TEACH ENGLISH ABROAD: Read up On My amazing adventures as an ESL Teacher in South Korea & China For Over 5 Years!
So, you want to teach English abroad? Trust me, as an ESL teacher in China of more than 5 years I know that it's not a decision to be taken lightly; after all, there's so much to consider, right? There's leaving your family and friends behind, adapting to a new culture, job and financial security, safety in your destined city, and overall, starting a new life and being on your own in a foreign land.
The bottom line: it takes a lot of guts to decide that teaching English abroad is right for you; heck, I'll applaud you for even considering the opportunity. And even as you may feel the weight of the world squeezing down on your shoulders as you contemplate every possible angle of your prospective journey, I am here to tell you that I too have once been in your shoes, but in the end, making the final decision to pack my bags and board that international flight to start a new chapter in my life teaching English abroad has led to an adventure of a lifetime that I never would've imagined.
My amazing journey into the world of ESL teaching began back in 2010 at the ripe age of 23 years old. Just a year prior I was undergoing my last year stretch at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia where I was to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in English. One late night my roommate and I had stayed up mindlessly chatting away about random topics—as college kids do—when we landed on something that we both had a fervent passion for: traveling to...no, no, living in Southeast Asia sometime in our lives before we kicked the bucket.
We both had an affinity for the martial arts flicks, anime, video games, technology, cuisine, traditional architecture, and rich history spewing out of countries like Japan, China, and South Korea—regions in Southeast Asia we were exposed to the most while growing up in the States.
We also knew that places like Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia were within a short plane ride of each other and we were thrilled at the possibility of country-hopping the hell out of Southeast Asia should we ever get the chance.
And then it happened. Fast forward a few weeks later and I'd stumble upon an ESL job advertisement in South Korea on Career Builder while searching for film industry jobs. Hal-le-lujah! Hal-le-lujah! Did you see the golden light pierce down through the clouds too?
It was exactly the opportunity I was looking for to travel abroad: a 1 month English winter camp for primary students in Seoul that provided round trip tickets, housing, and a generous stipend. I can't stress enough how I especially loved that it was only 1 month, which was the perfect amount of time to test the waters of this so called ESL Teacher world—something I knew nothing of at the time—without committing to a lengthy contract. But there was just one problem.
It was November. My graduation was still more than half a year away in May and the employer needed someone that could start in January. Oh boy. With that I passed along the information to my roommate—he was graduating early in December—and within what seemed like a blink of an eye, he made contact with the company, aced the interview, gathered the necessary documents, boarded a plane, and set off on a 1 month long voyage to teach English in Seoul, South Korea, with Deli English Winter Camp. His dream had come true after all.
It's funny; exactly one month later we'd end up back in the same room chatting about his awesome experience overseas. He'd share stories about local dishes and drinks he tried, temples he explored, cultural traditions, nightlife venues he partied in, Korean women, you name it. Furthermore, he boasted about how fun the winter camp was and how teaching English to Korean students wasn't as insanely challenging as we initially believed. By the end of our conversation my interest in teaching English abroad had skyrocketed and I had officially entered phase II of my own ESL journey.
By mid-June of 2009 I had graduated, moved back to Los Angeles, and was doing a 2-month internship with mega talent agency William Morris Endeavor. Another close friend of mine from Morehouse had jumped on the bandwagon and committed to the summer ESL program in Seoul with Deli English Camp.
He too would return with nothing but positive stories to share about his experience. And that's when I absolutely knew that it was my turn for a go.
Looking back at the start of my ESL journey, it just seemed like the stars had perfectly aligned. There was the initial conversation that sparked the interest, the job ad that fell into my lap, and the incredible trust factor from having two of my friends take on the opportunity before I'd decide to do it myself. Plus it was only 1 month! I felt very secure and the only anxiety I had mostly stemmed from gathering all of my documents on time and wondering if I'd be a great teacher.
By the end of December 2009 I boarded an international flight, landed in South Korea and was living and working as an ESL Teacher in Seoul.
My dream had come true after all.
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About the Author: Don is from Los Angeles, CA, USA and has served as an ESL Teacher & Foreign Department Manager in both China & South Korea!
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