Whenever I tell people I live overseas they always ask me what I do. And when I tell them I’m a teacher they always assume I teach English. I do not. I’m a special educator and became one without really thinking of the possibility to teach overseas. But once I found out that the opportunity existed, I immediately became interested.
For me the obstacle keeping me from going overseas was money. I couldn’t just accept any job. I had a mountain of debt and responsibilities. When I heard that there were schools that would pay me well enough to not only survive and pay bills, but also to chip away at the debt faster than if I were in the U.S., I quite honestly thought it was too good to be true. It wasn’t. Competitive international schools offer free housing, travel allowances, health care, a shipping allowance, settling in allowance, and salaries similar if not better than schools at home, but with one big advantage; the salary is tax-free. My previous school had a resigning bonus of $10,000 for agreeing to sign on for two more years after your initial contract. Some schools even give you the option of saving some of your housing stipend if you are able to secure housing priced below your allowance. So once I decided it was time to give it a try, I went to a hiring fair in Boston and when the weekend was over I had four different offers.
These international schools exist all around the world and hire both experienced and new teachers (usually more experience is required at the better schools). Most require a teaching certificate, but
some make exceptions. And it’s quite different from the teaching English as a foreign language route in that you have a traditional calendar and work day, are usually paid more, and have other perks that come with the job such as free tuition for your children. Teaching English as a second language does have its own perks. I believe you have more time to explore and possibly jump from country to country since you are likely on a much shorter contract. The requirements for teaching English as a second language can also be obtained in less time and even online (use the coupon code MAYA35 for bigger savings).
The opportunity to grow within my field of expertise while traveling the world at the same time has truly been a blessing. I can’t imagine where I would be at this point in my life had I not taken the leap. I thought I had traveled before, but actually living in a new country gives you a completely new perspective. It’s also given me the opportunity to meet so many other likeminded individuals and world travelers. And while I hear stories of cutbacks and layoffs in education in the United States, I’m trying to figure out where to apply my professional development stipend.
So the question I pose is this: If you could find a job that allowed you everything you needed and wanted professionally AND the chance to live in a different country, would you take the leap?