My first experience teaching abroad was back in 2009, when I packed my bags and moved to Costa Rica. I needed to get away and go on an adventure after four long years at university. The global economy had just collapsed and nobody was hiring anyway, so I thought I’d better take a year off to a sunny place rather than regret it later. This was the best decision I ever made! I continued teaching English all over the world, pursuing a meaningful career in Education while I traveled and earned a really good income.
Teaching English in Costa Rica
I came to Costa Rica in search of adventure. I love nature and wanted to watch the sunset by the Pacific every single day! Here I learned to surf and met lots of great people who would come and go. I loved meeting people from all over the world the most. Santa Teresa is a very touristy place, so I would make new friends every week. I also made great long-term friendships with the locals and other teachers. The level of English in Costa Rica is higher than I first thought. Kids learn English at public school and most locals are speak fluent English because they work in tourism. Another great thing about teaching in Costa Rica was the opportunity to learn Spanish. I didn’t make much money here, but I had one of the best times in my life. Now I go back every 2 or 3 years on my winter holidays.
Teaching English in South Korea
I never expected to live in South Korea because I truly didn’t know anything about this beautiful country. I needed to make some money and had an increasing sense of urgency about where to go in my career. All I had in my name was a BA in English, a TESOL certificate, and one year of experience teaching abroad. I had a blast teaching abroad in Costa Rica, but now I needed to think about my future. My friend told me about South Korea, so I started Googling cities and watching videos on You Tube. This place is so fascinating I thought! Their natural parks are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen in the world. Just Google pictures of waterfalls and beaches in South Korea. I never thought this country was so beautiful and it has nothing to envy Costa Rica.
I applied to teach English with EPIK and was lucky to be one of the 700 teachers who were hired in the spring of 2011. One of the things I loved the most about EPIK was the level of professionalism. Teachers are picked at the airport, provided with an orientation week, and then given the keys to a really sweet apartment close to the school. Here I met tons of teachers from Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa, and England. I would highly recommend making friends with your co-teacher, even if there is an age difference, because they have so much to teach you about the local culture, education and respect for elders. It was difficult for me to learn Korean, but I managed to speak a couple of words.
Teaching English in Hong Kong
My EPIK recruiter sent me a really good offer to teach English in Hong Kong while I was still in Korea. I was thrilled and also a bit scared. Hong Kong is a big city and I really wasn’t sure, even when they were offering me a lot of money. I took a plane to Thailand to surf a little and decide with a clear head if I would accept the offer or go back home. I’m really happy I chose to continue teaching abroad and especially that I went to Hong Kong. The public school system is Hong Kong is run very professionally. They also provided me with a very qualified co-teacher and the technology was state-of-the-art.
How Teaching Abroad Prepared Me for a Career in TESOL Education
I taught in three different countries, where I learned a lot about cultural and language interference. I learned that teaching English is more than teaching a language. It’s about bridging cultures and communication. Teaching English abroad helped me understand how different cultures see the world, and I learned from my students as much as they learned from me. I came back home with a backpack full of memories and tools. I also saved almost $25,000! I continued my career teaching English in Canada, where I am lucky to teach students from all over the world and meet new people every month.