Over The Top – Jonathan Van Ness
Necessary People – Anna Pitoniak
Find Me – André Aciman (CMBYN sequel)
Would I Lie To You? The Amazing Power Of Being Honest In A World That Lies – Judi Ketteler
Fair Play – Eve Rodsky
Connect First: 52 Simple Ways To Ignite Success, Meaning, And Joy At Work – Melanie A. Katzman, PHD
Surrounded By Idiots: The Four Types Of Human Behavior + How To Effectively Communicate w/ Each In Business (And In Life) – Thomas Erikson
Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly – Jim DeRogatis **
X – Chuck Klosterman
The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living – Meik Wiking
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes + the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall
Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength + Endurance – Christopher McDougall
The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) – Gretchen Rubin
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives – Gretchen Rubin
Power: Why Some People Have It –– And Others Don’t – Jeffrey Pfeffer
Flying Too Close To The Sun: Myths in Art From Classical to Contemporary – Phidon (art)
Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hooksup, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity – Peggy Orenstein
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel H. Pink
“Wait, I’m The Boss?!?”: The Essential Guide for New Managers to Succeed from Day 1 – Peter Economy
Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It – Gary Taubes
Uncanny Valley: A Memoir – Anna Wiener
Physical Intelligence: The Science of How the Body + the Mind Guide Each Other Through Life – Scott Grafton
The Longing for Less: Living w/ Minimalism – Kyle Chayka
No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us – Rachel Louise Snyder
Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
Survivor: The Official Companion Book to the CBS TV Show – Mark Burnett w/ Martin Dugard
The Psychology of Survivor – Richard J. Gerrig, PhD
In A Dark, Dark Wood – Ruth Ware (Kelly G. recommendation)
Link to original post: https://www.cod.edu/about/stories/students/clark.aspx
Degree: Associate in Arts
After finishing high school, Courtney Clark was ready for college but unsure of what to pursue.
“I felt that as a student at College of DuPage, I would be able to continue my education while exploring some different interests since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in right away,” she said. “I found out shortly later that I had received a Presidential Scholarship, which helped even further solidify my decision to attend.”
Being named a Presidential Scholar, an honor that includes a full-tuition scholarship and enrollment in COD’s Honors program and induction into the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, provided Clark with financial security while she focused on her studies. The opportunities she received at COD played key roles in her future plans.
“COD impacted my life in many ways, but the biggest lesson it taught me is that hard work really does pay off,” she said. “This knowledge, plus my ambitious spirit and encouraging professors and staff, led me to really thrive at COD both academically and in extracurriculars.
“COD also opened my eyes to the value of service. There was a required service component that accompanied the Presidential Scholars Award and I chose to volunteer at an afterschool program for kindergarteners. I enjoyed this experience so much that I taught kindergarten again after finishing school. Additionally, the Living Leadership Program helped me to identify my leadership style and valuable skills, which came in handy in both my studies and career.”
Her favorite memories came from her time at the Courier, COD’s student newspaper, where she worked as both the arts and entertainment editor and the graphics/social media editor. The experience influenced her career path.
“During my time at the Courier, I learned how to use programs such as Adobe InDesign to design my section of the paper, which I also wrote and edited. I managed freelance reporters and photographers. I gained valuable interview skills and became an expert on AP Style. I learned how to use WordPress to run the Courier website as well as post on their social media pages. I was also responsible for maintaining communication with the publisher so that each issue’s copies would be printed by the deadline,” she said. “Working for the Courier also allowed me to attend and cover on-campus events such as a talk by Ari Shapiro, NPR White House Correspondent.
“I left the Courier with both new and greatly improved skills and an extensive portfolio of my work. I can’t stress enough how greatly this prepared me for my next role as a managing editor as well as my current editing career.”
Clark was named one of COD’s Outstanding Graduate finalists and earned her Associate in Arts degree. She then transferred to University of Southern California as a Communication major and began writing for the Daily Trojan and Neon Tommy, the online student publication.
