I Don’t Want to Go Back!

Dear ISR, I’m teaching abroad for the first time. I love my job, good admin, good peers, great classes. I like the city and the country. But….I was feeling homesick the last few weeks overseas and had this overwhelming sense of how much I wanted to be back ‘home’ as I was getting on the U.S.-bound plane.

Now I’m back in the old hometown for vacation and I realize just how incredibly homesick I’ve been. I’ll be in the States for two more weeks and am not looking forward to going back overseas.

This would be a different discussion if I were subject to some of the abuse it seems is out there, but I live in a nice place. I’ve got a good job with good people. My wife and I took this job because we wanted to live in a different environment and explore. But I think we’ve just learned that where we left from to go overseas is where we wanted to be all along.

We’re one semester into a two-year contract. How much of this is part of the normal “first time living/working abroad” learning curve? How have you all dealt with homesickness?

58 Responses to I Don’t Want to Go Back!

  1. A.G says:

    I’m with the other posters that say suck it up and deal. You’re both adults, not teenagers or young kids. You made a decision, live with your decision. It’s hard to believe in this day and digital age that you were that uninformed as to what you were getting yourselves into.

    Living overseas isn’t for everyone. Perhaps you should have acquainted yourselves a bit better with it before you decided to do it. You and your partner need to grab a healthy dose of perspective-it’s not like you’re teaching to Syrian refugees in tents along the Turkish border, are you? Then wherever you are at ain’t that bad, so sympathy from this poster will be in short-supply.

    As for Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield, I hope you’re speaking for yourself when you say the homesickness never goes away. Because for some of us, it certainly does. It is entirely possible that for some of us our lives where we are now are infinitely better than they were from where we came. Not only that, when you spend enough time away from “home”, after a while it stops being home, and starts being like someplace else.

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  2. Kim Soriano says:

    Suck it up baby! You made a commitment to those children, those parents, and that learning community. See your contract through.

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    • myculturemademedoit says:

      I agree. Suck it up buttercup. While living and working overseas might not be your thing, you’ve learned that now. Something that comes with years of experience is the recognition that a two year contract is short. So when November rolls around and they ask you if you’re staying, say no. If you felt you were being treated unfairly I would say go ahead and bounce. But you’re only homesick. Sorry. Gotta suck it up and see it through.

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    • Anonymous says:

      At the very least….you should finish up the school year for the sake of your students. As far as holding up your end of the 2 year contractual obligation you made…..don’t be concerned about this unless you really want to continue working for international schools abroad, which apparently is not the case.

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  3. Good advise: do not go abroad unless you are ready to make the new place ‘your home’. When I visit my country of birth I look forward to go back to where I actually live and work, because I made that my home very quickly. ‘Going home’ to me means returning to the place where I work and live.

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  4. JB says:

    The first year I taught in China was difficult. Things were so different from where we lived in the states, so there definitely was some homesickness. We had friends and were starting to get to know our new city, so my husband and I decided not to return to the states during our vacations because we didn’t want to feel that “I don’t want to return” feeling. By the second year, the differences were familiar, we had good friends, we started to really know how to get around on our own and we had a great time. Stick it out. Get to know the city you live in and get out there and explore. After awhile, you may find it feels like home.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    My advice? Leave. Don’t come back. I know it’s harsh….but seriously, just leave. Tell your friends not to go. Tell everyone you know about your story and that overseas just doesn’t compare to the great US of A. Everyone should just stay there and be happy with all the wonderful things they have. If they want to explore….visit Orlando. I hear it is magical.

    Leave the good jobs at good schools for those who actually want to be overseas.

    This post is half-joking…

    …but only half.

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  6. My first Christmas alone in Kuwait had me in tears. I wrote a book about the six years I taught there, “Suitcase Filled with Nails: Lessons Learned from Teaching Art in Kuwait” the home sickness never went away..surround yourself with supportive people, if this is possible

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  7. anonymous says:

    You are one month into a two year contract yet you are on a long vacation in the US. How is this possible? Is this a real post from a real person or made up?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    youre one semester into a two year contract yet you are already on a long vacation in the US. Is this a real post or a made up post to promote discussion. How is it possible to be on vacation one month into a contract

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    • myculturemademedoit says:

      Read. Carefully.

