leading up to exams and trying to remember everything instead of trying to understand it. I think it's a really useful lesson to have learned, and I'm trying to use it to help improve my teaching.
What unique qualities does your company possess?
I think Angloville attracts such a diverse range of people that it is really in its own league when we talk about cultural exchange. On one hand, we help people across Central and Eastern Europe improve their English skills and confidence, and that's obviously a very worthwhile goal and we're really happy to be able to help. On the other hand, we have native speakers of English who come to us looking for ways to try and understand a country or culture in a way that is more meaningful than walking tours and major landmarks. Angloville is in a really unique position to help those travellers understand a country by meeting the people who live there, and there is a really great opportunity for people to get some really special insights into the culture and make some great friends - not just here in Europe, but from across the rest of the globe as well. It's just such a melting pot that interesting things HAVE to happen - we had one program where we had multiple students who had lived under communist rule, a South African who had been oppressed by Apartheid, someone who had lived in Croatia through the Balkan War and a bunch of wide-eyed Australians and New Zealanders. I think you'd only find that mix of experiences and personalities in one place, and Angloville is it!
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Once we had a Polish student come to one of our English programs, mostly because of his hobby - he loved flying and was training as a pilot. Seeing as English is the de facto language of international aviators, he really wanted to try and improve his language skills so he could go further abroad and continue his love affair with defying gravity. At our program we teamed him up with a Canadian guy who had worked outdoors all his life and had a bit of aviation knowledge, and they hit it off straight away. A couple of weeks later we got a photo of them on a flight together above the Polish city of Słupsk, and it was great to see! It's nice to know we help people build friendships as well as confidence and language skills.