TEFL Preparation for Teaching Abroad

The biggest aspects of relocating to a distant spot on the globe are coping with any feelings of homesickness and, in turn, adapting to an unfamiliar environment.

Overcoming Homesickness

One of the main reasons many do not dare to venture from their homelands is, of course, the fear of missing out on important events and life developments of friends and family back home. The very human fear of the unknown is hardwired into each of our brains and has historically served an important function in maintaining social cohesion throughout humanity’s evolution. As such, it’s not an emotion that can be removed, but one that can be managed.

Modern technology has made a huge difference in the ability to communicate. The widespread availability of SIM cards, Wi-Fi networks, satellite technology and other advancements have made maintaining contact back home easier than ever before.

Also, consider bringing a few items from home that have a strong sentimental value. These can make an expatriate’s new accommodations feel warmer and more intimate, easing any potential negative feelings of homesickness.

Adapting to an Unfamiliar Environment

Many expatriates and long-term travelers find help in adapting to their new environment by making friends – both with locals and other ex-pats. Making friends with locals has obvious benefits like learning about the local culture, trying new foods and discovering which ones are the tastiest, and absorbing a bit of the language to make basic communication possible.

Making friends with other ex-pats also will help you overcome the difficulties of assimilating to the host country’s atmosphere. Obviously, others who have made the transition from the West to their new residence can best empathize with the attendant difficulties and provide the most helpful advice for neutralizing them. When relocating to an unfamiliar place, feelings of isolation are often reported, especially initially. Having a trustworthy set of Western friends can help alleviate that and build a sense of community so far from home.

Pledging to Get the Most out of the Experience

It’s important to remember that feeling a sense of loneliness or regret is temporary. When coming to a new land, that person has likely done so to gain all the wonderful advantages that the experience has to offer. Therefore, promise yourself, before the plane leaves the tarmac from your hometown, that you will be brave in the face of adversity, and that the positives of the enriching journey that lay ahead far outweigh any of the momentary negatives. With the right mentality, adapting to your new environment will prove much easier than you might expect.