With all the excitement and adventure that goes hand in hand with Teaching English Abroad, there is one thing that we sometimes overlook. At some point, you will probably want to return home.
Unless you decide to relocate abroad permanently (and plenty of people do!), there will come a day when it’s time to return to your home country and begin the next phase of your life. And as daunting as embarking on your adventure abroad might’ve seemed in the beginning, returning home can also be a fairly big undertaking!
So let’s talk about how you can ease the transition!
Believe it or not, returning to the states (or wherever you’re from) after an extended period of living and working abroad can be almost as shocking as arriving in your destination country was. You’ve probably spent a year or more growing accustomed to your surroundings in a new place, making new friends, eating different food and growing comfortable with a new way of life, and all of the sudden, it’s back to the fast paced Western culture that you grew up with!
It’s not uncommon for people to feel a sense of sadness or loss after returning home from a long trip abroad. You might miss the friends that you made and you might feel a bit overwhelmed by Western culture at first, but just remember, it took you a while to adjust to life abroad too! You’re in a transition phase, and before you know it, things well start to feel normal again.
But Don’t Get Too Normal
While it’s good to readjust to life back home and become reacquainted to your environment, complacency is the enemy! Remember why you wanted to leave home in the first place. To shake things up, to expand your horizons, to enjoy new experiences and new adventures and live the life you’ve imagined!
Avoid the temptation to fall back into the same old routines at home. If you picked up new routines or traditions while teaching English abroad, keep them up at home! Did you find a new favorite food? Invite some friends over and cook it for them, or have a group dinner at an ethnic restaurant! If you found new activities that you enjoyed abroad, try to find similar activities back home. Did you have some success learning the local language while abroad? Continue taking lessons at home. Even better, swap English lessons with someone and keep your TESOL and local language skills sharp at the same time! Sites like meetup.com can be a great resource for finding new, interesting activities to participate in at home.
Take Advantage Of Your Experience
One of the best things about Teaching English Abroad is that in addition to being the adventure of a lifetime, it’s also great career experience. Take advantage of your new skills, and update your resume to showcase your international experience. Employers in just about every field are placing more and more emphasis on diversity and global experience right now, so not only will teaching abroad make your resume stand out, but it will provide a great talking point during interviews or conversations with potential employers. Be sure to highlight any language skills you’ve gained on your resume, and don’t be afraid to talk about your experience! Your new stories will be a breath of fresh air to employers that feel like they’re interviewing the same candidates day in and day out.
Do some research before you come home if possible. Look into companies or organizations with an international focus, and think about how you might make yourself valuable to them. With some of our programs, as part of the LanguageCorps re-entry package, participants will receive some relevant contacts and organizations for post TEFL career ideas, and that is a great place to get started!
Stay in touch
You never know who might be in a position to help you out one day! The friends and contacts you made while living in another country might be the most important asset you have. The occasional phone call, email, or even Facebook message is usually all it takes to keep those relationships fresh, and it could wind up paying off immeasurably. But mutual benefits aside, staying in touch with the friends you made is a great way to enrich your life moving forward, and the best way to combat reverse homesickness.
And of course, you’ll probably be planning your next trip soon, and you just might need a place to stay. 🙂