How teaching abroad changed my life
Volunteer teaching is a great way to create social impact while immersing yourself in a local community. Learn about my experience teaching abroad, and why should consider doing it yourself!
May 02, 2019
Stella is the author of the travel blog Stella’s Out where she documents her adventures on a budget. As a traveling teacher, she lived in South Eas...
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to travel the world. I was fortunate enough as a child to travel with my family to nearby states and countries.
It was always an eye-opening, educational experience seeing how other people lived, whether it was across the country or across the world.
When I attended university, I knew that I would study abroad. I saw it as my chance to live in and experience another country in a way that taking a vacation just doesn't allow.
In my junior year, I moved to London and explored all that the city had to offer, as well as much of Europe. However, my travels did little to quench my thirst for adventure, and I found myself constantly adding to my ever-growing list of places I wanted to visit.
After graduation, I decided I wanted to see more of my own country and moved to Chicago despite having never been there. I taught for a few years in the Chicago Public Schools, but I found myself yearning to travel more.
And so, I began researching teaching abroad.
Teaching abroad seemed like the perfect way for me to travel, earn money, and give back to communities around the world. After three years in Chicago, I sold all of my things and made the leap to move to the other side of the world in order to start work in Thailand.
How teaching abroad changed my life
Teaching abroad completely changed my life. I was able to completely immerse myself in a culture that was very different from my own.
I learned a little bit of Thai, which I used much to the amusement of the locals in my small town in the south. I was able to eat foods I would never have had the courage to try had I just been a tourist passing through the country for a short time.
I made friends with Thai locals who introduced and explained to me to so many parts of their culture that were beautiful. I celebrated local holidays and met other expats and travelers who, like me, were searching for more ways to experience the world in a more meaningful capacity.
I had only planned to stay in Thailand for one semester, but ended up staying for two years. They were some of the best years of my life. I was able to see many countries in Southeast Asia and learn even more about that part of the world that was so far from anything I knew or recognized back home.
After two years, I found myself wanting to live and teach somewhere new. And so, I found a job in Honduras and moved there to teach for a year.
Again, working and living in a country will never compare to a vacation.
I arrived knowing very little Spanish and by the end was able to have conversations with my students and neighbors. I met incredible individuals who taught me so much about what it meant to be Honduran. I was especially grateful to be able to take part in special ceremonies throughout the year at my school that celebrated Honduran culture and accomplishments.
There are those of us on this planet that just weren't meant to live our lives in one place. I am definitely one of those people, and teaching abroad has given me a fantastic way to move around and travel slowly.
By living in a country and working there, I get to understand much more about the culture than I would if I simply visited for a week or two. I also get to travel that country, and perhaps those surrounding it, in a way that is much more affordable.
It takes a lot of money to travel from one country to the next on a long vacation. By teaching abroad and saving money to travel during the school holidays and vacations, I can better prepare budget-wise for all the places I want to see.
I also have found that I see places and do things that I would never know about if I was simply a tourist. By getting to know locals, I get the chance to visit locations that sometimes only locals know about.
Thus, teaching abroad gives me the opportunity to feel truly immersed.
In addition to all that, I also get to learn new languages! Speaking to someone in their native language is a much more rewarding conversation than one held simply in English. I love that I have added to my repertoire and hope to continue adding to it in the future.
If you are considering teaching abroad as your next adventure, I would highly recommend it. Start by volunteer teaching to see if you enjoy the experience, and then commit to a paid position!
Volunteer teaching is a great way to create social impact while immersing yourself in a local community.
Worldpackers is a fantastic platform for finding the volunteer teaching experience that's right for you. Browse unique opportunities to teach in Tanzania, Guatemala, Cambodia, and so many other beautiful and distinctive countries.