Due to a switch in major departments and institutional credit requirements, she transferred again to Roosevelt University as an English major and worked as a staff reporter and managing editor on the Roosevelt Torch. During her final semester, she wrote her thesis on John Steinbeck’s exploration of the “American dream” concept and completed a publishing internship at Featherproof books.
After graduating with Honors and a bachelor’s degree in English, Clark earned her TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification at International TEFL Academy in Chicago and moved to Thailand, where she taught English to kindergarteners.
Clark currently works at Epsilon on the email creative team, where she is a copy editor and project manager for several clients including the NFL, Dell, Seasons 52 and TaxSlayer. She recently led a Women in Leadership seminar and attended a two-day creative coding summit held at Epsilon’s Chicago office.
“I’ve always wanted to work in book publishing in New York one day and I plan to continue pursuing that dream,” she said. “In anything I do and any position I hold, my goals are to always find new challenges, improve my existing abilities and grow new skills while really making a difference and leaving an impact somewhere.”
She recommends students take advantage of College of DuPage’s affordable, high-quality education and the opportunity to explore interests, save money and gain valuable experience and connections. Clark also urges students to get involved.
“I observed many of my peers commute to and from class without discovering anything else COD has to offer, while I immersed myself in COD’s Student Life programs (Courier, Living Leadership Program, Student Ambassadors, Model UN and the French Club) and got to be part of an incredibly vibrant community. Another plus of getting involved is that many of these experiences also look really great on a resume. Make the most of your experience!”
Link to this post on ITA’s blog: https://www.internationalteflacademy.com/alumni-stories/the-start-of-a-new-chapter
By: Courtney Clark
Hi, I’m Courtney! I took my TEFL certification class in January 2016 and worked part-time for a while to save up money to teach abroad. I finally decided on Thailand as my destination because it was somewhere I always wanted to visit and the timing coincided perfectly with the start of their school semester. I left for Thailand in April 2017 and taught kindergarten until October 2017.
I had 33 students and would teach English, science, math and art lessons each week. All of the students had very unique personalities, which always kept class interesting. Some of my favorite moments include pretending to be zombies and chasing each other around on the playground, dancing to the video “Baby Shark”, and a day where everyone brought in food, and I taught the students how to make sandwiches.
From the moment I gave notice that I would be returning to the U.S., I knew it would be incredibly difficult to leave all the people I met there behind. It was so hard to say goodbye to all the friends I had made, my Thai co-teachers who had become like family to me, and my adorable little students. However, I had to leave for my own reasons, which were to be able to grow as a person in new ways and to really get started on my career.
Upon arriving home in the U.S., I immediately noticed so many differences between the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to in Thailand and the one I grew up in but that now felt so foreign to me. I forgot about the “hustle bustle,” busy, rushing lifestyle that is the norm here in the U.S. I also forgot about the importance and stress placed on productivity rather than a peaceful state of mind. I felt unsure about my ability to adapt back into such a stressful environment.
Reverse culture shock is a real thing. Whereas everyone in grocery stores in Thailand left me alone, here it felt like I was being bombarded by retail workers about store sales and being forced to remember simple things such as small talk about the weather. Whereas all the signs in Thailand were in Thai, and I learned to disregard them, now everything was bright and distracting in giant English letters. The simplest way I can describe this feeling is “sensory overload.”
However, once I finally got over my jet lag and reverse culture shock, I remembered that this fast paced lifestyle is what has always motivated me and pushed me to be the type of person I am which is constantly trying to improve and grow and learn in new, challenging ways. Although I learned so much about myself, Thai culture, the complexity and responsibility of being a teacher, and will always be overwhelmingly grateful for it all, I feel that I have found another opportunity that is a perfect fit for me at this time.
