37. School Counseling in a Korean International School with Michelle Pownall

In this episode, join us as we dive into the incredible journey of Michelle, a seasoned international counselor currently based in Florida. 

Sneak peak of what is inside:

Travel Experiences:

  • Benefits of working in Asia, including travel opportunities.
  • Schools providing allowances for professional development.

Family Experiences:

  • Choosing unconventional summer vacations over returning home.
  • Experiencing diverse cultures and historical sites with family.
  • Kids growing up with a global perspective.

Advice for Those Considering International Positions:

  • Emphasizing the value of the international experience.
  • Michelle’s personal experience paying off significant debt through international roles.
  • Encouraging research for those contemplating international positions.

Connect with Michelle Pownall:

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Carol: You're listening to the Counselor Chat podcast, a show for school counselors looking for easy to implement strategies, how to tips, collaboration, and a little spark of joy. I'm Carol Miller, your host. I'm a full time school counselor and the face behind counseling essentials. I'm all about creating simplified systems, data driven practices, and using creative approaches to age students. If you're looking for a little inspiration to help you make a big impact on student growth and success, you're in the right place, because we're better together. Ready to chat? Let's dive in. Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Counselor Chat. I'm so happy that you are here with me today and my friends, we have a special guest. In fact, this guest I'm so excited about because when I started doing things online and with social media, michelle is probably one of the first counselors that I met online, and so we have kind of known each other for about ten years or so. So today with us we have Michelle Pinell, who is currently a counselor in Florida, but she is coming to us with this wealth of experiences. So I'm going to just stop right there with me trying to describe Michelle. I'm just going to jump right in and I'm going to say, hi, Michelle, welcome to the podcast.

Michelle: Hi, Carol. Thank you so much for having me.

Carol: And Michelle, I'm just going to let you kind of share your story and a little bit about all the things that you've done with school counseling.

