You only have to figure out how you’re going to survive for an indefinite amount of time in another country….no biggie!
But take a deep breath, you’re going to get through the tricky planning phase I promise! And then, you’ll be living in the foreign country of your dreams!
There are a lot of details to see through when you plan an endeavor like this, but you can do it!
Scroll below for a list of what you need to start thinking about if you’re going to teach english abroad:
1. FIND A TEFL CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
you know, so you can like, make money and survive
First things first, let’s get you certified so you can get a job!
Most TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) jobs will require that you become certified first. You can become certified here in the U.S., or look up some TEFL classes in a location abroad that you’re interested in. Most likely, you’ll have to go through an application process before you’re accepted!
FYI: You might also hear people refer to this as ESL (English as a Second Language)
Personally, I was ready to change things up (and fast) so I opted for a program in Florence. It was an intensive 4 week program, and I was busy as hell, but I was happy to be in Italy! Each program might be a little different, and where you want to teach english will most likely play a factor in what your program focuses on. But in my case, we went over everything from public speaking, creating lesson plans, linguistics and grammar.
Man, there are a lot of grammar rules in the english language, who knew?!
There was also some support with your CV (resume) and interview prep. Some places offer a guaranteed job and visa sponsorships (again, location will play a big role in this) while others, will only be able to offer support and advice.
I was not guaranteed a job, but I became certified and found a job shortly after graduating through a referral from my school!
2. GET A VISA
Now that you’ve been accepted to a TEFL certification program, it’s time to start thinking about your Visa..
It’s important to note that you need to get this handled while you’re still in your country of citizenship. This process might involve submitting paperwork, or even visiting a local embassy.
Depending on where you want to teach, some countries will have tougher Visa requirements than others, but they will all require that you start at home base.
Your TEFL program should have a person of contact who can give you some guidance about obtaining your Visa.
This wasn’t my favorite part, and anytime you’re working with the government it can be slow and tedious, but unfortunately it’s just one of those things you gotta do.
3. MAKE SURE YOU’VE GOT A PLACE TO STAY
My certification program offered support with the apartment hunt, which was a huge help. They actually had a place owned by the school for me and another girl in the program to live in.
Sure she ended up being a total wack-job, and I experienced first-hand what it’s like to live with an internet troll, but hey…. you can’t win ’em all right?
Regardless of how I felt about my roommate, if something like this is offered to you, I would highly recommend taking advantage of it.
Otherwise, thank god for Airbnb; which I did end up using for housing during other parts of my stay in Italy.
4. BOOK A ONE WAY FLIGHT
This is the part when I really started to get excited! Booking a one-way flight was absolute confirmation that you are really doing this!
International flights are never cheap so make sure you’ve got enough money saved up for the flight!
5. GET AN INTERNATIONAL PHONE PLAN
There are a couple ways you can do this, but talk to your service provider to see what your international options are!
You can work something out with your provider where all you have to do is get a new SIM card when you’re abroad.
However, I don’t know about you, but I’m completely dependent on my phone for directions and information in general. So Just make sure you’re prepared to get around town for a little bit without any help from your phone until you get a SIM card.
6. GET SOME LOCAL CURRENCY
And at the very least, it will give you some piece of mind. Not all places widely accept credit cards for transactions, and you want to be covered in case you get in a bind.
I hate to say it, but you should know now– not everything will go as planned.
How do you know if there will be an ATM readily available when you land? What if you need to tip someone to take you somewhere? And how do you know your bank won’t freeze your account for “suspicious” activity?
Oh yeah that reminds me… you should also call your bank and let them know you’re traveling out of the country.
Even if you do give your bank a heads up, you can’t guarantee they won’t make a mistake and freeze your funds. So take out some local currency and keep it on you just in case!
7. PACK YOUR BAGS!
Everyone has their own style when it comes to packing, but it can be incredibly daunting to pack for something so long term.
I used vacuum seal bags to maximize my packing space. I can’t tell you how much this saved me!
I also lived in leggings and used scarves as an easy way to “change up my look”, when I was really just wearing the same basic tees over and over. I also packed a big down coat that I wore almost every day.
Don’t stress about trying to be some international fashionista- try and be practical here. Comfy and versatile clothes are key.
Also, remember you will be dragging these bags with you everywhere- small planes, trains and buses. Don’t pack more than you’re willing to carry. (Oh god, I’m starting to sound like my mother)
If you want more details on what it’s actually like to live in a foreign country, check out my post here , I talk about what to expect and every day life in another country!
If you’re on the fence, I really hope you decide to do it! Teaching english abroad was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It opened my eyes, and my heart, to another culture. It was also such an important part of my growth and self-discovery.
You will be surprised by all the things you can really accomplish when you put your mind to it!
Xo With Love Always, C