Transformation Abroad

Educators striving to land their first international teaching position have probably not stopped to considered the huge transformational adventure that lies ahead. For the uninitiated, the personal growth that comes from living and teaching abroad will far exceed any preconceived ideas of what the international teaching experience has in store.

..If you’re teaching overseas now, you’re sure to agree that it is the most challenging, yet satisfying thing you’ve done in your lifetime. Everyone I know says the experience altered the very essence of who they are…Wow!

..Foreign travel is life-changing. Immerse yourself in new sights, sounds, smells, people and a culture far different from your own, and that impact is magnified many times over. With familiarity a thing of the past, life’s challenges take on new dimensions, especially since your go-to points of reference for dealing with people and situations are no longer valid.

..With a typical two-year Contract commitment, you can’t simply go back home when things don’t go your way. Hence, you have the option to accept “what is” and work with it, or frustrate yourself trying to make “what isn’t” into what you expect it to be. Either path makes us to take stock in who we are at our core and forces us to evolve. Herein lies the transformational journey underlying international teaching and living.

..There will, most likely, be scars and occasional hard knocks along the way, but that’s true of any worthwhile endeavor. Educators who have experienced life overseas say they are more open, patient, accepting and understanding than before embarking on their extended international experience. All report that they are different people today than they would be had they stayed home (and gotten a 9-5, bought a house/car/rooms of furniture and entered into the Western tradition of debt, debt and more debt).

..Material possessions fade from interest and style. International living/teaching experiences and their effect on our lifes are ours to keep forever. I wouldn’t trade mine for anything!

ISR Asks: Has living and teaching overseas changed you? In what ways?

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8 thoughts on “Transformation Abroad

  1. I left Canada straight out of University to teach abroad…half part adventure and a half part wanting to escape (to avoid the regular 9-5, “house/car/rooms of furniture”. Not to mention I was tired of winters.

    I began working in Brazil…thought I would stay for a year or two…my wildest of imaginations couldn’t have predicted what was to come. I’ve now been here over six years. Met my wife at an American School, we have a little baby boy, and I even started my own private homeschooling company for expats.

    So much learning. So much growing. I realized just how much time I wasted worrying about things…it was pointless because everything just always seemed to work out one way or another and often in ways I hadn’t even considered.

    Now we’re planning a move back to Canada. Home….but it’s been so long, that even home seems like an exciting new adventure at this point!

    I don’t regret these travels for a heartbeat.

    Thanks for sharing your article!


  2. One of the best articles I have come across about teaching abroad. Though it is short, it gets to the core of the radical change most educators experience even in a short two year assignment in a foreign country.
    Having worked on four continents and recently returned to my native England I strongly suggest every teacher considering working abroad reflects on the content of this article to prepare for challenges before, during and after their contract. You will not be the same person and you will see the world, your work and yourself with new eyes. It can be unsettling but that’s where real growth happens. If you want to grow, I would recommend the experience unreservedly providing you do your homework first.


  3. Was in China for 6 years. Very hard to get used to because of the huge cultural gap. Mexico was more fun, but I struggled with behavior management. And a quite different set of challenges here in UAE. All food for thought and reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Experiencing different cultures and being forced to function within the confines of their limited technology and semi-archaic ways of doing things, all of which have become streamlined in the United States, made me realize how fortunate we Americans are in some ways and how absolutely stupid we are to throw it all away with a government that is firmly for the Corporations and by the Corporations. Living overseas I didn’t have all the great tech advances of the US but I have something more. Something lost in America many years ago….people with integrity, people who don’t use religion to validate discrimination, people who look you in the eye and smile and you know they aren’t scamming you. That’s not to say everything is great here overseas but I feel more at home here than I do back home.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. i have been 5 years teaching in china, i have experienced chinese ethics, cheating, lying and all things bad, in all of the many schools i have taught at, nothing good in this hell hole, no change to me, certainly none for the better.

    Liked by 1 person

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