Perhaps the most common problem most teachers experience whilst living abroad is homesickness. The bane of all travellers, homesickness can really put you down; so much so that many teachers may quit their job and head home after a month or two. If you’re suffering from this or are worried that you might, take a quick look below to see how to combat homesickness.
One of the best ways to rid yourself of sadness is by making new friends. Meeting people, socialising, and generally having someone to laugh with will greatly improve your mood. Friends will distract you from the cultural shock you might be feeling and allow you to enjoy yourself. Even if you happen to be residing in slightly less exciting destinations, being in good company can completely change how you feel. If you’re living in a town or city, there’s a good chance that there are plenty of other English teachers in the exact same position as you – find them!
Not sure where to start looking? Remember, it’s 2018. Make use of the many means of communication available to you. For instance: connect with thousands of other travelers on the app Backpackr.
Additionally, keeping yourself busy is necessary when it comes to fending off homesickness. Of course, a lot of your time will be dedicated to planning lessons and teaching classes, but if you have just arrived in a new country and term hasn’t begun yet, then you might find yourself with little to do. Explore your new city, town, or village. Find out where the best food is, the most interesting museums, or exciting clubs are. This ties in with socialising so that you’re doing something other than missing home. Alternatively you could practice teaching, making sure to nail your first impression.
Chances are, it will be possible to pursue old and new interests alike no matter where you end up living. Cities can provide a number amenities and facilities for you to continue what you love doing whether it’s climbing walls, bowling, cycling, chess. Alternatively, rural areas are great for outdoorsy activities, but not so much anything else. In a way, this can be a blessing in disguise as it forces you to search for new ways to keep yourself entertained – hey, you might even discover a hobby for life.
Keep in Touch
Sometimes, just acknowledging that you’re homesick can help. Keep in contact with friends and family through social media, phone calls, emails etc. and update them on your adventure. Catching up with a loved one can really help put you at ease in your new surroundings. Make use of modern technology and the likes of Skype so that you can speak to parents, siblings, and friends face-to-face.
Whilst keeping in touch with folks back home can help, remember you traveled to this foreign land for an adventure, a change in scenery, and to enjoy yourself. After a while, you might find it’s not so different after all and rather like home. And if not, then being placed out of your comfort zone is exactly what TEFL is about. Always look on the bright side. You may be down in the dumps, but remember: you decided to become a TEFL teacher for a reason. You will not regret sticking to it.