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Surviving a Teaching Job Overseas

The global economic recession of 2008 – 2011 had a tumultuous impact on many global job sectors. For graduates in particular, finding employment after graduation has become increasingly difficult, as many markets have become saturated with overqualified candidates.

Despite many sectors suffering significantly, the teaching industry across the globe has remained strong, even flourishing in many international locations. As a result, a growing number of graduates are choosing to take an employment gap year overseas, to teach English as a foreign language.

The implications of teaching overseas

As a graduate who has decided to spend a year as a teacher overseas, it can be easy to assume that the year abroad will be one of fun, adventure and excitement. However there are numerous factors that often go unforeseen before relocating.

Below is a guide on how to survive those unexpected issues during your teacher job overseas.

Poor accommodation 

Many teaching opportunities offer the availability of accommodation for international teachers, however in most cases you will not have a chance to see your new accommodation until you arrive.  Although it is important to should that the accommodation will not be of a 5 star quality, it is still crucial that your accommodation meets your expectations.

Ask in advance regarding the type of accommodation that you will be provided with. Will it be furnished? Will you be required to share with others? Who will pay the bills? If you are dissatisfied with your accommodation upon arrival, demand a change. Ask your employer if they would live in such conditions and explain that you are simply unable to live in such an environment.

Difficult employer

There have been numerous examples of graduates relocating for teaching opportunities who are under the management of a very difficult and unresponsive manager. Dealing with a difficult manager can be tough, especially in a new culture with a language that you barely understand. Assess how bad the situation is before taking any steps. If you feel that you can no longer work under that manager, search for new employment before making it clear how you feel. In some cases, if an employer discovers that a teacher is searching for new employment, they will go out of their way to inform all local schools that the individual in question is an unsatisfactory employee.

Getting paid

Some countries are reluctant to follow the guidelines of a contract (South Korea is notoriously ignorant of the significance of a contract) and you may ultimately encounter difficulties with getting paid. Before relocating it is recommended that you undertake a teaching program via an intermediary company, rather than searching independently. This ensures that you are better protected by that company. 

Adjusting to the language barrier

Language concerns are a common problem and can lead to further issues with readjusting to your new country. If you find yourself feeling isolated once overseas due to language concerns, try your best to learn as much of the language as possible. Make friends with people who speak both languages, as this will help you to deal with daily issues such as setting up a bank account or catching the bus.

Dealing with homesickness


Remember you are there to experience a new culture, broaden your horizons and increase your independence. If you are having a difficult time dealing with homesickness, understand that the teaching experience will not last forever. Try to relish every opportunity by making friends, socializing frequently and soaking up the country’s culture. 

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