Deciding to Teach Abroad Now

As many of you already know, I applied to teach English in Spain last year, but decided not to go through with it for some personal reasons. However, this year I’ve applied again and will be going through with it, barring me receiving a teaching placement. Teaching and living abroad is something I’ve wanted to do since studying abroad, but haven’t done yet.

Wanderlust captured me back in the spring of 2010 in Granada, Spain, and it never let go. The yearn to travel and explore the world has never left me. Like many recent college graduates though, I got stuck in the lifeless world of the dreaded 9 to 5 cubicle. Photographs of my travels and maps decorating my cubicle walls, exploring Google Maps street view when I could, and screensavers of faraway places couldn’t cure my desire to escape and explore. My two weeks vacation (3 days a year when I first started) were hardly enough to cover trips to places, especially for any extended period of time. I mean, how can you honestly get somewhere across the world with only two weeks vacation a year? Maybe that topic/rant is for another post.


Toledo, Spain


I decided it was time. Life abroad and all it entailed – the ups, the downs, the exciting, the scary – was calling me. I needed to go, and I needed to go now. So, I applied to teach English in Spain, the country I had fell head over heels in love with 4 years ago and turned down the opportunity to teach in last year.

Now, before you assume I had a terrible job I should say that, yes, I had a safe, stable, and secure job that paid me very well; however, I didn’t love it. I never went into work feeling excited to be there and passionate about my work. I landed the job right out of college and was very happy, especially when I saw my salary written in the job offer. Plus, it was new and exciting and encompassed everything that I was supposed to be doing with my post-college life. I could easily have worked there for 35+ years without worrying about job security, been paid handsomely, and collected a swell pension when it was all said and done, but if there’s no love or passion in it, why do it?

Plaza de España - Sevilla, Spain

Plaza de España – Sevilla, Spain

College was an exhilarating place for me filled with endless opportunities to socialize and learn. My direction in life was wide open, and I felt like I could do whatever I wanted in life. Entering the workforce was initially exciting with the feeling of limitless opportunities to make a difference the second I stepped into my office building wearing my shirt and tie, but soon this life became rather monotonous and routine. My ideas were not taken seriously because I was “young,” and I was expected to “work hard for 5-10 years and then you’ll be in a position to have meaningful work and make a difference because then you will have put your time in.” Each day was as if I was living in the doldrums, a waiting place. Every day was almost identical to the next.  I began just floating through day to day life where I knew exactly what to expect day in and day out. If you don’t want surprises, excitement, or or anything that makes you feel alive it was a fine position to be in. That’s not what I wanted though.

I craved for exploring new places, learning new languages, meeting new people from other cultures, and most of all the unknown. I wanted to have to deal with unexpected circumstances that were more than a check engine light on my car. A quote from the travel documentary 180º South sums up my thoughts exactly,

“If I don’t get on that boat, I know exactly what I’m going home to. If I do, my future is unwritten.”

If I stay where I am at, I know exactly how the rest of my life will be. I know that the longer I stay at my job the less likely I am to ever leave, and I can see that with a lot of the older workers there who got sucked in and put their dreams aside until retirement. You know, like we’re supposed to. However, if I take the chance and teach abroad, my future is completely unwritten. This is the unknown I’ve been craving, the one I’m looking forward to.


Alhambra – Granada, Spain

There are many, many, many posts out there with reasons why you should teach abroad, and while all these reasons to teach and live abroad play into my decision, the main factor for me is leaving my monotonous, unexciting life for the unknown. Yes, it’s scary, and some days almost petrifying, thinking about leaving my stable paycheck, friends, family, and everything I know to go out into the world and live in a different culture in a different country where another language is spoken and do a job that I don’t have much, if any, experience doing. Those days are few and far between though. I’m up for the challenge and cannot wait for it to begin.

I could take my two weeks vacation and fly to Spain, but I will never get a chance like this one again.

A chance to learn the language, understand the culture, and be a part of all of it and live like a local. It’s all a mystery as to what it will be like right now, which is what gets my blood pumping. Knowing that I’m taking this leap of faith into an unknown future has me feeling alive, even if I still have a few more months of paycheck collecting before leaving. That’s where the name of my site came from after all. I like living life without a map (see: mapless) of where I will be going next, but rather seeing what each day has in store for me and making the most of it.

There’s no fun for me in knowing exactly what each day will bring. I need the new, the challenging, the unknown. It makes me feel alive. This is why I have decided to teach abroad, live abroad, follow my passions, and face my fears now. I don’t want to know what the rest of my life has in store. I want my future to be unwritten.

