Life Teaching Abroad
Living abroad is becoming more and more popular every year, whether you have a plan as a part of a gap year, are looking for a new career path or just an adventure. The good news if you decide to make the leap is that it’s only getting easier, and with the wealth of advice we have available here at TEFL-Monster, narrowed by countries, plus support from our team, things couldn’t be simpler. The concept of it all may be the thing that gets to people, and this can sometimes be heightened when family members initial reactions make you take a step back, after comments like ‘is it safe?’ ‘are you crazy?’ ‘why would you want to go there?’ or ‘what’s wrong with here?’ – we’ve heard them all! Don’t let this put you off, they’ll soon come around and will have a new found respect for you, and be happy to hear all about your travels. They will also soon realize that they have the chance of an exotic holiday somewhere they might not have previously discovered!
When working abroad you have to remember that you’ve still got a job, and companies can be only more than happy to remind you that you’re there to work at times. So when taking this into consideration, just like home not every day will be perfect and you will have a bad day now and then. We have seen people just hop on a plane back to their country after this happens, but believe us, this will pass and just give it a few days before you’re back into your routine and happy again. If you are having a bad day, chat with your friends, or even your boss who’ll be more than happy to put things into prospective and make your time a lot easier. Sometimes it can seem like a good idea to phone your family in floods of tears and tell them all of your problems, but also this might only make things worse as there’s not too much that they can do from the other side of the world and it could just make them worry. Keep your head up and just remember that you’re doing something incredible, living a dream that so many people wish they were.
Take your time when moving to a different country, sometimes the excitement can be so much that it's easy to choose the first person to employ you. Do your research about employers and countries, be ready financially and you'll be set to have an amazing adventure.
Different countries have different means of contact. For example in the west we commonly use WhatsApp, in Thailand they commonly use Line, whereas in China there are restrictions on websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, so they use an app called Wechat. Have a look into the best means of contacting friends and family whilst abroad.
When you do move abroad you may witness a big culture shock, whether it be the incredible heat of the South East Asian countries, the harrowing smog in China, the communication breakdown in Japan, or the apparent lack of organization in Latin America. Each country has it’s own shock, or seeing the silver lining – charm.
Here are a few tips for overcoming the culture shock in a new country – first of all don’t expect everything to be exactly as it is at home. In many countries you won’t be able to turn on the tap and get a glass of water, and will instead be buying bottled water from a 7/11, the road signs will be different (though often have English also), the plug points are different, they may drive on the other side of the road, or in the case of Asian countries, often they will drive on both at times, which can be quite chaotic! These are some elementary factors, but will nonetheless become a part of your everyday life.
Remember that the people are different and may not hold the same values or opinions as you. Something that you may deem important such as saying please or lining up for things doesn’t always happen in other countries, and you need to be ready to accept the culture that you are entering for what it is. For example whilst we would always be handed change back in our hands at a shop, in China it is very common for money to be merely thrown on the counter without the staff even looking up and acknowledging you. This isn’t because they are trying to be rude, this is just their way of doing things and some Chinese people believe that it is a faster way of service. Also in countries such India, lining up becomes totally obsolete and you will be forced to battle with the locals when entering public transport, which can at times be infuriating, but needs to be all taken with a pinch of salt and the knowledge that you are in a different country.
An advantage of being in a different country is that you will have the opportunity to learn a new language, and this will seriously help your time away, getting into the swing of things in your new home. The locals will also really appreciate your effort to speak their language, and you will absolutely be rewarded for your efforts with new friends, opportunities and experiences. It goes a long way even saying thank you to the bartender or waiter in the local dialect!
All in all as crazy as the shock of living abroad may be at times, we think to embrace and enjoy it is the best option, and that it is very important to bring with you a good sense of humor plus a lot of patience. If it helps try to find a comfort from home whilst you’re away, such as a book, a guitar, a movie or some photos that make you feel more relaxed. Don’t worry or think too hard about the cultural differences, we have all experienced them and have grown to accept them. You are about to start an epic journey and learn so much about yourself and others. Go with it and have the experience of a lifetime!
If you have any questions or suggestions about anything, please don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below. Thanks – the TEFL-Monster Team