A miniature Portuguese town centre, surrounded by a vast array of skyscrapers and impressive casinos; Walking back past the Venetian with the sun setting in the distance, laughing with friends; Exploring the old town and ruins of St Paul, then wandering through the side alleys, sampling traditional Portuguese sweets and cakes – these are the highlights of the city of Macau.
For my summer I travelled to Macau to teach English and anatomy to Macanese school students from the age of 7 up to 16. Our main class who we taught every day were aged 7 to 9 and were the cutest little cheeky monkeys I will ever have the pleasure of teaching – watching them present in front of an audience of 200 people, was definitely one of the proudest moments of my year, and one I will never forget. However, there were some more difficult times that I would like to reflect on.
When I was preparing to undertake this journey of a lifetime, I had a few reservations. In total my trip was going to be 5 weeks, the longest I had ever been away from Edinburgh and my family. When things weren’t going to plan, I was going to be on the other side of the planet from them, only able to contact them if they happened to be using the internet. I had also never taught children before; or English; or anatomy! Although I could attempt to prepare for that, there was always going to be variables that I was unable to control, such as how interactive the kids were and how much English they would understand. I was also worried about the language barrier in day to day life, Chinese is not an easy language to learn.
Eventually the day of my trip arrived and although I was pushed out of my comfort zone at times, I loved it. I learned how to make lesson plans and make learning fun for both young and older children. I learnt about the culture of Macau and the different traditions. I improved on presentation and communication skills as well as became more confident in leading groups. We also had to learn how to adapt our lesson plan depending on how our class were doing and create new ways of explaining more difficult concepts. I will definitely endeavour to teach more in my future career because I really enjoyed it.
The 3 weeks I spent teaching in Macau was the most rewarding experience of my life and I would recommend that everyone attempts to spent some time abroad during their time at university, if possible. You won’t regret it.