Teaching English overseas is an exciting career full of adventure and new experiences. It is however not for the faint of heart. A career in teaching overseas is a bigger commitment than most jobs. To embark on this adventure, one must leave their entire life behind to begin a new one in a strange new land full of cultures and customs often completely different from the ones left behind. It’s not a career for the faint of heart and and no matter how brave and determined one is to pursue this career, there will inevitably be ups and downs. While everyone is different, here are the five stages most individuals will go through while teaching English overseas.
During the application process of teaching English overseas, you will inevitably be quite nervous. It’s an adventure unlike any you have ever gone on and here’s where all the what ifs come in. “What if the visa doesn’t come in time?” “What if I can’t teach?” “What if I miss my family?” It’s completely natural and nothing to worry about. As time goes on and stuff starts to fall into place, this nervousness will be quelled. You’ll probably get in touch with future coworkers in your school, your visa paperwork will go through just fine and your friends will start planning their vacations to come visit you. Looks like teaching English overseas is gonna be a blast!
Now that everything is set up for the transition to run smoothly, excitement starts to kick in. Your life is wrapped up, plane ticket bought and goodbyes said. Sure you’re gonna miss everyone back home, but the road ahead is fraught with adventure and new experiences. This excitement will begin a couple weeks before you leave and carry into the first couple weeks of arriving at your new home. Everything is new and exciting. You will see things you have never seen before in your entire life, probably meet a few cool like minded expats also teaching English abroad and maybe even get yourself into an adventure or two that you’re already excited to tell your friends back home about. You will be enchanted by everything; the food, the people, the architecture, and especially your smiley new students; who would have thought they’d be this cute. This is definitely your honeymoon phase of teaching English abroad so enjoy it while it lasts, which unfortunately might not be for very long.
Eventually once the honeymoon phase of teaching english overseas wears off, it will inevitably hit you; doubt. It can sneak up on you suddenly when you least expect it, after a bad day, a huge communication mishap or a fall off your scooter. Suddenly new and exciting can become alien and barbaric. You may realize you suddenly hate spicy food, the locals are constantly trying to rip you off, you miss your friends and family back home and your students are actually absolute terrors behind the mask of cuteness. Don’t worry, you’re simply a victim of culture shock which happens to the best of us. This is temporary and will go away with time as you get more used to your new environment, make a few friends and start getting good at putting the fear of God into your students. As tempting as it may be to quit and hop on the first plane back home, it’s important to hang in there and give yourself enough time to get used to your new life teaching English overseas.
Luckily culture shock doesn’t last long. Within a couple doubt filled weeks, things will start to get better. Sure you still miss the people and places back home, but you’re also starting to really like the new people and places you’re finding. You’re more used to the teaching overseas routine and are starting to like that too. Sure your weekdays are hard work, no one ever said teaching English overseas was easy but you’re getting the hang of it and starting to really connect with your students and fellow teachers. And the weekends are glorious, you spend the days doing things you never would have back home; exploring waterfalls, caves, beautiful beaches and quaint villages with your new crew of fellow teachers while the nights will consist of quirky bars and cheap beer. You’ll find all your favourite restaurants and hangouts, and start to make friends with the locals there who will be fascinated by your culture and do their best to make you feel welcome. It’s a really good thing you hung in and didn’t get on that plane home!
It’s shortly after the culture shock wears off and the acceptance sets in that you realize something that didn’t seem possible a couple weeks ago; you love your new life teaching English overseas! Everything in your new home is amazing. You start to understand and appreciate the new culture you are now immersed in, and maybe even start to adopt parts of it as your own. Life is so much better and more fulfilling than it was back home, and you are incredibly glad that you made the decision to embark on a career teaching English overseas. Along with the joy brought to you by your new experiences and by now countless adventures, you might feel something else too; pride. You did it, you made the decision and stuck with it all the way to the end. You were brave enough to leave your entire life behind and begin a new one in a place a lot of the people back home wouldn’t be able to survive a day in. So enjoy all that pride and joy, you earned it!
myTEFL provides accredited training and job placements abroad. Please contact us here to inquire about starting your journey with us!