Michelle: Okay, well, my start in education was as a teacher. I think a lot of counselors do start that way, and I taught kindergarten for about ten years and a little bit up to third grade, too. And so after ten years, at that point, I had my own children and I wanted to kind of transition out of the classroom and went back for school counseling. When I graduated for school counseling, it was about 2010, and my oldest, kiddo was just born, so I just knew I didn't want to have kids and stay in the classroom in that sense. But around that time, it was really hard to find jobs, so I'd stayed in the classroom a little bit longer than I wanted to. I'd gone on interviews, but because my experience was in elementary, a lot of the schools weren't hiring for elementary. It was just high school and it was just a weird time. And so I lived in Arizona at the time, and also Arizona was like one of the worst states for pay. And so what was really hard about that is me and my spouse at the time, we were both educators. And when there's a state that's really loan pay and we both have master's degrees that we're trying to pay student loans on and live, it was really hard and starting a family. So we were just looking at each other and wanting to try to do something else that we could utilize what we've learned but maybe make a little bit more money. And so in the process of just discussing it and coming up with ideas, we talked about Department of Defense schools. I knew that my dad, growing up, he worked for the Department of Defense, and so he never was an educator or anything, but I knew about that, so we talked about that. My spouse at the time, he went into his school and was talking to one of his colleagues, and one of his colleagues was like, oh, I know somebody at the Hong Kong International School. And he's like, oh, what's that? And they just gave kind of a description know, it's a school for kids all around the world that live in this city. Come to find out, his principal at the time also worked internationally too. So he had kind of quite a few resources of people that knew about this. And so he came home and told me, hey, my colleagues talked about international schools. So I got online and tried to find everything that I could, and there were some really good resources. There was a forum that we found, and I think it's still up there that I found a lot of information from. And so I want to say this was maybe about this time of the school year when we had this conversation, and when we were looking everything up, we found out that the recruiting season for international schools start in October and go through about January, maybe February at the latest. As we were looking through everything and doing this research, we realized all the benefits that educators have actually teaching internationally. The pay was a substantial pay raise from Arizona, where we were in addition, just all the other benefits that you got out of that, most of, I would say all the schools, they provide housing for you. That's one of the benefits of living overseas. So you don't have a housing payment, and then there's various benefits along with your housing. With that, most of them will provide full coverage health benefits for you and your dependents. And so we felt that this was definitely the way to go. So come about October, November, we started applying. There's a couple recruiting companies that actually go into the international schools. They have job fairs, and that's where at that time, a lot of people were getting their jobs at. You'd sign up for these companies pretty much like a headhunter, kind of. And they had a database of all these international schools, and then they had a database of all the applicants. And so schools could look up information on applicants, and applicants could look up information on schools, and they would host job fairs in person a couple places in the United States and also around the world. And people would get job offers there, depending on how competitive they know, what they taught, what their experience was and so forth. So as we were in the process of this, we decided to sign up for one of the recruiter companies. And it was a lot of information. It was like filling out applications, but you also needed letters of recommendation, not only from your current principals, but also from parents. And so it was kind of an extensive process. In addition to that, you had to go and apply well, you would use this forum sorry, this website with the recruiting to see what kind of openings there were. So it was kind of just a database in one spot. But then in addition to that, once you found a job listing that you were interested in, you'd have to go online to their website and apply individually. I kind of felt it was kind of like a common app where you're filling out one application and then you have to go and fill out the school's application. So it kind of reminded me of that. And it was an extensive process. And so this was 2013. I think it was 2013 when we started going applying, and our full intention was to the next school year, go ahead and move overseas. We were pretty sure that was going to happen for us. So we start filling out applications. We start doing all this, and we're starting to get interviews. And then we're also starting to get interviews with people that have openings, like immediately, because they're having a turnover, which is kind of rare, actually, in the international world. And so all that had happened in one month, I would say around Thanksgiving. Right after Thanksgiving, we found out that we both had jobs at a school in Korea, and that started in January. So we had so much to do. Our intention wasn't to leave in the middle of the school year because my spouse at the time was a teacher. I was a teacher. What did he teach? He taught fifth grade at that time, and the job opening they had was for a first grade teacher. And that's where I had always taught. But I was like, no, I'm doing school counseling. And they had a school counseling position. So I got the school counseling position, my first school counseling position, after my internship. And he got a position in first grade with the understanding that it was only for a half of the year, and then he would be able to move up to fifth grade. From November to January, we had to sell pretty much all the stuff in our house or store it, find some way to deal with it. We sell a car or store a car, just all the things that go with moving, but on an international scale. One of the things that we also had to do was get a work visa. Some countries you can go ahead and get that arranged closer to when you're in the country, I think. But in Korea, you had to have that. And so you had to go to the Korean embassy in the US to get that. As far as I know. I think there's one in DC, one in La, and I'm not sure where else. So my spouse had to go fly to La for 24 hours to get our work visas so we could actually fly and work there. We ended up moving at the time, it's me, my spouse, and then I have a three year old at that time, and so we're all moving there. One of the main things that I was really concerned about was childcare, because I did have a three year old, and that's not school age. But what I found out about a lot of the schools in Asia, they have some type of either they pay for daycare or it's on site or something. They have a benefit. Most of them would have a benefit for some type of childcare, for your younger dependents. And so I felt really good about that, and I made sure that was something that was a non negotiable for us when we moved the school that we ended up at, it had an onsite classroom for the little kiddos, and they even had a room for babies. So if staff members had children born there, there was a room for babies, there was a toddler room, a preschool room, and then going into pre K, they started doing the International Baccalaureate program. And so I was really fortunate for that because who wants to go to a foreign country when they have a kid and you don't speak the language and all the things that go with that? It was very stressful. So we moved there, and this school, it was amazing. They sent us information in the mail, books in the mail for us to read before we got there. They even had like, taxi cards where there was addresses written in Korean, but also written in English. But we get there within 24 hours. At the country that you go to, typically you're at a hospital visit, they need to do a health screening on you maybe within the first week. But for us, since we came mid year, within 24 hours we were at the hospital. And so we were doing they x rayed our chest to make sure that we didn't have what is it, tuberculosis, because they give tuberculosis vaccines in Asia still, whereas in the US we don't. But they're doing X rays, they're doing blood tests, they're doing teeth exams, eye exams, respiratory exams. They're doing all this stuff to make sure, know, you're healthy enough to be in their country, because some countries.

Carol: They.

