Thought Experiment: Is International Teaching for Me?

Making the decision to “go global” often involves a rather big leap of faith. We offer the following questions to get you thinking about who you are and how well you might adapt to international teaching and living. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers to the questions; we simply hope that they will further your personal exploration as you consider whether or not to take the leap. 

Personal Considerations

  • What is motivating you to consider international education?

  • What kind of traveler are you? How often do you travel? When planning for travel, do you usually line up tours or plan your excursions? Do you visit countries outside your home nation? 

  • Living overseas tends to be more accessible for people who are flexible and adaptable and exhibit the Character Strengths of Curiosity, Collaboration, and Grit (Resilience). How do you rate yourself in these areas?

  • How would you rate yourself as a problem-solver? Someone who thinks on their feet?

  • Are you open to new experiences and challenges? How often do you move from your “Comfort Zone” to your “Stretch Zone”? Is this a common aspect of your life? Would you say you are in some way or other an adventure seeker?

Living Conditions

  • Consider the built-in biases you might have (e.g., Europe or nowhere!) as you start thinking about going global. Can you live without some of the “comforts of home” (e.g., consistent electrical, water, and internet service, local “wet” market versus mega grocery store, Amazon Prime delivery) that you’re accustomed to? 

  • To what extent are you prepared to deal with a different lifestyle, culture, and language? How about possible school and government bureaucracy?

  • Along the same lines, how high is your need to feel in high control of your personal and professional lives? 

  • Do you currently live in a house with a suburban lifestyle, and if so, are you ready to live in an urban area and possibly in a (small) apartment? 

  • How open are you to the possibility of extreme weather or weather that is very different from your current and previous experiences? 

Family Considerations

  • How difficult would it be for you to be away from extended family? 

  • If you have a family of your own, is everyone on board? How open to new experiences are your family members? (Note: Most schools provide tuition for at most two children). If your partner is not an educator, and cannot work remotely, how would they handle either not working or working in a support role in the school? Are they ready to give up their work identity? 

  • Do any of your children have any learning challenges? Although advances are being made in this area, many international schools may not provide services for neurodivergent learners

  • How open are you for your children to experience cross-cultural learning opportunities in and outside the classroom? And potentially a different curriculum than they are currently receiving?

A couple of concluding thoughts

Note that a great many international educators say their most rewarding experiences were in “less comfortable” locations. This is the acknowledgment that there can be times when you just have to “let go” of the familiar as an international educator and choose instead to connect to the local culture of your new school and city. 

Note also that there is a broad spectrum of schools and cities where you might find yourself. Do some research to build a list of schools – starting in places that could be called “hardship posts” with a lack of many of the goods and services you may be used to – and ranging to the other extreme of “super liveable” and on a par with your home country. We have built a tool that may help you with this process. Here is a link. 

Good luck! And we’ll leave you with one last thought, and it's one you may have heard before: In life, we often regret the things we didn’t do more than those we did!

Get to know yourself better with a couple of science-supported inventories

Ready to make the leap? You may want to start your jump by checking out the resources posted here.

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