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      • Sandi says:

        I don’t believe this letter. Where could you be on a first semester, at this time the year? Unless its a 2 semester year and you are in the southern hemisphere?
        Anyway, if there is no good reason for you to leave, THEN LEAVE AND GIVE THE JOB TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS IT. honestly..first world problems.

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    • dasdsa says:

      Abroad isn’t for everyone. The schools don’t pay us to keep us in ‘contract’, which is really just a way to get out us from getting permanent employment the natives often enjoy.

      However, be forewarned that you may be blacklisted at any job search agencies you used. (Great industry, right!)

      Also, you may want to give it more time, as you are still new in country, unless you are being misled/abused by your employer, etc.

      THIS IS AN IMPORTANT THING TO PONDER: I HAVE NOTICED THAT SINGLE WOMEN AND MANY FAMILIES DESPISE THEIR OVERSEAS EXPERIENCE. MOST SOCIAL, PROFESSIONAL, AND CULTURAL NORMS WESTERN WOMEN TAKE FOR GRANTED DO NOT EXIST AND MAY BE OPPOSITE OVERSEAS, PARTICULARLY NON-WESTERN EUROPE AND THE SOUTHERN CONE OF S. AMERICA.
      FAMILIES MAY BE HOMESICK, HAVE TROUBLE PAYING THE BILLS, OR ARE WORRIED ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN’S OSTRACISM, DEVELOPMENT. MANY COUNTRIES DO NOT HAVE SAFE FOOD, AIR, STREETS, ETC.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    This may not be your case, but it took me a few trips home to realize that, if I moved back, day to day life would not be the same kind of wonderful time that I have when I go home to visit. It is paid vacation time when I go home. People who see me only once a year want to pay for meals and take care of me. I have very little work to do AND I have a pay check. I get to experience the BEST of home. If I moved back, I would have less money and less benefits and would have all that wonderful stuff to do, and I would not be able to afford the time or money to do most of it. Of course, all of that pales next to being close to family. Maybe it will help you to return to your contract if you try to think of what the reality of living and working back home would be. Maybe.

    Jessi

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  10. jules says:

    its really really hard when you realise that actually where you want to be is home…and i do totally sympathise. I would try to stick it out though.Is there anyone in your school you can talk to? Explain how you feel. I found someone i trusted and spilled my guts….it helped. If you must go home then be upfront and honourable about it. Go back and brave out your decision and explain to the powers that be how you are feeling. You never know, they might help you. Good luck with it all. Licving away from home is no easy thing and just remeber how brave you were taking the post in the first place

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  11. Anonymous says:

    I think you need to honor your contract at least for another full school year. It could damage your ability to get a new job if you suddenly quit. I have been overseas three times. The first situation was terrible, but in hindsight, it was a learning experience. The last two have been good. Treasure you are in a positive place. Homesickness will pass as you get more used to and involved with the culture. Bloom where you are planted.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Grow up and think of the consequences not going back will have on your peers and students. You accepted a two year contract, you need to honour it.

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  13. the drifter's escape says:

    I’d say, like many others, hang…my wife and I split for Dubai, good scenario, great Head, top-shelf and, eventually, life time friends, were made. My Dad, unexpectedly, died a couple of months into the deal. I’m not going to lie, but I tried to seek out my ol’ US buds for a switchorama post the first year, but nothing evolved and that might’ve been, actually, a de-evolution, as the closeness that was fostered amongst all of us, as the 2 year contract ended, has continued to offer kindness, counsel, and ultimately a form of love, really. In fact, we returned for a year back in the states and, lo and behold, we’re thinkin’ about taking another dive into the international tour racket…it’s all kind of racket, no? But like Dylan sings: ‘…don’t go mistaking paradise for that home across the road…’ Or…’…it’s life and life only…’ Have a gas with it, you’ll earn some stripes, even though they feel like lashes for the moment, and the next journey will prove prophetically easier…

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  14. Expatdaze says:

    hi

    YUP! Your feelings of homesickness are quite common, in fact, I’d be worried if you weren’t homesick. It’s a good sign that you’re a connected person and like people. I’ve been overseas for 17 years and still get the , “Oh hum”, be nice to repatriate – homesick feeling.

