As my wife Grace and I approached ten years of marriage, we started to look back on some of our dreams and goals that we had hoped to accomplish together.
Goal #1: Start a family
Being parents was always our number one dream.
As I’m sure anyone with children can relate, the perception of parenthood doesn’t always align with reality. The lack of sleep, free time and the shift in priorities from each other to your new bundle of joy can be a struggle.
However, it was worth every minute of sleep, every ounce of free time and every shift in priority. This became even truer when baby number two came into the world.
Each and every day with our two boys Reed (four years old) and Everett (six months old) is an adventure with more than its fair share of joy - and struggles.
Goal #2: See the world
Our second dream as a couple was to travel and see the world outside of the United States.
Yes, we had been to Mexico and Canada, but those two countries barely made a dent in our long travel bucket list! We hoped to start funding and planning a 10-year anniversary trip abroad in 2018.
Unfortunately, the mounting costs of healthcare, daycare, mortgage payments, student loans and credit card payments, combined with the lack of consistent pay increases in the US teaching profession, made it increasingly more likely that our dream of traveling abroad would have to be postponed until our 40th (or even 50th) wedding anniversary!
My big teach abroad “lightbulb” moment
One day, a teaching colleague of mine asked me for a recommendation for an overseas teaching opportunity with Teach Away. He rattled off all the benefits of teaching abroad that many of you reading may already know about, including tax-free salaries, good healthcare, paid flights home over the summer and, of course, the significant pay increase!
Everything clicked in that moment. I realized that all the awesome perks that came with teaching abroad could not only help us overcome our financial hurdles - it could also free us up to achieve our lifelong dream of traveling the globe with our two children.
The only difference would be instead of planning a two-week vacation, we would be planning for a life-changing, years-long commitment.
Immediately following our conversation, I jumped straight onto the Teach Away website. Seeing all the exciting career opportunities and the different locations we could teach in all around the world had given me a newfound taste for adventure.
I was ready to go right then and there and sign a contract for the following school year! The idea of traveling abroad finally started to feel like a reality instead of a distant dream.
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Back to earth - with a bang!
Naturally, I went home to my wife and pitched the perks of teaching abroad to her. How could she possibly resist this opportunity to fulfill one of our lifelong dreams?
Luckily for me, I married a woman who keeps me grounded and, most importantly, asks the right questions.
What will we do with our house? We only have four more years until our student loans are forgiven, is this really a great time to move abroad? Who would watch the baby while we were teaching? How would we get by without our parents’ help? What if we don’t like it when we get there and we’ve gone ahead and signed a two-year contract?
These were just a few of her (very valid) questions.
And I realized that I had no real answers to any of those questions.
Clearly, I needed to do a lot more research.
Researching teaching abroad online
At this point in time, our youngest was a newborn and we were both finishing the fifth year of our teaching careers in the US. So, for the moment the opportunity to teach and travel abroad turned right back into a distant dream.
My wife’s uncanny ability to ask the right questions led me to start doing some in-depth research into teaching abroad. I started by seeking out blogs from other people who had also taught abroad.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t as helpful as I had initially hoped. Their experiences veered widely from being the best experience they had ever had, to a nightmare that they will forever regret. It was also hard to relate to a lot of teaching abroad stories out there. So many were single teachers or teachers with a non-teacher spouse.
Instead, I started researching the different schools on Teach Away and learning more all about the countries where the best teaching opportunities were located.
Grace and I started to have some casual conversations about where we would like to go if we did teach overseas. However, it was still very much in our minds that if we did go, it would have to be two or three years down the road.
As the new school year started, we slipped back into our regular routines of work, parenting and my studies (I’m currently completing my master’s degree in education administration as my wife and I decided now would be a great time to get my degree, while the boys are still young).
With starting back at school, having two little boys and working on my degree, I had very little time to continue researching teaching abroad. We decided to take a bit of a breather from our international teaching job hunt.
Want to find out how Grace and I landed our dream teaching jobs abroad? I’ll be focusing on that in the second part of this series, so stay tuned to the blog to find out more on that front!