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How to Stay Connected to You Family While Teaching English as a Volunteer Abroad?

A lot of people who decide to have an adventure and work abroad or help out an NGO in another country face some challenges whilst settling in overseas. Differences in culture, history, customs and the way people interact with each other may be very different than your country of origin. And one of the hardest tasks is to stay connected to your family. 

Things you'll need

  • TESOL/TEFL Certificate

If you decide you want to teach English overseas because you’re feeling like you are in a rut want to shake things up a bit and in the same time help underprivileged children to learn a global language, then your new work colleagues will have a different upbringing and therefore outlook on life which you will have to adjust to and accept.

So how do you do this? Keeping tight as a family unit or as the supportive spouse sometimes when you are left alone all day while your significant other heads out to work, can be difficult in a foreign environment. Simple things like going to get groceries may mean you have to alter your perception a little. In your new country that may mean walking through a crowded, closely packed market and obtaining your families fruit from a basket rather than the air-conditioned comfort of a supermarket. So, to handle this easier make it an adventure the first few times.

Take the kids to the market with you and let them each pick an exotic fruit they’d like to try. Or, on the weekend take your spouse and pick something up for dinner that you haven’t tried before then find a recipe online on how to cook it. Now, your Saturday night is an adventure and full of laughs with that added bonus of your partner getting to experience some of the culture outside of the office. If you embrace the differences and look for positive things to do and see then you can make it fun for the whole family and better understand the new environment and culture you are living in. Now, a simple thing like going to the market is fun and gives you a bonding moment.

Another good idea is to research your new country before you arrive and share some fun facts. For example: say you have obtained your TESOL/ TEFL Certificate and are heading over to Asia to teach English in Singapore as a career change. Wow! Now you can casually drop into a conversation things like ‘did you know that Singapore has huge Golden Lions?’ and watch the kid’s eyes widen. Or, ‘did you know there are 3D holographic Samurai’s in Singapore? A whole room of them, all lined up…and they dance. Wouldn’t that be cool to see?’ (maybe don’t mention it’s at an art museum). The point is, if you give them things to be excited about then it will help dispel some fears about such a big move and give them things to look forward to.

Day trips to interesting nearby places also help with the adjustment. The whole family feels more as if it’s on holiday when venturing out like a tourist to explore their new surrounds. Or, if it’s just the two of you, it is a good way to spend quality time together and experience your new life doing fun things. It can also be romantic, like taking a day cruise to surrounding Islands then cruise home at sunset. A quick Google of ‘Top…’ things to do in your new city will provide a wealth of activities and places to see.

If your spouse has had a hard week then try simple things like finding a little taste of home. Their favorite brand of peanut butter or a new Yoga studio you stumbled across. Something they enjoyed doing back home will help to feel settled. 

No matter which country you move to there will be an adjustment period as you find your way around, where everything is and what is available that you like. This can be an adventure in itself. Finding a great new coffee place or funky café gives you something so share on the weekend as you take your partner out to breakfast and find your new favorite hangout.

Working overseas gives you the added bonus of creating a new life. If you’ve changed careers, decided to have a ‘sea change’ and start all over or you are going to work for yourself for the first time and start your own business, the challenges working abroad are worth it. They will add another layer to your life experience and give you confidence that you know how to step up and arise to new challenges. Plus, a lot of couples find that it actually strengthens their bond when they support and rely on each other more adjusting to a new country.


Further information

Where to get TESOL/ TEFL Certificate

Where to find opportunities to teach English overseas


Page last edited May 15, 2018 History

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