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6 Ways That Teaching Abroad Can Optimize Your Personal and Professional Growth 

teach abroad skills

This guest article was written by TravelBud.

TravelBud offers curated and holistic teach abroad programs in nine destinations around the world. The dynamic TravelBud team has all taught abroad themselves and can offer first-hand insight into the experience that they pride themselves on helping others embark on. All TravelBud programs offer pre-departure support, guaranteed job placement at vetted and selected schools, comprehensive cultural orientations, 24/7 in-country support from our teams on the ground, and the Lifetime Placement Guarantee as part of the engaged alumni network. TravelBud, in proud association with Bridge Education Group, offers Placement Programs for Bridge Alumni to use their qualifications to make their teach abroad dreams a reality.

Teaching English abroad can sometimes be thought of as a fun gap year, prior to settling into your career back home. But the truth is that a meaningful experience abroad and international work experience can often be a fundamental precursor to your future career’s success. As we’ve seen time and time again from our alumni, meaningful, immersive travel can shape your future, personally and professionally.

Whether you choose to stay in the education field or not, teaching abroad or traveling whilst teaching online helps you acquire an array of skills that are imperative for a modern working environment. One of the most notable aspects of the growth you acquire from teaching abroad is of course the skills themselves but also the speed at which you gain skills when abroad. In my personal experience, I felt like I acquired skills that would have taken me 10 years to gain, in my one year abroad. It’s like an accelerated, fast-track growth program for you as a person, and for your skill set for your intended career. Let’s take a look at six ways that teaching abroad can help your growth beyond the classroom

1. Transferable Skills

Transferable skills such as time management, adaptability, initiative, and solution-driven skill development all make a great ESL teacher. Any ESL teacher will tell you that it takes a lot of thinking on your feet and becoming a self-proclaimed problem-solving Jedi to thrive in a high-paced working environment abroad. Whether you’re looking to improve your career in education, start your own business, or work your way up in your desired field, mastering these skills is crucial across the board – and you get to experience the magic of a new culture at the same time.  

2. Communication

Communication is an essential skill in an international environment. Communicating across cultural barriers can often lead to some rather amusing anecdotes (like the time I ordered five combo number ones instead of one combo number five and had a table full of food). You learn how to communicate with your students, your colleagues, and your student’s parents – all of which offer you insights into the nuances of different types of communication and how to communicate most effectively. If you only communicate in one language, within one group of similar people, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to broaden your horizons as a skilled communicator.  

3. Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness

Cultural sensitivity and awareness allow you to bridge gaps between vastly different cultures in a meaningful and impactful way and prepare you as a global citizen. Being culturally aware in a global setting is a trait that no future employer would ever overlook. Understanding the world beyond your own lived-in scope and experience is invaluable in your life and future career. Our programs all include a comprehensive Cultural Orientation to prepare you for living and working abroad!

4. Networking

Networking is often an underrated part of teaching abroad. You’ll certainly have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture through food, friends, and everyday life, but you’ll also have the opportunity to network with people from around the world within your ex-pat community. You open yourself up to new world views and perspectives, and you’re woven into a colorful tapestry of multiculturalism. Incredible ideas and businesses (and even love!) have blossomed amongst our alumni network. It takes courage to strike up your first conversation with people who start as strangers and end as friends.  

5. Financial Savings

Teaching abroad allows a means of a stable income whilst gaining real-life international experience. Not only do certain programs allow teachers to live comfortably, but they also allow a healthy savings potential. The ability to build up a financial nest egg can often allow teachers returning to their home country the freedom to pursue their true passions, without the pressure of getting a job at home for the sake of an income. One of our alumni studied law, taught abroad, and saved up enough money to do a year of unpaid internship for Human Rights Law specifically, back in his home country. Instead of having to do corporate law that paid the bills and go down an avenue of law due to circumstance and not passion, he was allowed the freedom to start building his career in a field of his choice.  

6. Perspective

Teaching English abroad allows you to taste the fruits of a purpose-driven life, which arguably sets a basis of comparison for all your future endeavors. It shows you that you add value to the lives of others and inspires you to continue seeking the same feeling of purpose you have when you look back on the impact you’ve had on your students. It allows you a sense of achievement and accomplishment. No matter what comes your way, you’ll always know, “I lived in Thailand for a year – if I can do that, I can do this.” Challenges are easier to overcome knowing what you have already achieved. Being a foreigner in a new country, you have a heightened sense of appreciation for the small things in life – the first sip of a refreshing drink, the first sighting of a new and never-before-seen view, the taste of fresh fruit, a smile from a passing stranger. This carries over into the fabric of your being and reminds you to be present, wherever your path leads in life.  

Hailing from a beautiful coastal town in sunny South Africa, Grace is a graduate of International Relations and the Enrollments & Business Development Director at TravelBud. Grace taught abroad in South Korea and is an inspired and intrepid traveler. A wine, book, food and vintage enthusiast, Grace is settled back in South Africa with her three cats for now, but she’s always passionate about adding more stamps to her passport.