Sometimes there are situations in life that seem bad on a superficial level, but they end up changing your life for the better.
That’s just how the universe works, friends.
Looking back in retrospect, we’ll often see that the universe gave us great reasons why these certain unfortunate events had to happen.
It was nudging us in the right direction with signals or even stepping stones to better, greater things.
Now, if you’re reading this, you’re either already teaching (well, I presume) or have some sort of interest in it. For those that make up the latter group, this post is mainly to help you search your soul and decide whether or not to start. For those in the former group, you can see if you’re ready to jump abroad. If you’re already teaching abroad, maybe you’ll find comfort in the value of the decision you made to travel the world.
So, I present to you all, the List.
This list represents a list of 20 somewhat unfortunate situations that one may come across in life that are clear signs from The Universe that, man, you should probably go off and teach English abroad to kids, adults, native French speakers, animals, whoever wants to learn!
Along with the list comes some reasoning that explains why each point is a profound sign. The Universe never quite explains why it does what it does, but I’ll help with the explaining.
Just know that if anything on this list applies to you, you there’s a really good chance that you should pack your bags, leave home and go teach English abroad—even if only for a little while. Anyone can benefit from the experience!
20 Signs from the Universe That Mean You’re Destined to Teach English Abroad
1. You Live with Your Parents
Why? If you’re living with your parents, then you more than likely have thought about leaving their place to taste the decadent fruit that is freedom. You may even be dying for it. Teaching abroad is an automatic ticket out of your mom’s house and into a new environment with new experiences, more liberty and no more constant surveillance. The thought alone is paradisaical.
Teaching abroad provides a structured and professional way for you to leave home and get a bit of independence. You’re bound to learn a lot about yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses in the process.
2. Your Resume/C.V. Ain’t Pretty
Why? If your resume or C.V. is looking sparse, then you’re already behind the competition in this day and age. Teaching English abroad not only builds your resume, gives you a unique experience and makes you appear more accomplished, but having some foreign work experience is unanimously looked at as an impressive. HR, look at me now.
3. You Feel Uncultured at Times
Why? As the world is getting more cultured and foreign words like “Krav Maga” and “Açai” are more commonplace, it seems that it’s getting harder to catch up. The feeling of not being very worldly or cultured could set in. Perhaps you feel as plain as a bread sandwich sometimes.
Never to fear, teaching English abroad immerses you in another culture and helps develop your knowledge and appreciation for the world around you. You’ll learn new words in a foreign language, and gain perspective on how other people live.
4. Your Job Is Pretty Much a Dead-end Job
Why? This one’s a given, but I’ll explain anyway. Yeah, you might be the assistant to the regional manager, but if you know that growth and advancement is not really within reach, you just need to realize that you deserve better and go ahead and try something new.
Teaching abroad may not be your calling, but at least it could be something that expands your horizons and gets you out of that dump you’re working at. You’ll get some fresh air and time to plan your next moves. Who knows, you may love it so much that it may become your new calling.
5. You’ve Lived Where You’re Currently Living for More Than 10 Years
Why? If you’ve lived somewhere for more than 10 years (especially as an adult) some change might do you good. If you’re not already burned out, then you’re probably overdue. The feeling of boredom or complacency may hit soon.
Teaching abroad in new lands could be a refreshing change that could make you not only appreciate new places more but also appreciate home more too.
6. You’re Free—No Big Commitments
Why? More like “why not?” If you have no debt, no spouse, no children, no mortgage, you’re in a rare and special situation. But you don’t need the full freedom monty to make your move. If you and your spouse together aren’t that tied down to grown-up world responsibilities, take advantage!
Did you ever hear the envious comments from older or more bogged-down people who say how much they’d love to have opportunities to do what they want, travel the world and learn languages—but can’t since they have a wife, kids and monthly payments to stay on top of? If you’re free, now’s the best time to go teach English abroad since you can travel, get paid and not deal with any drama that adulthood brings.
7. Every Day Is the Same
Why? If you’re living the same day over and over again like you’re Bill Murray in that one movie, then you need a change and a change is gonna come when you decide to snag an ESL job in a foreign country. Most of the time, teaching English abroad is so dynamic and so out of your usual routine that it won’t ever feel as monotonous as your daily life would.
