Have you ever envied the jet-setting lifestyle of other people’s career paths but resigned yourself to the steady commitment of a teaching job back in your home town? Have you ever wanted to extend yourself through your career but seen the teaching field as a one-track system with no upward mobility? If so…read on and find out how Hannah escaped these feelings and is now living the dream.
These were both ideas that I carried with me throughout my initial 7 years as an educator. I would travel on my school breaks and I would lead professional development for colleagues, but I always felt that I had hit my limit as far as shaking up my career. Teaching was incredibly interesting from year to year because of my students, their challenges and changing grade levels but my career path always felt pretty stagnant. This mindset shifted very drastically one day while I was watching House Hunters International.
Yes, I admit it. I now live abroad as a Literacy Coordinator in subtropical China doing what I love thanks to HGTV…
While an oversimplification, I was first exposed to the idea that I could use my expertise as a teacher to travel the world through an episode of House Hunters International. The couple on the program were moving from the Caribbean after teaching in South East Asia for a few years. As I watched the episode, a pipe dream started to form, stewing under the surface until, a few days later, I mentioned the possibility to my husband. “Did you know that there are international schools that will pay for your housing and you just get a visa and go teach at them?” It still seemed to be an impossibility, something I hadn’t been trained for, and something that people from other places and countries did.
Find out if teaching abroad is for you by reading another of our blogs at Teacher Horizons.
As the idea continued to rankle in my mind, the magic of google brought me to Teacher Horizons. I initially looked at several websites for international teaching but the safety and care that Teacher Horizons seemed to have with teacher candidates and the schools really stood out to me. As I filled in my information and began to look at teaching locations and positions, I was boiling over with excitement, to be sure. But I also could not see it as an actual possibility. Who would have known this all existed and I had never known it was a possibility? Could I move to Egypt? Hungary? Turkey? China? It seemed too good to be true.
As I perused and sent out emails, I soon heard back from the Teacher Horizons team to do a pre-interview in order to vet my application and help match me to schools that fit my lifestyle. Honestly, the farther you delve into the maze of the international teaching field, the more it consumes you and creates more questions. However, after skyping and emailing with Steve and later Maggie and Tiffany, I was really able to quell my main concerns and unknowns. They helped guide me toward the positions I was most qualified for and that fit my goals as an international educator. Step-by-step, the crumbs of possibility turned into a solid path toward moving my entire life abroad.
Read about the salaries and benefits of teaching abroad here.
A month or two more of research, applying and interviewing and I had my first job offer in Shenzhen, China as a PYP Literacy Coordinator at International School of Nanshan Shenzhen. It honestly did not feel real until an envelope was delivered to me with my work invitation letter and I saw Chinese characters across the front of it. After weeks of communicating solely through email and Skype, to hold something in my hand that whispered of my new life about to start, felt extremely surreal.
It has been a whirlwind of an experience as I settle into this new culture, position, and lifestyle. Throughout the transition, my husband and I have been able to pay off all of our student debt, travel throughout the world, and I feel more appreciated and excited about my career than I ever have before. I’ve attended exciting professional development opportunities, worked toward honing my skills to coach both children and my teaching colleagues, and started learning Mandarin. Honestly, I’m aware that this all sounds like an infomercial with no drawbacks and this cannot really be how it works out (all except for the Chinese work visa process—general suffering and several tears). Maybe it has been pure luck, but we truly are living our best life now. I don’t need a bucket list—I’m living my bucket list every day.