sarah’s esl overseas decision

I was a bit late on this, didn’t think about being a teacher until the fall semester of my senior year in college. Little too late and way too in debt to change my mind at that juncture.

So I was graduating with a B.S. in Anthropology and I loved my subject but not enough to make a career out of it (Indiana Jones is an awesome but exaggerated anthropologist). Being a teacher crossed my mind and I did pretty extensive research on how to teach without a degree in teaching. Doable, but since I wasn’t planning to stay in my state it was going to have to wait. No point in taking this and that test to have to do it all over again in about a year. I figured I would get my long term living situation sorted then approach teaching.

Fast forward one long year.

It’s finally time for that career reevaluation. I was teaching preschool to get some experience but I wasn’t happy with it. I was in a long term relationship with Sean who was already teaching but was not certified. Therefore he was making $10/hour even with extensive experience and wonderful teaching rapport.

Sean and I knew we wanted to be together long term, we knew we wanted to travel, and we knew that teaching was ideal for us both. Sean had been interested in teaching in Asia and fortunately knew people who had taught abroad.

So it started.

My reasons:

1. I have student loan debt, but not that much. On average, teaching in Korea could pay off my loans in under 2 years. And that’s with using some savings for traveling, saving for my nephew and niece’s college fund, and comfortable living. That is insane to think of for me. I figured I would just die with that debt.

2. I want to be either a teacher or a counselor (I love kids, never want to have my own) but I am not ready to go back to school. This gets me some experience, a résumé boost, and helps me postpone going to school.

3. I had nothing better to do. I was working in a bakery after college then a preschool. The best I was making was $11.50/hour. I wanted something different, I wanted something new, and I wanted to make a decision that would propel me out of the college/post college life and into adult life. I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck and not utilizing the skills I knew I had- whether they were backed by 3-5 years experience for entry level work or not. Being in the millennial generation is great.

Sean and I agreed we would pursue teaching overseas. It was fairly easy to decide actually. I love traveling and have gone on extensive road trips multiple times in my adult life. I studied Anthropology because I love how biologically/evolutionarily humans are all so similar, and yet culturally we can be so far apart. Living in another country is my substitute for field work, which I was too lazy to do in college. With this decision I get to combine traveling with pursuing my new career.

It felt natural, like it went so well with myself and my relationship. Having a partner on board probably made it that much easier. Later when I told people we were doing this the general reaction was “yeah, I can see that”.

Asia was the first choice because:

1. We were both interested in Asia academically, culturally, and had never visited before.

2. The European market is very hard to get into due to the EU system. Basically for Europe it is much easier to hire within the EU and avoid visa paperwork.

3. It was financially better than South America or the Caribbean.

But there will be more on Asia in another post.

It has been a year since I made this decision. In that time I have moved in with my boyfriend, moved across the country, gotten married, taken a teaching certification summer course, and spent a lot of money. It has been an incredible year, and an especially incredible summer. And here I am now. TEFL/TESOL certified, signed a contract, in the visa process, with a 30 days notice in at my apartment. Ready. And stressed. But stoked.