Living abroad: A reflection
I recall sitting in my capstone class and listening to a guest alumna speak about teaching abroad in South Korea. I remember thinking, “Wow, that sounds so cool. But I don’t want to teach English. That’s not within my career interests.”
And now here I am; four years later and I’ve been teaching English and living in the Czech Republic for almost two years.
Some time after graduating, I realized that I wasn’t growing professionally or personally as much as I wanted to. I was frustrated with the US job market, with our socio-political climate and, frankly, with the fact that I had no idea how my healthcare plan worked or how to find a primary care physician.
So, I started researching. I asked colleagues and friends who were already abroad or who had taught abroad in the past, and figured out what steps I needed to take to make the move. I settled on The Language House in Prague, Czech Republic after talking with an old classmate who had taken their TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course and raved about the school. Once that was settled, I bought my one-way ticket, packed up my things and started my journey.
When I left the US, I had no idea where I wanted to teach, where I wanted to live — Prague? Taipei? Ho-Chi Minh? San Jose? Rio? The possibilities were endless, but thanks to the ever-growing community at The Language House, I knew that I’d find my spot and, more than likely, there’d be one or two grads who were already teaching there.
Once I got to Prague and started the course I knew it would be some time before I left this city. I fell absolutely in love with the architecture, the fantastic public transit, the Czechs’ appreciation for nature, their post-communist realist attitudes juxtaposed with the most considerate and compassionate disposition I’ve ever encountered, and the ease that both expats and natives coincided. Though it’s not the place I want to call home forever, I’m glad I started my life abroad here.
Moving abroad is not certainly not easy. It’s hard to leave your friends, family and the life you know in a home where you understand the language and culture. But I can tell you for certain that, reflecting on the changes I’ve made and the things that I’ve learned over the last two years, I’m much happier for it. I’m healthier and more active, I’ve found hobbies and pursued interests to a degree I never would have at home, I have friends from all over the world and I’ve had the opportunity to travel – a lot.
Though teaching English is far from the end goal in my professional development, this experience has given me so much more than I expected for future job endeavors. Once you learn to manage a group of 13 six year-olds that don’t understand a word you’re saying, you realize your potential for leadership and communication. I also learned how adaptive and patient I can be whilst maneuvering the immigration system of a foreign government in a foreign language. I realized that I’m capable of learning not one but two different languages. And I realized that rather than feeling stuck and frustrated by my job prospects, I’ve opened the door to innumerable possibilities both in the US and abroad.
I have my sights set on somewhere new this coming fall, but as of right now I’m going to keep my feet planted in Prague. If you’re thinking about moving abroad after college and have any questions, feel free to reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org or The Language House for more information or any questions you may have.