Michelle: Won'T allow you to work there if you have certain health problems. So that's important. And then the other thing is going overseas, there's certain ages that you have to be, I think, below 60 years old in order to work overseas as well. And so within 24 hours we're doing that. We come back from the hospital, we get back to the school, and we're still jet lagged, and we're having to do all this orientation, meeting people. And so that was kind of our start from day one. It was very interesting, very interesting experience, I will say that. And so when I got there, I was one of the middle school counselors at the time. I can't remember if it was a certain age level or grade level, or if it was just middle school, but that was for half a year. And then starting the next school year, two of the counselors that were there left. So there was me, a brand new counselor, and then somebody else that came in mid year too, and she was doing seniors. So there was a senior counselor. There was a counselor for nine and ten that school year. I was six through eight. And then I don't even think there was an elementary counselor at that point. They eventually added one, but at that point I don't believe there was. So I was in charge of middle school and the middle school students, so I had stayed there at that school. We'd stayed there for about seven years, and within that time, I did end up moving up at one point to grades nine and ten. That's class that I came in was 6th grade. I was 6th, 7th, and Eigth with them, and then I looped up with them for nine and ten, and then come eleven and twelve, there was a separate counselor for that, which was like the college counselor in that time frame, too, because I was there for seven years, six, seven years, something like that. I became department head, and we had accreditation visits, and so I would help with the accreditation visits in terms of our department. And what was really cool was, because our ratios were so low, we had the resources that I was really able to implement almost the full aska model. And that was my first counseling experience. I remember being there the first couple of months. It was just like, okay, what does everyone expect of me? They hadn't really told me at that point. I just kind of was there and was working, and so I'd jump into where I was needed, and then when I started to feel more comfortable, I was able to kind of shape how I wanted things from the beginning. So that was a really big benefit to that.

Carol: Okay. So Michelle, I have a question for you. What was it like to really be a first year counselor, even though you've had experience in education, which I'm guessing was pretty helpful. But what was it like being a first year counselor in a foreign country? Do you think it was different if you had started in the States?

Michelle: I think so. Being a first year counselor and kind of being everybody was pretty much new in the so at that point, the college counselor, they were pretty much retired from the in the States, or almost to retirement, and they came over, so they knew what they were doing, and they just did their own thing. The other counselor that came in, they came from another high school. And so I collaborated with that person quite well, but at that point, I'm still learning how to be a counselor in addition to having all the cultural changes. So what I do think was different was what I expected the students to be, because you hear high school students, and sometimes, at least from the US. Perspective, there's a certain level of behaviors in my experience with some high school students, but because this is in Asia especially, and I knew a little bit about Asian culture, but I didn't even know where Korea was on a map before I moved, so and I just knew about the Korean War. Everything I knew about Korea was from my parents watching Mash when I was little, so I really didn't know much. But Asia in general, the students, they respect their elders so much just because it's embedded in their culture. And so as far as behavior problems, there was few and far between, which was really nice. And it took a while, I will say, for me to really take a grasp and understand that since most of our although we were international school, most of our students were Korean, and another passport holder, like whether Korean American or Korean Canadian, and so they lived in Korea, but they also had US. Citizenship or Canadian citizenship or Australian citizenship, in addition to all the other cultures that were there. But because there were so many Asian students learning what mental health is in Asia and knowing that it's still so new and not, it brings a lot of shame. If there's somebody with a mental health problem, it brings shame to their family. And so they don't pursue the counselor as much. It's one thing if it's a schedule change, and it's one thing, maybe a college question, but if there's really a mental health issue going on, they don't pursue that counselor. And so I had to find ways to insert myself into speaking to everybody, whether it was through the minute meetings, because then you go through everybody or doing something like in that format a couple of times a year. Within the classroom, just calling everybody one at a time, like in the back of the classroom and doing a quick conference with them a couple of times a year. So not anybody sticking out by walking to my office. So that part was a little different as well. It took me a good year and a half probably to feel comfortable with the change in how the students were and just the culture in general. It was a big surprise when I got there because I just thought kids were the same everywhere, and no, they're not. I didn't know, but that part was very different.

Carol: So as you were doing your search, I know that you had a spouse then. Was it difficult because there was two of you looking for a job in the same location? Did that limit your search at all? Or did you think that really didn't have much bearing on where you were going to be applying?

