Pick Your Own Mind if You Want to Teach Abroad

Why is it that whenever we are faced with big decisions our first instinct is to run off to our friends, parents and peers and ask them what we should do?

“Which University should I attend?” “What career should I be pursuing?” “Do you think I should spend that money I don’t have on a vintage 1967 Camaro?”

(By the way, the answer to that last question is yes).

The truth is, no one knows you better than yourself, and so no one is going to know what it is that you want better than you do. When you’re trying to decide on any big life choice and you want to pick someone’s brain, it’s a good idea to start with your own.

Now sometimes it is really hard to come up with a good answer, but that’s because you’re not asking yourself the right questions. I can’t tell you what things you should be contemplating if you’re trying to decide if that nose job is right for you, but I can help you with a few questions you should be thinking on if you’re wondering if you should up and move to the other side of the world for a while to teach abroad (and if you’re here on this blog, I’m hoping that you are). Moving abroad is a very big decision with very different circumstances than you’re used to, and it’s important to know your own thoughts on it before you go in and do it.

Here are few of my questions that you should ask yourself before you decide to move to another country:

Why do I want to go abroad?

Are you leaving your home country for the right reasons? Or for any reason at all? Do you want to experience new cultures? Meet new people? See the world? Are you looking to make easy money? Build your résumé? Are you running away from something?

Actually all of those reasons can be ok if you’re comfortable with them, but make sure you really know why you are planning to leave. It will help you build a new life in your new country if you have an idea in mind of why you’re there in the first place. The problem with leaving without a clear reason is that you might not even want to go at all—you just don’t know what else to do. The last thing you want to do is be thousands of miles from home asking yourself, “What am I even doing here?” It will make you feel nervous and unsure, and you’ll be unwilling to figure it out. Know before you leave why you really want to go.

How well can I handle spending time on my own (and still not live like a shut in)?

From the minute you leave the country, you will be alone. You’re alone on the plane ride to your new home, and you’ll be alone when you arrive. You won’t have any friends to comfort you until you make them, and so there will be a big period of time where you’re going to have to adjust without the help of anyone else.

Almost everyone can spend time alone, but that usually involves a television or computer and the couch. This isn’t the alone time I am talking about. A good way to gauge your comfort level is to take yourself out to a busy restaurant and have dinner completely alone. How do you feel? Are you insecure? Happy? Bored? Content? Nervous? This is a small taste of what it is like being alone in a foreign country. People will be looking at you—watching you be alone, and you’ll not have anyone else there to buffer that for a while. But that can be ok, and in fact, it can even be great. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the easier being alone abroad will be.

How comfortable am I looking and feeling foolish?

Chances are that you will be moving to a country where most people don’t speak English, and you’re going to make a lot of communication errors. You’re going to spend a fair amount of time being the most ignorant person in any situation, because you’re not going to be able to understand what is happening for a lot of the conversations happening around you. Are you going to be able to handle that feeling? It isn’t an easy thing to practice or think on at home, because everyone can communicate easily where you are. You’ll just have to prepare yourself in other ways. If you get embarrassed easily, just be aware that you’ll be in embarrassing situations very often, and many of them will stem from communication barriers.

Am I willing to learn as well as teach?

If you’re heaving abroad to live and work, it’s a safe bet to say that you’re done with school (and good riddance to that life!). However, when you’re in a foreign country, everywhere you go becomes a classroom and much more so than back in your home country. Everything will be a new experience: the culture, the language, the location, the people, the environment, the food, the customs, the music, the styles and so much more are all going to be completely different from what you’re used to. If you want to live and live easily, the best thing to do is try and learn some of it. It isn’t easy, though. You have to pay attention and practice. You may have to spend some money to take classes to learn the language, but I promise it will make your time abroad easier. Keep an open mind and be willing to continue to learn, and you’ll enjoy your time much more.

How do I feel about making new friends and leaving old ones behind?

This is an important question that has a few parts that need to be considered. First of all, you’ll have to want to be comfortable with talking to random strangers from several different countries who probably speak several different languages. Sometimes, you won’t have anything in common, but you may still want to be friends with these people. Being social while abroad is really important. The more social you are, the easier your life will be. You’ll be less likely to be bored and lonely, and you’ll eventually have friends and connections all over the world. But if you’re not comfortable striking up opening conversations, being abroad could be difficult for you. It isn’t like university where you’re placed in situations where you can make friends easily. You have to create these situations on your own.

Secondly, it is important to know that you really are leaving your friends, family and entire life at home. Not only are you going to put physical distance between yourself and there, but going and living abroad will change you. There very well may be a time when you no longer relate to your old friends, and you may close a few chapters in your book of life. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is a real thing that can happen, and you should prepare yourself.

Am I excited?

You should be. Get ready! You’ve asked yourself some really important questions, and now no one can make the decision but you. The final thing you need to know is how you feel about the move. Are you excited? Nervous? Apprehensive? It’s ok to feel all of those things. Just know that you’re in for the experience of your life, so be happy and let it be great, and it will be.

It is ok to learn that you don’t actually want to go. This life isn’t for everyone, but just don’t let anyone else make that choice for you. And if you are ready, go do it! Don’t let anyone talk you out of it, because I can tell you, it is going to be incredible.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SAM SIMILEwoman balancing

Website: http://reachtoteachrecruiting.com
Samantha is our General Travel Expert Sam is a writer, teacher, acrobat, fire-breather, stilt walker, athlete, coach, explorer, (sometimes) crazy person from America. She has and continues to work in everything from teaching to show business, and has lived and worked in both China and Taiwan. In her free time, Sam listens to The Beatles and just follows wherever life decides to take her.

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