In general, TEFL teachers are travelers who quite often get itchy feet and are ready at a moment’s notice to move on to the next country. We came abroad to explore and learn about new cultures and places–to broaden our minds. However, deciding when it’s the right time to move on can be difficult. On the one hand, there is a fear of getting too comfortable or even bored in the country you are currently in. On the other, there is a fear that you didn’t get all that you wanted out of the experience or that, perhaps, you are merely trying to run away from your problems.
Read on as I explore problems that may or may not be solved by changing countries. Also, if you’d like a fun quiz to help you in your decision-making process of whether or not to change countries, you can gain access to the resource by clicking on the link below.
Things Moving Country Might Be Able to Solve
Whether it’s your first time considering to move to another country for a while or you’ve done this a number of times; it’s important to remember that completely changing your location and going to a new, strange land won’t magically solve all of your problems. Having said that, there are a number of things that a simple change can fix. One positive aspect of changing countries is simply that most things around you are different.
If you’re bored of the same old routine, moving countries will definitely break you out of it. One of my favorite feelings is from the first few weeks in a new place where I have absolutely no idea how things work. Trying to fill the fridge suddenly is an adventure. Figuring out how to get a phone plan becomes a sojourn. Establishing a cool running route becomes a pilgrimage.
Not only that, but you’ll be surrounded by a new group of people, for better or for worse. You’ll be a stranger, which has its benefits as well as disadvantages. One good thing is that you have a chance to recreate yourself somewhat. Nobody has expectations of who you are, and won’t think that they know what you like or don’t like. It creates an opportunity to try new things.
Also, a simple change in climate and landscape can make a huge difference on what you do and don’t do. When I lived in Hanoi, which I loved, I had to eventually ditch the idea of riding a bicycle through the heavy pollution every day. I adapted and got a motorbike, which was fun and has led to a number of adventures. However, when I moved to the sleepy little tourist town of Hoi An, I got to start riding a bicycle through rice paddies on my way to work every day. This does make a difference.
Another positive aspect of moving countries is that it is a chance to enter a new job market, and therefore change the types of classes that you teach. I’ve mentioned in this blog many times that it’s important not to let yourself get bored or complacent with your teaching– both for you and your students. Moving countries will get you to update that CV and start looking around, this time with a little more experience under your belt, which may allow you to get a better job.
Things Moving Country Won’t Solve
Moving won’t necessarily solve any financial problems that you have. It can be tempting to think so if you see job ads that offers a lot more money than you are currently making, however there are other things to consider. Setting yourself up in a new place can be expensive. You often have to pay a number of months of rent up front, you might need to buy some furniture and other such things to make yourself comfortable, and then there’s the cost of the flight itself.
Also, just because you’ll be making more money, doesn’t mean that you’ll be saving more money. Make sure to take a look at the cost of living in the country that you’re considering. If you’re making less, but living in an inexpensive place, you can sometimes have more disposable income or savings. Oh, and if you are thinking of leaving a contract early, and therefore foregoing an end of contract bonus, make sure you factor that in.
Another thing that won’t necessarily be worked out by changing countries is emotional problems that you might be facing either personally, or with a partner. It’s the old adage about trying to run away from your problems, but you can’t run away from yourself. Those sorts of problems will eventually find you. There is no shortcut to emotional health. A change of scenery is a quick fix, but if you are dealing with depression, chemical dependency, or other serious issues, consulting a therapist or having a good network of people around to help you through something is more effective.
Likewise, I’ve seen a number of couples who had almost broken up and decided to change their lives completely to work on their marriage or relationship. Very few of those couples are still together now. I don’t know whether or not that’s a way to measure the success of moving and keeping a couple together, but from my own experience, I’d say moving initially causes stress; it doesn’t relieve it. You can’t simply ignore the problems in a relationship and distract yourself from them; they still exist unless you confront them.
Importantly, the basic tenets of TEFL teaching methodology do not change from country to country. If you are personally battling problems with classroom management, or other teaching aspects that are making your job unenjoyable, moving will not magically make you a better teacher. If one of the reasons that you’d like to make a change is that you don’t enjoy your teaching, give some serious thought as to why that might be. Why don’t you enjoy it? Is there a way to make some changes in your existing classes so that it would be more enjoyable for you and your students?
I’ve given what I believe to be a fairly balanced argument about the advantages and disadvantages of moving. Personally, though changing countries doesn’t solve everything, I still love it! It may not solve all of your problems, but one reason to do it from time to time is simply that the act itself is fun and exciting. The key is making sure that you don’t do it prematurely.
If you’d like to take a short fun quiz to help you determine whether it is time to move country, you can gain access to the resource by clicking on the button below.