    Do not do our profession or the kids you serve a disservice by breaking contract. This issue is not just about you but about the larger community. I know it’s hard to feel what you’re feeling but think on these few points from a veteran:

    Return, play it out and if you’re still not in the overseas mood – resign properly. People will understand that expat life may not be your Cup-O-Tea. That’s alright but ditching mid-summer (contract) has a huge impact on the school. Overseas is a lifestyle choice and like other lifestyle choices, it’s not for everyone.

    Your situation is not one of desperation/exploitation or health concerns, nor are you under any threat, so, unless those and other serious pull/push factors are present – please, stick it out. Finish the contract. You will feel better about yourself and not harm the reputation of the profession – including your own.

    Try to remember why you went overseas: adventure, work experience, travel, new people, self-awareness, cultural diversity and all that. Well, homesickness is part of that life – it doesn’t go away, one just finds a “room” for it.

    Help? There is no quick fix or actual help. Focus on the positive things/good stuff. When you return to your overseas life, things may fall into place and you could find yourself actually feeling a sense of comfort in seeing your overseas stomping grounds. Now is not the time to act unprofessionally (re-act) to a normal & quite predictable expat experience. Look into some books about expat life – it may help you to get some perspective.

    See it through. Talk to people. Don’t isolate.

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  15. Nomad68 says:

    I would never break contract because of homesickness, but I have resigned mid-contract over concerns about personal safety (Libya), and because of workplace bullying/contract changes made by the employer (UAE). Never an easy decision and one that can come back and bite you even when you have very solid and valid reasons for doing so. Far better to see a contract through and leave with (hopefully) a decent reference but I would never stay if my safety or human rights were at risk.

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  16. 3jules says:

    Wow guys your responses have been so inspiring! I am at a very different point- I am panning to embark on a 2 year post abroad- selling my house, giving up my cats to family, giving up my friends, family and all that is familiar and I know it will be tough- and am absolutely petrified BUT! I will now bear in mind that it will be tougher to begin with and to stick it out in the beginning as it will probably get easier- so this is great food for thought and I will remember this post for when I get out there. By the way I think you are all incredibly brave and wonderful people- I hope I can achieve what you have🙂 !

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    • Roundtrip says:

      Bravo for you!!! These two years will only seem like a blink when compared to your whole life. If you don’t like it, you can always come home after two years. You’ll be surprised at how fast the time will fly by. My advice is to make friends, get involved with the locals, learn the language if you don’t already know it. You can be an anchor for any of the students who are away from their homes and the familiar, too. I had a blast during my overseas teaching stint, but it wasn’t America. There will be things that you may not like, but just go over with that knowledge and a good attitude. Keep a diary! I wish I had😦

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    • trav45 says:

      Hi–Read as much as you can about culture shock before you go (I highly recommend Storti’s The Art of Crossing Cultures). And remember, people usually hit bottom about December/January, so I actually think it’s an AWFUL idea to go home that first year, especially if you’re struggling. I had a horrible time adjusting my first overseas position, and it’s probably a good thing I was too broke to go home. I’m not sure I would have returned! But it all fell together about January and 15 years later, I’m still overseas. One of the teachers who did break contract and resigned, was regretting it big-time by March/April.

