If you’ve been reading my blog for a whole five minutes, you have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to be a stay-at-home-mom in Winter Springs, FL. And I’m bored of talking about me. Let’s talk about you.
I have a few fun Q&A’s coming up (starting today!) where I’ve asked some friends to guest post!
Today, I get to introduce you to one of my first and most loyal friends. I remember playing with Elise Radcliff at her house, my house and in between. Unfortunately, she had to move when we were still pretty young, but this is the friend who always remembers my birthday, has the sweetest spirit and one of the kindest hearts. Guys, she sent me birthday cards in the mail as an eight-year-old. Who does that? Elise does. (I still have them by the way, such a treasure trove!)
This past year, she took a job teaching in Tunisia. Where is that? I’ll let her tell you.
Where are you working?
I teach at the American Cooperative School of Tunis or ACST for short because that sure is a mouthful! We are a private school and stand on our own but the US Embassy is in constant communication with us and helps us with safety. They do not support us and we are not a military school/Department of Defense School. But we are connected to them for some things.
Do you teach with other Americans?
Since I work at an American school most of the teachers are Americans. While there are teachers from other countries (New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Tunisia), most of us are Americans.
What prompted you to teach overseas?
I love traveling and have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to different countries. However, I had never really considered living overseas. I taught in the states for 7 years and became tired of the politics so I decided to apply to teaching jobs overseas. I wanted to combine my two passions: teaching and traveling.
How big is your class? What age do you teach?
I currently have 15 kids in my class. I teach Pre-kindergarten which consists of three, four and five year olds.
What is your favorite thing about teaching overseas? What is the hardest?
My favorite thing about teaching overseas is how we are able to teach what is best for the children and not follow a scripted curriculum. I am able to do what is best for my students to help them learn and they thrive.
The hardest things about teaching overseas is I cannot run out to Target or Michael’s or the nearest teacher store to buy the supplies I want for my lessons and activities. 🙂
What is your favorite thing about living overseas? What is the hardest?
My favorite thing about living overseas is the traveling opportunities I am given. I also love seeing how people live in different parts of the world- what they eat, where they shop, holidays they celebrate, family traditions, clothing they wear and the list goes on.
The hardest part by far is being away from my family. I am very close to my family and I hate seeing them only a couple of times a year. But I am very grateful for technology and them coming to visit me when they can.
Where have you traveled in addition to Tunisia?
While living in Tunisia, I have had to opportunity to travel to Hungary, Italy, England, Ireland, Spain, Malta, Germany, Portugal, Denmark, and France. Before moving to Tunisia, I have traveled to Peru, Japan, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, Croatia and Slovenia as well as some of the European countries mentioned above.
What is your typical day like?
My workday is pretty similar to everyone else’s: wake up, get ready, let the dog out, drive to school, teach my students and take care of a multitude of things that come up throughout the day, drive home, let the dog out, make dinner (or go to a friend’s house for dinner), work some more, and crash in bed.
My weekend’s are a little less mundane- on Saturday mornings, I drive to a hospital downtown and care for the abandoned babies with a group of women- we bathe them, change them and feed them. Then I will come home and meal plan (it is harder to find common food items we are used to in the US so I have to get creative and plan it out) and do laundry from the week (more drawn out because my washer is small and I do not have a dryer). I go to the market to pick up fresh produce if I have time. I also spend time with friends. The Americans at school are quite a community because we are living away from our family so we do a lot together- grocery shopping, dinners, TV show watching, visits to the mechanic, etc. On Sundays, I go swimming at the US Embassy pool and prepare for the week ahead. I also love taking my dog on walks because I love seeing wonderful things and views from around our neighborhood.
What is the most surprising thing about Tunisia?
While Tunisia is located in Africa, it is in North Africa where Arabs live so people have lighter skin and it is more like a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Country than a “stereotypical” African country.
I started my blog the week I accepted my teaching job at ACST. Since I am not on Facebook, I wanted a way for my family to know what I was doing and seeing while we are apart. Blue doors are all around Tunisia and they represent faith and hope. I also took a huge leap of faith to live and teach in a country totally foreign to me. Which is where the name of my blog came from. My blog documents my daily life in Tunisia as well as my travels around Tunisia and to nearby countries. I post many pictures of my everyday life.
If you could talk to yourself five years ago, what would you say?
Think outside the box. Take a risk. Try something new. You won’t fail. You just might succeed!
Thank you Elise! I am so grateful to you for sharing just a glimpse of your journey and am looking forward to hearing more stories on your blog.