Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's so cool what you're doing, but I could never ...

A lot of people ask how I finance traveling, and are curious about teaching abroad in Asia. The most common response when I talk to people about my experiences traveling is wow that's so cool, I wish I could do it! Well, what's stopping you?

You're scared.

So is everyone else. The unknown makes everyone nervous, but that's what makes it exciting too! And if you want to travel you probably are looking forward to something different so get over it :D

You don't speak another language.

Luckily for us English speakers our language is spoken by people all over the world, which is kind of ironic because Americans do less international travel than all other developed countries. There is such a high demand for English teachers in Asia because everyone is learning it. Many people in cities speak some English and there is always someone around to help translate. It doesn't hurt to learn some of the local language as well.

You have no savings or are unemployed.

How are you living? Can you save $100-$200 a month? Cut back wherever you can, and book your flight on a credit card. If you work at least 25 hours a week you'll have your flight paid off in a month and can start saving. The cost of living (especially housing expenses and food) is extremely cheap here and you will be getting paid the equivalent of a US salary.

What will you do with your stuff?

Get rid of it! How much is it worth? What will it cost you to put everything in storage? You could probably buy new furniture for the cost of storing it. Sell everything you can bear to part with and ask a friend or relative to store a few boxes of your personal items or look for a super cheap and small storage unit.

How will you meet people?

You're not the only person going to Asia to teach English! Make friends with other teachers at your school, take a yoga class, join a gym, or do one of the many other activities available in your city and if you notice another foreigner on the street just say "Hello" you already have something in common with them :)

How will you find an apartment?

Most real estate agencies like foreigners because they know you're coming here to work and will probably pay your rent on time. Every country is different, but generally you can contact an agency before you arrive or right away when you get there and they will show you a variety of furnished apartments to choose from. You can easily find a place within one week. Then you just need a cell phone and a bike and you're ready to work! Check out cheap hostels online before you go - also a good way to meet people.

How will you find a job?

The easiest way is to pay an agency to find you one before you go. They will negotiate salary and hours for you ahead of time. You can also just go and visit schools when you arrive. Realistically, allow at least 2 weeks to find a school and start working. Often it is easy to find subbing hours immediately.  This will also allow you to get an idea of what it's like to work at different schools - there is a very wide range of expectations of foreign employees in Asia. Most schools will help you through the visa process. Many communities in Asia have message boards where you can look for jobs for free. The two I have used frequently in Taiwan are Kaohsiung Living and Forumosa.

Now, what are you waiting for? ;)

My afternoon class at Live ABC, L4-K

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