Hey there! Mo here. As you may have noticed, the blog has a new look. I’ve made seldom changes in the past 5 years, but with so many big crazy things happening it was time for a reboot. Thus, Travels of Mo has become Strangers in Paradise.
I mentioned in my last post that Zac and I have a new international destination for living and teaching English: Turkey. What I did not mention was how rapidly everything is coming together.
We leave in 7 weeks.
It sounds so far yet too soon at the same time. It feels very unreal. I’m sure it will not feel completely real until we step onto the airplane that will take us away to the next chapter in our lives.
Here’s the plan: in 7 weeks we fly from Oakland to Stockholm via budget flights on Norwegian Air. We get a 24-hour layover in Stockholm and then fly from there to Izmir, Turkey, with a layover in Istanbul (I’m very proud of these flight arrangements. It took some serious travel-hacking skills to arrange and the tickets are CHEAP). Once in Izmir, we ring in the New Year at a hostel or with a Couchsurfing host, and spend the next 10 days finding housing in Izmir. In January, we begin a month-long course to obtain CELTA certificates, and then find jobs as English teachers.
I spend the last two posts documenting our process to get 100 hour TESOL certificates, so you may be wondering what the CELTA is and why we need it at all. While it is certainly possible to get English teaching jobs with a TESOL, the CELTA program is certified by the prestigious Cambridge University in England. With such accredation, an English teacher can get much better jobs, recieve a higher salary, and is able to teach anywhere in the world. Let me repeat that. A job ANYWHERE in the world! While the TESOL is the plastic bottle of Popov vodka on the bottom shelf of the liquor aisle; the CELTA is the elegant Grey Goose vodka on the top!
The best part about doing the CELTA in Turkey is it is almost half of the cost of doing it in the US. If it had been an option for us to do in San Francisco, we would have done it already, but it’s a full-time, month-long committment, and we could not afford to take the time off from our jobs. Plus, I am really looking forward to being a student again for a month and getting more practice at this English-teaching thing! As of writing this we have passed our interviews and are just about to register for our course with International House Izmir.
You may also be wondering about Izmir. While it is the third most populous city in Turkey, it does not have the sparkle or tourist attraction of Istanbul or the international embassies of the capital, Ankara. From our Lonely Planet guidebook:
“The grand port city of Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest, is a proudly liberal, long-time centre of commerce that has emerged as a smart alternative base for travel in the west of the country. Formerly the famed Greek city of Smyrna, Izmir lives by it’s kordon (seafront), which, especially around leafy Alsancak, is as fetching and lovely as any large seaside city in the world.
With it’s Levantine and Jewish heritage, Izmir is proudly distinct from the rest of Turkey; indeed, it’s fellow countrymen sometimes still regard Izmiris with a degree of suspicion. That’s certainly not to say there aren’t Turkish flags aplenty between the palms, but Izmir does have a liberal, laid-back feel.
Izmir is also developing a reputation for it’s cultural and civic foresight. The International Arts Festival in June is adventurous and vast, while a number of decrepit industrial buildings have found new life as communal and creative spaces.”
Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? I am certainly looking forward to a life on the Meditteranean. Other plus points to Izmir is it’s location as a home base for travel around Turkey and proximity to Europe. Not to mention it’s influx of Syrian refugees, whom Zac and I would like the opportunity to volunteer with.
There’s a lot to do in the next 7 weeks! On our wall is a list with everything from arrange visas to sell/store/donate belongings to quitting our jobs. Slowly but surely everything will be checked off, until there’s nothing but an empty apartment and a full suitcase.
I cannot tell you how amazing this feels to be so close. This dream has been years in the making. I am always happiest when I’m traveling and experiencing other cultures, and have felt so stagnant and trapped as of late. I cannot wait to be doing what I love again, and to have it be my life and not just something that I do.
For those of you that have been reading Travels of Mo for the past five years, thank you so much! Please stay with me, it’s only getting better from here. For those of you that may be new, welcome! Enjoy the ride; I know I will!
Ps- Please let me know what you think of the new blog! I would love the feedback. The blog has always been a side focus of mine competing with my many other interests, but as I move forward to living abroad my travel writing will become a much bigger focus. Thanks!