My new opportunity is a position in my field of study. I worked on school newspapers from high school all through college and really enjoyed writing and editing all sorts of different topics. Naturally, I majored in English. During my last year of college, I also completed a book publishing internship. I always thought I would continue along this line of editing/publishing but had trouble finding a job after graduation even with all my prior experience and a writing portfolio. However, once returning from Thailand, I added that experience to my resume and felt like I started to get noticed more and received more responses from jobs I applied to.
After several interviews that didn’t feel like a great fit, I finally landed on a marketing company that was looking for a copy editor. After the first interview, I could tell it would be a very exciting opportunity where I would really be able to test my copy-editing and project manager skills. I am very happy to say that everything worked out, and I am now working in my field and beginning my career. I have a picture of my teachers and students from Thailand on my desk. I am thankful every day for the experience and will never forget all that I have learned and how I got to the place I am today.
A lot of people ask me if I would ever teach abroad again and the answer is a giant YES!!! I don’t have any plans to in the near future, but it is a priceless life experience I would absolutely love to try again later in my life. I highly recommend it to everyone I meet.
Sabai sabai (a common Thai phrase meaning “everything’s good” or “not a care in the world”)
Courtney Clark is 25 from Bloomingdale, IL,with a BA in English from Roosevelt University. She worked as a writer/editor for several years before deciding to teach kindergarten in Thailand.
This year I was selected to be part of the Jobs for English Majors Career Panel at Roosevelt University to speak about my career path post-graduation. I remember attending this panel when finishing up my Honors thesis in 2015 and how helpful it was for me at the time, so I’m very proud and happy I was able to return a few years later & be that resource for others. I spoke about working in the Writing Center and as Managing Editor of the RU Torch while attending Roosevelt, as well as my positions post-grad, including teaching English as a foreign language abroad in Thailand & my current position of Copy Editor on the Email Creative Team at Epsilon.
It’s nearing the end of my time in Thailand so we are finishing up exams in class and I’m beginning to pack up some of my belongings. I’m also beginning to reflect on the emotional rollercoaster this experience has been.
These last 6 months have been some of the most challenging of my entire life. I’ve been living in a small town where most people speak very little English. This can sometimes turn simple conversations into big, overwhelming interactions. Every act of communication takes more effort, which at first is exhausting but gets easier over time. I was able to understand people better after about a few weeks of getting used to hearing the accent. I also learned which words to use that people will understand, when to just point at things and at times have resorted to Google Translate when necessary.
This being said, I truly believe that Thai people are some of the nicest people on Earth. I have had so many touching experiences where a stranger went out of their way to help me. While having these experiences I’ve been very appreciative and blown away because it’s just not something that could be expected in the U.S. (not that people don’t sometimes show random kindness at home, but the point is this isn’t random, it’s just a natural, usual way of life here). Once while traveling on an island, I fell into this huge hole in a sewer grate. My whole calf went down this grate and the only thing that stopped me from falling further in was my knee. It sounds dramatic and it was scary but I wasn’t too badly injured. However, my knee was bleeding and I wasn’t quite prepared to take care of it. A Thai couple that owned a shop across the street came up to me and gave me tissues and the woman actually applied ointment herself to my wound. I was incredibly grateful that they went out of their way to show me kindness when I needed help. Another example is when my friend and I were on our way home and her motorbike ran out of gas (for the record this wasn’t negligence, the gas gauge is unreliable). We attempted to ask a group of Thai people who owned a food stand where we could go to fill up her bike and they told us to wait. We were a little confused until we saw a man drive off and shortly later arrive back with gas for us. While we did thank him and pay him, I was again astounded by the selflessness of people who don’t even speak the same language.
The only transportation available is driving a motorbike or taking motorbike taxis or tuk tuks around which are not very cost effective. However, I’ve been forced to rely on these methods a lot since I only drove a motorbike a few times here. It wasn’t something I ever got comfortable with since not only do they drive on the opposite side of the street as at home but there also aren’t really any “rules of the road” and it can be pretty unclear at times who has the right of way. I decided I would rather spend a little bit more money to make sure I get home in one piece.
