Adjusting to life teaching English abroad

If you decide that the idea of teaching English and living abroad appeals to you then you’ve obviously made a decision that you want to leave your old routine behind.  When you first land in your new destination, however, everything will probably seem a little strange and unusual and even for an experienced traveller there can be a little bit of culture shock. Just remember not to panic, once you begin your teaching role and your surroundings become more familiar you’ll begin to adjust and embrace your new life.  Wondering what you can do to help the settling in process? Here are our top five tips:

Explore and become familiar with your surroundings:

Keep it small at first, have a look at what’s on the street or area around your accommodation.  See if you can find your local shop, bank and post office.  It can also be an idea to keep a map of the area with you so you can note places of interest.  As your confidence grows and you find your bearings you can explore a little further afield.

Learn some local phrases:

You won’t need fluency in the local language to work as a TEFL teacher as you’ll be expected to use English exclusively in your work environment.  That said, however, becoming familiar with some of the most popular/common local phrases can help enhance your experience and build confidence.  Whether it allows you to go to the local markets and get the best deals or jump in a taxi and direct them to your accommodation with confidence, gaining a command of some local phrases is certainly a benefit.  You’ll be amazed at how quick and easy this will be to do when you are fully immersed in the country.

Try the food:

Okay, so we all have our little foodie treats from home that we may miss but one of the great things about living somewhere new (and exotic) is trying the local cuisine.  Be adventurous (but selective) and try getting tips from those at work about the best local food spots to try.  We can guarantee when you eventually get back home there will be one new delicacy from your travels that you’ll really miss.

Meet new people, make new friends:

Nothing really helps you acclimatise better than meeting locals and making new friends.  Depending on where your TEFL adventure takes you, you may find that you are one of the few “westerners” in the area and a little bit of a local celebrity – in fact the locals make just come up and talk to you to “prove” how good their English is.  Local contacts at your school or private language institute can be great sources of knowledge and remember that everyone is proud of their city/town/country so they will want to ensure you have the best experience.  Don’t be afraid to talk about your own culture either, especially in the classroom, as this can be a great source of material.  One of the greatest memories of teaching English abroad is the people you meet along the way and you could make new friendships that last a lifetime.

Show respect:

For anyone who travels or works abroad it’s always important to remember that each country has its own laws and traditions and it’s extremely important to be respectful of these.  Research your new location before you travel there and be aware of different cultural or religious practices.  Keep in mind at all times that you are an “ambassador” for your own country and what you do helps form opinions locals will have of the Irish.

If you can keep these little tips in mind before you travel and embrace your new adventure whole-heartedly then adjusting to your “new life” shouldn’t pose a problem.

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