Teaching English abroad is a great opportunity in many ways. If you’re an aspiring teacher it is invaluable experience that will shine brightly on your resume for future job prospects. It’s also a great way to travel while working. A win-win situation. You’re getting paid to work in a country that you’ve always wanted to visit. Teaching contracts are generally one year (sometimes two) and that allows you plenty of time to see all that you want to see where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to if you were just going on vacation.
For those who are coming out of college to embark on a journey of this kind – it’s a nice transition from college and there isn’t a whole lot you have to lose. You’re still free of stresses that will hunt you down later in life. Carefree enough where jumping on a plane headed for another country is not all that scary. At least not as scary as it would be for someone with a mortgage, car payment, and who knows what other debts to pay.
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However, if you’re reading this and you’ve been out of college for a while (long enough to pile on gobs of bills and debt) then leaving for a year to live in another country is more foreign of an idea than the country itself. You have a career whether it’s enjoyable or not, and leaving it is huge decision. I know. I was there.
I was neck deep in a 15 year “career” I dare say in the IT industry. I was a technical writer (aka business analyst) and project manager in software development. It is a fantastic career. For me it was until 2008 when the economy decided to take a vacation of it’s own. The country was turned on it’s head and countless people lost their shirts. I was nearly one of them. I was stuck in a rut trying to grab any contract I could get my hands on to continue my career.
But therein lies the rub.
For many, MANY years I often found myself disenchanted with the career I was in. I woke up many mornings not wanting to go to work. I found no gratification in the work itself. It was just a good career. So when things went haywire in the economy, it was actually a hidden blessing for me. It helped to shake my focus away from thinking IT was the only path. It made me start reflecting on the hundreds, if not thousands of times before I had fantasized about how great it would be to do something else. Something that would bring fulfillment and would deliver daily change and countless activities that would keep me from a life of monotony. Well, I’m there now. I took that leap, I made that change, and now it’s all so clear to me. I look back to my first blog post when I arrived in Korea for orientation…
Would I have thought just a few years ago that I would be sitting in South Korea writing a blog about travel in Asia and teaching English? Not a chance. Well, maybe I thought about it, but to actually take my life out of comfort and plop down in a foreign country like South Korea is a whole other story. Yet here I am…
But that’s me. Enough about me – let’s talk about you!
Have you been in my shoes with your career? Are you there now? Have you ever considered taking a year off to explore the world? Do life in another country. Just to get away for a while even. Maybe you really enjoy your career but still would like to go somewhere. You may have commitments that you can’t just drop, but maybe they can be managed for a year or two while you’re away.
So how do you quit your job to do something like teaching abroad…without regrets?
I think it all starts with asking yourself real questions. Like, what is life about? Why am I so intent on keeping on this path? Does this job bring me down more than I can bring myself back up? There are many questions, but you have to ask them to yourself whatever they are. Those you wrestle with from time to time.
Traveling abroad and teaching English for a year or so is a very short term endeavor if you look at it in the broad scheme of things. It can only help you grow as a person and open your mind to new ideas. I can’t tell you what those ideas will be for YOU, and you won’t know what they are either until you’re there.
You have to decide. Beware of “analysis paralysis” as I was once told. If it’s itching, maybe it’s time to scratch it. Just go for it. Unloading a bunch of unnecessary stuff and throwing the rest in storage only seems daunting when you haven’t committed in your mind.
Then you have to DO. Can you quit your job and teach abroad? I don’t think it’s a question of “if” you can do it as much as it is a question of “when” you will. Regrets will likely be the last thing on your mind.
Ponder, decide, take massive action!
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A job, a career…they are temporary like our lives. It’s entirely possible to reinvent yourself and see life in a completely different way. If you get there, you won’t know regrets. Even if it’s short term, you’ll be glad you did it.
Switching gears and venturing down a new path isn’t something that everyone has the ability to do and that’s reason enough to consider it. I’ve been teaching English in South Korea for two years come August and at the moment it’s an impossibility to return to the IT industry.
I’ve gained new strength and have embraced this new life. I’m doing what is within my power to continue down this path (e.g. teaching certifications). It makes sense to me now and the frustrations I once had are now gone. I am that thing now. The fantasy I would ponder over while sipping my morning coffee before heading off to “project manage” something. There are so many countries to see and so many more blogs to write about my times in those places. It would be foolish to go back now.
Quit your job.
Travel the world.
Study martial arts.
One of my favorite bands in college (a looong time ago) was Blues Traveler. They had a song called “100 Years”. The chorus went, “…and it won’t mean a thing in a hundred years”. The irony of that chorus is that it’s completely true.