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  17. It was nice of you to share your feelings. I am also certain that you are not thinking of shirking your responsibility to your employer. I think you are just curious to know if you are the only fish out there feeling “homesick”. Well, you are not alone. I have have been teaching on the international front for a while and have always been homesick. I always take the first flight out to my home country when school closes. I think the feeling is natural. In my case, I miss the climate, food, friends, family, events and cultural things. For some of us, depending on our socialisation, we respond to changes differently. In my case, I love change and enjoy my international experiences but I am still a “home bunny”. I suggest that you enjoy every moment with the things and people that you love whenever you go home so that you can take some of the beautiful memories back with you overseas. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    I will join in on the discussion here as a seasoned traveller who left my home country 16 years ago to work abroad and have worked in 2 countries since. What you are experiencing is normal especially after a great family reunion like Christmas. I originally came from a very warm climate and would regularly go back home at Christmas and enjoy great times with freinds and family. The first two weeks back would be straight into winter with comparatively extreme temperatures dark mornings and evenings and a very long January. It was hard and miserable and I would be depressed for a good two to three weeks. I finally stayed for Christmas got into the culture and visited home in the summer and returning was not as hard and it had been. I am still enjoying my overseas contract and work. I have learnt far more than I would have had I stayed and infact in the process of considering my third country. Do stay if you can especially if the country, colleagues and school are great as you will find it very difficult to get back mid year and have that awkward question at interview about why you left and there is also the issue of references from the school.

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  19. Susan says:

    I’ve done the overseas thing as well, the only difference is…I didn’t go back to the US my first year and it was the best thing I could have done as I had the wonderful opportunity to experience the holidays within another culture. My advice…GO BACK!! Have your family visit you next time and don’t go “home” until your contract is over. Use your time off to travel the world around you. With all the electronic advances since my first teaching job overseas, I plan to skype with family when “homesickness” hits me or IM with my loved ones if and when my next opportunity arises to teach overseas. Hang in there…relax and enjoy the ride you’re on, it is truly a blessing!! Happy New Year and may 2012 bring you happiness and a world of experiences that you will one day look back upon and relize that you’re glad you stuck it out. All the best ~S

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  20. Michelle says:

    One thing that helped me in those first years of homesickness was to get involved in the community. I wanted some experiences outside of the school environment as diversion from teaching, and found opportunities to volunteer with situations that involved my heart instead (homes for homeless families, orphanages needing help, folklore museums needing English help, for example).

    Once people are counting on you to help, you become part of their family and community. When I thought of leaving them I found that I was seriously missing their company. Thinking I had to go back to the States to see family who could never understand my motives for teaching overseas began to dissipate. I’ve never really enjoyed the “holiday spirit” anyway, and finally admitted that to myself.

    If you’re involved in building homes or an orphanage or a park renewal or….whatever it is, try throwing yourself into that and you’ll find your “home” right in your new community!

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  21. JMS says:

    As you can see from all the other posts, what you are feeling is normal. You’ve gone overseas to test the waters and see if this is a lifestyle you want to follow, but you have to give it a good chance. Most schools offer two-year contracts for a reason — that’s usually the minimum time you need to determine if it is right for you. Remember, your next trip home will be in another 6 months and it will last even longer. You likely also find that when you return to your overseas home after the holiday, it will have become just that: HOME.

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  22. Deez Dz says:

    It’s pretty normal. I’ve been away from home for 8 years now.

    I think it’s important to remember that a big reason home is so attractive is b/c it’s so easy. You know how to do everything, have a solid group of friends and family, and can communicate with just about everyone. It’s easy and comfortable, and human beings are addicts for comfort.

    I think a lot of homesickness can be boiled down to fatigue, fear, and frustration from being outside your comfort zone. Yeah, for sure, during a 2 week vacation everything has that nice plastic shine. But really, in my opinion, everything looks that way b/c somewhere deep down, you just want to drift back to sleep in a comfortable, safe world.

    Living outside your home country forces you awake. (Sure, there are ways to go back to sleep even out here.) And that’s tiring. It can also be unstable, frightening, and aggravating. But it’s also better, at least for a while, b/c you have the opportunity to grow as a person in ways that are not possible back home. I think it requires actually growing up and learning what it means to be independent.

