Feeling anxious about teaching abroad for the first time? I know the feeling, trust me.
When I first made the decision to move to Australia to teach and throughout the entire application, interview and offer process, it never occurred to me to feel afraid or nervous. It wasn’t until I broke the news to friends and family, and started making concrete plans for departing, like booking flights and organizing packing, that I started to feel those first stirrings of unease. And as the day of my flight loomed closer and closer, I realized that I had officially developed cold feet.
I’d traveled around to different countries before, but this felt like a whole different ball game. It struck me that I would be moving abroad - totally alone - for a significant period of time. To say I started feeling just a little nervous, right before it was time to depart, is a bit of an understatement.
It’s important to remember that fear is a completely normal, human reaction to the prospect the great unknown. While it’s impossible to totally shake away all those nerves, here are a few ways to ease yourself into your new journey teaching abroad and start getting excited about your new life adventure again!
Do your research
The scariest part about moving abroad is facing the unfamiliar. Based on my experience teaching English abroad on three separate occasions, one thing I’ve realized is that it’s always a good idea to plan ahead as much as possible.
Google is probably going to be your main source of information, like it was for me. From informative articles (the Teach Away blog is a great starting point), to blogs written by teachers who also teaching abroad (check our blog roundup of some of our favorite bloggers teaching abroad), there’s no shortage of helpful information on what it’s like living and teaching abroad for the very first time out there.
Learn about the culture
There will, of course, be some social norms that are completely unfamiliar to you right off the plane. That’s why it’s worth reading up on these in advance. The more you know about your new country when you arrive, the better your transition will be.
Finding out more about the customs and cultural norms of your new home will not only make you feel like less of a tourist. It will also help ease your mind and make you feel like a part of the local community. Learning a few common phrases will go a long in making you feel a little more prepared when you first arrive, too!
Talk to other teachers who’ve been in your place
Maybe a friend of a friend has taught abroad before and can offer some advice to help put your mind at ease. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other teachers on teach abroad forums about anything that’s worrying you, either - they’ll be more than willing to share tons of practical advice to help relieve your worries!
Don’t let a fear of failure (or FOMO!) hold you back
Moving abroad is a big decision and it’s easy to anticipate all the ways that things can go wrong. Maybe you’re worried about finances, homesickness, missing out on important occasions back home...the list goes on! It’s totally normal to start doubting yourself.
But don’t put too much pressure on yourself this early on. There will be hiccups along the way, especially right at the beginning while you’re still finding your feet. Just remember, moving abroad to live is an experience and you need to treat it like one. Be open to change and ready to try new things.
Turn that nervous energy into productivity
You’re moving to a brand-new country with your job already organized - you won’t need to scrimp and save as much as if you were job hunting on arrival. Exciting times are coming, so it’s time to channel those nerves into planning all the fun things you want to do once you arrive at your new teaching destination.
Make a list and start planning out your free time. What are your favorite hobbies? If you’re a yoga buff, a book lover or sports fanatic, for example, start researching yoga classes in the area you’ll be living or look up book clubs or sports teams you could potentially join. Moving abroad is also a great way to shake things up a little. You can even start afresh and pick up a brand-new pastime - try a cooking class or trampoline lesson - even ultimate frisbee!
Finally, remember all the reasons why you wanted to start this big new life adventure in the first place. You’ve put in a lot of time and hard work to get this far, so give yourself a pat on the back and allow yourself to feel that sense of excitement and accomplishment all over again. Take it from someone who ended up going abroad to teach on three different occasions - you won’t regret it!
What’s your biggest fear about teaching abroad for the first time? Let us know in the comments below!