Teacher Profile: Matt - Part 2: Travelleing Europe
Now im not a big city person, im not a huge fan of the endless concrete jungle, the stoney faces I see everyday on the public transport and the cooler temperatures that London offers, having said that London is a bustling city full of excitement, there’s never a dull moment or an empty diary, because of this it would be very easy to lose focus and spend all my pounds in London socialising and living the high life. My motivation for being here though is fairly simple. I need to earn the pound so I can travel to all the exotic places within and near to Europe. From Australia this was out of the question. The Aussie dollar doesn’t stretch too far when travelling abroad to European countries, the only way I could afford to do it on a teachers wage was to set myself up in the UK for one or two years, then travel at every opportunity I can get.
So far these travels have already taken me through 17 countries since leaving Australia. The experiences ive had are as varied as the people ive met along the way. From hiking through the Scottish highlands and drinking pints of Guinness with the locals at the Temple bar in Dublin to the Looseness that is Amsterdam and the history and culture of Italy.
My most epic trip so far would most definitely be last summer. After parting ways with my girlfriend a great mate of mine Aaron Cook from Devonport, Tasmania checked into London. Within a month we were off with our backpacks through Austria, Italy, South of France and Spain. Several highlights and lowlights come to mind- Our first stop in Italy was Venice, a beautiful city, we got lost time and time again in the endless narrow streets. In Rome we had some big nights at a camp sight, we stayed at outside the city. We then toughed it out in the hot summer sun during the day to take in the Collosseum, The Vatican and other inspiring historical Roman sites.
Every afternoon we would make our way back from the tourist route on the local bus to our campsite. We had been warned to watch out for pickpockets on the local busses and so on one occasion when sitting at the rear of the bus I spotted some snake in the grass slip his hand into an unsusspecting tourists pocket and take out his wallet. Without much thought I announced to everyone on the bus that he was a pickpocketer I then reached out and grabbed his arm making him give the wallet back. Aaron and I then took the whole thing a step farther and ordered the pickpocket off the bus. Now this pickpocket was never going to be a pushover he was built like a rugby league player and had a pretty rough looking head. When he refused to exit the bus the standoff was never going to last long. Then the tables were turned altogether when we were circled by 3 other similarly sized men he was obviously working alongside. The thought of getting beaten or worse stabbed over someone else’s wallet didn’t leave us feeling very comfortable so at the next stop we pushed through the men out onto the street and made our way off. Thinking the whole issue was done and dusted we were fairly uneasy when we noticed these guys following us. We ended up doing a runner into a train station and jumped on the next train out of there.
Sorrento, Isle of Capri, Cinque Terre all came with there fair share of good times. We slept on the beach with a bunch of locals in St Tropez and caught what we called the heat train to Barcelona. Without air con the sleeper train was more like sitting in a sauna for 8 hours. The 6 other Tourists from Korea didn’t seem to mind, everytime I closed the window they kept opening it turning the heat trains cabin into a microwave oven.
After a stop over on the party islands Ibiza and Mallorca we finished our trip at a festival called La Tomatina in a little town near Valencia called Bunol. Trucks full of tomatoes drive through the main streets of the town dropping off their load to the thousands of waiting locals and tourists who all then take part in the worlds biggest food fight. The little town of Bunol then gets turned into a sea of red until fire trucks drive through the street after the fight to hose down the pathways, people and tarpaulin covered houses.
The major festivals are a must if you’re spending a few years in London. La Tomatina, Running of the Bulls, Gallipoli for ANZAC day, Hogmanay street party for new years and Oktoberfest in Munich all come with there fair share of unforgettable experiences.
Oktoberfest in Munich consists of three days of celebrating German culture and beer. The Germans certainly know how to drink and if anyone has seen a Stein before (German drinking vessel) then you will understand that it doesn’t take too many to be well on your way. I camped near to the festival with Topdeck tours along with a bunch of mates, and it was with one of these mates that I got into a spot of bother with toward the end of a long day in one of the many beer tents. We had been dancing on the tables along to the traditional German music along with hundreds of other punters. The security had for some reason asked us to get down. We complied for several minutes but then made the mistake of getting back up to continue cutting some shapes. What then ensued seems a bit of a haze but it involved Tim King (Georgetown, TAS) getting pulled off the table by one of the hardcore security guards. These tables are fairly high up so as Kingy was pulled down he lost his footing and hit the deck fairly solidly. Not taking kindly to being pulled to the ground he got to his feet and scruffed the security guy who was responsible. Within seconds Kingy was being manhandled by no less than a dozen security personal and as I went over to offer some sort of help we were both soon under a barrage of kicks and punches and then handcuffed and left on the floor of the tent in full view of the crowd. Not that I could see much of anything as my Carlton football jumper I had been wearing all day had been pulled over my head. So after settling down we could see the funny side of being in handcuffs, by the time the van arrived to take us to who knows were, Aaron had run up the road and had argued our plight to the German police who then ordered the security to uncuff us and let us go.
Along with these few stories I have to tell there are countless epic memories that ill never forget, the sun going down over Florence, the huge expanse of the cliffs of Moher in Ireland, climbing the Eiffel tower in Paris. These are all priceless memories and stories that I will be able to carry with me for life and they’ve only been made possible because of the opportunity I have taken to teach and live in London.
With future trips planned this year such as Egypt, Jordan and Israel at Easter, The Running of the Bulls in Spain and then a sailing trip through the Croatian Islands before a two month stint through Greece and Turkey on my way up through Eastern Europe to Latvia. The two years in London seem to fly by and even with all the travelling I have been doing lately I am still struggling to hardly put a dent into opportunities that are on offer from this end of the globe. Whatever happens, positive or negative, I am sure my horizons will continue to be broadened and there will be plenty more entertaining stories and memories to add to my list in the future.
As far as teaching in London goes it’s not really too dissimilar from Australia. There are a wide variety of schools in desperate need of teachers and plenty of jobs to choose from. There’s plenty of opportunities to farther careers but still plenty of high paying supply work which comes without the responsibilities. There are positives and negatives that come with teaching at a school on a permanent basis as opposed to teaching supply, it’s convenient to work at the same school everyday, build relationships with staff and students and get paid during holidays. However, now that I am in a permanent position that’s fairly demanding I often think a better option would have been continued supply teaching work with Teachweb. Its responsibility free, I can take time off to travel whenever I like and there is no pressure for me to put in lots of after school hours. Travel would then still be kept as the top priority while I am here and I would be free to come and go from London as I please. I guess it’s great that with London being such a diverse city with so many teaching opportunities people can simply pick and choose where and when they want to work and the type of environment their willing to work in when they get here.