    Good luck, and keep looking for the things you like!

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  23. Colin says:

    You need time to get over homesickness. First year is always rough. After that you will realize the unbelievable life you are living is the best thing that has ever happened to you. Travel, meeting different nationalities, culture. The benefits are endless of international living. Hang in there and enjoy every second.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    While I fall into the “stick it out camp” considering the OP’s description of their school, the whole “stick it out for the sake of the kids” thing gives me pause. Some i-schools are so god-awful, so shifty, and so immoral that the most honorable thing to do is to call it a day and become a runner. This sends the loudest and clearest message to the admin, parents, and the kids that all is not well in their world and your absence after Christmas/ Easter/the summer can be glaring proof of that. Sure, a teacher’s CV will have a big hole in it, but nothing is permanent.

    There is no honor in suffering. The idea that working at a rotten school in a rotten country educating a do-nothing population with no interest in academics will somehow make you a better teacher or person is malarkey. Suffering is suffering no matter how you cut it, and the less time you can spend your professional life doing it, the better.

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    • Johnny says:

      I agree. This “Think of the children” no matter what is emotional blackmail. Why allow yourself to be abused, cheated, bullied and treated unfairly at a school?

      That being said what the OP posted is fairly normal. I have been away from my home country for 6 years and have never once missed it. But I can see where others who have closer ties and friends and family there would feel homesick.

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  25. Scott Riedel says:

    I’m relatively new to the teaching profession (certified in 2007) and my question for the author is, what great thing do you have waiting for you here? If you want to meet the most miserable, dejected people on Earth, visit the teacher lounge in U.S. public schools. Corporatists have the man-on-the-street believing teachers are at fault for all of America’s social problems and they’re overpaid to boot! Homesickness will pass. Being sick of home is harder to cure.

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    • China Teacher says:

      Brilliantly stated! Once you get out of the USA, you find a world of teaching and learning that is thriving and — while imperfect to varying degrees — honoring the very educational values that American culture is rejecting.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    oh and btw, it struck me right on xmas too, and so i resigned in february, to go home and couldnt find a blimen job!! so had to stay overseas….12 year later I am still here. but thats another story you dont want to hear right now.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    the first 6 months are the worst and some say go home at xmas and other say dont…either way culture shock, homesickness and end of the honeymoon all hit at the same time….hang in there. you will look back on these years as some of the most interesting in your life and if you do decide to go home after the 2yrs, you will always remember it with fondness. Thank goodness you miss home – wouldnt it be terrible if you didnt?

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  28. Roundtrip says:

    I concur with all of the others. Don’t Leave Now. I remember well my first week at my first job overseas. One night I crawled into the bed, pulled the covers over my head and boohooed. “Oh, what have I done?” I wanted to pack my bags and run to the nearest train station in the middle of the night. The next day, however, the sun came out, things looked brighter, and that year turned out to be the best in my life. The new and unfamiliar is always a little hard to swallow first, but if you could make yourself and family get involved in the community, find a church, join a club, volunteer, or something, I think you would feel more and more at home. Just do the right thing and stay.

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  29. P.S. says:

    I just want to say, thanks for the post. Nice to know that what I’m feeling right now (in the first year of my posting at a great school, at home in the U.S. for the holidays feeling cozy, and not DREADING going back, but a little sad to leave the comfort and convenience of home) is normal. But I just keep thinking of all the positives: the great people I work with, the adventures of living abroad, and some great travel opportunities coming up – much better than in the first half of the school year! Hang in there, and enjoy going back. If you’re still feeling terribly homesick, maybe leave at the end of the school year (with plenty of advance notice so they can fill your position at the hiring fairs), when you won’t be leaving your school in the lurch. :o) Happy New Year, and best of luck to you!

