Who are you?
My name is Margarete Minar. I'm a native Californian who decided that I wanted to have a year abroad to experience life from a different part of the world, and to gain a new perspective on how things can be done differently. My year abroad turned out to be five years in total. I simply loved it and one year wasn't enough.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Slovakia in central Europe in 1999 and stayed until 2005. I chose Slovakia because I had known some Slovak Americans (Americans of Slovak ancestry) in my home town and was somewhat familiar with the country. Also, I wanted to teach English and knew that my chances of finding work would probably be easier in "Eastern Europe" rather than in the west of Europe.
What challenges did you face during the move?
I faced A LOT of challenges. First off, I didn't know anyone when I arrived in Slovakia. My job as a teacher was secured before I moved and so I had to rely on the principal of the school to help me get settled. That was fine, but I didn't speak a word of Slovak and was on my own quite a lot at first. Also, I moved to a small town where everybody could tell I was a foreigner and probably knew I was the new English teacher. It was pretty tough in the beginning, feeling alone and a bit intimidated by my new surroundings. After a few months I made good friends with several of my adult students and they helped me get acquainted with life in my small town and more comfortable with things.
How did you find somewhere to live?
For my first teaching job the living arrangements were already taken care of. I had an apartment that I shared with another teacher and it was very comfortable. When I moved to the capital, Bratislava, a year later, I was responsible for looking for my own place. I looked at real estate sites on the Internet and found something very decent. I decided I would...
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