You may have a good friend or a fellow teacher who has taught overseas and told you how great it was. You may have even considered it yourself but never really looked into it. Whatever the case may be, this article is your chance to discover the top 10 reasons to teach abroad.
1. More Money - Salaries vary from school to school and country to country, but teaching abroad offers an excellent opportunity to save money. Most overseas teaching contracts include flights, housing, medical coverage, and bonuses. In the middle-east, most salaries are tax free. The vast majority of foreign countries also have a lower cost of living than North America and Europe. All these factors add up, and even if your yearly salary is slightly higher at home, you’ll be able to bank much more money overseas if you spend wisely.
2. New Culture - While you might not want to live overseas permanently, you can surely embrace and enjoy the cultural aspects while you’re there. Some of our most memorable moments and biggest life lessons come from exposure to different ways of living. Immersing yourself in a new culture - while challenging - can be deeply rewarding.
3. Foreign Food - One of the most interesting parts of daily life in a foreign country is the cuisine. If you enjoy trying new foodstuffs, your palate won't be disappointed. No matter what region of the world you go to, there’s a never-ending assortment of new dishes to try, including the local delicacies. Oh, and don’t worry if you’re craving something familiar because most countries love foreign foods just as much as we do - there’s no shortage of authentic Texas BBQ in Kuwait, or Gourmet Burgers in Egypt.
4. Making New Friends - When we decide to live in a new location, we quickly find that we’re at our most vulnerable. New cities, new language, new customs, and new currencies can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, making new friends is usually pretty easy, and whether they’re expats or locals you’ll find that most people are interested in hearing your story and sharing their own. Making new friends helps ease the anxiety and allows you to feel more confident about being in a foreign land. What's more? Some of the greatest lifelong bonds are made between people of different cultural & ethnic backgrounds during travels, and a big part of it is based on simple, unwavering trust.
5. More Free Time - When teaching abroad we realize rather quickly that there are very few responsibilities aside from work. Without a car to clean, without a stack of mail to read, with no neighbor’s BBQ to attend, we have a lot of time for ourselves. It’s a great opportunity to read all those books you’ve been neglecting, get your SCUBA certification, start working out (again), learn the local language, or spend your time browsing the streets for art, cafes, or whatever inspires you.
6. Expanding Your Mind and Your Heart - There’s one thing that happens to everyone who lives abroad for any extended period of time - they change. Living in a different culture has a magical way of transforming our ideas, opinions and perceptions. If you ask them, most people will tell you that they’ve grown and become a better person while living abroad. While everyone’s story is different, there’s a genuine opportunity to become a better version of yourself.
7. Expanding Your Resume and Skillset - Teaching is teaching, right? Wrong. Teaching overseas is a serious commitment, and it speaks volumes on a resume about your courage and strength. Not only is it an impressive addition to your papers, it also gives you a boost in marketability. Your experiences overseas will help you become more flexible and versatile in the classroom, and employers will assume that you can handle any challenge. It’s also likely that when you do return (although many teachers decide to stay) you’ll have some new tricks up your sleeve that will lend you an edge over non-traveled teachers.
8. Opportunity for Advancement - In many instances you can teach your whole career in a public school without any serious opportunity for advancement. While your pay might increase as the years go by, public schools are usually rather large. This means there’s always someone who’s been there longer than you who's entitled to any advancement opportunities the minute they open up. Teaching abroad is a bit different (for many reasons), and most private school teachers who show interest in advancement will be given that opportunity within a much shorter timeframe. Head teacher? Vice-principal? Academic administrator? You can advance much more rapidly, and once that title is on your resume, you can also leverage it in your career back home.
9. Making Your Mark - While teaching children from another culture, you have a rare opportunity to offer something they’d otherwise never be privy to. Your personal experiences and style of teaching are different than anyone elses, and there exists a unique beauty about sharing this with your pupils. Having teachers from various backgrounds and upbringings gives them a chance to be more open-minded and receptive at an early age. You are much more likely and able to spark their curiosity than a local teacher would be. In many ways, teaching abroad can be more rewarding because of this factor alone.
10. Learning About Yourself - When you combine the 9 reasons above, it’s quite clear that teaching isn’t the only thing you’ll be doing overseas. There is so much to see and do that it’s hard to imagine what it will be like until you’re actually there doing it. You’re going to be tested, but you'll also test yourself. You’re going to try things you never imagined you’d love, and you’re going to try things you’ll hate. You’ll have challenges and make new accomplishments, but you’ll also have a few failures. You will make new friends, new favorite foods, and adopt new ways of doing things. You’ll conquer some of your fears and you’ll have time to think. You’ll develop new perspectives, learn to laugh out of frustration, and find new ways of coping with problems. You might pickup a new hobby, learn to be more frugal, or fall in love with a new style of jazz. Whatever happens, you’re surely going to learn about yourself. The consolidation of your experiences while teaching abroad will become a part of who you are and help determine the choices you make in the future. Teaching abroad can help you learn more about yourself than you'd ever imagine.
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