Michelle: Well, I actually found out that international schools prefer to hire couples that are teaching because it's cheaper for them to pay for your benefits as a couple than it is with singles. So if they're paying for your housing, they need to make that one housing payment instead of two separate housing payments for two different singles. So ideally, if there's a teaching couple out there and when I see teaching couple, it's anything in education, really. But a teaching couple with no kids, that's the ideal person that they want teaching for them. And then if you do have children, either one or two children is the most that most schools will want you to have. There's some exceptions here and there, but after one or two kids, then you might need to start actually paying for some of the benefits that you would receive for free with the smaller number of children. So, yeah, if you're a teaching couple out there, go ahead and highly think about this because it's a lot easier, actually.

Carol: What made you guys decide on Korea?

Michelle: I think a lot of it because we were trying to pay off loans. One of the things that I researched first was definitely salary. And as much as I would love to go live in Europe, they don't pay for housing like they do in the Middle East or in Asia, because everybody wants to go to Europe, and it is kind of more expensive to live there as well. And so just because of that, Europe was out of the question. So when we were looking at other countries, we're just looking at pay. And when I was on the forums, I was reading about people's experiences, the Middle East, a lot of times, although there are plenty of international schools, a lot of those experiences are lived on a compound. I think at this point, I wouldn't have a problem with that. But at the moment, at that time, back then, I was just like, I don't know about that. I don't know if I would want to live on a compound where you can't go out into the city without certain things, or especially being a female, I'd have to make sure to go with either my spouse at the time or some other male. And so that wasn't out of the cards because they did pay very well and they had good benefits. But the more and more I read about Asia, I felt that that was probably going to be the best for benefits in terms of where we could get placed. As I was reading about certain things and researching for people that have never had international experience, it is difficult to get into certain popular regions. And so when we were researching, I looked at everything from benefits and pay and then also where we would have a good, decent chance to actually get hired on. And Korea and China fit that bill, and so we were pretty much open to we were applying throughout China and Korea.

Carol: Oh, I had a question here that I wanted to ask you, and now I totally spaced. Oh. What was it like, really moving somewhere where you really didn't have an understanding of the language or how difficult was that part of your move?

Michelle: Well, I mean, at the beginning, it was really hard in terms of, well, I think what okay, so here's what made it hard at first. So there's a honeymoon, everybody, and it might be even with a current move, I can't really relate it to anything in the US. But there's a honeymoon phase where you're just so excited to be there. You're so excited, and then there's kind of a dip in everything when you're just like, oh, my gosh, what did I do? Do I need to leave? We never quite got that bad, but my second son was conceived the first week we were there because we were so excited to be there. So about a month later, a month and a half later, and I found out I was pregnant. That's when I was freaking out, because I was like, what in the world? I'm in a country where I don't understand anything. I mean, they speak English a little bit, and some things are in English, but it's different, right? You're not at your home. I don't have my family, and so I'm freaking out. It took a couple of days for me to calm down and realize other staff members had had babies so I could go and talk to them, which I did. And going through that experience and being pregnant, actually in a different country and having my child there, going through that is what made getting the support that I needed with the other staff members and realizing that there are people out there that they spoke both Korean and English and their jobs were to help foreign women go through the birth process. And there are special hospitals that you could pay for that cater more towards Western people that are having babies. So that was really good. Once I found all that, I started to calm down. But at that moment, all I was thinking about was, oh, no, I'm having a baby in a foreign country. But going through that experience and seeing all the supports that were there really helped me. The good thing about Korea is that almost everybody does speak English. And if they don't, they have an app on their phone where they will translate what a lot of them can understand English and they will translate from Korean to English. And so I found it pretty easy actually to get around and not need to speak Korean. But at first I didn't know that. I found that out within probably the first year living there.

Carol: So I'm sure for people that are listening that are thinking about, oh, is international school something for me to think about? I think that might be a little helpful piece of information for them to know too, because I think if I was ever thinking about living abroad and working abroad, I would be a nervous wreck if I could communicate what was going to be happening. Am I ever going to set my foot outside the school or am I just staying there because they're the only people who can understand what.

