Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Deciding What to Do Abroad

So when you finally make that decision to pack up your stuff and go, what will you do in your new found home?

The most popular option for native English speakers is to teach English as a foreign language.  In order to do this, most* locations require you have a TEFL or TESOL license.    The most popular location for TEFL is in South Korea or Southeast Asia in general.  Though if you want a more "close to home" feel you can always check out Europe.  You can get a TEFL in a few different ways.  You can do it online for a couple hundred bucks.  You can take a class for a few thousand bucks.  Or you can do it on site (meaning in the country abroad) for a few more thousand bucks.  I've never been through the TEFL experience, but I hear it is quite worth it to train on site.  After you get your license, the program usually sets you up with a 1-year job contract.  I suggest you google "TEFL or TESOL class in [the country of your choice]" and you'll get all sorts of options.  *(I have known people to get into a program without a TEFL/TESOL, but I would be wary of programs like that.  There are lots of scams around this world wide web.)

Another occupation that can be found globally is teaching at a bilingual or international school.  This, obviously, is what I chose to do.  For most international schools you need to have 2 years teaching experience, great references, and international travel experience.  Most of these international schools are taught in English, so you don't even have to know the native language of the country (though I hope you learn it!)  I thought knowing Spanish would help me out in the interview process as I applied to the school in San Jose, but they never even brought it up.  They just want you to speak English.  For this job, try googling "international schools in [country of your choice]".

When looking for a job at an international school you should really take into account when is their school year?  Most schools in the northern hemisphere run from August/September to May/June.  While most schools in the southern hemisphere run from February/March to November/December.  This is important to consider because schools usually do the majority of their hiring during the "summer" break, so knowing the school year is advantageous.  For any teaching position some great resources are Dave's ESL Cafe and TES which both have a forum and job postings.

If you're not the teaching type then there's still other options out there.  You should consider the culture/economy of the place you plan to end up.  If you move to Mali, you'll probably have a hard time finding a job as a software engineer.  Some jobs you could look into are working at a resort, hotel or hostel; bartending; waitressing; or being an au pair.  For hostel-ing you should look at Central/South America, and Southeast Asia.  Bartending, waitressing and au pairing is popular in Western Europe and Australia.  A lot of programs that will set you up with these jobs you have to pay for.  Which, to me, is BS.  If you're adventurous just move to your intended location and start looking for jobs.

A final option would be volunteering abroad.  There's tons of programs for this, a lot you have to pay between $1000-$7000 for (which you know my opinion on).  A few websites I would recommend are Help Exchange and Workaway.  Both you have to pay small fees (20 Euro or so) to subscribe, but the subscription is good for a year.  The general idea for these websites are you work for your host 5 days a week for 7 hours a day, and the host provides room and board.  But each situation varies a little.  I used workaway to find a host in Spain.  I worked with them for 2 weeks before continuing to travel.  Another volunteer option for the more "rugged" is WWOOFing.  This is the same idea, work for a place to stay and food.  You can do it just about anywhere in the world.  It's hard work (on a farm), but I've known people who have had a blast doing it.

Finally: WORK VISAS!!  This is where you have to do your own research.  I just don't know enough about it to write.  Each country has its own process for a work visa.  But you'll probably need a sponsor (company who says they'll hire you), a background check, a birth certificate, and a clean bill of health.  I hear it's hard for USA passport holders to get a work visa in the EU, but it can't be impossible.

Whatever it is you decide to do, prepare for a lot of ups and downs as you research, apply, move and settle in to your new ocupation.  But one thing I can promise is you'll never regret going abroad.


Anonymous said...

very informative! thank you