Updated: Jun 23, 2019
I was born and raised in the same city as both my parents were born and raised, Charlotte. My mom's mom and my dad's family were all mostly raised in towns between 45 minutes to 1 hour drive away. My mom's dad was from a 5 hour drive away, but he and his family moved to Charlotte and then never left. Even now, my entire family is located in or around Charlotte, NC. My roots in this land run deep. So, why would I leave? And why would I go so far away?
My husband and I were feeling restless. We wanted to travel and do something other than stay in our hometown. Being a first generation college graduate, I was ready to take on the world. We were thinking we could move in 2-3 years and would move to Europe when we got the call asking us to move to be the teachers at a family friend's buxiban in Taiwan. We looked at each other and said "well when do you think we'll consider moving to Asia again?" and just went for it.
Making the choice to leave home is NOT easy, but making the choice to experience the world is. You can't grow if you're not moving forward. Leaving your comfort zone is meant to be uncomfortable. Leaving my family was hard, but ultimately everyone knew I needed to go. My family supported my decision and encouraged our quick turn around from decision-making to moving (literally about 2 1/2 months!!).
As far as working, teaching abroad is pretty similar to teaching back in America in a lot of ways, but there is also a lot of differences.
When we first moved abroad, I didn't work at an international school. I worked at my family friend's buxiban (after school school for students) teaching English, as mentioned above. Although I was still a teacher, I felt like my degree and qualifications were going to waste. This is simply because in order to work at a buxiban, you don't need to be a legally qualified teacher in your home country. All you need is to be from an English speaking country and have a bachelors degree. My husband (who is not a teacher by trade) also wasn't loving it. Since this wasn't what I was hoping to do when moving abroad, I made a move to a small privately run, bilingual school while my husband went to a kindergarten. This was a better fit for my degree and qualifications, BUT I still wasn't happy. There wasn't a lot of room for professional development, and I taught a class of four with three different grades represented! Plus, I taught a grade 1 phonics class at the end of the day before the kids went home. This still just wasn't what I was looking to do, and it was important for me to be happy in my job... I mean we did just move to the other side of the world!
I began contacting my current school and eventually got the interview. It went well, and I got hired! I've been at my school two years now, and am headed into my third year here in the fall. There have been some struggles transitioning to an IB co-teaching environment, but mostly I feel happy and successful here. I have been able to attend many professional development opportunities, and have been selected to present at two curriculum summits.
Stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something you never planned for will change your life. Being different or doing something unexpected is pretty overwhelming when you're the only one in your family doing it, but use that feeling to drive you forward. It doesn't matter what your goal is... it doesn't have to be moving abroad. Anything you want to do!
Reach out to others similar to you on social media. Social media can be life changing if used in a healthy, encouraging way! If you're an expat, other expats will want to help you because they were you! Your school (or other business if you're not a teacher) will support you. You can do this. You can live the life you want or dream about. You just have to go after it!!
I hope you enjoyed this post! I hope my story inspires you do step out of your comfort zone. If I can do it as a girl whose roots run so deep in her hometown, you can totally do it! Whatever you're wanting to do, I promise, it will be worth it. Even if it doesn't work out, there will be something positive that comes from the situation. Maybe you learn a lesson about yourself or others, maybe you make the best friend of your life, maybe you meet the love of your life! Just go, do, be.
For next time, should I do a post on getting jobs at international schools or diving more into the details moving abroad? Let me know what you think!