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Teaching English in Queenstown

After leaving Yorkshire and moving 11,523 miles away to live in New Zealand, my good friend Becca fills us in on what life is like living in Queenstown teaching English in a night school. 

So this is your second trip to NZ… what inspired you to go there in the first place?

Initially, I came here to visit my friend for a holiday… she was coming back for a second season and I fell in love with the atmosphere of Queenstown life, and decided to throw caution to the wind and get a working holiday visa to come here. I’d never lived away from the UK and I think, for me, it was a push outside of my comfort zone and an opportunity to develop myself and redevelop my life. I left to come home in December 2016 and literally one week went by and I knew I needed to get my second working holiday visa and come back. The thought of missing out on living in Queenstown for one more year broke my heart, so here I am again!

What course did you have to do to teach English in New Zealand? 

To teach English as a foreign language in any commonwealth country (NZ, Australia, Canada and UK) you need a full CELTA qualification.

What is the CELTA course like? 

I did the 15 week online part-time CELTA course. It’s very intense and requires a lot of motivation and hard work!

Are there many other English people teaching with you in Queenstown? 

In my college there are 4 other native English teachers. The rest are Kiwi, Czech, and Brasilian.

What are the students like? 

The students are mainly Latin-American and they are the reason I teach. Their personalities are amazing, their drive to learn natural English is admirable, and watching them develop and use the language properly after they have tried hard to learn it is my drug: teaching is so rewarding when you do it right.

So glad you are loving your job! How did you go about getting it? 

I already had a job at my previous place of work in retail, which I arranged prior to coming out here again. Once I was settled I went to the college and enquired about teaching and got my job pretty much immediately.

If someone was thinking of going to teach English in NZ what advice would you have for them? 

Definitely get a full CELTA qualification and make sure that teaching is what you want to do. I spend 5 hours a day getting paid to teach… but I spend at least 2 unpaid hours researching grammar, planning writing comprehension, grading language, and compiling grammatical structures for my students to use.

How easy was the visa process? 

For UK residents, getting a working holiday visa is easy, you just apply online.

queenstown scenic

How do you get around Queenstown? What’s the public transport like?

I have a car here, which is really useful. Otherwise, I walk…. But that’s a huge effort considering everything’s up a hill! There are no trains in the south island of NZ so there are buses here around town but they are infrequent and rather expensive. If I need to go more than 5k away, I hitchhike, which is very common in Queenstown.

How did you go about finding accommodation in Queenstown?

Our accommodation is through an estate agent. It is the same price as living/renting in a city in the UK. Travellers looking to live in QT should arrive ahead of the seasons, though, because QT is a tourist focussed and therefore seasonal town and so accommodation fills up fast in the winter and summer months.

What’s the cost of living like in Queenstown? 

It is expensive because it a tourist town. We do have locals discounts pretty much everywhere though, and you just have to know where to go at what time to get the deals! Our equivalent of ALDI is Pac n’ Save which is awesome.

yoga queenstown

What is an average day like in your life?

I go to the gym, get coffee (NZ do Flat Whites like they should be done, not like the excuse for a flat white we get in the UK!) and spend a couple hours planning lessons. I’ll maybe meet a friend for food in town or walk up a hill.  I teach every weekday evening.

What do they have in NZ that they don’t have in the UK, and vice versa?

Here, everyone is active. It’s normal to go out in your activewear, usually because you’ve either just been to the gym, or probably you’ll end up unintentionally hiking up some mountains or walking by the lakefront. There are a lot of raw food, organic cafés because energy-filled fresh food is what’s preferred here. Anything goes- there’s no need or pressure to impress people or show off your new flashy car… because no one bothers with that here. The ‘flashy cars’ are massive new Hilux’s that will make it up the mountains with no chains. So, in essence, what they have here is more freedom to just be whoever, and do whatever, you like.

What have been the 3 main highlights of living in Queenstown so far?

