When the thought of first going abroad enters many teachers’ minds, it is usually followed by a long list of questions…
What country should I go to?
What will the school and curriculum be like?
What will the students be like?
Will I have a good work/life balance?
What are my travel and cultural opportunities?
Are the pay and benefits good?
How will I get a visa?
Am I even ready to move across the world?
…and these are just to start!
One of the best ways to decide if teaching abroad is right for you is to hear from experienced expat teachers who have either taught abroad before, or are doing it right now. They each had a unique life experience, and their own set of questions to answer, before making their decision and can help to answer your questions too.
Experienced expat teachers at BASIS International Schools have a wide variety of valuable insights and genuine advice to share about their decision to go abroad. What is their best advice?
Be Open to New Adventures
“Relocating to a foreign country is a big move; it’s not easy, can at times be scary, and things are definitely different from back home. However, if you are open to trying new things, are interested in learning about a different culture, expanding your career, and are seeking the adventure of a lifetime, then this is the place for you.”
– Dr. Richard Vigilante, Math teacher, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour
“Do it, you won’t regret it! I would advise teachers looking to move abroad to do some research ahead of time and speak to other teachers currently living in the country or city you’re considering. And if you do actually make the move, make the most of it by trying new foods, meeting new people, traveling, and immersing yourself in a new culture!”
– Cassie Sheppard, Early Years teacher, BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen
“The hardest part is buying the plane ticket. Living abroad often ends up being a lot more ‘normal’ than people expect.”
– Jennifer Meade, Head of Early Years, BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen
“If you are a certified teacher from an English speaking country, the whole world is looking to hire you. Great educators are lifelong learners. Teaching internationally will teach you so much about people, the world, the cultures of both your host and home countries, and–perhaps surprisingly–about yourself. It is an easily-accessible gateway to a life of adventure.”
– Andrew Arvesen, English teacher, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour
“Go to a place where you feel valued, and seek out leadership that you are going to like working alongside. Teaching is a passion that flourishes when you love what you do. I have been lucky to be a part of several incredible campuses in my career, and the things I continue to cherish are the students I taught, and the people I worked with. Teaching is about students and parents and the people with whom you work, not the content in a book–make sure you like those people wherever you go…you’re going to spend a lot of time with them!”
– Jamie Davis, Vice Head of School, BASIS International School Nanjing
“BASIS is a really special school system. We have loved working for this company–in their charter schools in the U.S.A. and in their international schools. But there are many different approaches to education, and different schools have different strategies and ideologies. I would highly recommend joining the BASIS Curriculum Schools network abroad or at home in the United States if you enjoy teaching an advanced curriculum at a fast pace. BASIS isn’t going to be the ‘easiest’ place to work, especially if you are moving abroad, there will be many challenges, but these challenges are worth it.
We can tell you from experience, if you move across the globe to teach you will have things that you miss and there will be uncomfortable moments. But the pros far outweigh the cons.”
– Elizabeth & Joseph Lotus, Economics teacher and Biology teacher, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour
“I would tell them if they even have a slight thought about teaching abroad, they should try it as we all only live once. No matter if you are married, single, with children, you should take the leap and see what life has to offer. I would recommend to start by talking to someone that has already done or is doing it. Then do your research about international teaching, the pros and cons. Finally, reach out to some schools and see if it is a good fit, then apply. There are no guarantees in life, but I can tell you and I quote from the Motorcycle Diaries, ‘Let the world change you, and you will change the world.'”
– Dr. Kevin Jaramillo, Head of Middle School, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour
“We’ve worked for a number of different schools in our time abroad. What attracted me to BASIS International Schools was their focus on academic rigor. But BASIS International Schools also offers the opportunity to work with a community of really great teachers, who support and learn from each other. And being based in the U.S., BASIS International Schools is conscientious about U.S. expats in China and makes issues like moving to China, transferring pay, and U.S.-based health care much easier than at other schools.”
– Andrew Arvesen, English teacher, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour
And Above All…Just Do It!
“Do it! But know it’s not always easy. Some days are easier than others. It’s important to have a good support system–back home and in your new home.”
– Amber Scullion, Elementary Humanities teacher, BASIS International School Nanjing
“I’m glad I took a risk and came over and tried teaching in China for a year. I loved living in China so much that I gave up a fully tenured teaching position in the state of Florida to work in China. That was eight years ago. This experience has taught me that I’m a lot stronger than I initially thought.”
– Danielle Arvesen, English teacher, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour
“Don’t be scared. It truly is worth it. There is no end to the rewards you’ll reap by taking this step in your life and career.”
– Thandiela Goldman, Elementary Humanities teacher, BASIS International School Hangzhou
“My advice to you if you were thinking about moving abroad would be to be bold! There are things you’ll love and things you don’t; just like at home but taking that step to be brave and give something new a try is commendable. Living among a completely different culture is one of the most incredible honours I’ve ever had. Working with such talented and creative young minds is worth every butterfly. Do your research, ignore people who want to give you their ‘opinion.’ Enjoy the opportunities life puts in your path. It is completely possible, people move abroad and do it with children too. BASIS International Schools holds your hand the entire way so you’re not actually doing it alone.”
– Bethany Mason, Drama teacher, BASIS International School Nanjing
“I would say stop considering and give it a try, you will never regret it! This is an amazing experience and you never know where it will take you. I was terrified the first time I left my country and kept telling myself, it is just for a couple of years and I’ll come back. Now, China is country number seven that I’ve been working in, and I am still not ready to go back to Spain. Teaching abroad is the best decision I’ve ever made.”
– Alejandro Cuetos, Early Years teacher, BASIS International School Shenzhen
“My advice for any other teachers and/or school leaders is to give yourself the gift of change. Teaching abroad is a very positive change for those who are willing come out of their comfort zone allow themselves to grow professionally and personally. It is truly a worthwhile experience and I encourage anyone who is looking for a new adventure or chapter to consider teaching abroad. You will not regret it.”
– Davita Eanes, ELL Coordinator, BASIS International School Hangzhou
“The opportunity to live and teach abroad will give you exposure to alternative models of education. This is essential if you are looking to follow a career in education and create solutions in curriculum, instruction, and leadership.
If you are looking to find yourself, you will have the opportunity to travel and explore the world around you.”
– Evelyn Larue, Art teacher, BASIS International School Shenzhen
“Teaching abroad has been a life changing experience for me, so to anyone who is considering taking the leap…do it! Not only have I had the privilege of working with some of the most inspirational educators, I have also made many lifelong friends from all over the world. Teaching abroad can be daunting and there are always times when you miss your friends and family from your home country, but it is most definitely worth it. I have learnt so much from working in bilingual schools and from teaching children with English as a second or third language, and these are skills that have most definitely improved and adapted my teaching.”
– Gina Winthrop, Early Education teacher, BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen
Ready to explore taking your career abroad? Visit the BASIS International Schools careers website for more information and to see what opportunities are available for you.