'In 2023, we are seeing a mass exodus of teachers. Here's why I am one of them.'

As I boarded the packed train from Milan to Venice, I overheard a very Aussie family, struggling with their luggage. Dad eventually mustered enough strength to load their oversized suitcase into the cabin, while Mum shrieked, "You need a bloody drink after that one." 

I smiled at the feeling of comfort, the feeling of home, yet soon I will be leaving, for a little while.

It all started on July 4, 2022, the first time my feet landed on foreign soil as a solo traveller at 33 years of age. Here in Amsterdam, I had a feeling I had never felt before. I felt I was unlocking parts of myself my soul was yearning for. It was an itinerary for myself, a metaphorical revelation that I was living life my life in other people's plans.

Upon my return to Melbourne, I didn't feel what I was expected to feel after a vacation, rejuvenated and somewhat content with my monotony, but I kept asking myself "Is this it?" The feeling of all the would bes and could bes I had bottled up abroad had allowed me to view things differently now. I could keep etchings of myself that held true and rewrite the version of myself that I had created under so much falsehood. This was a chance at brand new, to start something somewhere that was mine.

Watch: The things teachers never say. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Entering into my 'wandering era' could not have come at a better time. I have felt quite lacklustre about my career as a teacher recently. What I am experiencing is 'burnout,' which has caused the mass exodus of teachers post-COVID. 

It's no secret that teachers are a lot to their school and wider community. The argument that has been historically used to negate teacher grievances are the number of holidays we get. The holidays, I argue, are used to prepare and develop engaging learning experiences for your child. For the past 10 years, entering a room full of students could be described as the curtain fall at the start of a live theatre show. 

As a teacher you are expected to 'engage' students in their learning or you become a spectator to a show, you didn't plan. It has been exhausting to say the least, to show up every day and front an audience of noisy teens. In addition, the expectation to cater to every student's diverse learning needs is close to impossible. At times, I've felt like a glorified babysitter. COVID showed us how work from home would be our new normal and I envy my non-teacher friends who are still afforded this luxury. For a career that has served me well, this will be my final year teaching, as the curtain calls, I look forward to pursuing pastures that allow me to drop the 'act'.

So naturally, I've been vigorously browsing visas and unfortunately for me, if you are over 30, it means you are no longer 'young' and should have your life together, meaning you cannot access the popular Youth Mobility Visa (also referred to as the Working Holiday Visa) that many nations afford to Australian citizens between 18-30 to work and travel. However, on May 31 this year, Australia and the UK announced an increase to the age limit (to 35) of their reciprocal Youth Mobility Visa which will come into effect for Australians wanting to live in the UK from January 2024.


I was relieved no one was in the staff room as I got wind of this news, jumping up and down at the thought of having Europe as my playground. You might wonder why on earth would I be excited about living in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world, mouldy flats and notoriously low wages – all struggles I am aware of but the thought of so much possibility feels worth it. 

Image: Supplied.


Uncertainty, while exciting, is often predisposed with fear. The blanket of security that Melbourne has provided me with through a loving family, an amazing group of friends and colleagues and a comfortable pay check means that this move in my mid 30s, on the other side of the world with a career change in mind seems bold. The sacrifice of packing up my humble abode (which I loved) on the outskirts of Melbourne to arriving at my parent's door step (once again) to save for my adventure feels like a double-edged sword, the shame of moving back into the family home and the gratitude of having the opportunity to do so. This also means saying the hardest of goodbyes to my Furbaby Winston, where I am slowly feeling the guilt of being an unavailable dog Mum but I know he will be in the best hands with my parents. 

What could be perceived as a mini existential crisis, feels more like I am finally taking a chance on chances and the risk seems less risky than never leaving my home city. What I am most curious about are the versions of myself I have not met. Every place we venture to and every interaction we have with the people in those places becomes a mirror for who we are or who we could be, that’s the beauty in travel – the greatest teacher. 

If anything, my love for teaching may return, as the art of teaching is in its storytelling. Maybe I'll have a few insightful parables to impart. For now, it's soaking up all the time with my people in Melbourne as I await the final bell come December – school's out will feel a little different this time.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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