I graduated from college and, after dabbling in pastry chef, advertising copywriter, and actress, I still had no idea what I wanted to do “when I grew up.” But something out there in the universe pulled me toward Europe; something told me that, while I hadn’t yet figured out what direction my life path would go, it’s route definitely drew through Europe.
I packed what I could fit into two duffle bags — sold what wouldn’t at a yard sale — and bought a one-way ticket to Prague in the Czech Republic. Once there I took part in a four-week TEFL certification program, with the thinking that having such a qualification and skill-set just might come in handy to teach ESL in Europe, or wherever my life took me.
I didn’t end up teaching English while living in Prague, but a year into my life in Europe I packed up again and followed my heart to Munich, Germany, where the best option for me to obtain a long-stay visa was to teach English. I have no way of knowing what and how many jobs I might have landed without that TEFL certification, but I was certainly happy to have it on my resume and as a point to mention in interviews.
In the days leading up to my first class, I brushed up on the points I’d learned in my TEFL course, but as I began teaching the first few lessons, I quickly realized that while the TEFL certification had given me a strong technical foundation for teaching, I now had the opportunity to bring my own strengths and interests into the process. I’d always had a flair for the dramatic, so for me this meant turning my lessons into mini-performances, but everyone is certainly different, and finding your own rhythm as a teacher is important as well as finding a rhythm with your particular class and students.
For three years I “performed” a range of these shows in many different office conference rooms around Munich, adapting and tweaking my production for each unique crowd. But in Munich especially, I found there was an abundance of English teachers, which made it difficult for me to get enough classes to work full-time, so eventually I gave up teaching and steered my work-life path in a different direction. But I missed it! I’d moved to Europe with no plan to teach ESL and only signed up for the TEFL course “just in case,” but in the end those mini-performances had become not just something I did, but a part of who I was.
By the summer of 2014 I’d built up such an abundance of restless energy that I finally decided to reboot the YouTube channel I’d started several years earlier for publishing a few sporadic travel videos from my trips around Europe. This time around, in addition to the short travel vlogs, I also started creating vibrant, upbeat videos about the quirky parts of living abroad in general and the specific things I find different or interesting about life over here in Germany. And so the Wanted an Adventure channel of today was born!
In August my path crossed that of the Easy Languages YouTube channel, a channel that creates resources for learning many different languages, including English. Their main concept is interviewing people on the streets, and thus exposing learners to real, everyday use of the language, but at the beginning of November I was thrilled to be invited to host an English-language idioms series on their channel. I pull out all the stops in these videos (a little idiom humor there) to produce entertaining resources for ESL learners and teachers around the world. I wouldn’t say my life has come full-circle, because I’ve certainly not returned to the same point I’ve ever been at before, but more like another loop has been added to the spiral of my life.
About the Author:
Dana Newman is an expat YouTube vlogger and writer whose debut novel, “Found in Prague,” is based loosely on her experiences living in the Czech Republic when she first moved to Europe in search of her roots. For the inside scoop on expat life (such as Oktoberfest tips and tricks and the secret of the “magical” European Diet) as well as travel videos from around the world, check out and subscribe to her Wanted an Adventure YouTube channel. For updates and photos, check out her Wanted an Adventure Facebook page.