Deciding to Teach Abroad

Living abroad was something that I had always wanted to do, especially after my semester long study abroad trip to Granada, Spain in 2010. However, after graduating from college I followed the traditional path most other do. I landed a 9 to 5 job that was in the field I studied. I had my own cubicle and sat in front of a computer most of the day, while attending the occasional meeting. I will admit that I was lucky to be offered a job right out of college, considering the economic climate and all, and it wasn’t just your ordinary entry level job. This was a job that I imagined doing when I was in my 40’s, in terms of pay at least.

Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla

Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla

While I was very grateful about the job, it was never clicked for me and never was something I had a true interest in. The paycheck was nice, but the cubicle and spreadsheets didn’t make up for it. I had this deep desire to travel, explore the world, and live in another country again where everything was new, exciting, and sometimes scary.

The monotony of my current life was wearing on me, and I could tell I was becoming unhappy as a person. I did not want to fall into this trap of being stuck where I was because years later I would still be miserable sitting in a cubicle, even if by then I had moved up to an office. I began looking around searching for other jobs and exploring grad school programs that had peaked my interest, but nothing ever excited me enough to actually apply, even after job shadows and everything. In pondering all my possibilities, I kept coming back to two things: Living Abroad and Education.

Granada, Spain

Granada, Spain

As mentioned earlier, ever since I studied abroad, I had decided that one day I wanted to live abroad. With no specific country in mind, my options were wide-open. Now, the education part is something that I noticed throughout my past work experience. I realized that it was the one thing about all my prior work experience that I enjoyed the most, although, it can be difficult at times. I had taught tennis lessons to kids and adults as well as pottery lessons for a few years. I had also done quite a bit of volunteering at the local Boys and Girls Club, so working with people and in the field of education was something I also knew I wanted to do. I figured what better than to combine both of them!

I dove in and started researching as many teach abroad programs as possible, which there are a seemingly endless number of different programs all over the world. I also began reading as many blogs as I could find about teaching abroad and going to their first posts about why they decided to do it. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas was incredibly helpful and has a great website of her own! Luckily, I also had a few friends who were teaching or who had taught abroad, in Spain, South Korea, and Ecuador, that I was able to ask questions. I would like to apologize to them though, since I asked them each about a thousand questions over the course of the year as I was contemplating teaching abroad. The one thing that surprised me about the answers I received was that they all reiterated one thing: if you don’t go, you will always regret not doing it.

That message really stuck with me. I knew for a fact that if I didn’t pursue this now, I would eventually regret not doing it and look back and always wonder what if? Knowing myself, I knew I would not be able to live with that, which is why I have decided to leave my risk behind and jump in feet first. I am well aware that my “great” job will not be there for me when, and if, I return, but I am perfectly content with that. Right now, I am just living in the moment and pursuing something I have always wanted to do. In the long run, I know I will be happier with myself.

25 responses to “Deciding to Teach Abroad

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  2. Hey Mike,
    I think I got the right blog now 🙂 I love seeing all the pictures of mi querida Granada on here!
    I know what you mean about that itch..once the wanderlust gets you it’s hard to settle into the mundane corporate world. Especially after becoming accustomed to the “no pasa nada” lifestyle of Andalucía. You begin to think that there has to be something more to life than just slaving away in a cubicle…and there is, because we’ve seen it in Granada where people truly enjoy life and work only to live. But, it takes a brave soul to follow that feeling, and I’m so excited for you! I look forward to following your adventures.

    • Julia, I’m glad you found the correct blog. It was my mistake though. Thank you for following my adventures! I’ve enjoyed following yours and look forward to continuing to!

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  4. Wow. This is my life exactly! Studied abroad (Santander), graduated, started working, and seven years later I can’t get rid of that itch. So I’m doing exactly the same thing as you! I got application number 121. 🙂 Best of luck in your application and placement process!

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  6. I couldn’t think of a more suitable response than the following quote:
    “Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family. You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless. You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more. This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country. So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t. You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society. Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t. And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realized too late that there is so much more to living than this. ”

    Happy travels, happy living!

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  11. I totally feel you on needing to travel/teach/live abroad or regret it forever! I also followed that same path after college and there is just something missing. I am currently a teacher in the US, and need to take a break from teaching for awhile, but I KNOW that I want to teach abroad somewhere eventually. I look forward to reading about your experience when you make it to Spain! Cheers.

    • Thank you! It’s refreshing to know someone else following a similar path. As someone who’s interested in education, I’m really looking forward to teaching abroad as hopefully it will give me a preview of what the teaching profession will be like while allowing me to travel ad live abroad.

      • I am actually very excited to eventually see what the teaching industry is like in other places. I have only been teaching for 4 years in Vermont, but I have seen significant changes that I am not sure I’m totally happy about! I’m excited to find out about what it is like teaching in Spain.

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  13. Hello Mike! I am actually thinking of doing the same thing at the moment and of course there are fears seeing that I’m in my early thirties. Most people would say exploring another country should have been done earlier. However, I’m actually looking into ways I can become certified to teach English as a second language. I would like to move to Europe. After spending the Winter holidays in Switzerland, Germany and France, I am in LOVE with that country. I can’t wait to hear more about your adventure! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • You’re welcome, and thank you for reading and commenting. I hope you’re able to find a way to teach abroad, especially if it’s something you’re truly passionate about. I had/have my fears, but ultimately know that if I don’t do this, I will regret it and always wonder “what if…” I guess sometimes it’s just taking that leap of faith and seeing what will transpire. Even if this ends up being a mistake, I will learn from it and continue to move forward.

  14. Pingback: 10 Reasons Why I Decided to Teach Abroad Now | Mapless Mike·

  15. I am currently ‘inscrita’ for this intake- but don’t have the number application I am! I am so confused and frustrated by this process and don’t know if I’m on the right track! Am hoping it will work out- and that it’s worth it!

    • Claire, did you get an email when you applied? Your application number will be in that email. It looks like “14_1AXC000013” The last digits after the zeroes is your application/inscrita number. This number also appears when you log in to profex. I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any more questions.

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