Thinking of Teaching Abroad? Do It!

Date Created: 13.02.2015

I did it! I got a primary school teaching job in Asia. My first overseas position. After a glance at the TES, I had applied for one job, been interviewed the following week, and offered a position for August 2014... And it was only October. I relaxed thinking this would give me plenty of time to get organised. 

Months passed and I heard nothing from my employers. I felt like I was continually hassling for information which dripped in slowly. Where was I going to live? Who would I be friends with? How much would I get paid? How would I send money home to save? Which shipping company would I use? My point is, I thought I would get help in these decisions. Help was limited, so I searched the internet for support, ideas and answer. Nothing prepared me. There were millions of articles of "Yummy Mummy moves family abroad following husbands job" and "single lad been transferred within company for 6 months" or even "every teaching position I take is in a different country" but what about "young single girl moves jobs and life to country she has never even visited alone?". 

Eventually I decided on a shipping company and boxed up my life. I changed my contract from 3 to 2 years (just in case) and set off on my 3 week adventures to explore Asia pre work. On the first of August I arrived in my new country and was collected by the company. We were placed in a hotel for 2 weeks until we found accommodation. This is where the stress began. 

Nothing was easy. Everything was done differently. I sweated more than I imagined. I couldn't find somewhere to live. I went to Ikea to look for furniture. I cried from homesickness every morning. I couldn't find the doctors when I got sick. I sweated some more. Everyone at home kept telling me I was brave. I didn't feel it.

Eventually, I found a dream apartment with another teacher I met, and everything was on the up. Feeling elated I went out for drinks and met my new "friends" (people I knew would become like my family but at that moment felt like strangers). Next morning we lost the dream apartment. More tears and 8 hundred more apartment viewings later, we got one. 

10 long days after arriving came the minefield of beginning work. I was working in a much larger year team than I was used to. There were so many opinions and ideas, it became tricky to know where to begin with planning and resourcing. I had also gone from being a lead teacher in my top private school in England, to being the least experienced teacher in the school. The change was hard, but making new friends daily helped. 

Teaching began, the sun shone everyday, my class were lovely, and I began to settle. Life became amazing.

I travel at least one weekend a month plus holidays, I go out on school nights, I have an 85m pool in my condo, I play netball for an amazing club,  my social life has boomed. Don't be disillusioned, work is hard, perhaps the hardest I have ever worked. But I am definitely playing harder! 

I have visited 10 new places, made the best friends in the world, saved some money, and followed my dreams...

My advice to you is: firstly, if you want to do, don't waste any time...teach abroad! Secondly, take any contact in your new country you can. Friends of friends, someone who someone once knew, anyone your new school can recommend. They may not be your best friend but they will have further contacts. 

When contemplating working abroad, a wise friend told me "you're not a tree, you can move!" Agreeing with this statement I would like the add the wise words of Dr Seuss "Today is your day, you're off to great places, you're off and away! Oh! The places you'll go!"


Jane is teaching in an English private school in Asia.