Increasingly, many young university grads are choosing to work abroad to save their earnings and to pay off school debt and other expenses. Moving abroad and finding a job in another country is a daunting task for anyone. It can be an experience wrought with fear, excitement, anxiety, and curiosity. However, for those seeking adventure and a new cultural experience, I can vouch that it really is worth all the trouble and effort.
Finding a job
The most popular jobs for those from an English speaking country like Canada are English teaching jobs. While most believe that you need to be a certified teacher, an undergraduate degree in any discipline will suffice to work as a teacher abroad. Once hired, there will be some training involved that will allow you to review your grammar before you begin teaching.
If you are seeking a job in a field outside of teaching English, it will be more challenging as most countries have strict work visa regulations. International recruiting firms exist for this purpose and you may have to pay a large fee for their services. However, depending on your desire to go out and see the world, it may be well worth it.
Contracts will usually be in the local currency and will likely include housing and airfare. Contracts are typically a year in length with a completion bonus if you decide to stay on further. It is important that you read the fine print, especially regarding vacation time and working hours before you sign on board.
Living Abroad vs. Travelling Abroad
The main perk of living abroad is getting your expenses (accommodation and airfare) paid for, leaving you with a monthly salary that can be used towards exploring your new adopted country as well as neighbouring countries. Through living in a new country, you are immersed in its culture through your surroundings and your work environment. You will be forced to learn the local language, try the local food and learn about the culture. If you are eager to learn more about a country, its language and its customs, then living abroad is the only way to go! You will meet other expats along the way with whom you can travel and learn.
When travelling abroad, you are limited in how much time and money you can spend. A vacation mindset may make you want to relax much more than fuel your desire to learn about a country’s history and culture. But perhaps this is enough for you; after all, you just want to soak up some sun and party right? If you are content with getting just a little taste of each country you visit, then weeklong getaways are perfect!
Where Do I Start?
The internet hosts a wealth of knowledge but it can also be overwhelming. If you decide that working abroad is something you are interested in, it’s very important to do some research first. You need to know what type of work environment and culture you are stepping into. Remember, an office in Toronto functions differently from an office in India! For example, in Canada office hierarchies are based on position rank, not age. However, in some countries respect must be shown to those who are senior in age even if they are in a lower position due to cultural practices.
Dave’s ESL Café (www.daveseslcafe.com) is a wonderful website for anyone wanting to teach abroad. Remember to take what people say with a grain of salt. Everyone’s experience is unique which is why you should research a few different sources before reaching a decision.
Another great resource is Work and Live Abroad ( www.workandliveabroad.com), which provides information on working abroad in various fields other than teaching.
My favorite resource besides the internet are travel guides which allow you to get a glimpse into the culture and also give you a feel for various cities and what there is to do. They typically include maps, useful phrases, and a food dictionary.
Now, if you're not able to go abroad to find adventure, just remember that there are many exciting things you can do within your vicinity. Just grab a a fuel efficient car (since you’re going to be covering a lot of road), a friend and a GPS and you'll be on your way. So get out there and start your own adventure. The world is waiting for you!
- Ann Jaimi Alexander