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  30. Nick says:

    With several countries behind me and another coming up in a few months what you are feeling is pretty normal. Experts cite at least a year before you feel at all ‘settled’. For my next job, I felt the same as you – what I really want is right here (in my case a foreign country I have been several years – not my home country!)

    All I can say is that home is where we are familiar, you have little long term familiarity with your new job – 3 months..everything might be great, but it is still all new and you have no long term reference points as a comfort zone.

    My advice – stick it out for the year – spend more time with your new colleagues, eating, drinking, sharing, and I guarantee you will feel different in a year. You may still want to go home, but you won’t feel that yearning you now have and your decision will be more balanced. A year is not so long and you can feel proud – to get through it…and will probably stay!
    All the best.
    Nick

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  31. China Teacher says:

    Jeez, what message would you be sending to your students if you bailed on them now? That’s not something a committed, adult teacher does.

    And remember, the main learner in you classroom is you. Look at your job as a two-year course in global culture…and they’re paying you to take it! Who could turn their back on a deal like that?

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  32. Jazzman says:

    We ourselves were away for three years but came home every Christmas Break and in the summers. Indeed it was difficult to return to our posts after the first December, but eventually we settled into the routine of coming and going.

    Nevertheless, I concur with Karen’s reply on 29 December. You are in a good school environment, so you owe it to everyone and yourselves to keep your commitment, i.e. honor your contract.

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  33. Bosco says:

    Stay. I’m in a great country but at a lousy school in terms of administration and overall professional behavior of colleagues. It’s my second year into the contract and I’m looking forward to completing it in June and leaving. It’s my first time living/teaching abroad. Still, the kids deserve professional behavior so I have stayed. And my husband and I have learned so much being here. Going home at Christmas is rough but the homesickness will pass.

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  34. Andy says:

    Take heart from the fact that you are not alone. I think most people go through phases of feeling homesick especially if you go back home at a festive and family-centred time of year like Christmas. To get through it just remind yourself of the reasons why you wanted to teach overseas and focus on the positives. For me there have been many. A fabulous education for my two teenage kids that they never would have at the local high school back home; opportunities to visit places we would only have dreamt of; an opportunity to experience of different cultures (making you appreciate your own all the more!); a much higher standard of living….the list can go on and will be quite individual. Remember too, that you can always go back home one day and that with modern technology there are many ways of keeping in touch no matter how far apart you are.

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  35. Johanne says:

    The advice provided so far is beneficial. I hope that my comments will also help with your decision. I am positive that the anticipation of going back home for the Christmas Holidays and seeing family again has brought on this melancholy. However, I believe that you will soon find out that what you were missing were the memories and that on the other hand everyday reality comes into play anywhere we are in the world. What you are experiencing at the moment is what is considered the end of the honeymoon period. While this is real and difficult it does subside. I would suggest that the reasons you and your spouse decided to venture into international work are still valid. My best advice is to stick it out. You have each other to rely on and that should help ease the homesickness. Unless the reasons for leaving are health related, I do not recommend you end your contract since this would be viewed as unprofessional and would most probably reduce your chances of working overseas again. Of course, you and your spouse are the only ones able to decipher what is best in your circumstances, but as I reread your comments I can only say that you have excellent reasons to go back; a good school, enjoyable and friendly colleagues, a nice place you live in. This may not necessarily be the case upon your return to the USA. Good luck!

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  36. Tracy says:

    You don’t mention your age — but my first overseas (non-teaching) posting? I was 29 and accepted a ‘one year/option to renew’ a fantastic situation in SE Asia. Got there, loved it, did all the requisite ‘exploration’ — but after 6 mos., I was asked for a decision. It was easy: I declined. Two mos. later, I was at someone else’s farewell party — and realized with a jolt that it would be mine in 4 short months’ time! That was jarring; somewhere in those 2 months, everything had changed without my realizing it, and I recognized that, for the time being, my frame of reference was there, in my new home. I was fortunate that my position hadn’t been given away, and I completed those 2 years — and 3 more — in the same place.