Michelle: And that's where and that's where I will say that the compound idea in the Middle East that could be a benefit, right? Everybody speaks you're in this bubble that everybody's speaking the same language, but whereas other Asian countries like Singapore, they're English speaking, Malaysia, english is one of their main languages. So there's a lot out there where people are speaking English or that's the other language that they learn. And so once actually realizing that, I felt a lot more comfortable. So definitely, I mean, English is an international language no matter where you go. And of course we learned a couple of phrases and when we were first there, I was only able to say hello and thank you and goodbye. And that's what I would say. I would try really hard, and that's what I would say. I did go ahead and try to learn their alphabet where you could read things, but I didn't know what I was reading unless I was looking at a subway map because it was the cities. But yeah, it's hard. But it was nice to have a support system. And there are a lot of singles that do, you know, after their two or three year contract, they move to the next country and that's how they live their life. So it's definitely a community that has lots of support. I will say that awesome.

Carol: So I know that you were there for a while and now you're back in the states, you're in Florida. So what was it like transitioning back to the states and then from working internationally to now working in the US. How was that transition?

Michelle: Well, I would say that transition was harder, to be honest. I think it was much more difficult when we moved back, it was in 2020, so COVID was still going on and we moved to Florida. And we don't have family here, but my spouse at the time really wanted to be in Florida. Okay, so that was our plan. We moved here and this state opened know, before a lot of other states did. So really the COVID part didn't affect us as much. I will say in terms of work and school and things like that. For my kids, there were some people chose to stay home and do the virtual option. So that was a little different. But we were able to go into school with masks and carry on. That was kind of normal. The part that was hard, I think, because I never lived in this state, there was a big culture change, know, from Arizona to here and of course, internationally, huge culture change. I feel like Florida has its own kind of special people and different ways of doing things. But even know, working and going in and getting my job as a counselor, yeah, it was really surprising because Aska people know about Aska, but there's a lot of non counseling duties. And so me just having to learn how to do a 504 for the first time, I never had to do that. So even learning how to do that, learning what multi tiered system of support was for MTSS, I didn't know what any of this stuff was. So that was my learning curve. I kind of did feel like a first year counselor all over again just because I'm having to learn all these new processes and there's a lot of paperwork where we are for those types of things. In addition to all the other non counseling duties that our district has counselors doing. Between that and then trying to relate to the students again, trying to figure out what was going on in my life, it was much more hard, much more difficult to come back here.

Carol: I will say, I know it's not the same, but each time I've transferred to a different job, I remember going from the high school to the middle school in the same district. It was like a completely different job that I had to relearn. It was just so different. But even going from one district to another, the differences with having to learn, like, well, this school does have you provide IEP counseling, and you have to learn how to write goals, and you had to learn how to progress monitor, and you had to do these different things that, after 25 years, I'd never had to do before. So I totally understand how things are different. But yeah, I would imagine that the difference. And coming back during COVID too, that must have threw you in for another loop. But coming back from one set of systems to something completely different, how that can be difficult.

Michelle: I'm not sure how it is in other districts, but at least in ours, the principal can decide to do pretty much whatever they want. They're pretty autonomous. It's their school. So even what the counselor jobs and like you had said, from one school to the next, the principals decide what they want their counselors doing. And in this district, and I'm sure it's like that in some others, but I didn't know that until I'm doing what. I'm doing now. But, yeah, it was tough. It was definitely tough to get back into everything. So I think it took a full year for me to calm down. And, okay, I know what I'm doing now. But the thing that is mostly different, I will say, is when you're working at an international school, you're working with these people. You're hanging out with these people on weekends and after school hours, you're in this bubble with these people that are all in the same experience for you. Whereas when you're working at schools here, it's not like that. You have a very distinct separation between work and home. Maybe every once in a while you'll talk to somebody and hang out with somebody that you work with, but it's not like that here. Whereas overseas, there's a very strong community because everybody's in that experience together. It's kind of a cool community.

Carol: In that way, it sounds like they're your family when you're away.

Michelle: It is. Yeah, because your family isn't there. Right. And so you're doing everything with these people, and it works of I kind of liked it better, but it's just a different way of doing things.

Carol: Okay, so here's just a very random question, but while you were in Korea, what was the most interesting food you tried?