8. You Just Graduated and the Job Market Where You Are Sucks
Why? Well, I’ll admit, this one is what made me go out and teach abroad back in ’09. And it’s simple math. Bad market = no money and no money = life sucks. But with the ever-growing demand for teachers on all corners of the world you’ll never come across a crisis.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at these sites:
- Premier TEFL has an ongoing array of paid internships, scholarships and jobs that you can apply for following their courses (both online and on-site), which can be completed in as little as 120 hours. Opportunities include placement in Asia, South America and Europe.
- myTEFL offers an online course that can be followed up with internship placement in China, Thailand, Africa or Argentina. They also offer teaching packages that include accommodations, airfare reimbursement and extra support.
- Teach English Abroad has a jobs board full of teaching opportunities all over the planet and they offer a variety of course options to fit your needs, including a “taster” course that lasts only two days.
The takeaway here is that organizations and schools are willing to work with you. You’re in demand.
Plus, after your stint teaching abroad you could always come back home when the economy is better—or when you’ve got more professional experience to flaunt.
9. Your Brother/Sister Is More Successful Than You
Why? Sibling rivalry is centuries old and can be quite stressful when you’re the losing sibling. But when you hop on a plane and jet-set off into the sunset, you may not fully gain that edge over them but you’ll definitely pose some competition.
Just imagine it: You’re off in an exotic land, being a teacher and changing lives. Perhaps your brother/sister is successful (at home) but at least you’re traveling, getting money and living the life.
10. You Don’t Feel Appreciated at Work
Why? The number one factor in job satisfaction is feeling appreciated at work, and if you don’t feel appreciation at all then it’s a clear cut sign to go. Teaching English abroad is quite the satisfying job since students appreciate their teachers so much in other countries and staff at schools are grateful for native teachers as well. Hard to find that at home.
Sure, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows abroad, you may still have difficult coworkers and stressful work days, but at least when work hours are over you can go kick it in a beautiful, foreign location. And if one ESL job really isn’t working out, there’s always a way to find another.
11. Your Passport Doesn’t Have Many Stamps in It
Why? If your passport has many empty pages missing stamps, or if you don’t have a passport at all—gasp!—then it’s the universe’s way of telling you to get out there. Most schools offer much more vacation time than your home country’s school might, or you could sign yourself up for shorter teaching contracts.
If you’re from America, you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to travel and hop borders pretty much anywhere else in the world. Many countries are located near other foreign countries that you could easily visit to collect stamps as well as timeless memories!
12. You Can Admit That Your Comfort Zone Is Small
Why? The writer Neil Strauss said it best. “Great things never came from comfort zones.” And that’s real talk. If you can admit that your comfort zone isn’t as big as you’d like it to be, then travel is the best step to take to help expand it.
Becoming an ESL teacher will help expand your comfort zone because you’re in a new place, with new cultures, new ways of teaching and new ways of living, but it isn’t too daunting since you’re getting paid and are (usually) around other teachers who’ve been what you’re going through. Exploring outside your comfort zone will seem more like a Dora the Explorer experience and less like a massive Ferdinand Magellan endeavor.
13. The Weather Where You Are Sucks
Why? This one is a big one for many people, especially from England, Canada and the northern United States. They’re fed up with bitterly cold autumns and winters, plus summers that are far too short. Their mood is affected, their happiness unfulfilled and they miss the rays of sunlight dancing on their skin.
The good thing about teaching English abroad is that most places tend to be in generally warm areas like Southeast Asia, Central America and other sunnier places scattered across the globe. This is reason enough for most people to leave home and teach English. No more jackets and Wellington boots.
Escape to Thailand, for example, through SEE TEFL, which offers courses and paid internships in the country. You can choose between four weeks of training to prepare you for finding your own teaching opportunities or the relaxed, short commitment of a 4-5 month internship with two weeks training.
14. You Need to Save up Some Money
Why? I often hear “I can’t go teach abroad, I need to save some money!” but what most people who tell me that don’t understand is that you can save up money while you teach abroad. Depending on where you go—for example, the Middle East, parts of Latin America and China—the salary for a teacher is quite high compared to the relatively low cost of living and you’re living like a king/queen.
