7 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Teaching Abroad

Things You Didn't Know About Teaching Abroad

Typically we all have our pre-determined ideas of what teaching abroad will be like; however, the reality often differs from what we originally believed – sometimes slightly and sometimes drastically.

At the end of the day, your year (or more) abroad will be what you make out of it. If you put in a lot of effort to working, you’ll reap the benefits. If you want to make a lot of friends, of course that’s possible, depending on where you teach. If your goal is to travel excessively then, to an extent, you can do that.

On the other hand, there are many realities of teaching abroad most teachers don’t realize until they’re already in their county of choice. The following will be 10 of those realities.

7 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Teaching Abroad

Being a Teacher Abroad is a Real Job

People go into teaching abroad thinking they don’t have to take their jobs seriously. Well, I’ll tell you, from what I’ve seen in the past, those are the people who get fired or quit because their bosses are “nagging” them too much. Then they’re stuck in a foreign country with no job and no visa. Not a happy situation for anyone.

You Can’t Dedicate All Your Time to Travel

Since being a teacher is a real, usually full-time, job, you’ll need to allocate your time accordingly. Yes, teaching abroad means you will travel – I mean you’re already traveling just going to that country – but you can’t neglect all your responsibilities; however, when you do have free time, travel as much as you can because…

You Don’t Have as Much Time as You Think

Countless of my teacher friends who left Taiwan after one year said they originally thought they had so much time here. When it came time for them to go back to their home countries they were shocked by how little they felt they explored. The typical situation is that, in the end, there will always be places you have left to visit, so you want to seize every opportunity to travel.

You Will be Affected by Culture Shock

Unless you’ve already lived abroad before or come from a similar background to the country you’re teaching in, chances are, you will feel culture shock in one form or another. It hits people in all different ways.

Some of the reasons are: feeling alienated by not knowing the language, not growing accustomed to the local food, difficulty finding friends, missing family and friends from home, not getting along with locals, misunderstanding customs and practices, the list goes on. The best way to lessen culture shock is to know it will (probably) happen, accept it, and move on.

You Will Meet Tons of Foreign FriendsFishing for Shrimp in Taiwan

If you’re teaching in a foreign country, chances are, many other foreigners are too. People travel from all around the world to teach abroad, and not just necessarily English. Take the opportunity to meet as many people as possible. You never know when you’ll get another opportunity to meet so many people from so many different places; however, even though it’s great to spend time with new friends…

Spend Time Alone

This one is more of a suggestion than a reality. Some people spend almost all their time surrounded by new friends, either with new roommates, coworkers, perhaps a relationship; however, I think spending time alone is crucial for any trip abroad. Taking the time to soak in the whole experience with your own thoughts makes the experience deeper.

And lastly…

It Will Change Your Life Forever

This one may seem quite obvious, but it’s not until you have your teaching country that you realize how big of an impact it will leave on your life. The friends that you’ve made, the places you’ve seen, the culture you’ve been exposed to, the kids you’ve taught, and everything in-between. I’m always an avid believer that all of our past experiences, positive or negative, shape who we are today. All of the above realities, as well as many I’m sure I missed, all combine to form a new us and lead us into a new chapter in our lives. Cherish every moment of the experience.

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