There’s no doubting the fact that friends, just like our family, play an important part in our health and happiness. In both our home and work lives, we need to have people around us who we can rely on and confide in – not to mention, have a good time with!
If you’ve decided to spread your wings and teach in another part of the world, having some great pals by your side will help you to settle into life in another country and curb those initial feelings of homesickness and loneliness many expats experience.
The eTeach team has rounded up our top tips to help teachers make lifelong companions abroad – here they are…
Start at school
Chances are you’ll be working alongside some fellow English or English-speaking colleagues in your new school, who’ll be more than happy to show you around. After all, they were once in your shoes, so they’ll understand how you might be feeling – and hearing about their experiences will help to settle those nerves.
It’s equally as important to make the effort to get to know your native co-workers, too. Expect them to be warm, welcoming and very keen to show you their culture (a dinner invite may be on the cards, too!)
Learn the lingo
If you’re teaching in a country where English isn’t the first language, it really pays off to learn the basics ahead of the big move. This alone will give you a huge kick of confidence, whether you’re introducing yourself to your new class or ordering lunch at the local cafe.
You can also use the language barrier to your advantage by joining a language exchange, where you pair up with a local keen to learn your mother tongue. Many big cities host dedicated workshops, or you can arrange a meet-up yourself, over food or coffee once a week. Before you know it, the language will no longer prove a barrier, and you may have made a friend for life!
Just like at home, joining a sports club or signing up to a class is great way to meet like-minded people who share similar passions. You could pick up a hobby you had at home, or why not try something completely new?
If you’re open and willing to try new things (which you probably are, seeing as you’re moving to another country to teach), getting involved in the country’s national sport will grant you unique insight into its culture. Clubs are likely to be made up of a mix of expats and locals, and many boast a jam-packed calendar of social events.
Social networks and apps provide great platforms to join communities and reach out to expats and locals living in your area. You can start by searching for expat and specific teacher expat pages using Facebook groups; this is one of the easiest ways to find and befriend people just like you.
If you haven’t already, download Meetup. This is one of our favourite apps, allowing you to (as the name suggests) meet up with people interested in the same things as you – whether that’s hiking, reading books or watching sci-fi films! Name your interest, and you guarantee there will be others interested in it, too!
And finally...be a ‘yes’ person!
To settle into your new life, you have to step out of the confines of your comfort zone and embrace the unfamiliar. You’ll make friends in no time if you’re a ‘yes’ person; for instance, by accepting invitations from others even if you’re not particularly interested in what you’re being invited to – you may be pleasantly surprised!
With these tips, you’ll soon have a great group of friends who together, will make your experience teaching abroad all the more enjoyable. If you’ve already made the move, do you have any tips of your own you could share with us?
About the author
Rhys Howells’ expertise spans from marketing, communications, strategy and recruitment within the education sector. Currently the International Development Director at Eteach, Rhys has spent the last 5 years working side-by-side with leading schools in the UK and internationally to successfully enhance their recruitment strategies, save money and ensure great schools hire great teachers.