- Hi Niki. We are so excited to have you with us. You are a Personal Development Coach, an educator and a mother that lives in London the last seven and a half years, if I remember well. Thank you so much for being here with us today to share some of your experience living in the UK and serving different roles as well. Could you share with us some of your story? I am sure that lots of mums could resonate with that.
Thank you so much Victoria for giving me the opportunity to be here today and share my own experience as you say and yes you remember very well we are 7 and a half years in London, eight this coming August. I can’t really believe how time flies! So, if you allow me I would like to reflect back in those seven and a half years living in the UK.
So, it all started when in August 2010 we bought a one way ticket to London and when I say we, I mean my husband, myself and my daughter who back then was 2 years old. As you can imagine the feelings were mixed, as I assume most of the people’s that leave their mother country, their family, friends and their whole life behind to start a new chapter. At the same time it was very exciting and all this excitement was being fed by the new way of life, the new connections we would be making and all the new possibilities and opportunities that could be given to all of us. I am not going to hide that the transition wasn’t easy at all and lasted for quite a while. After two years of living here we had our son, who is now five and a half, and the family dynamics changed completely as you can imagine. Professionally, I have been working for almost five years at a Saturday Greek School and as soon as my son turned two I started working as a learning support assistant at my daughter’s school. I felt that I wanted to try that before I commit in a full time teaching job and I am pleased I did because I discovered my big passion in life and that is Life Coaching. Even though my first degree was in Ancient and Modern Greek Language and Literature, I always had a big passion for psychology and I always felt I had so much to give on that. So, I decided to become a Life Coach and I completely love it.
- That’s great to hear and quite interesting considering that you were working part time, studying and being a mother and a wife at the same time. I think it would be wise for me to ask you now about the challenges you faced living here. Many educators and mothers can really get benefited in different levels by your personal experience.
That’s a great question Victoria and I love talking about challenges because I find that they help us evolve, expand, change and grow! Firstly, I would like to talk about my challenges as a mother and then as an educator if you don’t mind.
So, as a mum I felt that it was hard and it still is at times to raise my kids without family support while working and studying at the same time and because my husband works late hours it is even harder to do something for myself and relax when I need to. What adds up to this is also this feeling of not having the opportunity to share experiences and everyday joys and sorrows with them. There are times that I really miss my family very much and I see that my kids miss them too, maybe because I was always a family person, I loved being surrounded by family. Of course, there is always the other side in every situation and we feel that it’s a big advantage to be raising our kids by ourselves, helping and supporting each other as lots of couples do. Sometimes it is exhausting and frustrating but when I reflect back I am thinking that we should be very proud to be able to do that. Parenting is a hard but very rewarding job at the same time and it is a great opportunity to see life from a different perspective. And at this point I would like to thank my lovely, encouraging and supportive husband that all those years is inspiring me to carry on and always supports me with great stoicism to follow my dreams and passions!
As an educator, I felt that it was hard for me to understand how to make things happen here. Let me explain that a bit. When I first came I was working as a Greek teacher at a Saturday school for almost five years. Up till then I have never had the opportunity to learn how the system works, that I could apply for the QTS, start volunteering and work as a supply teacher, which are the usual routes people follow. For quite a few years I was receiving the wrong information. By saying that I would like to confess that I have been very lucky to meet my friend Eva (Eva, if you read this interview thank you once more!) who helped me understand how QTS and English education works and finally find my voice out there. Since then it felt like a dream that you wish to come true. You can’t imagine how much I grew in confidence after that and felt ready to conquer the world. And I would also like to grab this opportunity and say a big well done to you and all those people that constantly support with many useful articles on this subject in your blog. It is so much helpful and enlightening for many teachers that want to start working in the English education system and don’t have a degree or further professional development from this country. It is my third year now that I work as a learning support assistant in a primary school, it is at times hard but rewarding and a great opportunity to learn at the same time. I have to say that what I enjoy in being an educator here is the fact that you don’t have to be perfect or some type of guru in order to be a teacher, you are allowed to be developing and keep on learning, a work in progress, and that’s great!
- Tell us a little bit about coaching. How did you go there, what made you decide to become a life coach and how do you see yourself in a few years from now?
