Posts tagged: expatriate living

Are you Seeking a Paradise Location for your TEFL Job?

Many people try teaching English so that they can live in what seem to be paradisical locations, often in undeveloped/developing countries .  And these locations are truly paradises.  Not only wonderful settings, beaches, palm trees, warm breezes year around, but also that wonderful local really relaxed and kicked-back attitude.  WoW!

Who wouldn’t love this place!

This post is partially my response to a discussion on another board about why people don’t last when they come to paradise.

So – what happens that most of those people don’t last more than a year and as much as 80% are gone after two years?

Well, I currently live in a “tropical paradise” and we see that same thing here.

WHY do people not last?  Because things are different.  DIFFERENT – captial letters purposefully.

It is not unusual to see a German expat yelling at his local girlfriend outside a hardware store, “This is stupid, it’s not how we would do it in Gemany!”   . . . Yeah, but this ain’t Germany!

A neighbor recently was yelling at his landlord about noisy construction next door going on for weeks – “In America that would be done in a day!”  Yeah, but this ain’t America, either.

Yes, things are different.  But also in very meaningful ways.  People arrive to stay forever, attracted to the very kick back lifestyle.

But a kickback local lifestyle also often means things like:

1. No one knows first aid if you are in an accident.

2. You are thrown in the back of a pick-up truck to get to the hospital in the case of an accident.  Uh . . . yeah, no neck brace, no body board . . .

3. No one bothers to fix the giant pothole that caused the accident

and on and on and on . . .

There are two sides to every quality.  One is a detriment and one is a wonderful value.  While paradise is wonderful, it can carry some baggage with it too.

My wife says I am bullheaded and stubborn, but to me that is the very determination that made my businesses and investments succeed. Two sides to that too.

So . . . when you go looking for paradise, realize that the wonderful relaxed locals may not have any idea what to do when you really need serious help, nor be interested or even feel obligated to provide it.   Those are your values and may not be theirs.

If you can do without that help – survive on your own – and realize that help isn’t coming – no problems then.  If you always require assistance from the community to survive (as so many do these days), it might be worth rethinking your non-vacation visit to paradise.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  Perhaps a harsh lesson, but one that today’s people need to understand.

TED’s Tips™ #2:  If you seek a culture and environment that is easier to adapt to, then seek employment in a developed or more developed country.  While there will still be cultural issues, basic things will tend to work better.

Teaching Internships in China

Picking a new Country for a Long-Term Commitment

China? Brazil? Tanzania?

Where would you decide to settle for the next five to twenty years?

We are going to talk a bit about expatriate thinking this month with a series of posts about living abroad for the longer term.

Life abroad can be pretty addictive and many of us who have spent more than three or four years abroad often end up overseas for twenty or more years.

There is an initial hump of two or three years that sends most people “back home”.  That “hump” will be the topic in a following week.

RULE #1:  Don’t fall too much in love with the first place you land.

Too many people arrive in one country and never leave it.

They arrived in Brazil, fell in love with it and never left.  What they never found out is that they would have loved Japan, China, Costa Rica or some other place even more.

Give a few other countries a try too.

Part of what is happening is that people are falling in love with the experience of living abroad, which is pretty d*mn exciting all by itself.  But in the process they attach that love and excitment to the specific country in which they are presently living.   In other words, the same thing would often likely happen in almost any country in which they first landed.

I was lucky when I started out as I had decided I wanted to see many countries and live in more than a few.  So I spent about two to five years and more living and working in Botswana, Korea, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.  That way when I decided to settle down, I had a much broader base of information to call upon for the decision.

Korea was my home twice for three academic years each time, but ten years apart.  It was strange to see so many long termers there that had never left and experienced living and working somewhere else while I have the good fortune to experience two additional countries and cultures in depth during that time.   Don’t misunderstand, Korea is a wonderful place, but don’t limit your options so early in your expatriate experience.

If you intend to work abroad only for a year two, then yes, one country is about right.  The cost of moving and changing jobs is a bit much to do it more often than about every two years.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  Don’t close out your options.  If you are going out to “See the World” – go see it and experience it.  LIVE and WORK in more than one place so you can get a broader sense of the real world out here.

Teaching Internships in China