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The difference between traveling and living abroad

As an international teacher recruitment agency, we receive many questions about moving overseas – what will it be like to move overseas to teach, what new customs will I have to get used to, what about my day-to-day life will change?

These are all very valid questions. One thing – the main thing – we try to stress when we get these sorts of questions is that living and working abroad is very different from traveling abroad. Why? When moving abroad, you immerse yourself in the day-to-day of a city instead of just the whimsy of travel – you see more, both good and bad.

Moving abroad does allow you to get that much more familiar with a new culture and a new city. But read below as we elaborate on the differences between living and traveling abroad:

You’ll have obligations – and challenges

Moving overseas means that you’re picking up your whole life and taking it with you. So you’ll have to deal with the everyday over there – this means you’ll develop a routine and have chores, errands, and those will bring about their own unique challenges (trying to find cold medicine in a foreign language, dealing with foreign exchange, finding your favorite grocery items – the list goes on). Sometimes, what seemed so simple back home can be overwhelming abroad when you strip the magic of travel from it. Though this can be frustrating, it’s part of the journey and when you’ve mastered these everyday tasks, you’ll feel that much more energized!

You’ll have to give something up – if only for a while

Heading abroad to live, even if only for a year or two-long contract, means you’re leaving some things behind. And one thing to remember is life “at home” isn’t put on pause while you’re away – you’ll miss birthdays and your national holidays. You may miss some milestones in your friends’ and family’s lives, but you don’t have to stop connecting with them while teaching overseas. Something else to consider is how much richer your life will be with all the experiences you’ve gained abroad that you can share with your family back home.

You’ll have more time to explore

Visiting is great, but you might only get to see a percentage of a city on a week-long (or even month-long!) vacation. Moving abroad to teach gives you a lot more insight into what it’s like to live in a city, day to day.

Living abroad will add so many unique perspectives to your time in a city that you likely wouldn’t get from just travel: perhaps you’ll be able to cook some of the local dishes yourself instead of always just eating out at restaurants. Maybe the local bakery you love so much will come to know you on a first-name basis. These are all details that enrich an experience abroad so much more.

You’ll become more independent

All of the things we just mentioned above will contribute to a new, independent lifestyle. Whether you’re a young teacher with only two years of teaching under your belt who wants to head overseas to live and teach, or an established teacher with 20+ years of experience, new living abroad experiences like getting lost for the first time, trying to order a meal in a broken foreign language, or forging new friendships with other teachers, living abroad in a new place will make you just a little more independent.

Sound great? Want to give teaching abroad a chance? Browse our job openings on our job board now. If you’ve got other questions about dealing with culture shock or homesickness, read some of our past blogs to answer your questions:

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