About Me: Becoming an International Female Traveler

Read, Eat, Travel 

I had a dead-end job as a cashier, a degree in English, and a cat named after Flannery O’Connor who gives head butts and chirps like a bird.

I packed up numbers 2 and 3 and ditched number 1.

Almost overnight, I was able to transform my life from the mindless tedium of low-level retail work to a life of international travel, fantastic food, good books, and great friends. It all started with one little question: How can you make money while traveling?

Study Abroad

My first love was Chicago, but my best love was Rome.


Sitting in an auditorium in Chicago, one of my professors was giving a lecture on Dante’s Inferno. While explaining Dante’s world view, he indulged in a bit of a tangent.

“When you study at the Rome Center,” he said, “and you should study at the Rome Center, make sure you go to Florence for a weekend. See all of this for yourself. Don’t take my word for it.”

When I went home for Christmas break, I told my folks I’d be studying in Rome for a semester.

international female traveler

Becoming an Expat

After I came back from Rome, I settled back into life in Chicago. Graduation came all too soon, but no job came along with it. I’d graduated in 2013 with an English degree – needless to say, the business market did not value my skills very much at the time. I took the jobs I could, and ended up working ungodly hours in a shop in Lake View.

Watching all my friends go on their study abroad trips brought out that green-eyed monster in me, and it just got worse as time went on. I kept trying to pick up more hours at the shop, so that I could finance a trip somewhere. After months of spinning my wheels, my mom finally asked me, “How can you make money while traveling?”

Game changer.

After some research, I went to an open house at the International TEFL Academy in Chicago. (Note: It was mostly my mom who did the research – credit where credit is due!) For the first time, I was in a room full of people who didn’t think I was crazy for wanting to move myself and my cat abroad.

Within the year, I’d earned my certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and moved to Poland.

oversize baggage
Too many bags can be a problem when moving abroad

An International Female Traveler

During my time abroad, I often found myself out and about on my own. After all, I’d moved all the way to Europe! I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for other people to get themselves together. I was going to go. People will always tell you to travel with a group, especially as a female – and there’s some merit to that – but I wanted to be an international traveler, and sometimes that means going solo.

So, I’d pick a place, go, learn as much as I could about it, eat the local food, and buy a book by a local author. Then I’d go back to my apartment, my job, and my cat, and start it all over again the next week.

Once you start the wheels moving, though, it’s hard to stop. After I started, I never stopped.

Flannery still comes with on occasion. I’ve also made some great, life-long friends. My training as a teacher has served me well in more than one area of my life (and kept me financially independent!) since earning my certificate.

Now, I’m helping other travelers find their sea legs. First-time explorers, new ESL teachers, solo female travel badasses – you’re all welcome here!

cat in a bag
Flannery the Expat Cat, inspecting the luggage

Previous Adventures Include:

2 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Hi Rebecca,

    I just came across your Q&A on https://www.internationalteflacademy.com/ and was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about your experience working at Tower School of English. I am a Canadian currently looking for an ESL teaching job in Poland and would really appreciate your insight. Please send me an email if you see this. Thanks!

    Your fellow adventurer – Sarah

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