Michelle: Oh, goodness. Okay, so at that I will tell you. When we moved over there, my spouse and I were vegan. Koreans are not vegan. It's very small, very small group. So my spouse was still vegan the entire time. I, on the other hand, when I got pregnant, I honked down a Big Mac for the first time in years. It did not stay down, but I chose to eat that. And so anyways, after that experience, I was like, okay, I got to start doing a little bit of meat here because I'm just going to be hungry because that's what people eat. So I honestly didn't try anything that was totally, totally weird. Now, I saw weird things that I did not try, but I did not eat any of those things because I do eat all meats now, but at that point, I was just doing chicken. And so that part was a little different. Probably not the same experience, but I will say, like on the street, one of the big foods that they have is they have these I think it's gosh, I got to look it up. I think it's called bundengi. Let me Google it's. Like some type of an insect that was like a street food, and I did not eat that. They were very pungent in smelling. So that was probably the weirdest thing. And then we would go to Korean open air markets, and they would have the seafood dishes, like, what is it, the octopus. And I don't even remember the name of it, but the octopus where it was a live octopus that they'd chop up and then put chili sauce on and people would eat that. I remember colleagues trying that. There was a group of men that got together for a barbecue because they wanted to try it. One of the local shops sold dog meat, so they had a barbecue one time for that. So that was a little I don't know, we don't eat everything like they do.

Carol: I would have been crying for that one.

Michelle: Yeah, but those are the same people that when they would go to China, they would taste their dishes and stuff, too. I was not an adventurous eater, so I'm sorry, I didn't really try anything weird. Meat was weird to me at that time.

Carol: Got you. And was there one experience that you had while you were there that when you look back, you're like, this was incredible. I'm so grateful I got to witness this. Do you have any of those moments?

Michelle: Oh my gosh, okay. There were a lot one of the benefits, obviously, as being in Asia, you get a lot of travel. You can do a lot of travel. And so one of the benefits that they give you as schools is they pay for your airfare to go home every year for summers. Well, there was eventually a time where we chose as a family to not go home over the summers, but we would pay for the Christmas time to go Christmas, and we would just go on vacation over the summer. So we would do a lot of extensive traveling all over to Europe, to different places in Asia and things like that. But one of the things that we were so excited about is one of the reasons why my prior spouse wanted to move to Florida was because we're really big Disney people and we were able to go to almost all the Disney's in the world. Like, within six months, we were going to Disney Japan. And it was amazing. It was like a dream come true. So maybe some of your listeners can relate to that, that really love Disney. And it's actually funny is one of the trips that we were planning was in February of February 2020, we were going to go to Shanghai and go to Shanghai Disney. And we're like, oh, there was a break there for the Lunar New Year. But then we're like, Well, I don't know, maybe we should book it. But I hear people are getting sick. And if we had gone to Shanghai in February of 2020, we would have been locked in that city. We wouldn't have been able to return home because that's when COVID broke out over. So that was a good decision in the end to not do that because everything closed down. But yeah, there were so many travel experiences, and even I will even say, Carol, that these schools give you an allowance for your professional development. Some schools give 500 per year, some schools give 1200 per year. And so if people are training, most of the time, at least in Asia, you are going out of the country to go to a professional development. And it is amazing because you go to these conferences and to kick off the conference, there's always, like, a social gathering, but these social gatherings, because the dollar can go further. And some of these countries that they have them in, they have, like, full on cultural performances and a full buffet of things. It's pretty amazing. And also, I will say, even from the college side, a lot of college US colleges, Canadian colleges, UK colleges, they all are recruiting your students. And a lot of the time, for whoever that college counselor is, they're flying them into their university to go do a university visit. So just the travel opportunities all around, professionally and personally, it's amazing. It's like a whole other world that you don't even know exists, because you don't get that when you're in the US.

Carol: Right, I think, well, if you're going to be abroad, there's no excuse not to travel, I guess, right. And check everything out and make the most of your time.

Michelle: Yeah, it's amazing. I feel very lucky that my kids right now, they're 14 and ten, but even my ten year old, he remembers little bits and pieces. He was able to travel the world and go see things that people only read about in their history books, and they were actually able to go see that. And I feel so fortunate that they were able to get that experience, but also get the experience of seeing third world countries. It's been a great thing for my kids, but they're back here now, and they absolutely love it here too, because now they're able to grow up in their culture and feel like a true American kid.

