Australia Changed My Life Forever!
Jackie is a teacher originally from Canada, who has been teaching in Australia! Jackie explains the process of moving, the biggest differences between Canada and Australia, her best travel advice and more…
Why did you decide to teach in the UK/ Australia?
Although I could go on for hours about why I chose to teach in Australia… I will limit myself to the top three! Besides hearing from fellow travelers, friends, colleagues and family about how gorgeous the country is, a main reason why I chose Australia was because of the education system. Several people I spoke to upon making my decision shared with me how similar the Canadian and Australian systems were. They mentioned that this would be a wonderful opportunity to put all that I had learned over the years in university into practice. Secondly, I chose Australia because of how different it was from Canada. Although we have beautiful sights from one end of the country to another, I was most excited to see Australia’s famous beaches (and trust me… they are even more breathtaking in person). Along with living the beach life, I had heard so many wonderful things about the city, Melbourne. Melbourne was described as an electric city which is all about fun, fashion and personality. After living there for nine months, I can confidently say those are exactly the words to describe it. The city is alive whether it is to watch an AFL game, to meet up with some friends at the beach & bars, shop ‘til you drop, or to attend one of the many horse races, such as the Melbourne Cup, there is always something to see or do. One more reason why I chose Australia is because of how far from home it was for me. A few years before I decided to teach in Australia, someone mentioned to me that if I wanted to visit the country, I needed to stay for a least a month or two since it would take me that long just to shake off the jet lag. This got me thinking… rather than only planning to travel to Australia… why not live there so I could properly immerse myself in the culture, as well as travel around the incredible country during my off seasons from work.
London Bridge, Victoria; My purse ALMOST got swallowed up by this wave… and it would have been well worth this picture!
What made you choose anzuk as your preferred agency?
I had been referred to ANZUK by a friend from teachers college. This individual expressed how well-organized, communicative and efficient the company is. Since my family’s biggest concerns surrounding my journey abroad was safety… working for a company as put together as ANZUK gave them plenty of relief that I was in good hands. · How did you find the transition and registration process with anzuk? The transition and registration process with ANZUK was organised, quick and painless! I always worried that travelling abroad would be far too hectic to arrange. However, after reaching out to ANZUK, within three days I had a meeting with a representative and the next day I had paid my fees to begin the process. On that note, unlike many other agency’s ANZUK is extremely affordable. As well, I never felt alone in the transition process because the ANZUK was always an email away if I had any questions. Additionally, the company sent me a variety of pre-designed packages (ex. checklists) which informed me of all the documentation I needed to collect, the approximate timeline it would take for me to prepare everything for ANZUK and the Victorian Institute of Teaching needed and even a packing list so that I could start thinking ahead!
How did you find the support from anzuk?
The support from ANZUK was incredible! As previously mentioned, within three days of first contacting the company with interest, I met with a local representative who told me all about the company and their own experiences abroad. Throughout the registration process I always felt comfortable sending inquiries to the ANZUK staff. After arriving in Australia, within a week I met with my local, Melbourne representative who interviewed me to find out what schools I would be best suited for while teaching in the city. The representatives personally called each morning to tell me where my daily assignment would be. Additionally, what I appreciated the most was that any concerns I had were immediately taken care of. For example, if I had a negative experience at a school, or if I found the transportation was difficult to navigate (which was rare because Melbourne’s public transportation is phenomenal!), I contacted ANZUK that day and they made arrangements to avoid these troubles in the future.
What are the biggest differences you have found between teaching in Australia/ the UK and Canada?
1) FIRST NAMES!!! I couldn’t believe that the students in Melbourne would call me by my first name, rather than my last. If I’m being honest… I didn’t think that I would like this part, however I ended up loving it! By having the students call me by my first name, I was able to develop stronger connections with them. I felt as if I was able to include a bit more of my own personality into my day-to-day teachings.
2) There are no snow days 😉 However, there are extreme heat days sometimes! More often than not, the UV rays are a great concern so I had to make sure that I never forget to bring a full, brimmed hat to work with me!
Watching the sunset at Cottesloe Beach, Perth, Western Australia with Jess Fleury, Alex Favaro, and Olivia Pilot
What did you enjoy most about teaching and living overseas?
This question is so hard!!!! I LOVED EVERYTHING. I’ll try to narrow it down…
1) Teaching: Australia is VERY inquiry based! This was one of my favourite parts of the Australian education system. There were days I would show up to a school as their casual relief teacher and the students would be learning about life in Canada; how we dress, what we eat, the climate, etc. Not to say that we do not have inquiry as part of our curriculum here in Canada, but the constant push to include it throughout all subject areas was incredible. Growing up in Canada, I don’t remember learning much geography outside of Canada, or parts of the United States. Seeing how invested the Australian students were when learning about different parts of the world made me really find the value in inquiry based learning.
2) Living: The people… everyone I met at work, the bars, travelling, the beaches, etc., were so down to earth and kind! I never felt unsafe anywhere in Melbourne because there was always someone around to ask for directions, assistance or recommendations.
3) Travel: Having the luxury to travel whenever I wanted! Every 10 weeks or so, the schools go on a break. During this time, it was the perfect opportunity to pack my bags and travel somewhere new. Although my travels were always within Australia, New Zealand and Thailand were two other countries that were close by and affordable. Unlike Canada, travelling within Australia is extremely affordable and therefore, if you want to fly to Sydney for the weekend but you’re on a strict budget… no problem. Find a cheap $60 flight, stay in one of their many hostels for $30 a night… and spend your entire day on one of their incredible beaches.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of making the move overseas from Canada?
1) REMEMBER THE SEASONS ARE FLIPPED!!!! This will impact the time of year you want to begin your journey
2) Get a part-time job (at least for the first couple of months you’re there). I got a retail job at DFO South Wharf where I met a ton of locals who showed me around to some of the best restaurants and made a ton of friends. Although you will meet plenty of people teaching, working in retail/the service industry is a really great way to meet locals and friends who share different interests outside of teaching.
Skydiving in Melbourne; This experience was my farewell to Australia and as tough as it was… it was absolutely INCREDIBLE to see my favourite city in the world from every angle!
How did you find teaching in the Special Education Schools in Melbourne?
What did you take away from that experience and how will it help you back home? I was really fortunate to spend plenty of time working in the Special Education Schools in Melbourne. The schools are designed to meet the needs of the students within it. For example, most of these schools included outdoor learning facilities which were set up very similar to a real-world street so that the students could safely learn the rules of the road. I also found the staff in these schools extremely well trained and supportive. Each class had several educational assistants to provide one-on-one support throughout the day. Additionally, the class sizes were smaller to ensure that all students were able to be cared for and properly attended to throughout the day. I learned so many new techniques to ensure that my future classrooms are inclusive to all. Working in these schools challenged me as a teacher to think in new ways to provide an equitable education for all. I could always tell how much the students at these schools loved being there because they all could feel the love and respect from their teachers and support staff right back.
If you’re interested in teaching in Australia you can learn more here: https://anzuk.education/ca/home