I love the questions that help you visualise yourself because they give you this opportunity to make things happen if you believe in them! So, what led me to coaching is my big passion for helping people! I love this opportunity that coaching gives me to support people realise that they are resourceful and whole and they are capable of achieving anything they wish and reach their full potential. For me, coaching is like discovering my mission in life and that is adding to my role as a mother. I felt that I was ready for this change, it took me a while to understand that I could change career, create a different path for myself, a different lifestyle for my family and start building my confidence because I had lots of insecurities at the beginning. Throughout this journey, I learned to believe in myself more! Now my mission is to support other women feel the same. How do I see myself in few years from now? I see myself as a full time Personal Development Coach, doing individual as well as group work, deliver workshops and organise retreats in Greece. Oh dear, that sounds a lot!
- Life Coaching is a profession that I am sure many people haven’t come across before. How would you describe what you do and how can it help?
Yes, you are right, Life Coaching is a profession that many people don’t know of and it’s really exciting to meet people and tell them what I do and their usual reaction is ”That sounds very interesting”. Yes, it is very interesting indeed, it’s fascinating! What is even more fascinating is the routes that Coaching has to Ancient Greek Philosοphy and specifically the ‘Midwife” method that the philosοpher Socrates used with his students. The idea was that we all have our truth somewhere hidden inside us and we just need the right question to bring our knowledge to the surface. So I would say that coaching is a thought-provoking and creative process that helps someone move forward, maximise their full potential and ultimately help them create the life or career they want. It is a creative conversatιon based on open questions, it is action driven that helps someone get clear on what they want to achieve, tackle possible limiting beliefs that might be holding them back and create a plan they can stick to and serves them right. Of course, those things can change, nothing stays the same, we all change, circumstances change, but the person that has been through the transformation is able to believe in themselves and their abilities more. Of course, it is something that requires lots of commitment and inner work but working together with a coach you can achieve more things than just going through it alone. Syd Banks, a well-known philosopher and author, said: “We have the most wonderful job in the world. We find people in various stages of sleep. And then we get to tap them on the shoulder and be with them as they wake up to the full magnificence of life.”
- Do dreams come true?
That’s a great question! Yes, I believe that dreams do come true because I believe that dreams are created from us, our own perception of life and our own experiences. I strongly believe that the dreams we create involve a big part of who we are. Having said that, if you dream for example of living in an isolated island with few residents and great surroundings and doing local jobs to support your living it is something you can actually create, it is a picture that your mind has created, it is something that you value as important for your wellbeing and serves a certain purpose for you. So, yes, dreams come true when you create the right path and perceive them!
- What is your advice to the Greek Community of teachers in England as well as the community of Greek mothers?
So, we came to the advice bit. Well, I have to admit that I don’t particularly like giving advice but I enjoy maybe sharing some thoughts from my own experience that hopefully someone can find useful. I would like to say that living and working in the English Education system is not the easiest thing, it is a challenge, it is hard work and I have heard many challenging scenarios from friends particularly in secondary education. Maybe when facing those moments of struggle, like we all do, stop for a minute and think. Reflect on how you can become more resilient to survive the tough moments, how you can see a situation when a challenge arises and draw your attention to the things you enjoy most in your teaching career. I know sometimes it is easier said than done but believe me we all have the power to do that. What is the learning we take with us? And remember you can always change something if it doesn’t serve you anymore!
As for the Greek community of mums I would like to say first of all, give a big pat on your shoulder, you are doing great! We are doing a brilliant job even if at times we feel the worst mums ever, even if we feel those moments that low confidence or guilt kicks in, think that we are only humans and we are doing the best we can. We came here and build our life and our families from scratch, let’s be kind to ourselves and take care of ourselves and don’t forget that there are always opportunities out there. When we are ready let’s go and get them. Oof that felt quite liberating!
- Thank you so much Niki, thank you for opening up and sharing all those experiences that I am sure will help many more women like you. We are looking forward to hosting your amazing ideas and bits of experience on our website! Take care and speak to you very soon!
The pleasure was mine Victoria and I look forward to engaging more with your website and share more ideas and experiences that people can find useful.
Lots of love to you all x
ESOL & Greek Teacher, founder of the online community and website Greekteachers.co.uk, BA (Hons), M. Ed. TESOL.
Καθηγήτρια Αγγλικής και Ελληνικής Γλώσσας ως Ξένη, ιδρυτής της διαδικτυακής κοινότητας και ιστοσελίδας Greekteachers.co.uk, BA (Hons), M. Ed. TESOL.
(Επικοινωνήστε με τον αρθρογράφο εδώ: Viktoria@greekteachers.co.uk)