Making the move overseas wasn’t a tough decision. I have lived far from home before and I’m someone that craves change. People would ask me about my concerns not knowing anyone, what my job was going to be like, and of course the culture. I definitely could’ve read more to prepare myself but I really didn’t know a whole lot or have many expectations. Then againI don’t think anything can really prepare you for adventures like these and that’s why they change your life! If you’re reading this, even if you’ve never left your town, you’re just that much closer to making the right decision. After teaching abroad for 15 months, I’ve learned a thing or two and can hopefully give you some helpful perspective on a few of the good and bad parts of teaching abroad.
Lets start out with the fact that everything is new and SO exciting. You’ll be immersed in a new culture, both in and outside of work. That’s means so many new foods and restaurants to try. I really love markets, so I started seeking them out in every new city. I recommend, if you’re keen on street food. Most of the time I’ll spend time in mom and pop type of places but I always have to experience a notable, fine dining restaurant. Just exploring on foot, especially hiking is another must do for me. Getting away from the city to ascend some of the tallest peaks is always a huge highlight of any of my trips. Things like these, discovering all your new favorites in a foreign place is such a thrill. Even with teaching you have a lot to discover. You have a new school, curriculum, students and coworkers.
On the other hand, it can be quite troublesome when pretty much everything around you is unfamiliar. Having to communicate with people that don’t speak the same language as you or getting around and needing to read signs or labels that are in a foreign language. You’ll have to get to know your neighborhood, like where to buy groceries or where the hospital is. You might no longer have access to your go-to products. Maybe it’s your first time spending this much time with kids. The way they behave or interact with you could be different from kids you’ve spent time with at home. Then there’s the work dynamic and cultural normals. Like perhaps addressing your boss in a certain way, or taking your shoes off before you go into your school or even a restaurant. All lot of day to day things that were once effortless at home, will require more thought. Some people adjust a lot better than others. So I would say for the others, this adjustment period would definitely be a down side of teachind abroad.
Now I’m going to list some less obvious ups and downs like meeting people or being far from home. Some additional downs would be weird or lack of some home appliances (a dryer for example), getting sick because of the new climate, and reverse culture shock when returning home. I haven’t experienced this yet but I can’t already tell it’s going to be weird. Also it can be easy to get burnt out so take care of yourself, pick up hobbies, keep your classes interesting and fun for the kids and YOU. It’s alctually really hard to think of negative things! I’ll go on with some more positives. Getting to be creative and make cool lessons and projects. Seeing your students learn a new language because of you! Saving insane amounts of money. I think the majority of programs will include housing so no rent! A teaching job abroad looks great on a resume. I could really go on about the upside to teaching abroad. The inevitable downs never last long, especially with a good attitude! Teaching abroad is an experience that is impossible to regret!