What Can Travel and TEFL Teach You?

When you make the big move to teach English abroad, you’re going to teach others.  You probably don’t think about how it will help you, but you’ll actually learn loads of things about yourself that you didn’t know before.  Are you sitting here wondering “what can travel and TEFL teach me?”.  Well, to be totally honest, a lot of things – here are just 6 things that you’ll pick up whilst on your travels, making a difference to peoples’ lives.

1.  How to be independent

Lets face it; when you move half-way around the world to teach abroad it’s probably the biggest and boldest move you’ll ever make.  It’s a huge step in developing yourself into a more mature and independent person.  Travelling will give you new life skills, the ability to fend for yourself and how to survive.  You’ll develop practical skills such as managing your finances and you’ll be forced to think intelligently when you’re in new situations.

2. How to plan, and how to be flexible if your plans go to pot

When you’re travelling it’s important to realise that not everything will go exactly how you planned them,and you’ll need to deal with situations that are out of your control. If you have plans that for whatever reason don’t happen, you’ll learn how to move on, make the most of the situation, and just have fun – no matter what is thrown at you.

Liz was faced with some surprises when she set out to teach English in South Korea and later decided to trek up a mountain:

“Halla – the dormant volcano – was incredible.  However, I didn’t really consider the fact that it’s the highest peak in South Korea and I hadn’t done any real exercise for a couple of months… what the hell was I doing climbing a 6,400 ft mountain?!  But, although I might have been lagging behind, getting pretty sweaty, wondering why I didn’t get sponsored for this and considering giving up at the halfway point, it was absolutely beautiful.  There was so much snow, it looked like a fairytale.  And, actually, it wasn’t as hard as I’d feared.”

3. That there is a lot more going on in the world than what’s happening in your own backyard

Once you’ve visited poorer countries, your eyes are open to the poverty that exists all around the world.  You’ll realise how much you have to be thankful for and it can even give you a whole new lease on life and inspire you to do what you can to try and change the world for the better. It’s only when you’ve seen what else is out there that you can really start to understand and empathize.

Like Jessica, a TEFLer in Thailand who was motivated by her experience to do something to help others:

“I would say this experience in Thailand has influenced me. Teaching in Thailand has opened my eyes to how thirsty kids are for knowledge and how beneficial it is for them to learn English.  I’ve realised how important a proper education is, yet there are many kids who can’t afford it or live in an area without an adequate school.  After my teaching contract is up, I plan on staying abroad for a few more years and will most likely continue teaching English in schools or on a volunteer basis. Eventually, I would like set up a non-profit that raises money and materials for rural schools and helps motivate kids to continue their education.”

4.  How to be a more confident person

Once you can navigate around a country where you don’t speak their language and they don’t speak yours, you’ll be so much more confident as you’ll have proved to yourself you can survive the experience, learn new skills, deal with new customs and traditions and you may even learn new language skills yourself. It’s this that will make you realise how capable you are and how you can do anything you put your mind to.

5. How to be more open-minded and welcome new experiences

It teaches you about other cultures: you learn about and appreciate the differences in how people think, and how they live.

6. That the world is a truly beautiful place

It may sound cheesy, but witnessing such awe-inspiring sights such as the Great Wall of China or the rainforest’s of Costa Rica make you realise what a stunning world we live in.

So, what have you learnt from travelling?

Photo’s Sourced – www.flickr.com/photos/26158205@N04/

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