    Almost 30 years later (!), I love ‘going home’ for any holidays, and do, with regularity. But now, for us, ‘coming home’ is usually a matter of returning to the host country.

    Living overseas isn’t for everyone, but you want to give it, and yourselves, a (real) chance. Best of luck to you!

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  37. Karen says:

    This is all really good advice. What I am about to write may seem harsh, but I really do mean it in good spirit.
    Leaving mid-year is poor form, whether you want to teach overseas again or not. It would be a drastic measure and cause major upheaval for the students- very unprofessional and selfish, unless in response to extenuating circumstances. Especially if you are in a good school!
    Imagine what you would recommend to your students if they were homesick on a trip or exchange and wanted to quit and go home … you would tell them to stick it out, try their best and learn about themselves in the process; to get the most of their time and honor their commitments.
    Part of going overseas is meant to be about being in different and unfamiliar territory. Being homesick is unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory, but as they say, the path of least resistance is often the path of stagnation.
    Don’t get me wrong, I understand the feeling of being out of place, missing home, family and friends (not to mention missing being able to speak to the (local) people around me at an intellectual level greater than a 5 yr old!) But if you remember the reasons that you pursued overseas teaching, and get excited about them again, I hope you will be happy that you stayed. (at least to the end of this school year).
    Get out there and travel on the weekends, take day trips, force yourself out of the school community, make the most of your time!
    Enjoy the holidays, but go back. You won’t regret it.
    (I speak from experience!)

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  38. Kenneth TW says:

    Homesickness is not the same for all. Many get over it, some quickly, some need several years. So that’s something only you’ll know about, and you might not figure it out easily.

    While international education is growing, the growth is more about providing English medium curriculum to locals who can afford it, as immersion or bilingual programming. The true number of expat students around the world is most likely static at best (on average). Which means the truly top end international schools and thus jobs are a finite market. That’s good for those who get in, because once inside the front gate, it’s much easier to move around. Once leaving the market, whatever the true reason, it can be difficult to get back in.

    I would not venture to tell you how to value your feelings for home versus, the ‘benefits’ of living overseas. That’s something you have to weigh…. Very seriously. Only you know the relative importance. Yes, living overseas is commonly found to be a wonderful experience, but… It is not an absolute rule for all who venture out.

    But you do want to consider the ramifications of leaving the contract. Because, if a teaching couple do not have a legitimate reason, then leaving mid year, or even at the end of the 1st year of a two year contract is likely to negatively impact future opportunities overseas.

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  39. Anonymous says:

    Sorry for stealing the post.

    I’m in a similar situation, but instead of a two-year, I’ve only signed a one-year contract. Come January I’ll be asked to verbally agree to a second year. I’m at home ready to go back and get the spring semester over and done with, but generally unhappy with what was verbally offered and what I’ve found actually occurs at the school.

    Now trying to decide whether to spend extra hours applying for other positions, or spend that time researching and trying to continue to improve the school I’m currently at.

    Like

    • Karen says:

      Breaking a contract vs. finishing and then leaving are totally different. One is extreme, the other is moving on.
      Vote with your feet.
      Think back to why you wanted to teach overseas, are you gaining those experiences?
      Are you enjoying yourself (mostly) everyday?
      Do you believe in the school?
      Are you treated with respect (that includes salary)?
      Can you respect yourself if you take their offer?
      If it’s not the place for you, then leave.
      One suggestion, if you do leave, though. Maybe you could use the opportunity to learn awkward negotiating skills. Ask for more money, more pd, or whatever it is you want. That is especially hard to do in a place you want to stay, so I would try learning how to do it in a place where if it backfires you don’t mind.
      Just be sure that if they say yes to your ‘demands’, you still have the back bone to move on. And if you think that they are open minded enough to hear it, tell them why you are leaving (after the initial negotiations!) On the other hand, they may get the chance to demonstrate that they really value you, and it may shift your perspective of if and how you belong in the community.

