To TEFL or not to TEFL; that is the question. For most embarking on their adventure of a lifetime, the major doubts come when they realise they will be travelling to a distant country… and can’t take their loved one with them. Being thousands of miles away from family, friends, a partner and everyone you know can be incredibly daunting, but if you’re truly passionate about seeing the world, making money and teaching to those who desperately need it, don’t let you passions be quashed. It’s undoubtedly hard to make long distance relationships work, and not just the romantic kind. Maintaining friendships across the world can put a real toll on even the best of friends, while parents do their best to let us know we’re missed (and, y’know, we kind of miss them too…). You’re not the first and won’t be the last to try and maintain a long distance relationship during TEFL. Thankfully there is so much you can do to keep in touch with loved ones, and plenty of ways to keep your home comforts in a country that doesn’t even know how to make a proper brew.
Total time: 30 minutes
1. Set up a Skype account
Skype has proven itself to be a saving grace to long distance relationships the world over. A fuzzy phone call can just make those loved ones feel even further away, but with nothing bar a decent internet connection, a web cam and microphone, you can enjoy face-to-face conversations for however long you want. Seeing the face of your loved one perched on the desk in front of you can provide a huge amount of comfort, while your parents will really appreciate being able to see that you haven’t invested in a full-facial tattoo during your adventures.
2. Regularly update your Facebook and Twitter accounts
This isn’t to say you should be a slave to social media. One of the greatest TEFL joys is breaking away from the norm and that includes stepping away from Facebook once in a while. However, if you’re a serial updater when you’re at home, complete radio silence once you’ve embarked on your adventure will only serve to worry people. Letting your contacts know that you’re safe and sound through a status update or tweet will serve to settle you and your loved ones, whilst also reassuring you that it is possible to stay in the loop even when you’re in another country. Plus, uploading the amazing pictures of your travels is sure to get a lot of attention, helping to reassure you that you made the right decision. If you have the time, you could even set up a blog documenting your time abroad for your friends and family to read through!
3. Make time for each other
Whether it’s via Skype, Facebook Messenger or any other means of communication, it’s important you make time for the people back home, and that counts for the entirety of your trip, not just the initial home-sick weeks. Set aside certain times to chat, whether you have something to say or not, will ensure that those important relationships don’t dissolve. Chances are that once you’re used to the country you’ll be easily distracted by social events and touring around, leaving those at home feeling dejected and unimportant. If you want to return to a happy partner, friends and parents, ensure you make time for them.
4. Pack your favourite snacks
OK, so it’s not a way to make long distance relationships work, but it’ll stop you from being quite so homesick, which is pretty vital! In fact, we’d even go as far to say as it’s on the same level as locating your passport (kind of), and will keep you going through those first few weeks. Something as simple as a packet of biscuits or some teabags can work wonders when you’re on the other side of the world from your loved ones. Don’t misunderstand us: there’s nothing quite like discovering the new food in the country of your choice, but let it come in time. Food in particular can be a real culture shock so rather than over-stimulate all of your senses, if you’re feeling particularly low, tuck into that pack of choccy biscuits and make yourself a lovely cup of something warm.