English resource teacher travels world, learns about international cultures by living there


courtesy of Julie Dean

English resource teacher Julie Dean feeds a baby kangaroo while in Australia. Dean has lived in five foreign countries because of her husband’s job.

Dropping everything and moving to another country certainly sounds appealing some days, but people seldom do it. English resource teacher Julie Dean, however, has done just that many times now. 

Dean has lived in many different countries with her husband because of his work as a foreign service officer. “I’ve lived in five countries [and] I don’t even know how many countries I’ve traveled to,” Dean said. To become a diplomat in America you need to pass a couple of tests, whereas in other countries, you become a diplomat because your father was one, or because you know somebody who is rich.

Originally, Dean did not like the idea of moving around a lot. “I’m such a homebody,” Dean added. “I would tell my college friends ‘I’m gonna get married and I’m gonna live in one place.’” 

But then she fell in love. She is really glad that she made the decision to move with her husband because she now has a much better understanding of the world and America’s place in it, even if she did not want to at first. For example, when Dean lived in Saudi Arabia she was not allowed to drive and she had to wear an abaya with a hijab when she went outside. “[I was like], ‘But I’m an American’ and they would say ‘We don’t care, this is our country,’” Dean said.

The place Dean has lived for the longest time, other than America, is Tokyo. She lived there for six years, even though her Japanese skills are barely conversational. Students in Japan study English for all 12 years they go to school, but they often prefer not to speak it because they don’t want to make mistakes, Dean said.

“I have these little phrases that could actually take you a surprisingly long way,” Dean added. She knew how to say things like “Hello,” “Goodbye,” and “This is delicious.” 

One of Dean’s favorite experiences came when she lived in Tel Aviv,Israel. She visited Jerusalem’s Old City, with its wide variety of historical religious places like the Dome of the Rock, Wailing Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. “You’re like, all that sacredness in one place. It was pretty trippy. How could it be that all of that happened in that tiny area,” Dean added.

Dean’s least favorite place she traveled to is Malaysia because the country was suffering from major fires, which caused a huge haze to fall over the country. They had to evacuate many areas because of it and there would just be months of burning air. “They were afraid that it was going to damage my lungs. And I had little kids,” Dean added.

Living in so many foreign countries forced Dean to step out of her comfort zone, like when she went canyoning down a waterfall in Japan. Canyoning is like kayaking, but the participant’s body is used as the kayak. “I’m not an adventurous person, but I married an adventurous person. And it’s made me better. [Now] I do things that I would never in my life do,” Dean said.

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