      Like

  40. carolyn says:

    As a Principal and having worked with exchange students who came to the US before I went overseas as an educator, I encourage you to stay. As you become more acquainted with the natives, you will feel more of a connection. Leaving before a contract is up will be a mark you will find hard to overcome. Just make plans to go home for some of the summer, then next Christmas. During the 2012-2013 school year, you will be focused on a job search. Time will fly. Enjoy the experience where you are. When you are as old as I am, you will treasure the years abroad.

    Like

  41. Anonymous says:

    I’d say I felt exactly like you did. Give it time. For me, I never got over the homesickness. For me it came with being an international educator. I never thought I’d make it and I’m already in my fourth year. The time goes fast. I still wish I were home, but when I look at all the benefits my wife and I receive by staying overseas, it makes the decision easier. Afterall, I think being away from home truly makes me appreciate all of the things I took for granted when I lived here. I will always miss home, but I bring pieces of home with me to help when I have bad days. Hang in there, you are perfectly normal!

    Like

  42. Anonymous says:

    Don’t bail…stay and find something positive. do whatever you can to fulfill your contract. Reach out to locals. Then get out after two years and know that you “did your time”.. H. I. T. (hang in there as everyone says)

    Like

  43. mezz says:

    It is true the first year and especially the first six months are hard. For me it as particularly difficult because my mother passed away, but I stuck in there and stayed for five years.
    For myself and my colleagues going back was always hard because it was northern China and the weather really sucked in the winter, all miserable and grey.
    Being homesick is not really that good a reason for breaking a contract, that always stays with you too, if it was a horrible school maybe.
    So hang in there and take the opportunity to see the world while you can afford it!

    Like

  44. veteran teacher says:

    The first posting is right on! It’s culture shock and perhaps intensified at this point because of being “home” for the holidays. Since you have no real complaints about the school, the country, or the job, you owe it to yourselves to finish the experience. Take advantage of travel opportunities in your region and learn as much as you can about the culture and the people who surround you. I worked 40 years in 8 countries overseas and each one had its challenges, but I gained so much in knowledge of our world and its peoples. Good luck.

    Like

  45. mrsm88 says:

    Trav45 has given good advice.
    Even though your new location and school may be great, it takes time for it to become “home”. One semester isn’t long enough to form social networks and settle into your new environment.
    You say that your school and location are good, so I recommend that you go back to your school and finish your two year contract. Two years goes by quickly.
    You can go back home any time, but if you return home now without giving yourself sufficient time to settle in, you may regret it later. Then, you won’t easily get another good job overseas if you have broken a contract.
    Enjoy the adventure, look at is a temporary if you must, but make the most of this wonderful opportunity you have. Don’t go home every holiday. Explore where you are now. Make friends, travel, have fun.

    Like

  46. Trav45 says:

    Wow, I hear you! It’s a good thing I didn’t go home for Xmas that first year I went overseas, or I wouldn’t have made it back! It may be hard now, but GO BACK. If you know anything about the culture shock cycle, the worst of it hits around December. After 4-5 months, the newness and glamour have worn off, and some of the annoyances start to get, well, annoying.

    My first job, it wasn’t until the end of January that I finally settled and realized I would be able to finish the contract. One girl, who turned in her notice in November, because of homesickness, really regretted it by March, but it was too late.

    What you Re feeling now is nostalgia for the familiar. I really do think it’s a bad idea for first year ex-pats to head home at Xmas. It makes it just that much harder to re-adjust.

    Look, you said you are in a good school, and enjoying the country. It may be hard now, but once you’re back, you will settle in. I hated most of last year (in a new country), but I’m having a great time this year. And since you said your school is good, you really do have an obligation to at least finish the year.

    Hang in there!

    Like

    • Trav45 says:

      BTW. In that first job, I not only finished the contract, I stayed another 3 years. Moreover, while I initially planned on staying overseas only 2 years before returning home, I’m now at 12 years, with no plans to return home permanently.

      Like

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