Monday, January 12, 2015

Should you consider teaching abroad?

It’s my last day of holiday and I’m heading back to Mumbai tomorrow. I’ve been blessed to spend time with my family for Christmas and New Year, and as always this is a time of mixed feelings. I worry about my elderly mother and my brother who is not in the best of health, and I know that I could do with seeing both my son and daughter more than just 2-3 times a year. At times like this I question my overseas life - so far away from those I love. And at times like this I need reminding about what this life has given me that I never would have got had I stayed at home.

  I’ve lived in 7 countries - some for a long time (over 15 years) and some for a short time (just 1 year). I know that I’m not the same person that I was when I left the UK on the night boat for Denmark back in the early 1980s. Living abroad has changed me, has opened my eyes to different perspectives. It has given me the confidence to know that I can move on, I can make a new life, I can deal with change and the difficulties that come from being in unfamiliar situations. I’ve always said that having done it once - having gone to Denmark by myself without knowing more than 1 person in the entire country (and then doing the same later in the USA and India) - I could go anywhere. Moving overseas has given me the knowledge that I can cope by myself - in fact I can do more than simply cope: I can make a new and good life for myself in unfamiliar surroundings.

This is one of the things highlighted in this article in the Huffington Post about living abroad, that you learn about you. When I was teaching in the UK it was safe and comfortable. I guess I could have gone on like that forever, because as the saying goes “you don’t know what you don’t know”. I accepted things because I didn’t know any different. Now that I have seen things in another light I know it would be hard to go home again permanently. Despite the fact that I know I would love being closer to family, I think I would find the whole experience too narrow, too parochial. I’m used to wider horizons.

I have friends in the same situation. We talk about where we will eventually end up. None of us really has a clue. The world is a big place and I’m not sure I could settle in just one corner of it now. The genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going to go back in again any time soon without a struggle. I really do feel that I could live ANYWHERE.

Around this time of year teachers are attending job fairs and thinking about leaving their “safe” home country and trying something new. My advice would be to do it - grab whatever opportunity may come your way. It might not be easy, but ultimately you will reap the benefits. Home will always be there - but you might find out that home isn't the place you once thought it was, it might not be the place where you really want to be.

Photo Credit: Niklas Bildhauer via Compfight cc


  1. This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you so much. I am struggling with indecision about moving abroad to teach but I know that I simply must do it. Staying in a permanent position forever - much like yourself - is yes, comfortable. But indifference is no attitude to have towards your own life. I am so excited but so nervous. And that's probably the best time to do it.
    Your article is wonderful. I particularly liked what you wrote about home in your closing paragraph; it is home, but it's not where I want to be. I yearn for a different one.
    Thank you and all the best.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. My advice is definitely "Go for it" - my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner as I taught for 6 years in my home country before moving overseas (I now think, gosh, I could have lived in 2 more countries in that time!). Good Luck!

  2. This post is so motivating! Well, I'm struggling with myself too weather to move abroad or not and when exactly is "the right time" to do so. It's so good to hear from you how great it is to move to so many different places! Thumbs up!