One of the happiest and best time of my life was when I move to Taiwan to teach English. It was the most nerve-wracking, scariest and craziest thing I ever did. In other words, it was FREAKING amazing.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I woke up one morning to my best friend calling me and telling me about the job in Taiwan. So, I did what any normal person would do. Agreed without giving it much thought. The next thing I know, I was calling my parents on the phone. I called and informed them I made a decision that they will not be very happy with.
The thing is, I was making the decision based on my anxiety about my future. I had graduated with my undergrad and I was contemplating what I would do with my life. The opportunity presented itself for me to go to Taiwan. My heart jumped with gladness and I said yes.
And the rest is history people. So how did I do it? How did I qualify to teach English in another country?
A Little About Me.
First, I want to start off by saying Asia is my passion. Well, specifically Taiwan. I fell in love with Taiwan at the tender age of 15. My friend from China saw me reading a Manga. And after she got over her initial surprise at my knowledge of Asia. She introduced me to Asian dramas.
By the way, mangas are Asian comic books.
In fact, my first drama was base on my favorite manga called MARS. And yes, it took place in Taiwan. That’s when the love affair started. Our love was so strong that I decided to go to college and get a bachelor degree in Asian studies.
My plan was to study and become a sociologist or linguist specializing in Chinese. But, I discovered that there was not enough passion in the world to get me to write a thesis. So, I did the next best thing and went to teach and learn Chinese in Taiwan.
It was not easy but I have to say that nothing in life worth doing is ever easy. My motto is if I can do it you can too. And I am going to teach you how.
First thing first, you need to get a college degree
If Asia is your continent of choice like me. You will need a college degree. I got my undergrad in Asian studies. But you can get your undergrad in anything. DISCLAIMER: I have never been to another continent to teach. Thus I am not sure what the REQUIREMENT for teaching in another continent.
But, I know Asia and they value education so you will need to prove yourself. Especially if you are coming from America. So be ready to put in the hard work in college.
Find a program that offers the certificate,
While you’re finishing your undergrad. I recommend you enroll in a certificate program. The certificate program will help you become a certified English as a second language teacher. There are two different certificates that I know off, the TESOL and TEFL. Just pick one. Most people only do the TESOL because it has the shortest time frame out of the two.
The course is not hard so you will be able to do it. But I warn you it is time-consuming. I did my certificate with my University because they offered it. So check your foreign language department to see if they offer the certificate course. You never know, they might.
Find and join a job board.
There are many job board out there for expats. A lot of them are for the continent of Asia. So, be ready to browse through and find the right one. But, be careful because not all job boards are the same. Make sure the one you are using have a lot of reviews and testimonial. Check out how long they have been around. Don’t forget to check out the company before you trust them.
FYI, Some certificate courses offer job placement. My course offered it and my friends did a course that did the same. So between the two of us, we had prospective lined up.
Find the right job
Finding the right job can be a little difficult. So be ready to practice that patience skill. But most importantly, read the reviews about the places. The best place to find good reviews are online expat communities on Facebook.
They are people who are just like you. People looking for the right job. Chances are someone in the areas of your choice had already worked in that specific school. So don’t be afraid to connect with them.
One of the gifts I have been given is that I have a natural inquisitive nature. In other words I’m curious as hell. Naturally I am not afraid to ask questions. I guess that’s the reason I’m so good at being a social worker.
When you find a job offer ask questions. Because your safety and wellbeing is your top priority. Don’t let people take advantage of you.
Make sure your questions involve Visa information. Don’t forget to ask about your pay. When you will get paid. Remember to ask about vacations. Don’t forget things you take for granted here in the states are not always guaranteed overseas
Join expat Facebook group.
Here’s a little secret about living overseas. You don’t always know what to do. So let the Facebook group be your tour guides. Find a Facebook group for your area and join them.
The expat community is awesome. They are amazing people who are living in the same place as you. No matter where they are from you are all in the same boat. And for the time you are overseas these people will be your friends.
Just be careful not everyone is amazing. But don’t worry you will soon notice who the weirdoes are. Another great thing about expat groups is that they share information. Such as job openings and apartments. In Taiwan, I had to find my own place and expat group boards were a great help.
The elephant in the room
If you are not of African descent or black skip this part. But if you are and or even Hispanic keep reading. Here’s my experience. I can’t speak for other Asian countries. But Taiwan is awesome. They did however have prejudice in the form of colorism.
The native Taiwanese people are a shade darker then the Chinese people. So they have a little bit of a colorism problem. But that doesn’t really effect you. You have to remember they haven’t really had time to interact with people of different color. So they are ignorant at best.
This is just my experience in Taiwan. But I have heard horror stories about china, Korea, and Japan. However, Taiwan is not exempt. I knew of a girl who was told she was too dark and was handed bleaching crème to help her. The problem was she was of mixed culture, her mother I believe was of African descent and her father European. Yes it was bad, she had to leave that job because of it.
However, those circumstances are kind of rare. But the thing is, just like within the US, the colonial mindset is strong and the idea of beauty around the world is what Hitler referred to as “perfection”, blond hair and blue eyes. So just be aware.
Lastly, have an open mind.
As it turns out Americans are not experts, on anything. Well, maybe somethings. Although I consider myself to be Haitian. I am very much aware that I have an American passport and was raised in America. That means, nothing absolutely nothing. I am not better than the people I live among.
That is why you need to be humble. Don’t be surprise if people talk trash about America. Of course your patriotic and I am too, but don’t take offense. Remember patriotism doesn’t mean you have to be ignorant to your countries faults.
And the last tip of the day is this, people are different. Not just people but cultures are different. When you move overseas everything is going to be different. The food, the people, the culture, music and so much more. But, just enjoy it and keep an open mind.
Eat, laugh, and enjoy the culture of where you are living. Embrace the things you like and don’t judge what you don’t understand. This way you will be able to Embrace yourself and Live Freely.
That’s it, folks. For more information and more in-depth knowledge and a guide to teaching English Abroad. Go ahead and sign up for my upcoming In-Depth guide. You’ll be glad you did.