Home / Teaching in Italy: Interview with Kate Smullen Teaching in Trieste
Teach English in Naples

Tell us about yourself – what did you do before teaching in Italy? Why did you decide on a TEFL internship?

Before I started working in Trieste, Italy, I was working in retail with an amazing team. But I was working and couldn’t afford to move out of the family home, which I thought was ridiculous. At the time, I was also travelling back and forth to Italy for over two years until I decided I’d like to live here. TEFL came along at the right time and gave this fantastic opportunity to live and teach in Italy. 

Was it hard to adjust to the Italian lifestyle? Do you think the TEFL course and orientation prepared you to teach in the classroom?

The Italian lifestyle is relaxed, and it’s really easy to get the hang of it! Socialising is easy here because it’s the lifestyle. The TEFL orientation helped me feel connected with other teachers and the school. The course helped expand my general knowledge of classroom management and the way people learn languages.

Was it hard to find accommodation in Trieste? And is the rent expensive?

I’d recommend giving yourself some time to find somewhere to live before you start working. September can be a busy time for students. I found a place within a day, and it’s a nice apartment. Rent depends on what you’re looking for, but it’s relatively affordable if you’re sharing. 

Italy was badly hit by the coronavirus, particularly in the beginning. What was it like living there during this time, and how did it affect your teaching?

It was pretty intense in the beginning. I didn’t have the necessary equipment to work from home at the time, so I wasn’t working for a good two or three months. However, I spent most of my days in the sun spending time drawing, doing yoga, exercising and experimenting with food. I’d recommend an apartment with a common area and/or a balcony. 

What surprised you the most about teaching in Italy? Was there anything you found particularly challenging or easier than you expected?

What surprised me the most was how supportive the school was with training and helping me to prepare. The English language itself always surprised me too. It comes so naturally to us, but there are so many rules. One thing I’ve learnt about myself is that I feel at home in Italy.

TEFL teacher Kate with friends on beach in Italy

Can you tell us three reasons why you would recommend travelling to and teaching in Italy?

Every city you visit is different with its own typical food and views and sometimes even its own language! When you order a drink, you usually get some free food too. This can be crisps or sometimes pizza, depending on the bar. It’s called an aperitivo. Travelling throughout Italy is so affordable and much easier to get to Europe by train or bus, especially Trieste. It’s right on the border with Slovenia, and Croatia is only 40 minutes away.

What advice do you have for someone considering teaching abroad during the pandemic?

When you get there, find a safe place or an activity that makes you feel comfortable. Some days you can wake up and want to stay in bed. If you do that, you’re going to feel worse. I have a rooftop, so when I don’t feel like going out or seeing people, I go there. There’s also a park that I like to go to for the flowers.

Another thing I recommend is to get an apartment you want to be in and check if there’s an oven! Some apartments in Trieste don’t have one. Also, learn some of the basics of the native language. Even just “hello” and after that, you can pick it up on the way.

Would you recommend this internship to others?

I 100% recommend this internship. Everyone has been so supportive, and you become a real team and make friends along the way. The way to teach is excellent, and it’s really student-focused.

Will you stay longer in Trieste, or are you planning to travel elsewhere and relocate?

I am relocating in June. I’ll be just outside Milan and teaching with the same company. I love Trieste as it has the sea, hills and city life but I’m going to Milan because I’ve found my home.

Could Italy be your new home? Find out more about our paid Italy Internship Programme today.

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