  • The natural beauty
  • The coffee and the variety of cuisines
  • It’s not overcrowded and full of idiots

Is Queenstown a big enough place to not get bored?

Queenstown is all about the active outdoor life, but it can be pretty expensive. I love hiking, so for me the walks up to the gondola and being able to drive to nearby glaciers is the best thing.

Have you been able to explore other areas of NZ? 

So far I’ve been working every single day… so my aim is to travel more when I get time off!

The south west coast, however, is beautiful. It’s called the fjordlands and is surrounded by mountains. There are no towns, no villages, for miles and miles, and when you do pass a ‘town’ it is almost like a hamlet- blink and you miss it. The trips to Mackenzie, Routeburn, and Milford tracks are said to be incredible and well worth the trek. If you’re doing any serious walking or hiking, make sure you research the best crampons and microspikes before you go so that you’re safe on your adventures!

new zealand

Do you know what you’ll do when you return to the UK?

If and when I return to the UK I will teach at an English school. The good thing about teaching here is that this is the career path I want to invest in, this is what I want to do with my life, and CELTA means that I can do that anywhere in the world.

Whats your favourite shop in Queenstown?

Definitely Bespoke Café, so much fresh yummy great food!

Is Queenstown good for vegetarians? 

It’s excellent for any dietary requirements.

Have you got a New Zealand accent? 

No, but occasionally I use the phrasal verbs and idioms they have here: sweet as to mean good stuff, how you going to mean how are you, and yea nah to mean no I disagree.

Whats the nightlife like in Queenstown?

There are no nightclubs here, the town has loads of bars and pubs though. You can dress up (in QT style that means a decent dress with tights, chunky boots, good makeup and an oversized coat or jacket) and no way would I ever fake tan, get my heels on and wear a tight skirt. It’s just so chilled and friendly, you can’t help but have a good time!

Do you think your time in NZ has changed you as a person? 

I hope that it has made me more aware of, and accepting of, other cultures and other people. It’s certainly given me connections to people and other countries that I’d never ever have made in the UK. I think I’ve become more welcoming in inviting people into my life- I’ve realised that it doesn’t make sense to feel like you have to own everything, when really sharing everything you have is a much better use of your possessions. Sharing your home, your car, your food, means that everyone comes together so much more. I used to care a lot about having material things- and I of course own things that I love and mean a lot to me like my grandmas jewellery- but other things, like your home, I now feel more comfortable sharing. In the UK I would never invite a stranger to crash at my house if they needed a place to stay. Here, I do. I picked up a hitcher from the airport last month and he thought he couldn’t get into a hostel. I have a spare sofa and a duvet. So I said he could stay at our house, and here that’s normal and accepted.

living in queenstown

Thank you so much to my good friend for allowing me to share this with you. If you’ve been to Queenstown or have any questions do feel free to leave a comment below, it would be great to hear from you.

If you’ve enjoyed this then you’ll love finding out what it’s like to work in the circus!

8 Alternative Uses for Airport Security Bags

Most airports have a vast supply of those little plastic bags available before you go through security, and if you happen to accidentally take a couple of extra ones with you, do not throw them out!! Here are some great things that they are extremely useful for!

  1. Food Smuggling

    These bags are also very useful for carrying food around with you. If you’re staying half-board, you can make the most of the breakfast buffet by snaffling some pastries or making up some sandwiches. If you put one of these bags inside your handbag you can swipe as much as possible without your handbag getting filled with crumbs.

    pastries in bag

  2. Toothbrush/Razor Quarantine

    So you’re packing up your suitcase ready to head home. You brush your teeth, then realise that the wet toothbrush is going to have to go in to your sponge bag and get everything else wet (or if you don’t have a sponge bag it is just going to have to roll about in your suitcase). So the airport bag fits in a toothbrush perfectly. The same thing goes for your razor.

