Do you like to travel?
This should be an easy question to answer. Do you get excited when you are planning your next vacation?
Does meeting new people, eating new food, and hearing a different language make you feel happy or worried?
I love all of these things! I’m comfortable miming what I want and using Google Translate when that doesn’t work.
Have you traveled before?
Even week long family vacations can help prepare you for the culture shock you will experience while living in a different location.
Do you have experience teaching in your home country?
This will help you get your international job. You can get jobs without any experience (I did) just be prepared to work at the bottom rung of the ladder.
It will also prepare you for the more challenging teaching environment. The first three years are the hardest for a teacher. They say that 50% of teachers quit after their first five years of teaching because those are the toughest. If you have at least one year of teaching in your home country I think you will be better prepared for the challenges of working overseas (lack of resources, little staff development, etc.).
Have you received all of the training you need for your profession?
When starting out at smaller schools (get hired at the biggest and best international schools doesn’t usually happen in the first few years) you will find that they offer little to no professional development.
Do you do well with ambiguity?
Many things are not what one would expect when you go overseas. Things change, details are not explained, and promises are broken. If you can let go and go with the flow you will do a lot better while working overseas.
Are you good with research?
You need to research the schools before you apply to them. In the US you have a pretty safe environment and unions to protect you. While working overseas you have only yourself to rely on. No unions, no family to protect you, just yourself. So apply to top tier schools and second tier schools, email teachers currently working there, and ask a lot of questions during the hiring process so you know what you are getting into.
Can you handle being away from family and friends for 10 months at a time?
The people who enter the world of international teaching with a teaching spouse are the lucky ones. People who have family who are willing to travel with them are in a great position! You get to bring them with you and see the world!
For the rest of us, I guess you can go home during Christmas vacation if you want to pay for the expensive flight and miss out on the opportunity to travel the host country, or you might be able to talk your family into visiting you, but it is not always a guarantee. For some people, Skype and Whatsapp are enough, but if you are really close to your family and friends, be prepared for a tough first year.
Are the benefits worth the costs?
As I am wrapping up my fourth year teaching at international schools overseas, I am 100% convinced that the benefits do outweigh the costs. I love to travel, I am saving money, I have amazing vacations, I meet exciting people, and Skype makes me feel close to my family even if I don’t see them for months at a time. Sometimes, I feel lonely and I am still trying to find the great teacher man who wants to be my life partner and teach their way around the world with me, but all in all, I am having a great time living the dream!