“We Wish We Could Do What You’re Doing”

This is what so many of our American friends say to us when we visit. To this, I can only ask, “What is holding you back?”

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.

When I first brought up the idea of teaching internationally, my wife thought I had gone nuts. We had been teaching in public middle schools in Florida for many years, so the teaching part was no issue. But why did I want to pick up and move overseas?

I wanted to see the world, but could hardly afford to drive to the next state to visit my parents. Here was our chance to teach our way around the world, getting paid to explore other cultures. Living in another country would give us a real flavor of how people lived, rather than just seeing tourist hotels and airports.

“Why don’t we wait until we’re retired?” my wife asked me.

Well, we’re fit and able now. Who knows how we will feel later?

“When we are standing by the Bund in Shanghai, admiring the lights of the skyline,” I told her, “You will not say, ‘I wish we’d waited 20 years to do this.'”

the bund in Shanghai

The Bund in Shanghai

Why Teach Abroad

Teaching abroad recreates many of the best aspects of college. Our main possessions are clothes and books, we do a lot more walking, and we are learning new things every day.

Then there are the practical reasons. Teaching overseas pays better, and the cost of living in other countries is often much less than the United States. With both of us working full time as experienced, tenured teachers in the U.S., we were barely breaking even. So the opportunity to earn more, live rent-free, and even save money was attractive. In fact, we couldn’t afford to buy our house in Florida until we moved to China.

And once we were in China, it was much cheaper and easier to travel to other countries in Asia and even Europe, than it would be from the U.S. So we’ve been to India, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Germany, France, and Scandinavia. Of course, we’ve explored all over China, as well.

Why teach abroad

Exploring Southeast Asia

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 live moving to China, transferring pay, and U.S.-based health care much easier than at other schools.

Try it. You will have an adventure beyond anything you expected. You will discover new abilities and interests that would have remained dormant and hidden at home. If you decide it’s not for you (which is entirely possible), you will never regret the time you spent finding that out. And if it is for you–then you will wonder why you waited so long.

We hope to see you soon at a BASIS International School!

the view when teaching abroad

Andrew Arvesen is a Subject Expert Teacher, 6th Grade English, at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour. Learn more about living in Park Lane Harbour here, and visit our careers site for more information about our schools and career opportunities.

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