The idea of going to another country and experiencing new cultures, foods, history, nature and more is nothing short of an adventure. Many people would love to embark on such a journey. Who wouldn’t want to experience castles in France? One could have the opportunity to visit and walk in the beautiful gardens of Chateau de Chambord that was the brainchild of Francois I and Leonardo da Vinci.
This adventure could also take one to Italy to investigate pizzerias. Wouldn’t it be fun to determine if one Italian pizzeria was better than another? What’s more, it would be really interesting to see how they stack up against American-made pizza.
In Mexico, this journey could take one to Mayan ruins. One could hike these incredible marvels and speculate as to how they were developed so many years ago.
While this is one side of equation when deciding whether or not to teach aboard, the other side is little more humbling. It’s not that this other side is bad, but it’s realistic. For instance, one would be working while living abroad. Sure, there would be time to explore and experience incredible sites, but it wouldn’t be a vacation. As teachers of all types know, the classroom has demands. From lesson plans to teaching techniques, the classroom environment can be challenging.
In addition to these demands, the teaching environment in a foreign country is very different from a classroom environment in North America. What may be offensive in one country, may not be in another and vice versa. Research, keeping up with news events and constantly being informed is required to ensure an effective classroom environment.
When thinking about teaching techniques, a popular review exercise may not work at all in a foreign country. Teachers are often very disciplined and methodical in their teaching approaches. However, in a foreign environment, a teacher must be flexible and adaptable to new ideas and methods that are very different than what they consider normal.
Another factor to consider is the emotional side of being away from everything you know to be familiar. This could impact both the classroom and personal experiences. Individuals who thoroughly enjoy teaching abroad are often outgoing and open to change. Someone who likes to volunteer and get involved in community events will do the same no matter where they are. This type of personality becomes acclimated more quickly to changing environments. They also have a greater opportunity for gaining an understanding of their new country’s culture.
Though this barely touches the tip of the iceberg, there are multiple factors when determining if you should teach abroad. If you’re thinking about making a move, how do you measure up to the above considerations?
The determining factor doesn’t mean that a person has to be 100% okay with all the above and more. But, by not thinking about these areas, you’re doing yourself and your potential students an injustice. It is all about the adventure, but it’s also about considering reality of that adventure too.