So you've graduated and you don't know what to do next. You know someone or you've spoken to people who have gone overseas to live, play and work. You've even done some online research to help you decide if it's something you might want to follow through with.
It's an option that you like to daydream about but you need a push... but here you are; car payments, student loans, credit card debt... the great adventure isn't going to happen for at least a few years, there's always tomorrow, it can wait, there's always time to do this stuff later, blah blah blah!
Well, it can't wait! And if you are thinking about moving to another country for a working adventure then maybe this article will make you sit up and take the idea more seriously...
(I'm not going to get very deep into the following reasons to 'just do it' as each one of them can be explored in much greater depth on your own without any help from me.)
1 - You're hired!
The first thing you're probably concerned about is getting a job. This is especially true if you don't have a pile of savings to fall back on. You could be in trouble if you get laid off or you simply decide that you want to come home. The good news is that it's a great job market out there. Billions of people are learning English all over the world and you can soon find yourself at the front of a class with a stick of chalk in your hands! The jobs are out there.
2 - ...and here's another one of me on the beach!
The next is obvious - you get to travel and see a bit of the world. You also get paid for doing it, too. Living in a different culture is not the same as being on holiday in one. You knew that, right? But it's still worth saying as many people fall in love with the place they go to on their hols and sometimes that place is a bad option if you want to live and work there.
3 - You will change!
The personal education of living far away from home cannot be underestimated. Your views of the world will change and you will be more critical of yourself and everything that you have previously not paid much attention to. If you take the move seriously and do a sensible amount of planning and research, you'll finish your 'tour of duty' as a much wiser and more worldly person. You will be a better human being.
4 - A teacher? Me?
Don't ever think that you can't do the job. It's easy! Once you get over some jitters about being in front of a room full of kids you'll very quickly develop a teaching style of your own and start having fun. You don't have to be the best English language teacher... wanting to do the job and enjoying it is enough. From my experience you will still be better than many teachers who have been in the classroom for too long, boring the kids to death!
5 - You're hired... again!
Teaching English abroad can also work out for you professionally back home, too. Graduate programs do like that 'Real World Experience' when they sort through applications. There are also many employers that will be impressed by your ability to move, adapt and excel outside of your normal comfort zone. It says something about your determination and flexibility that you can design and execute a plan along a path less travelled. It's a feather in your cap that others won't have.
6 - You're a hit, they love you!
OK, this sounds a bit cheesy, but you'll change the lives of other people, too. If you are interested in discovering new places, people and cultures it's reasonable to expect that other people will have similar desires too, right? They may not have the same resources at their disposal to make their dreams come true, but they'll take a big interest in you and yours. So, both in a professional way as a teacher and in a sociable way as a person, you are going to have a lasting impact on everyone around you in your new world.
7 - But Mark, it's dangerous!
I've travelled across three continents and met the warmest and most hospitable people you could ever want to. I can promise you that you are just as likely to get into trouble at home as you are abroad. Put aside any worries you have about moving. There are no boogymen waiting at the airport to make your life a misery. I'll bet that every foreign horror story you have read or heard about involves someone doing something irresponsible... and this isn't you, right?
8 - What if I had just done it!
Consider this: In the future you may be back home in an office, gazing out of the window from your desk, wondering what would have happened if you had just taken the plunge and gone on the big adventure. Now, with the mortgage, the car payments, the kids... it looks like a dream is all it will ever be! What would your life have been like if you'd just said "Mum, you can turn my room into an office... I'm off on an adventure!"
9 - You deserve a break.
Don't you actually deserve this working holiday? The last few years have been hard work and up next is the real world of work and bills and stress... You can recharge your jaded young batteries and prepare yourself for the next fifty years of work by taking a short time off to discover yourself and others. The real world back home isn't going anywhere. That lifetime of servitude to 'the man' can wait a while longer.
10 - The other side of the planet, isn't the end of the world!
So if the worst happens just come home! If that job sucks, or you get sick, or the view from your apartment is another apartment... don't stay! You've lost nothing and you've found out that the life of a traveller isn't for you. Don't take it personally. If you do, that bitterness spills over onto other people that you care about. Just see the whole thing as a lesson learned. Move onwards and up!
Finally, here's a true story that happened to me about forty years ago...
I moved to America from the UK in 1987. My first permanent job was working as a waiter at The Spaghetti Warehouse in Dallas' West End. A young man I worked with wanted to go abroad to Europe with his bicycle and we started talking about it... well, he did! He was a skinny fellow, a terrible waiter and a brilliant bloke. On our afternoon breaks, I listened to his excited plans and smiled inside because I knew that he'd never do it. I'd heard similar dreams so many times before. But he was good company so I let him unload. I even gave him my mum's address on the Isle of Wight in the UK and told him to stop by there if he was passing. It was a joke of course.
About three years later I saw him again. I didn't recognise him. He'd put on about fifty pounds and was a really good looking and confident man. It turns out that our chats had forced his hand and he actually DID take his bike all over Europe and even stayed at my mum's house for a few days, too! But this was NOT the same lanky kid who was always dropping plates on the floor and messing up his food orders. I knew from just looking at him after his trip, that whatever he decided to do with his life - he was going to be a success.
Anyway - If you're thinking about teaching English abroad, I hope this helps you to make up your mind. I've read a million blogs from people who tend to over-glamorize their working holidays abroad. I've tried not to do that. But it is work and it isn't a holiday... it's worth thinking about that, too.