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I’ll never forget the moment I had the idea to teach abroad. I was a stay-at-home mom with my brand new twins, and I wasn’t feeling like my fun, adventurous, extroverted self. As I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across an article about a single mom of three who was living her best life teaching abroad. She talked about how it was such a great move for her and her family. That was the moment the idea was born.
Two years later, my family is preparing to leave this place we’ve called home. There have been many ups and downs, some regrets, and some amazing, life-changing, unforgettable experiences.
I’ve had a few teachers contact me on Facebook and Instagram asking about my experiences and to share they’ve been thinking of making the transition. If that’s you, I’m here to share the overall pros and cons of teaching abroad.
It’s always fun to visit another country for a few days or weeks but to actually live among the locals is an eye-opening and humbling experience. Moving abroad was my first time out of the country, and it expanded my mind in many areas around family, relationships, and teaching.
I discovered, that sometimes, we can restrict our thinking to be so minimal staying in the same place for years. Issues that used to bother me don’t really matter anymore. Things that seemed like such a big deal were, in reality, small temporary incidents that could be resolved with just a little thought.
Another positive is the stretching that takes place as a teacher. When you’ve gotten accustomed to your way of teaching, you can become stagnant by not trying any new techniques and not refreshing the old ones. Teaching abroad helps you to stay on your toes and puts you back into the learner’s seat to acquire new ways of learning to accommodate and assist your students in being successful. Language and customs can be barriers that cause you to work a little harder to overcome. But once you do, you’ll have new tools on your tool belt when you get back to your home country.Teaching abroad helps you to stay on your toes and puts you back into the learner’s seat to acquire new ways of learning to accommodate and assist your students in being successful. Click To Tweet
Of course, I can’t leave out the compensation. When you teach abroad, you will receive a package that supports you when you leave your home country. In many countries, your housing, health insurance, and place tickets for going home during the summer are covered. In other places, you may receive tuition for your children to go to a private school in the area. This gave my family the ability to pay off $22,000 in debt back home and pay our cars down! Some families have taken the time to travel every break to another part of the world. Whatever you decide, you can make it happen while teaching abroad.
If you want to move and teach abroad because you think the kids are better, you should just stay at home.
Kids are kids…everywhere you go. There is no perfect place with perfect kids and perfect administration. One of the cons is trying to learn how discipline is dealt with in another country. In some places, raising your voice is seen as shameful, no matter if it is necessary. In other places, children may be more respectful but can be years behind in education because they are first-generation students. Either way, you will find yourself in some form of a “sticky” situation because the way the school is led is different.
Another con is being away from your support system, your family and friends. When you have a hard day, it may be a few hours before you can call someone at home because of the time difference. When there is an emergency, you have to handle it alone. If you need some “me time,” it can be harder to take if no one is available to watch your children. Building friendships and communities is a great way to assist with certain emergency situations, but if you’re like me, it takes a while before I can trust someone I’ve never met before with my children or with my personal business. Once you do build those relationships, they’re great and can help you through some hard times, but it’s still not the same as the relationships you’ve built for years prior to arriving abroad.
Moving abroad will always be a challenge. It will be one of the hardest transition you undertake in life, but it will also be one of the most rewarding. If this is a goal you would like to accomplish, I have a few suggestions before signing the dotted line.
First, make a pros and cons list. What would be the benefits if you go? Will there be challenges that impact you more than the benefits? What would be the benefits for your family? Would there be any additional challenges if you brought your family with you or left them behind while you worked abroad?
Next, do your research. Look up some of the benefits offered if you taught in different countries. Join a few Facebook groups and ask some questions about the experiences different teachers have had while living in the countries you are interested in potentially teaching abroad. Send DMs to teachers who you know teach abroad and ask them for the truth about teaching in that country.
Last, create a plan. If you were to teach abroad, what would be the goals you want to meet? Do you want to save money for a home or to buy a car? Would you like to pay off debt? Is traveling around the world with your family the plan?
Creating a plan is so important because it can help you to choose the right country and the right package. If your goal is to travel, you want to go to a place where you would make a little more to pay off your bills and book your trips. If paying off debt is your plan, then you want a place where you’re making enough to live comfortably and still pay off debt.
Teaching abroad stretched my mind. It helped me to silence the voices of others around me to focus on my family and myself. On a personal level, I needed this. I needed a reset. My family needed a reset. We needed to get away, re-calibrate, and launch ourselves back into the world, a world that seems so different now.
As a teacher, I can’t go back to the way I use to teach. As a woman, a wife, and a mother, I’ll can’t go back to the way I use to live.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes