Skillset for the Teacher Living Abroad

There’s a lot of research today that shows anyone can be a lifelong learner with the right mindset, looking at you, Dr. Carol Dweck. What makes some people more successful and happier when transitioning to their lives abroad?


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1) Compassion

One of the beauties of moving abroad is experiencing other countries’ values. To travel is to be curious, but when you have to be to work on time or collaborate with people that value different things, it can be more than challenging. Empathizing and adjusting your expectations helps for a happier transition.

2) Candor

Although many people thrive on adventure, the unknown and unpredictable can be anxiety-inducing. When you are not sure, ask. When you are frustrated, share. When working in other cultures, honesty, when paired with kindness and compassion, goes a long way. Most people understand transitioning is hard. You don’t have to go it alone.

3) Strategic Thinking

When you are in the final days before transitioning it can be truly overwhelming. Packing your life into a couple of suitcases, trying to scramble to get that last apostille for your visa, figuring out how to get money to and from your new home country are all very real stressors. Luckily there are thousands of people that have walked your path before, learn from them, use their checklists and shortcuts. Take everything one step at a time. Pinterest the hell out of this move.

4) Mindfulness

Being able to take in the splendor of the moment is a practice in flexing your “attention muscle”. It is easy to succumb to the anxiety of your to-do’s or the angst of the connections and comforts you may be leaving behind. If you take time every day to look around in awe of the adventure you are partaking, you will find your moments of “this is why I’m here”.

5) First Month Gregariousness

Yes, even for those of us that are more on the introverted side of the spectrum. It’s important to be a bit of a yes man/woman your first month in an international setting. People tend to be friendly and inclusive, but are especially so during the first month of school. You may be tempted to stay behind and prep, but making an effort the first month goes a long way to having strong social supports during your stay abroad. You will also likely have a network outside of your school setting eventually, but having people that understand your struggle can be invaluable.

Learn more at Teach All Over the World

Contributing Writer: S. Peiffer