  3. Prep for Next Flight

    Make sure you take at least one bag back home with you for the next time you fly. Then you can completely avoid the worry that you’ll have too many liquids to fit in the bag, and you can pack it before you even leave home. Then you can just breeze through security and whip out your pre-packed bag and nothing will have to get thrown away! (Each liquid should be in a container of no more than 100ml, and the bag has to be able to seal). If you’re lucky enough to frequently go on mini-breaks, you could leave a pre-packed plastic airport bag in your holiday bag.

    airport liquids

  4. Kids Toys

    If you are with a child who likes to carry a lot of toys about, or likes to get them from the toy machines, then you stuff loads in your airport bag, and they can carry it themselves using the little handle!

  5.  Carrying Dog Treats

    When you are training your dog, you don’t want her to be distracted by the rustling of treat bags. You can buy expensive silent treat bags, however, I find the airport bags work just as well! They are big enough to hold a good variety of treats, you can see what’s in there, and you can easily carry it with you on your walk. Also – perfect if you don’t want to carry a slobbery tennis ball, you can just shove it in there too!

    dog treats

  6. Leaky Bottles

    If you’re packing something you don’t quite trust, just stick it in the airport bag, then if it leaks there is much less mess to sort out!

  7. Tiny Bits & Bobs

    Hair clips, hair bobbles, earrings, necklaces, rings… put all of your important little bits and bobs in here to keep them safe and stop them getting lost in your suitcase.

  8. Travel Documents

    This is so sensible, and I feel like it is the sort of organised thing a parent would do. When you are packing your hand luggage ready to set off on your travels, put your boarding passes, insurance docs, passports e.t.c into the plastic bag and seal it. This way, even if something leaks in your bag, your important docs will be safe! Not that anything should leak, because anything potentially leaky should already be bagged – see number 6!

    documents

So I suppose you can tell that I really love the little airport bags! Have you got any other uses for them? I’d love to know if there is anyone else out there who loves them as much as me! The main thing I want to share from this is do not throw away your plastic airport bags – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! 

If this has got you feeling inspired to travel, why not check out this interview about what its like living in Queenstown!

Vancouver, Canada

Situated in Canada’s British Columbia, Vancouver is a trendy yet relaxed city with so much to explore. We visited towards the end of January for a 10 day holiday, and used the wonderful public transport to get around.

timbits

We arrived in the evening at about 8.30pm and went straight to sleep, but woke up at 5am starving. Luckily the airbnb host had provided bagels 🙂

We went for breakfast at Tim Hortons and got a very inexpensive box of 20 TimBits, basically tiny doughnuts balls of different flavours, so tasty!

vancouver apartment

This was the view from the apartment, it was incredible to be able to watch the whole city and the sunrises were amazing! (We saw quite a few of them due to the jetlag!)

Exploring Vancouver in January

Our Airbnb apartment was in Chinatown – (the largest Chinatown in Canada!) and we were there for the Chinese New Year Parade, which was the only time it rained for our whole holiday! Similarly to Yorkshire, it seems to always rain on a parade. The weather every other day was lovely, fresh and bright.

The main thing we noticed about staying in this area was the number of homeless people; there were so many! And a lot of them quite clearly on drugs. The taxi driver did tell us that this would be the case, he also said that they were harmless enough which was true. In fact, we actually got used to it after a couple of days. On Sunday evening we popped into the local 7-Eleven (like a Londis or SPAR but selling slushies and hot pizza) and in the queue in front of us was a one-eyed homeless man in a wheelchair with a massive rabbit on his lap. To be fair if I was homeless I’d probably get a rabbit for company too..

The fun activities, beautiful scenery and variety of delicious food made this a great trip, and Vancouver is such a lovely place to visit. We would like to go again in the summer, I think it would be quite a different experience.

Vancouver

This is a picture I took in Stanley park. We had just visited the Vancouver Aquarium, which was brilliant, and we were walking back through the park. The sun was setting, and the view was beautiful. I love the mixture of city and nature. I was quite keen to go in the horse and carriage around the park, but it seems like they don’t do it off-season!

