Q & A: Moving and Teaching Abroad

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

I decided to make a YouTube video answering some of the most common questions I've been getting across all my social media accounts about moving and teaching abroad.


Take a look at the video to hopefully answer all your questions for you first time moving or teaching abroad! If you prefer to read or skim through the content to find what you're looking for, I've given a summary below. If you have any questions please feel free to comment on this post or any of social media accounts- I'd love to make a part 2! (Instagram, Tiktok, YouTube)


PREPARING TO MOVE

1. Finding a job

The best way to find a teaching job abroad is to look on an international teaching job board for job postings. In this blog post I go into more detail about the best job boards!


2. Good agencies/programs to teach through

Since I have only taught by applying directly to schools and companies, this answer is purely based on my own research. The 2 countries I've done extensive research into for good teaching programs are Japan and South Korea. In both of these countries the programs are run by the government, so it is a long and extensive recruiting process, but it's said it be worth it in the end since you make great money and are well taken care of. In Japan the program is called JET, and in South Korea there are 3 called EPIK, SMOE, and GEPIK.


3. Other job options besides teaching

If you're a backpack looking for more of a experience, rather than cash in your pocket try looking into these jobs: Au Pair, hostel worker, tour guide, farmer, cruise ship worker, or waiter. (Read more here). Otherwise you can try your luck with computer-based jobs like engineering and coding. Finally, if there are any western companies from your home country that has locations abroad, you may be able to apply for those as well!


4. Visa/document process

  • Bachelor's degree: 1) notarized by a notary public 2) Apostilled by the Secretary of State 3) legalized by the embassy of where you're moving

  • Police background check: depending on the country that you're moving to will depend on whether you need a local police check or one from the FBI

  • Health check: the actual forms/what is required in this check will depend on the country, but with COVID you will definitely have to take a COVID test in addition to this health check-up


5. Other things to prepare before moving

  • Double-check COVID protocols upon arrival (quarantine, self-isolation, 2nd COVID test)

  • Check yearly weather patterns to help you pack better

  • Get local currency from your bank

  • Add someone onto your bank account to help handle potential crises in the future when you're abroad

  • Get a credit card with no international transaction fees


ONCE YOU'RE THERE

6. What do you do first?

I always set up my new phone plan first once I'm in the city, not at the airport. Then, I set up my bank account- you'll typically need your passport and working contract/visa for this. And lastly, I start looking for an apartment.


7. How do you find an apartment?

In Prague and HCMC, I found my apartment by joining housing Facebook groups. It's super easy- real estate agents are always posting apartments for rent in the groups, and if you like one, you just message them about it! In China since social media is blocked, I just had to wait until I arrived and my company set me up with a real estate agent.


8. How do you meet new people?

Mostly you'll meet new people through your work- you'll most likely be working with a lot of expats so it's easy to form friendships! If you like to party and go out, that's typically how you'll also meet a lot of new people as well- the bar scene is FILLED with foreigners. And lastly, there are expat groups on Facebook that will help you meet people as well by starting conversations online and going to events that are posted.


MY EXPERIENCE

9. How'd I find my jobs abroad?

For China and Vietnam, I found the job posting on Dave's ESL Cafe and for Prague I found it on Indeed which is not very common. I applied with all 3 schools/companies directly and was hired directly by them as well- no recruiter or middle-man company.


10. Differences in teaching abroad vs US?

  • Main: in the states, teaching English is focused more on language arts (poetry, writing style, reading comprehension) whereas teaching abroad is obviously focused more on the English language (pronunciation, vocabulary, proper grammar)

  • China: I felt that students in China really struggled with being creative and doing tasks with minimal instructions/more freedom, whereas in the US I felt like my students thrived with every activity that was centered around creativity

  • Vietnam: The classrooms and students here are extremely loud! It's hard to hear myself teach, I even have to use a microphone sometimes, which is something I've never experienced before.


11. Challenges I've faced abroad?

  • Barcelona: just overall adjusting to traveling in general, living in another country, and living on my own for the first time. In my first week I was scammed out of $300 from a grocery store, and I lost my $140 metro card. So it was a rough welcome.

  • Chongqing: the main struggle was the language barrier since I was living in a city where nearly no one spoke English.

  • Prague: it was way more expensive than I had anticipated, so my first 2 months were just a huge struggle and wasn't enjoyable at all. Then, throw in the world shutting down and going into quarantine in a foreign country and you've pretty much got a total disaster!

  • Ho Chi Minh: Honestly so far, so good. I'm not sure if it's just because I'm so used to traveling and Asian culture by now, or if Vietnam just has so many western influences it just feels like home. Everyone speaks English here and I have access to any foods/brands I want.


12. Fav place I've lived?

Since Barcelona was just study abroad, of course that was my favorite because it was basically just a 6 month vacation. I wasn't working and I was just traveling all the time. Prague doesn't really count since I didn't get to experience much of it. And comparing China to Vietnam, I liked my job a lot more in China, but I like my daily lifestyle a lot better in Vietnam. So I guess it's a tie!


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