Hi, I’m Jenna and I blog over at Healthy Globetrotting. I blog about travelling around South East Asia, teaching abroad and healthy eating.
Last year I decided to swap the heady heights of Birmingham for a job teaching in China. At the time, a lot of people (including myself for approximately 23 out of 24 hours in a day) thought I was crazy. I was married, had a good job, a nice flat, a beautiful new car and a lovely life filled with shopping, weekends away and fashion blogging! However, I still couldn’t quite shake the feeling of: Is this it?
It had always been my dream to live abroad but at 27 years old it was looking less and less likely. I was also getting increasingly despondent after pouring over magazine stories narrated by women my age working in exotic locations with headlines like: ‘I moved to LA to make jewellery for celebrities’or ‘I decided to give up my job to DJ in Ibiza. Unfortunately this was just not me. Not least because I’m totally crap at anything crafty, but also because the thought of packing in a well paid job and starting a fresh in another country was so far out of my comfort zone.
However, as a qualified teacher in the UK, I began thinking about continuing my career abroad (rather than abandoning everything I’d worked for over the past few years and simply starting afresh). On a particularly brave day, I searched online and was simply amazed at how much was out there. I sent my cv off without really acknowledging the possibility of getting a job. Yet, a few skype interviews and a few short months later, I was off to China with 2 very heavy suitcases and my husband in tow!
A few highlights of my adventure teaching abroad
On reflection, I was a little naive to accept a job in China without even so much as stepping foot in the country. However, I was ready for a challenge and China offers ample opportunities for those to earn good money while teaching English. It was only when I met up with some fellow expats I realised how big the teaching English market here was. What’s more it is incredibly easy for anybody to get jobs: from qualified teachers like me to recent graduates who are looking for more casual work in between travelling around the continent.
As I write this almost 18 months later, I am so so grateful that I was feeling particularly reckless on the day I clicked the apply button! My time here has been full of up and downs (from chair skating across a frozen lake to battling with recently-diagnosed crohn’s disease in a Chinese hospital) however it has been an amazing opportunity and I can honestly say I no longer feel the is this it? question gnawing away inside of me. If you too are getting itchy feet and are looking to travel and work abroad I have included some suggestions to help you below.
My Top Tips for Working Abroad
Decide what your priorities are. Staying closer to home? Check out au pair opportunities in France. The pay is low but accommodation is usually provided. If you are looking for a job that provides the opportunity to building a saving fund, head to Asia. Cost of living plus high demand for teaching jobs means its possible to save over 50% of your salary. If you are looking to work as you travel to multiple destinations, check out WWOOF- an organisation that allows you to get free accomodation in return for labour.
Avoid internships. Often internships are incredibly low paid and some even charge you for participating. With a little bit of research, you can often find companies to apply to directly rather than paying fees to internship and volunteer agencies.
Qualifications are not the be all and end all! Some countries are very flexible when it comes to qualifications. If you arethinking of going down the teaching route, most countries simply require you to be a native speaker and hold a degree. Some will even wave the degree criteria if they think you’re a good candidate.
You don’t need to save huge amounts before taking the plunge. If you spend a little time job hunting, you’ll find many jobs (again, especially teaching) are willing to pay for your flight out there and accommodation. It’s a myth that you need a huge amount of money before you travel. We left with just enough money for a return flight and that was it!
I hope I’ve inspired you to at least thinking about the idea of working abroad. If you have any more questions, you can of course ask them below or contact me on twitter (@globetrotterjen)