In 2015, Christy Wilde traveled abroad to teach conversational English to a family in Italy. Her experience was profound, and she still keeps in touch with her host family to this day! We recently caught up with Christy to follow up on how her journey with GeoVisions has impacted her life.
What was the most difficult part about leaving home and your comfort zone to embark on your program in Italy?
I would say its two-fold: one being that I wasn’t super familiar with the language and knew that it would be a potential barrier, and the other being the time difference from my family. At the time my family was back in California and the time difference between Italy and California is 9 hours. At first it was a bit strange waking up when my family was going to bed (and vice versa), but I eventually adjusted.
What was the most liberating part about leaving home to live abroad?
Embarking on an experience of unknown. I had very little expectations as I began my travels and I think it was the best thing for me because everything was just that much more exciting to experience.
Had you done a lot of international travel prior to this trip? Where have you been, if so?
I hadn’t done any other trip than going to Mexico with my family. This was a huge deal for both me and my family to do something like this, but it was really exciting at the same time.
Was this your first time tutoring/living as an au pair abroad? If so, why did you choose your particular program/country choice?
Yes it was! I chose to do the Italy program because at the time my sister was living in Florence so we thought it would be safer and more fun to be in the same country abroad at the same time. This ended up working out because we got to travel together every weekend and see each other. I chose to participate in this program because of the flexibility it gave me to both work and experience life abroad. I didn’t want to do a program where I had to work 24/7 because I knew I would want to travel in my free time.
How did spending time engaging in a different culture with your host family impact how you feel now about community?
This was quite frankly one of the best experiences of my life. Getting to enjoy and learn an entirely new culture and language from locals was so moving and exhilarating. I have made life long friendships and family relationships with the people I met when I lived there that continue today, and I am extremely grateful for that! The Italian culture particularly has stuck with me in my every day life as I continue to speak and read the language and use the cooking tips my host mother taught me!
What experiences living in Italy stand out in particular?
Living in a small, local town rather than a larger city. The small towns are where you get the more authentic vibe of the culture and learn more of the language since you are not surrounded by other Americans, if any at all. This was a huge part of my experience living there.
In what ways do you feel you were challenged during your program?
The language barrier was definitely a gap at first. The town I lived in not many people spoke English and when I first arrived my Italian wasn’t the best either. This was challenging without a doubt because I struggled to do day-to-day things that I was used to, but at the same time it pushed my intellect and forced me to learn.
Did living in Italy as a tutor/au pair inspire you to make a shift in your life’s plan or career? If so, how?
It definitely embedded more of a wanderlust mindset in my life. I prioritize traveling and life experiences much more now than I ever would have before this. It didn’t necessarily shift my career plan, but it absolutely helped me keep in mind working for a larger corporate network if I ever wanted to live abroad again.
It's been five years since your program with us, and you still visit your host family in Italy. Have these connections and experiences influenced your perception of the world and the ways in which you engage in it?
They absolutely have influenced me and my perception of the world. Taking part in this program completely opened my eyes to not only the world I live in, but America overall. Especially in today’s day and age, it’s important to keep an open mind and perspective that so much of the world exists outside of your immediate world. Having people abroad that I connect with constantly keeps me informed and aware.
What would you recommend to others who are looking to volunteer or teach abroad for the first time?
Just go for it! Don’t be overly fearful and don’t convince yourself it could potentially be a bad idea. Be open to experiencing new people, new cultures, and just be smart and safe!
Follow Christy on Social Media: Facebook: Christy Wilde, Instagram: @cbuckwilde
Check out her online portfolio link: https://ckwilde.wixsite.com/cwildeportfolio