Carol: Well, that is awesome. Michelle, this has been really so insightful. I just loved hearing about all your adventures, and I'm so thankful that you shared them here with us today.

Michelle: Yeah, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Carol: Is there any other advice or anything that you'd want to share with someone who's thinking about applying internationally?

Michelle: Yes, definitely. Get online and do your research. I'm sure there's even more out there than ten years ago from when I started. But it is such a great experience, and a lot of people, they're like, well, my family is here, and yeah, your family is here, but it is such an amazing adventure. I was able to come back home both of us were able to come back home with zero debt and no student loans or anything. But when we went over there, all of our debt combined, so both of our student loans, our cars and all the things, it was over $100,000. And for educators to get out of that pile of debt is almost impossible when you're doing a normal job. So I highly encourage that. I highly encourage to go on and research, and if you're even thinking about it. It's completely worth it.

Carol: That is awesome. So awesome. Is there a way for people who want to connect with you that they can connect with you?

Michelle: Yeah, actually, I can give them my email address, but, I mean, I'm on your Facebook group, so if people are on there, they can definitely connect with me on your Facebook groups that we're on. But let me go ahead. I'll give you guys my email address, my professional email address that I use. It's P-O-W-N-A-L-L. Michelle with two L's at@gmail.com.

Carol: Okay. I will make sure that I put that in the show notes for people that are listening and that want to connect with you. I think that'll be nice if you have questions that they can ask you and things like that. Are there any shows this has nothing to do with school counseling, but are there any shows that you are currently binge watching?

Michelle: Oh, goodness. This is actually kind of funny because it relates to this. Before I left for Love, I was into Grey's Anatomy since the beginning, and I watched Here and know in Korea, you kind of got to get creative with your TV, with your watching of American shows. So I am now going back on Netflix, and I picked up from where I left off, and I have been binge watching, I think from season eight until whatever's left on Netflix. So I think I'm on season, I don't know, 1617. It's been a lot of Grey's Anatomy.

Carol: That's okay. I have binge watched Grey's on Netflix, too. And it's so funny because I finished watching all of it, and then I was like, I don't remember what the first couple of seasons were about. So now I'm kind of like going back through and rewatching them all. Yeah, I'm right there with you. I'm right there with you for sure.

Michelle: It's been on as long as I've been gone. When I started left and came back, it's still on so many seasons. So it's been great.

Carol: Been on forever.

Michelle: It really has. And these people that I'm now watching, seeing their flashbacks, they look like little children. So that's pretty funny.

Carol: All right, and one last random question for you.

Michelle: Okay.

Carol: If you could pick out any car that's out there, what kind of car would you pick and why?

Michelle: I have always loved just the classic 1957 Chevy with the wings and the whole 1950s looking car.

Carol: Would you get like, that funky blue that they had back then?

Michelle: I either do the blue or I have family members that do car paint jobs. I've always thought of doing like, a raspberry sparkly pink color, like a dark raspberry color that's like a candy apple raspberry or whatever. That candy raspberry pink.

Carol: I have it pictured in my mind. It looks very beautiful.

Michelle: Yeah, if only it's like, automatic and has AC and a good way for me to bluetooth, then I'm good, but have to have a lot of updates for that. But they're beautiful cars.

Carol: I love it. All right, well, this is fun.

Michelle: I know. Thank you so much for having me. I had a great time.

Carol: So thank you and our friends that are listening, thank you for joining us. I hope that you found if you're interested in traveling abroad or doing you're at an international school or maybe 5678, whatever it may be, that this episode was helpful. I really do. Like I said, Michelle, I really appreciate this. This was great catching up. Well, friends, once again, thank you for joining us. And until next week, have a great week. Thanks for listening to today's episode of Counselor Chat. All of the links I talked about can be found in the show notes and@counselingessentials.org podcasts. Be sure to hit, follow or subscribe on your favorite Pod cast player. And if you would be so kind to leave a review, I'd really appreciate it. Want to connect? Send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram at counseling essentials. Until next time. Can't wait till we chat. Bye for now.