A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

How do I find a place that fits my lifestyle?

Assure your social survival

Much like checking out the financial situation - you need to carefully investigate the social situation where you hope to go.  A lonely life overseas is no fun at all.

Ask, Ask, Ask

Again, go to ELT World discussion board and ask about lifestyle issues.  Are the local people friendly or xenophobic?  Will you find yourself isolated or quickly absorbed into an active local or expatriate community?

I lived for three years in a smallish community in Korea, but because of friends, had a great social life.  Others find themselves in small towns, lonely, isolated, and quite unhappy.

It might be best, with your first job, to avoid smallish towns or cities, particularly in countries where foreigners are not quickly accepted - or in communities where there is not an expatriate community.

The Expatriate Community

As much as we would all like to live in, adjust to, and be accepted by the people of a foreign culture, it is often more difficult than it might seem and it can take some time.  A strong expatriate community can provide good support during your initial days, when you don't know the language and need to sort out your living situation. 

Fresh in a new community, it can even be difficult to figure out where to find food that you are familiar with.  Other issues that you might need help with: getting a telephone, cable or satellite TV, a computer and/or Internet connection, driver's license (some jobs will require this), a car or motorcycle.  Even getting drinking water delivered to your house can be problematic.

These are just the beginning issues - what about going to immigration and getting a resident visa, a work permit and whatever else may be required on that side?

Often your employer or coworkers can/will help you with these issues
- but not always.

Ask on the boards about the kind of support you might expect to find in your new community.   Also ask about any lifestyle issues you may be unsure about.

It's better to know - before you go.


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