17 responses to “Deciding to Teach Abroad Now

  1. Great post! I have no doubt that in a few years’ time you’ll look back and be proud of what you’re doing now. Moving abroad has been the best decision of my life – not the easiest for sure, but the best. So much that I never came back!

    • Thank you, Antonio! I know doing this will not be the easiest, but I look forward to the challenge and expect it to be one of the best experiences of my life, if not the best!

  2. Cheers to you for pursuing your dreams and even stepping down from a well-paying job. I’m tempted to take the first (stable!), 9-5, salaried job I can get when I move back to the States in 2015, but your post was a welcome counter to society’s expectations. While I keep feeling these urges to settle down and “put down roots,” I’m not sure if wanderlust will come back to bite my ass if I’m sitting on, to mix a few metaphors 😛 Mucha suerte to you this coming year—hope to see you around the north!

    • Thanks, Trevor! I am very thankful for having worked a 9 to 5. I learned a lot about myself professionally and personally. Your wanderlust may come back, but remember that you can always travel whether you have a 9 to 5 or not. I have always envisioned myself putting down roots somewhere in the future, but not right now. I need time to explore and wander. Things just don’t feel right for me right now being “settled,” if that makes any sense! I’ll definitely be visiting you in Galicia. No worries!

  3. Here’s to trusting that little voice inside. We are so conditioned to believe money and the stable 9 to 5 is the end all be all. For some it is and I don’t regret that path but what I ‘ve learned is that people grow and change; not recognizing that would be regrettable. I identify with what your feeling. Some think I’m crazy to want to give up my well paying job and start over on a new path but I think I would be crazy not to. Here’s to following your passion and to all the possibilities. Buena Suerte!

    • I completely agree, Christine! Eventually, I may have a 9 to 5 and be comfortable with that. However, right now I’m not settled being settled, as confusing as that may sound. I have more things I want to accomplish before settling into what we know as “normal.”

  4. I relate to everything you said in this post. People think I’m crazy for leaving my job, friends and family but it’s definitely the right thing to do at this moment. We are also lucky we got to experience the 9-5er, realize it’s not for us and then change it while we are young and still have the chance. I hope to never go back to that!

    • I’ve got the same reaction from both friends and family, Danielle. I’m eternally grateful for having experienced the 9 to 5. I learned so much, but there is more I need to do. I don’t want to ever look back and wonder, “What if?” I’m heading into this opportunity and not looking back because I know this is what I need to do.

  5. It’s great that you’ve decided to go for it again this year! I’ve worked in several different countries and I just love living abroad. You’re definitely making the right decision and it sounds like you will thrive in Spain. You guys in the USA definitely do not get enough holiday at all! It should be 4 weeks minimum!

    • Thank you! I cannot wait to leave already! I wish I had 4 weeks vacation at a MINIMUM! When I started, I was given 3 days if I began before June 1, and 0 days if I started after that. Ridiculous!

    • Thanks, Ben! I agree that life can be short, and we never know how long we will be here. We need to follow or passions and dreams while trying to make this world a better place.

  6. Doooooooooooooooooooo it! I don’t really have wise words for those coming to Spain for the auxiliar program other than the first statement. I didn’t have a 9-5, worse, I had a full time restaurant position which paid for my life in the US but only aided in making me miserable. I work half the amount of time in Spain and may have left behind my family, friends, and life that I built, but my quality and happiness of life has improved greatly. Wanderlust will do that to ya. 🙂

    • I’m glad you agree! For me, teaching and living abroad is a huge interest, and I know that if I don’t do it I’ll always wonder to myself, “What if?” I know there will will be plenty of challenges with taking this leap of faith, but the rewards will undoubtedly be worth it.

  7. Pingback: Thoughts of a Prospective Auxiliar de Conversación | Mapless Mike·

  8. Hi Mike,

    I’m so glad I came across your blog. As I was reading along, I found myself nodding and agreeing to almost everything you mentioned. I’ve always had an interest of teaching abroad after studying abroad 3 years ago. It ignited my passion to explore and travel the world. Similar to you, right after college I was fortunate to land a secure stable state job, 8-5..cubicle setting..a ‘routine’ life…which isn’t bad, but am not happy, like you they don’t take my ideas or thoughts seriously bc I’m still “young” and will have to prove myself within the next years I will be here…felt unappreciated.. however the thought of teaching and living abroad never left me. I’m glad there are people out there like you, who also feels the same way…So I went on a limb and just submitted my application to teach abroad. *fingers cross I get chosen. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Lisa! First of all, thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad that there are others who are in the same situation as I am. It makes me feel as though I’m not alone in quitting my stable job to teach abroad, especially when many people think I’m crazy. Where did you apply to teach abroad? Keep me updated on your acceptance. My fingers are crossed for you!

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