Chinese Garden

Here is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden which was just around the corner from our apartment. There was a lovely lady who volunteers there who took us on a tour, explaining about the Ying and Yang of the garden, it was very pretty but quite chilly. I think it would probably be better in the summer, but it was still a lovely way to spend an hour.  They usually have Koi carp, but apparently, they had been taken indoors somewhere to make sure they didn’t freeze, there was quite a lot of ice on the water.

What to wear in Vancouver in January?

I really didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would be really snowy and icy, so I pretty much just packed skiing clothes. This was so unnecessary, the weather was more pleasant than it is in England in January! Take a brolly, because it can be rainy, but you don’t need cold weather clothes, just plenty of layers. If you’re from England you’ll be fine, if you’re from somewhere glorious and sunny you might feel a bit cold. Luckily there are plenty of shops in Vancouver, so if you do realise that you’ve made a fatal packing error, you can always pay a visit to Old Navy. It’s all very laid back, so it’s definitely worth choosing comfort over style, you won’t feel underdressed 🙂

I just wore jeans or leggings and a top, jumper and coat. Cute comfy trainers are the way to go! This is me posing with a llama outside one of the nice quirky shops at Granville Island – I took my coat off for the photo, because I was wearing a coat in pretty much all the other photos, and I had just bought this denim shirt in Old Navy and wanted to show it off!

granville island outfit

Is Dine Out Vancouver Worth It?

Dine Out Vancouver was on whilst we were there, it was from 20th January – 5th February 2017, and I think it is usually around the same time annually. I had thought it would be really good, and was one of the contributing factors to why we booked our trip for the end of January. In reality though, we didn’t use it once! I think if you are the sort of person who really loves food, and trying new things, it is great. They did have some vegetarian options, but it is all mostly set menus that to choose from. So if you don’t like the veggie option then you won’t want to do the deal. There are events and shows which looked quite good, but quite costly. The veggie options are usually the cheapest thing on the menu, and I never really bother with puddings or starters (unless there is something that sounds particularly delicious), so for me, the Dine out Vancouver wasn’t worth it. The website does have the option to filter on vegetarian menus which is handy 🙂

You can either schedule lots of activities, or just spend your time wandering around through the various districts stopping off for food and to look in all the shops. We went skiing on Grouse Mountain had the most phemonenal view. There are bears up on Grouse Mountain, however they were hibernating so we were not able to see them.

If you’ve got any questions about planning a trip to Vancouver, please do let me know.

If you enjoyed this, then you can read about my trip to Portugal here. 

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Dream Travel List

In my job I am often coming across amazing places, so I started compiling a list of awesome things I want to do and places I want to explore (and animals I want to see in their natural habitats). 

This list is growing all the time, and if you have any suggestions please do let me know! ?

1. Churchill (Manitoba, Canada)

Friendly Canadians and polar bears! You can’t go wrong!

churchill-manitoba-polar-bears

‘Gaiter and Earring’ by Emma

2. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Sea lions.. who doesn’t like sea lions!

the-galapagos-islands-sea-lion

‘IMG_1042’ by Boyd Dwyer

3. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

For ultimate tranquillity, and incredible waterfalls.

plitvice-lakes-croatia

‘Plitvice Lake’ by 29cm

4. The Maldives

Paradise!

maldives

‘Kuramathi Island, Maldives’ by Mac Qin

 5. Bear Watching in Finland

More bears? Yes! ?

bear-watching-in-finland

‘Bear Watching Karhu-Kuusamo Finland’ by Gary Bembridge

6. Vancouver, Canada

Potentially meeting Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki

vancouver

‘Canada – Vancouver – False Creek, Burrard Bridge’ by Harshil Shah

7. Hawaii

hawaii

‘Hula silhouette’ by Brad Hagan

8. Warner Bros. Studio, California, USA

warner-bros-studio-tour-hollywood

‘Central Perk’ by William Warby

9. Seville

plaza-espana

10. Japan

cherry blossom