10 Steps to Teaching English Abroad

I did it and you can too: a quick and easy guide to finding a teaching job abroad!

  • Graduate with a four year degree.  …in anything (I’m a child psychology major and religion minor).  One thing to keep in mind is different countries have different qualification requirements, I’m basing this post off of my experience with South Korea.
  • I highly recommend doing your job search through a recruiter.  Teach ESL Korea made the process pretty painless for me!  Otherwise, you can do it independently by applying for jobs on job boards like Dave’s ESL Cafe.
  • Give yourself plenty of time.  I’ve heard of teachers applying and shipping out to Korea within a couple months’ time.  Personally, it took me 7 months to gather all my paper work.
  • Save up.  There’s many associated costs with the application process and once you land in Korea, but don’t let it intimidate you from applying:
  1. Passport (if you do not already have one)
  2. Criminal Background Check
  3. Mailing costs for documents (both nationally and internationally)
  4. Apostille Fees
  5. Visa Fees                                                                           
  •  Snag an interview!
  •  Receive an offer.  I only had one interview/offer and signed my contract.  Do not feel pressured to sign immediately with the first school, there really are plenty of fish in the sea.  Go with your gut.
  •  E2 visa process.  Yes, more paperwork, but this is again why I went through a recruiter who helped me every step of the way.
  •  Purchase a one way ticket.  In most cases, the school or recruiter will provide the ticket for you as part of your employment package.
  •  Start packing!  I’ve found this video extremely helpful.
  • Whether it takes a few weeks or several months to complete the previous steps, remember to cherish the remaining time with those you care about.

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One thing I’ve taken away from this process is if you really want it, you will find the determination and perseverance to seek it out until the very end.  Believe in yourself and do not put it off; go after those dreams NOW…

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity.”

-Amelia Earhart

This one’s for you:

I randomly discovered an indie movie the other day that used a quote that really got me thinking:

Though utterly dependent on one another, most found the other’s maps unsettling. They denied one’s perspective by charting the land incomprehensibly, calling into question one’s very being. Still, when they met on the lonely roads, the explorers would present one another with their maps. Some seemed to say so plainly, directly, the world is like *this*. Others were more oblique; skating, impressionistic, unstable. They froze mere slivers of the infinite earth as it skittered by in orbit. If ever these maps could be gathered together, they would comprise an atlas of unsettling vision. A final proof that truth is conjecture. –Here, 2011

I thought this was a pretty awesome quote.

We’re all map makers, charting out every second of our lives – sometimes our paths intersect and sometimes we’re left in a mysterious desert, forced to entertain our lonely minds.  It’s the intersection of personal paths, the clashing or connecting of two human spirits, that really intrigues me.

I’ve had many intersections within the past six years.  Some left me devastated and confused – forced to trek further into the darkness and reluctantly pull the pieces of my heart together, others lit a passionate and infectious fire that continues to blaze within me.

I believe each of these unique intersections affect the charting of the rest of the map, sometimes so small we barely notice any change in direction and sometimes so intense that we find our paths completely turned 180 degrees.  Even the smallest relationship can trigger wild changes, so when holding a door open or smiling at a complete stranger, know you may be playing a larger role than you think.

I just want to thank all of you, each intersecting path on my map has led me to where I am and where I’m about to go.  Whether our paths connect again on this long and crazy journey or it was only a happenstance collision, I am forever grateful.

If you’re reading this you’ve helped shape me, thank you for that.

Ironically wandering the streets of Belgium map-less.

Ironically wandering the streets of Belgium map-less.

Mental Exercise: Practicing Culture Shock

For the next month before I leave I am trying to mentally prepare for culture shock.   Here’s one way I’m trying to stretch my brain for the marathon:

When I experience something “ridiculous” or something I reflect negative judgement upon in my own culture, I want to try to turn it around into something positive.  What I might view as out of this world might be someone else’s reality.

So, from this day forward, when I find myself about to judge something, I want to turn my thoughts around, reword them and simply rethink.  I want to challenge myself to see the beauty in what I might not categorize as “beautiful”.