It’s pretty impossible to keep work and personal life separate, which is something I appreciate a lot at home. I’ve had to learn to be friends with the same people I work with everyday and most of who live in the same apartment complex as me. It’s been an extremely different lifestyle just in that alone from living in Chicago where English is widely spoken and your friends sometimes live in whole different neighborhoods, not to mention the difference in population size.
This has been a positive experience in that I’ve had to really put myself out there to form connections with people I don’t immediately have a ton in common with so I’ve had to get out of my comfort zone not only in living in Thailand but also in making friends. It’s also been a negative experience at times because it feels so alienating to be in a country alone with people you don’t really relate to on a deeper level most of the time. I have questioned everything about my own judgment and myself more in this time than ever in my life. At times I could feel completely confident in everything I’m doing and at other times I could feel utterly torn down and like giving up. This experience has taught me a lot about myself, that’s for sure.
Speaking of health, I have struggled a lot with my physical health as well as mental health. I have been sick more than half my time here even when taking as many preventative measures as possible. This also affected my mental health because feeling lethargic and sickly doesn’t exactly promote optimism in general. Some of the sinus issues I believe has to do with the air quality as well as the different weather and changes in weather. Some days it is extremely hot and the next day it is cooler, rainy and extremely humid. Another aspect of this was my change in diet, which was pretty unavoidable. Although I did manage to continue to be a pescetarian, many food places are not regulated up to the same health standards as in the U.S. In general, there is a lot more MSG used in a lot of the food and a lot of sugar is added to pretty much any kind of cold beverage except water.
Finally, the biggest challenge here was unsurprisingly the job itself. I had a little experience teaching English as a foreign language but only to different proficiency level adults. I have never taught children and don’t have kids in my family. I only remember ever holding one baby in my life and that is the son of one of my best friends. (Hi Grieta if you’re reading this!) Even having a conversation with one kid at a time is not something that ever came naturally to me and then I had 33 students in class at once. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I had to learn what level they were at, what I’m supposed to teach them and how to get them to improve. Now at the end of this semester I’ve never felt like I’ve understood kids better. I’ve learned how to make them laugh, how to cheer them up when they cry, and how to get and hold their attention. They’ve taught me more than I will probably ever realize but one of the most important things they taught me is how to truly be a kid again (or at least feel like one). They’ve taught me how simple happiness can be and how fleeting every moment is. They’ve brought me so much joy throughout all the stress and times I wasn’t feeling my best. They love unconditionally and show it so simply. I hope to be more like them in certain aspects of my life and remember not to take life so seriously all the time. (I definitely cried my eyes out saying goodbye to these beautiful, happy souls a few days ago).
I don’t know if being a kindergarten teacher is my life calling. In fact this could possibly be the only time I ever do it. But I can say it has definitely been one of my favorite jobs so far.
Although 6 months may seem like a short time to some people, that is how long I planned to stay from the beginning and it’s fairly unique in that it’s somewhat rare (although definitely possible) to find contracts with a teaching agency abroad for less than one year. It’s a good way to try it out without making a huge commitment. Tourist visas in Thailand last only 30 days although it is possible to get them extended to a maximum of 90 days. I think it’s pretty cool that I got to stay double the time someone just traveling would be able to spend in Thailand.
I’m really happy with the experience I’ve had, with the changes I’ve made in my life and with the person I’ve become. I’ve really grown up a lot here because I’ve had to. I’ve met some incredible people who I will never forget and have learned so much about the world and myself. I am grateful to my parents and everyone else who supported me and feel blessed that I was able to go pursue one of my dreams overseas at 24.
Now I just have to get through the reverse culture shock of returning to the life that I knew in the U.S. but constant change = life and I feel pretty much ready for anything these days!