Some places offer a salary good enough that after all your usual expenses and student loan payments you can wire home around $1,000 a month to save, depending on how much you’re spending monthly. All of a sudden, teaching English abroad is $peaking your £anguage.
15. You Don’t Feel Unique
Why? If you’ve lived in the same place all your life, grew up with the same people and kind of feel ordinary then teaching English abroad can cure all that. You’re no longer just a regular local but you’re more unique when you get back home since you went off for some time to teach in some far off land and have stories to tell and a certain “je ne sais quoi” vibe that the regular people in your town don’t have.
Not to mention, you’re already unique in most countries the second you step off the airplane. Teaching English abroad changes you and makes you more unique, which feels good!
16. Your Resume/C.V. Shows That You’re a Total Townie
Why? If your resume shows only one job in one town, you might want to shake things up. Maybe 20 years ago this would’ve been fine, but it’s 2015 and times are changing, baby! While more opportunities for different types of jobs are popping up, competition is fierce and if your CV just shows that your working life has revolved around a small radius, then it’s time to change that.
Otherwise someone less qualified but with a more international-looking resume might take the job that you’re dreaming of. Fortunately, getting out and about to teach you native tongue can dazzle your future employers, showing the people in HR that you understand work around the world and not just at home, you’re flexible, you’re adventurous and you can stand on your own two feet.
17. You’ve Never Been with Anyone Outside of Your Country
Why? If you’ve only gotten with someone from your country and have yet to experience being with someone from another country, then that may be the equivalent of only eating your country’s food all your life. Yeah it may be good, but you don’t know what you’re missing.
Living and working abroad can open you up to a new country which means new girls/guys! So in case you’ve always wondered what Thai girls are like or pondered how Argentinian guys compare to the ones at home, your time as an educator can make that wondering become reality. It not only makes you a novelty in the country but also expands your horizons which can help your love life down the road too!
18. Your Cost of Living to Income Ratio Is a Bit Off
Why? If you’re a native English speaker, chances are that your country of origin is expensive. And expensive countries usually mean high costs of living. When this is balanced out with how much you may be earning and how much you may owe in student loans, chances are you’re feeling more than a bit of financial woe. You might be in this financial woe at home with your rent, bills, gas and so on.
But like I said in #14, when teaching abroad, the cost of living to expense ratio for teachers in most countries is so much better that the quality of life increases dramatically. Imagine eating out every night, treating yourself and not stressing when you open your wallet. It could totally be within budget….
19. You Feel That You Need to Get Away from It All
Why? Related to #5, if you’re not burned out from home yet, it may come. And when it comes, you feel that you need a release. You need to escape the people back at home, the nonsense, the way things are becoming, the way children there are growing up and the list goes on.
Living somewhere far away can be that release. It can help you get away from the cloud in your mind that seems to have permanently developed. It can be your sweet escape. There’s a tipping point everyone has when they need to just get away from it all, and if you’ve reached it, well… now you know what to do.
20. You’ve Always Wanted a Job with Power
Why? If you’ve dreamed of being in control at work instead of following the boss’s direct orders, then look no further than the role of the mighty ESL teacher. Yeah, you may have to follow a curriculum. Yeah, you might have to help students meet certain goals. And, yeah, you might have a head teacher or principal to answer to. But aside from that, you’ll have control over the classroom. You’ll be the leader, the authority figure and the role model for your students, the same way your teachers in grade school were for you.
You have the power to teach as you’d like and set up the class as you’d like. Depending on the country, you’ll automatically receive power, respect and reverence just by virtue of being the teacher—something that may not ever happen at home. A little power feels good and having it helps you form your self-image, develops your leadership skills and makes you feel important. Just don’t let it go to your head.
If you’ve scanned this list and a few things apply to you (especially #1, #6 and #14 for starters) then this is the universe’s way of saying “Godspeed.”
Get up. Get out. Make a change.
After all, change is good, especially if #7 and #19 apply to you.
And teaching English abroad may be the very change you need.
The list has spoken.
The universe has answered.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.