2 – Years spent teaching in the UK
21 – Schools I worked in while doing supply teaching
71 – Street number of my Battersea flat, South London
14 – Countries visited during school holidays
1.5 – Years I spent in my long term role at a primary school in North London
135 – New Facebook friends acquired
16 – Day in April, 2012 that I departed the Motherland

It’s been almost three years ago now since I began preparing for my big move to the UK… I can hardly believe it; the time has flown by so fast! In that time I’ve been and gone. I used my two year visa right up to the very last day possible and have been back in Australia for almost ten months already. How time flies when you’re having fun…

Back to the beginning…

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After graduating from a four year university degree, the only thing on my mind was my desperate desire to TRAVEL; To get out in the world and really start living in it. I had a new motto – go places, do things, meet people. And I was determined to stick to it! I arrived in London in April, just in time to begin supply teaching in Term 3. I remember it being a lot warmer than I had expected it to be. Spring had sprung, and I spent my first week picnicking in London Fields and shopping in Oxford Circus. Work began a week later. I covered a Year 2 class in a two-form entry school right by Waterloo station. Waterloo station was a sight in itself (with about a million possible exit points might I add). Luckily my consultant had sent me step by step instructions on how to get to the school from the station – including which exit to take. Things were run a little differently at this school to any school I had worked at previously in Australia, but it didn’t take much time to adjust to the new routines. I particularly loved meeting a whole new set of children each day and experiencing all that the different schools had to offer on any particular day – end of year play rehearsals, choir performances, cultural days, science workshops. Every day was totally different and I thrived on going to work each day.

Over the next few months, I would teach at numerous schools across London. The beauty of supply teaching meant that time after time I would pop up out of the Tube in a completely new area of London that I had never been before. After school on these days instead of heading straight home I would wander the local high street and explore new bakeries and boutiques and occasionally stumble across a famous landmark (Wembley Stadium tour anyone?). I soon became an expert on the London Underground, knew my local National Rail schedule by heart and could navigate Waterloo station like a local.

By January the following year, I settled into a long term role in a primary school in North London. While I really loved supply teaching and all the perks that go along with it, I was ready to take on something long term. I was able build strong relationships with both my colleagues and my students and I felt like I finally belonged to a school community. It was so strange (being an Australian and all) to watch the seasons change from my second story classroom. During my first term at the school, my students would burst into class in a flurry of excitement dressed from head to toe in wellies, jackets, gloves and hats, completely bundled up against the snowy weather outside. It would be dark before the end of our after school activities! Slowly but surely, the gloves and hats stayed at home and the spring blossoms began to appear on the trees that towered up near our class windows. Within weeks the days were longer than the nights and I made the most of the extended hours of sunlight by going for a late evening runs in the common or catching up with friends in one of the many restaurants or bars London has to offer. Summer holidays were spent in Portugal and the Greek Islands and then before I knew it I was back in class watching the autumn leaves falling to the ground.

All too soon my two year Youth Mobility Visa came to an end and it was time for me to return to Australia. As excited as I was to see my family and friends back home, I couldn’t help but think about all the little things I would miss about living in London. I would really miss my job, my English housemates, catching the bus over Battersea Bridge each morning on my way to work, shopping on Kings Road and as you may have guessed, watching the seasons change.

I shouldn’t have worried, as I managed to find a way to keep my teaching experience in London very close to my heart – by becoming a Smart consultant working in the Sydney office of Smart Teachers! Nowadays I work very closely with teachers who are about to start their own journey to the UK… and I am loving every minute!

Claire Garner
Consultant
Smart Teachers Sydney

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