2017 is just 10 days away!! When this time of year rolls around I always have grand ideas of how I am going to spend the upcoming year. Of course I have things on my resolution list like reading more, learning a new language (7 years on my resolution list and it still hasn’t happened) and less glamorous ones like flossing, but the most important one to me is a big challenge I can set for myself. In 2014 that challenge was to move abroad and support myself financially while over there. After working two jobs, moving in with my parents and budgeting, I made that dream come true and flew out in September.
If you want a change in your life or to challenge yourself, moving abroad can be the most difficult but rewarding thing to do. The thing I hear people say most is that they can’t afford it. There is a start up cost of about 3,000 dollars (if you are from the USA needing a visa) but the great thing about working aboard is that you can keep supporting yourself!
There are many ways to support yourself abroad but teaching is one of the easiest and most common methods. Receiving your TEFL certificate can open the door for a world of opportunity but starting the process can be so overwhelming. If you are thinking about taking the plunge here are a few things you need to help get you started!
First! Research where you want to take your teacher training to obtain your TEFL certificate; where you get your TEFL certificate is not where you are bound to teach! I knew I wanted to stay in Prague so getting my TESOL training there made sense because I would make a network of connections in the 4 weeks of my training. Other people in our training group moved on from Prague to Japan, France, Spain.. All over. This can be a great way to explore multiple different countries! Of course you can obtain your TEFL teacher training in your home country or even online but moving abroad and actually having classroom time with ESL learners is part of the amazing experience and for certain jobs – they require a TESOL or CELTA.
Next! When researching where to get your TEFL training, look for a language school with a reputation and good reviews. This industry can be shady because it is easy rip off foreigners moving abroad. A website says a lot about a company! If it hasn’t been updated since 2013, this is a red flag. I did a quick Google search of language schools in Prague and applied to two. One immediately accepted me and sent me billing information, the other had a Skype interview with me before being accepted. It is not difficult to be accepted to a TEFL course abroad but I though it was a nice gesture to interview and get to know candidates before billing them (it is expensive!!).
Worried about making the big move alone? Don’t be! Do not worry about not making friends! The scariest part about moving across the world is the prospect of having no support system. Everyone in your course will be in the same situation too. I got extremely lucky and made very good friends in my course and many of us stayed in Prague for a whole year and did everything together. This is also how I met Sam of course. The best part is making friends with your students, they will love you and can become your friends too. One of my students from Mexico invited me over to brunch at her house with 12 of her friends and we were all from different countries! Experiences like this are my favorite part of traveling.
Think about moving to a city with a good job market! Depending on where you go, you should have no problem getting a job. In places like Prague or all over SE Asia there are tons of jobs. I had multiple job offers the day of getting my TEFL certificate! A good TEFL teaching course should help you send out your CV to local schools. Everyone I knew who stayed around Prague found a teaching job within a few weeks. Countries or cities where the level of English is higher, such as France or Germany it may be more difficult to find a job or if you do have a job the salary might not be enough to support you. The best places to get a job and make good money will be China, South Korea or the Middle East! You will also get the added benefit of visa support, housing and maybe airfare for some of these places. If your dream is to move to Europe, don’t worry you can still definitely support yourself. Just learn to live with less and have some money in the bank to fall back on for your first few months.
Is 2017 going to be your year for a big change? Whether or not moving abroad is in your future I can always recommend making friends with people of other cultures and backgrounds or experience the difficulty or learning a new language. Comment below with your New Years resolutions!