|The view from the window at the Dnipro|
office of American English Center.
I have been teaching English at AEC in Dnipro for about a year now. Before I began teaching at this school, I read the blog by Katherine or "Crazy About Ukraine" as her blogger profile states. I recently went back to this blog when searching about getting a visa and I thought to myself, "I need to write about my experiences here in Ukraine more" so I decided to write this entry about my experiences working at American English Center (AEC) in Dnipro, Ukraine.
As of this writing, I am about to take a break from teaching and go explore some of Ukraine and work on some side projects. I have been teaching at AEC during the COVID19 pandemic in Ukraine and business seems to have slowed down a bit. However, I never taught here outside of COVID (I arrived in Ukraine three days before quarantine began), so I don't know what "business as usual" looks like at AEC.
When I arrived in Ukraine, I trained and did some teaching practice at a school in Kyiv. As I have taught at another school in Ukraine (English Language Center - ELC), taught high school English in Egypt, have a master's in TESOL, as well as a CELTA, I am guessing that the school thought that I didn't need too much training. After about three to four days of training, it was time to go to Dnipro to begin work. However, at this point, the quarantine began, so the manager had me come back to Kyiv as the schools were all closed down for a couple of months and the school would begin to transition to online learning.
I taught online for a couple of semesters. The classes went pretty good. I am not a fan of teaching online, but the course material that is provided by AEC gives enough activities to work with and there's always the benefit of adding supplemental material and conversation. After three or so months of teaching online, I went to work in Dnipro.
Dnipro is one of Ukraine's largest cities but is quite different than Kyiv. It has the feel of a smaller city in some ways, but a lot of big-city amenities. There are a few big malls with lots of shops, such as Most City and Dafi (one of the two AEC schools in Dnipro, and the one that I teach at, is near Dafi). There is a nice downtown area with many shops, restaurants, and parks. Most of the students that I teach tell me that they like Dnipro more than Kyiv and many other cities in Ukraine. In fact, other than about half sharing their want to leave Ukraine, most of the students really like Dnipro.
American Engish Center then and now
I am going to compare my experience with Katherine's, as quite a few years have passed and there have been some things that are different now, and probably different in Dnipro from the Kharkiv office of AEC.
I am in no way advocating breaking the laws of any country (did you really dream of growing up to be an illegal immigrant in Eastern Europe as a child?), so just do the best you can to get things straightened out before you come or immediately after you arrive. It's pretty much all on your shoulders.
Yes, I would recommend working at this school. They give you all the material you need and it's very easy to prep for classes. Living here has been a great experience. I have liked living in Dnipro a lot and it has been very interesting. It's a lot quieter than Kyiv, and there's a bit less to do, but I do like having the sea closer by and the feel of a smaller city is more interesting. I also feel more exotic here, in the sense that there are far fewer ex-pats in this city. The people are great and I have loved getting to know my students better.
Honestly, my dream was to work in Odesa (the city where I took my CELTA, and my favorite city in Ukraine), but I never inquired about that and probably won't at this time in my life. I honestly have no clue where life will take me, but I imagine that things are about to change as COVID ends. We will see though. Thanks for reading!