Life has its twists and turns, as Jeff Piskulic ’01 of Chile has discovered. A mortgage analyst turned English teacher, Jeff has discovered that change can be a good thing.
“I had been ready to make a move out of the mortgage industry for quite some time but I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Piskulic says. “I thought about grad school, but I didn’t want to get a master’s degree in something I wasn’t entirely sure I had a passion for.”
“I came to Chile in March 2008 for a couple of weeks with some friends on vacation – it was my first time in South America – and that was when I discovered a brand new continent to explore,” he says. “I decided it was the place for me.”
So, after eight years, Piskulic gave up his job in Chicago and moved to Chile, earning his Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification during his first month there.
He now works teaching English for the largest grocery store chain in Chile, as well as few classes a week at a high school in Santiago.
“Wal-Mart recently purchased 60 percent of the company, so now there are many employees that need to learn English to correspond with Wal-Mart in the U.S. and around the world,” he says.
The biggest challenge Piskulic has encountered since moving to Chile was discovering a more complicated language barrier than he had anticipated. As a result, he found that he needed to become a student, too.
“I am studying Spanish daily, and I have improved vastly from when I first arrived, but it still can be frustrating sometimes,” he says. “Also, Chileans are known to speak some of the fastest Spanish, within which they have their own entire language of slang, so that certainly doesn’t make things easier.”
Piskulic plans to remain in Chile until this December, but after that, he may decide to return to the U.S. to attend graduate school.
“I’m really enjoying my experience here, so I certainly don’t want to leave anytime soon,” he says. “For now I’m enjoying my new job and the free time I have to relax, travel, read and study Spanish.”
by Lindsey Compton ’12
The complete article appeared in spring 2010 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.