Coming halfway across the world to begin something new can be scary for anybody, but can seem especially overwhelming for someone who is introverted. Coming from an introvert, the questions and thoughts kept piling up. Who would we meet? Where would we go? How would we greet the students and remember their names? It's so easy to get wrapped inside your head with these types of thoughts that would deter someone from making that leap to teach abroad. Big changes always take some transition time, and here are some helpful tips to make sure the first few weeks go smoothly!
- Know how you recharge best
Taking the time to understand what works for you and knowing what you need is an easy task you can figure out before leaving. Everyone has ways that work for them, and knowing what you need before getting to that place of stress is a great way to start. Thailand is famously known for its massages, and they are widely accessible throughout the country! It's a great way to relax and get any tense feelings out. Street food and snacks are everywhere you go, so going out and grabbing a Thai tea and some chips or sweet rice cakes is a great pick me up. Street food and markets are very cheap, especially in comparison to Western prices, so you can feel good and save money! Personally, I love looking around for cafes in the area. Thai cafe aesethetic is unmatched, the drinks are never too expensive, and the cafes typically have Wi-Fi, so it's perfect to get work done or watch One Day at a Time on Netflix.
- Invite others to what you are comfortable with
Going out and staying social during orientation is a great way to get to know people and see what they like to do. But going out for hours on end or staying out really late can seem intimidating. Iniating that conversation with something that you enjoy can ensure you can focus on getting to know the other teachers! Doing a little of bit of reseach to see what looks fun for you either in your placement or during orientation opens up so many possibilities. During our orientation, I would take as many breaks as they allowed within the time frame to walk down the street to one of the three or four coffee and tea vendors. I always invited anyone to join me and we ended up going a couple times a day. Those quick walks helped me stay within my comfort zone and get to know the other teachers!
- It's ok to say no
The first few weeks are spent getting a lot of information, meeting a lot of new people, transitioning to a new home, and adjusting to a new culture. That combination can lead to feeling overwhelmed, under prepared, and take away from the main focus of teaching. It can be tempting to push through this, but know your limits. Especially at orientation, or the first few days at your new placement, it's easy to want to see everything in just a short amount of time. For some people, this is no problem and can even make them more excited. But typically for introverted people, it's best to know when you need to say no. You will have time to travel and see that market you wanted or visit the massive malls in Thailand's cities. Taking time to rest and relax when it's needed will help you feel more prepared for your first day and first week of teaching!
Teaching abroad is truly the experience of a lifetime, and a personality type should not hinder that possibility. Taking each day as it comes with a confident energy and an open mind can only bring positive outcomes. Before my first class, I read this quote by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, "I am strong enough to do this. I am knowledgable enough to do this. I am prepared enough to do this. I am mature enough to do this. I am brave enough to do this."