What on Earth Have I Done?

What on Earth have I done?  I spent the past 6 months working my tail off to land an overseas teaching position and just today reality hit me smack-dab, head-on:  OMG! I’m about to leave my family, friends and lifestyle behind, all for the vast unknown…

.. One minute I’m thoroughly intimidated by the thought of picking up and moving to a foreign land, then in a flash, BAM! I’m exhilarated just thinking about the thrilling adventures that lie ahead. Bouncing between the opposite extremes of my emotional state I’m starting to feel schizophrenic!

..Is this normal? Do these spontaneous, emotional gyrations occur only in newbies? Will my apprehension subside? Do seasoned overseas educators ride the same emotional roller coaster every time they move to a new country? I’d love to hear from colleagues ‘who have been where I am right now.’ 


Nervous Nelly

ISR invites you to share your experience/advice

18 Responses to What on Earth Have I Done?

  1. Global Nomad says:

    Expat life is addictive and seductive. We’ve been overseas for twenty years, wish we’d started ten years earlier and have now retired overseas. We visit our home country annually but feel more in tune in a very mixed community. The advice to remember we are guests in another culture is af paramount importance; we don’t have the right to denigrate. Best advice we ever received? Keep away from the negative nellies!! Learning some of the local language really helps!
    Relax and enjoy! Your friends and family will have somewhere exotic to visit!!


  2. Sue McGee says:

    I know exactly what you mean! I’m off to Kuwait as Head of English with a large dose of trepidation. Not exactly young either! Anyone else going to Kuwait?


  3. Anonymous says:

    In exactly the same boat…
    Thrilled to get this job but have been feeling sad ever since.


  4. Wizzt says:

    I have been teaching abroad over a decade now. My previous posting was an absolute colossal disaster. After I left that small stint, not only did say to myself that I will never go abroad again but I wanted to leave teaching altogether.

    An unforeseen opportunity did arise and I took a job thousands of miles away from home. Prior to leaving though, I was not excited at all. I felt that I was putting my myself on merry-go-round of disappointment and setting myself up for failure. Lo and behold my posting has been a pleasant surprise. I plan to stay for another few years.


  5. Aussie Nomad says:

    You’ll be fine once you meet your colleagues and students. Do, however, expect an adventure. In the international system, each school I have worked in, over 10 years, has been a law unto themselves with teachers between schools, and sometimes within, being on different pay scales and working under different conditions – due to owners and management that are not often educators.
    You have to be prepared to negotiate your way through these things.

    Get to know the locals and learn a bit of the language quickly so you can empathize with locals both at work and in the community – remember, you are a guest in their country. You may not always agree with their ways but it is not good form to be comparing with how things are better at home. Live where you live and enjoy.

    As an educator, despite sometimes difficult conditions, I have always found that kids are kids, no matter what country you are in and your job, as a teacher, will have similar challenges and rewards. You just have to be willing to adjust to their culture and make allowances if they are second language kids. First language teachers, for example, usually come with a waft of idioms and colloquial terms, and need to explain what they mean in plain language if they see their charges are confused. This can sometimes be very funny and quite instructive to the teachers about their own speech.

    Embrace the difference, go with a sense of adventure, and your experience is guaranteed to be a positive one.

    South East Asia

    Liked by 1 person

  6. luthilu says:

    This is definitely normal.

    As soon as I could, I started to ‘nest’ as I call it. Putting things out in my apt to make it feel a little more like ‘home.’ I also kept myself so busy, I accepted every invite to anything social initially and then over time, once I’d built some friendships, slowed down.

    I have been abroad now for 3 years and have never looked back. At the end of the day, you can always get on a plane and head back having tried. Nothing worse than the not knowing, I’d say.


  7. Mike Brown says:

    Nelly. that’s normal. I’ve been overseas for 18 years now. my advice is don’t visit back home too soon after you start your job. give yourself time to adjust to the new country. most expats enjoy the experience. good luck in your new job.


  8. Melanie says:

    This is my second assignment, and I’m even going back to the same school in China where I was before, and – yes! – these are my feelings, exactly. I have no words of wisdom except to say you’re not alone. I can tell you that the experience for me was well worth the discomfort of culture shock. It was a life-changing adventure that I’m eager to undertake again even knowing I will be homesick at times. Best of luck to you and to all.


  9. karl p says:

    Relax everywhere os pretty similar. They have food watet money and accomodation everywhere. Theres a series of emotional steps you will progress through. Worry/doubt/apprehension. Then when you arrive confusion frustration snd exhilaration then after a while , acceptance and then annoyance /blame/regret finally assimilation and normality. Everyone goes through this at their own pace anf some never reach the final stage.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonder says:

    I am facing the same sort of remorse. I’ve actually lived abroad before. In fact I spent over a decade abroad, most of it an hour from the school I’ll be going to in just one week from now. I worked hard for this opportunity and was thrilled to finally get an offer from one of my first choices, but since then, I haven’t had time to get excited.

    All the visa hurdles were minor compared to the chaos caused by upheaval at my current school, the stress of packing up my house in preparation for renters, the mad rush to squeeze in dental and various medical checkups for me and my child, but I did postpone accepting my imminent departure as fact until the last hurdle was cleared one month ago. That wave of excitement will come now, I thought.

    But then my daughter, intrigued by the idea of going abroad was devastated by the reality of it. Her father, who’d been encouraging the idea for years, started making trouble and wild, impotent threats.

    What finally had me regretting my decision, though, was my father’s sudden and frightening decline. It was the fear of leaving my parents at this stage in their lives that has kept me home as long as this. Now I am ridden with guilt, sorrow, and doubt. I should be giddy with excitement at this point, but I am not.



  11. Carolyn Still says:

    I have worked as an educator in three different countries and am in the process of returning to one of those schools next week. It is always stressful packing, saying good-bye to family and friends, and making sure details are all taken care of completely. When I take off on the place (making it past checking baggage, security, etc.), I begin to relax and look forward to another adventure. Upon landing, just take one thing at a time and not try to solve all new things at once, and I think you will be fine!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Constance Hendry says:

    I’m not a new teacher and have worked overseas before too. Yet, I’m feeling the emotional roller coaster too! I know when the focus becomes adventure and adjusting to the job and cultural differences, you’ll settle down enough to have fun and no more wondering about it!!!


  13. Been There Myself says:

    Don’t worry. What you are feeling is completely normal. I’ve been living overseas for 12 years in 4 countries. I was nervous and a bit apprehensive before all of my moves. It gets easier because you know you have no reason to be up-tight but I guess it’s just human nature. Just go with it and try to pay those feeling no attention. Unless of course you are on your way to Syria or some super hot spot.


  14. Shaken down says:

    Definitely yes. Expect to continue until the first morning you wake up in your new bed in your new flat in your new country. At least, that’s when it subsides for me.


  15. Gus says:

    This is normal. Try to think of it as a natural progression in life and life will be more interesting. Schools are schools and it isn’t that different. I have taught in 3 countries and always find interesting bits wherever I am. If you are conscientious the teaching isn’t very different.


  16. brian meegan says:

    It’s normal the first time you leave. The longer you live abroad, the more “normal” you will find it. Many of us feel a bit “different” when we go back home!


    • Connie says:

      I agree Brian. Going back home is more difficult than adjusting to the foreign country. It took 2 years to re adjust when I returned from South Korea.


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