Education Abroad: What to Learn Before You Leave to Teach Abroad

By, 28 November, 2017

Teaching abroad is one of the most exciting things you can do as a teacher, but that doesn't mean that it's easy! There are a lot of things you have to figure out, both before you leave and after you get to your destination. I've been a professor for 8 years, and have seen my share of teachers make big mistakes when it comes to teaching abroad. If you're preparing for this adventure yourself, then there are some things you need to learn before you ever leave. By doing so, you can avoid many of the huge issues that teachers run into, and enjoy your time abroad even more.

1. Transportation

Although you will become accustomed to the transportation once you live abroad, you should become familiar with it before you ever leave the comfort of your home. By doing so you can minimize the shock of having to learn so many new things at once, and reduce your chances of getting lost! Google Maps is a fantastic resource that is going to help you out immensely. Research different routes of places where you will go frequently, like to school/university or to your house. Most maps online have pictures so you can actually immerse yourself in the area before you're ever there.

2. Your Surroundings

A lot of the teachers that I see arrive to a new area get quite scared because they hadn't bothered to research what it was going to be like. It can be a huge shock to see your surroundings change, so try and read as much about the area before you go. Grab guidebooks and go online to read blogs of other people who have traveled to the area as well. Make sure you only use books or resources that are new, as those that are outdated could give you information that isn't actually useful. Ask around how other teachers work, what are the popular cheating techniques that kids are doing these days.

3. Storage Unit

I have seen a lot of teachers spend just a few months teaching abroad before they learn that their living situation back home isn't as stable as they had thought it was. This results in them having to scramble to get other people to take care of their things, which can be chancy as well as stressful. For this reason, I highly recommend that they think about renting a storage unit before they leave. The best part is that you will be the only one who has the key to the unit, so you won't have to worry about anyone getting inside it or taking your things. It's a much safer alternative to a garage or leaving things with a friend.

The best part about storing your belongings in a storage facility is that a lot of businesses offer specials and discounts for those students that come to study abroad,  so why not ask if they can offer a discount for teachers that are working abroad too? This can mean saving a lot of money all throughout the year and reducing your stress levels. Make sure you get a unit not only in your hometown, but also in the area where you're going to be teaching abroad. You'll actually find that there are discounts abroad as well, because many facilities will let you store your things for free while you go away on holiday.

4. Communication

Are you going to have internet access from the place where you will be living, or will it only be available from coffee shops or the university? Learn about these things before you leave so you can be prepared with not only how you will communicate with people, but also how you will get work done. In addition to this, you should make sure you have a cell phone with an international plan, as roaming fees can be extremely expensive otherwise. Your best bet is to get a temporary cell phone in the area once you are there, as these are cheap and will allow you to call back home whenever you would like.

5. Safety

Learning about how to be safe in your new surroundings is something that I don't see too many teachers doing. They research great places to eat and how much money they will need, but not how to stay safe. My advice is to read those guidebooks, but also to speak with people who have teached or studied abroad in the past. Discuss with them the top safety tips they have, and utilize those so that you will have the best chance of staying safe while you are in a foreign place.

6. Prepare for your first class

It is really important that you prepare yourself for your first class and make a good first impression by choosing a strong opening, preparing assignments for your students, their homework, topics for research papers (such as these organizational behavior topics for research paper), etc. Some of the professors are unprepared for class, and have boring lecturers which makes their students hate their life. Don't be that kind of teacher!


Photo courtesy of Student Life Online