 In other words,  I want to try to understand, I want to gain perspective.

Now, this is a lot easier said than done (especially since many of our judgments pass while we aren’t consciously aware of what we’re doing).  But when I find myself about to ridicule a person or situation I want to see beyond my judgement.

For example, instead of pointing out an atrocious outfit I could rethink the atrocity of the outfit as interesting and unique and that mere rewording of an idea elicits a whole  myriad of questions..it sparks a curiosity!  A judgement typically scoffs at the situation, but this exercise forces one to dig deeper and appreciate the beauty in differences.

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Be curious, not judgmental

-Walt Whitman

15 Ways to Save Money For Travel

One of travel’s biggest lies is that it’s expensive.  Here’s how I’m saving up for my year in Korea, all while working minimum wage jobs.

  1. Give up conveniences.  Your traveling self will appreciate this later anyway.  Forgo the McDonald’s drive through for fresh fruit and veggies and you’ll be amazed at how much you save weekly by eliminating fast food (for me, this meant local coffee shops).
  2. Socialize Simply.  Feel free to join everyone for a night on the town, just don’t splurge on the $10 drinks (tip: volunteer as the DD, then you have a ride home).
  3. Start downsizing.  You can’t take your quirky collection of star wars figures with you, it’s time to say good bye.  I have three “sections” of stuff started: keep for Korea, irreplaceable memories for storage, and the rest of it I’m selling.
  4. Cancel subscriptions.  You don’t need Netflix or Cosmopolitan while you still have time to socialize and appreciate the people at home.
  5. Public transportation and/or carpooling.  I do not have a car and have saved so much by car pooling with my family or using public transportation.
  6. Do not “purchase more”.  For me, this has been my greatest weakness.  I try to find excuses to buy another pair of shorts for my trip, when in reality, I already have more than I need.  The less you buy before your trip, the more you can purchase abroad.
  7. Pack snacks. Whatever you do, DO NOT buy your meals at the airport, it’s definitely not worth the price.  Pack a sandwich and snacky foods for the flight and/or layovers.
  8. Need suitcases? Try resale shops like goodwill, just be sure to clean them thoroughly before use.
  9. Purchasing tickets?  Airfare Watchdog and other sites that you can either subscribe to via email or twitter are really great resources.  Also, consider traveling during “off seasons”;  Paris in the winter is still the same ‘ole Paris. (Tip: look into flights flying in/out of larger hubs and take a bus to and from these airports.)
  10. Homemade gifts make heartfelt and personalized gifts to any host, advisor, or boss abroad.  Skip purchasing generic postcards and make your own.
  11. Don’t fall for name brands.  I’ve had the same backpack and luggage that traveled a year through Europe and they’re about to travel a year through Asia, no big names needed.
  12. Exchange your money for foreign currency at your local bank.  Most often, they have better exchange rates than airports.
  13. Buy your comfort toiletries and cosmetics at home because they will cost an arm and a leg abroad, if you can find them at all (one of my two suitcases is designated for just toiletries/cosmetics and shoes).
  14. Start purging yourself from your comfort foods as soon as possible.  For me, that means Gevalia coffee, peanut butter m&m’s, and Kraft macaroni and cheese.  You’ll crave these less later if you give them up now and also save all the money you used to splurge on them.
  15. Spend your free time enjoying the simple things.  Your friends want to spend time with you?  Go biking, window shop downtown, throw the frisbee around.

The moral of the story: live simply, save loads of money.  I find that it’s really easy to save knowing I have a huge adventure awaiting.  My latest mantra is “do I really need this for Korea”, if not I let it go.

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Morning Jaunt Through the Woods

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My life motto.

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My morning walk through the woods.

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They are watching…

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One would never guess that an interstate highway is just beyond these beauties.

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This guy wanted in on the photography.  He fluttered around me as I took pictures and landed on the bridge so he could star in my photos as well! 🙂

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Even the darkest parts of the woods have little pieces of heaven.

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Admiring the details of mother nature’s work.

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Nature composes the most lovely and relaxing  music.  I could have lounged in the woods all day if it weren’t for the pesky mosquitoes!