For many in the education sector, September feels just as a pivotal time as of January, if not more so! It’s the start of a new school year, a time for reflection on how things were and a look to the future. We say our sweet goodbyes to our offscreen time jetting around the world and a firm welcome back to reality—schedules, homework, bureaucracy and all.
For many, September means an entirely new experience, a new school, even a new country. Read on to find out how to turn those jitters into excitement.
What Should I do if I feel overwhelmed?
Tiffany says… “Get out there! It might be the last thing you feel like doing in your first few weeks. It certainly was for me. As soon as I left my air-conditioned room, the smells, the noise and the heat of Cambodia would hit me, and it was overwhelming. However, once I bit the bullet and got out there, I noticed how wonderfully different and exciting the place was and began to get accustomed.” You can read more on Tiffany’s advice in her blog post here.
How can I best prepare for the unknown?
In short, you can’t. But you can eliminate some uncertainty through research. Knowing background information on the school, country, and town you are moving to will help to prepare you and calm the nerves. Ryan says “Having as much knowledge about your intended destination makes the transition so much easier.” You can read more from him, here.
How can I best adapt to an entirely new culture?
Empathy and compassion. Utilizing these two skills can help you in all areas of life, especially in new surroundings! As you embarked on this adventure in the first place, chances are that you enjoy learning new cultures and meeting new people so use this curiosity to listen and learn from other peoples ways of living. Staying present is also useful, try not to compare to your past placement too much. “the teachers who are happiest are those who appreciate what they have & where they are – not the ‘grass is greener’ types who suffer from the nostalgia of places and seem constantly unsettled.” You can read more on that, here.
How can you stay calm when you are feeling culture shock?
Our CEO Alex Reynolds put it really well when he stated: “However different cultures are, the fundamentals remain the same across the world – family and education is very important, parents are generally kind and concerned about their children.” This can be a useful reminder when we are in a new place and feel daunted about change. Even if the cultural difference feels really different and you worry about suffering from culture shock, take a look at what we all share and have in common and go from there!
How do I know if I made the right choice?
You don’t. But if you feel you made a well researched and informed choice around the school you chose and have insight and curiosity around the location, you will at the least have an adventure and some stories to tell afterward. Don’t make any rushed decisions in the first few months, it takes time to settle. A top tip from John Regan is: “The one thing I have found in international teaching is that people tend to move around a lot. I would say to teachers that they must stick with a school for at least two years, and ideally three years. So my main piece of advice is to stick around.” You can read more from John, here.
The life of an international school teacher isn’t always plain sailing but it is exciting! There are so many reasons which make teaching abroad desirable, and many why it is a challenge. Try and hold on to the desirable feelings while you navigate yourself through the first months. To be successful and happy with your new expat life embrace qualities of tolerance & diversity. Be flexible and openminded. Keep reminding yourself why you choose to teach abroad and embrace those qualities of curiosity, exploration, and adventure.
Are you an international teacher? Do you have hints and tips on teaching abroad? Would you like to share inspiring teaching stories from anywhere in the world? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us to share your knowledge and views with us!