Monday, September 2, 2013


Why I tell my students to go abroad

This post is for the RTT Teach Abroad Blog Carnival (yes I admit it, I am being a blog carnival junkie).

I just had a student approach me and ask if I thought she should take a break from school for the chance to au-pair in England. I immediately (choking on my coffee it was so fast) said yes. She laughed and asked how I could say that when she knew I was considering going home.

I have been, for the last 10 years of my life, living abroad more than at home. Living in Mexico for the last 2 years has been the longest I've been in one place for a while.
Why would I possibly give up my lifestyle of jumping from place to place?

1. I was talking to a friend the other day who mentioned, "getting out of" a family event. Without thinking I responded, "why would you want to do that?" First off, my family is pretty awesome. More importantly, being abroad has strengthened the ties I have with them because we have really had to work to keep in contact. I don't take them for granted, and I know just how important every minute I have with them is.

2. I have made truly amazing friends in the past ten years each of them being from different countries, speaking different languages and teaching me different things. I love doing what I do because of the way I get to interact with so many people. However, I don't like the revolving door of friends. I hate the friends who become like family only to suddenly have them living on the other side of the planet. Yes, I'll always have Facebook and skype, but it isn't the same. So, while living abroad has made me more adaptable I'd like to have a life where I don't say goodbye every two years.

3. In the same way, I feel that I really know who my friends are back in California. They are the ones who always make an effort to get in touch with me when I am in town. The ones who deal with my irregular Skype dates. The ones who whenever I do get a chance to see them it feels like we never skipped a beat, and I want to go back to that with them.

4. I have experiences what it is like to be in a country where I speak none of the language and have to learn from point A. I have shown up in a public place armed only with the words: green, blue, yellow, red, left, right, hand, foot and a twister mat with the intent of making friends.  I have lost my fear of ordering in restaurants. I have become amazing at charades and taboos. Basically, I know what it feels like to learn a language when you started from nothing, and I have the confidence to tell my students, "If I can do it you can too."

5. I have grown so much in the last 10 years as a teacher. I went from someone who knew some games and how to get a student's attention to a teacher who knows millions of games (and why they work) in addition to the best ways to keep every student's attention. Am I perfect? No! I am far from it, and I'd like to go back to San Diego and complete a credential program in Education so that in addition to the Masters from Spain, CELTA from The Netherlands and other random certifications via webinars I learn more and become an even more capable teacher.

So why am I considering giving up a nomads life to return home? Because living abroad has given me so much, I am not sure I can take anymore :)

In short, I tell my students to study abroad because they will become adaptable. They will be able to see things in a different light. They will make friends they will treasure forever and most importantly they will grow.

I am pretty sure that this student will enjoy her time abroad. I know I do!

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