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4 Reasons Why I Don’t Regret Leaving The US To Teach Abroad

4 Reasons Why I Don't Regret Leaving The US To Teach Abroad

It’s difficult to believe that I have been teaching abroad close to two years as I write this. It was something that was always on my radar-at one time, I thought that it would become my full-time career.

Although I know that that’s no longer the case, I will never regret leaving the United States to teach English abroad for as long as I have. Here’s why. 

Related: What It Is Really Like to Teach English Abroad

Why I Don’t Regret Leaving The US To Teach Abroad

It Gave Me Confidence

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that it is no secret that I grew up with minimal self-confidence and low self-esteem. When they heard of my decision to leave the United States and teach English for a year, I was asked a lot of questions. I often asked myself what I was thinking. After all, I was going to a country that I had never been to, where I knew absolutely no one, and I didn’t speak the language.

I won’t lie and tell you that it was easy; there was more than one instance where I contemplated going back to the United States. However, in retrospect, leaving the United States and living in a country that I had no previous exposure to and fulfilling my contractual obligations has given me a lot of self-confidence.

For someone who grew up struggling with self-esteem, that self-confidence is worth more than any amount of money I managed to save abroad. I have proven to myself that I am able to function and earn a living in another city, and that I am someone who honors commitments. While these things may not seem like a big deal to some, recalling the difficulties of the overall experience has made me aware of the gravity of what I have done, and is a large part of the reason why I don’t regret leaving the United States to live abroad for as long as I have.

I  Am Learning A Lot About Who I Am As A Person 

Any experience can teach you a lot about who you are as a person, and I am still learning what kind of person I am. I firmly believe that living abroad, more than almost any other experience, can teach you a lot about who you are as a person. While I don’t deny that I have learned a lot about the particular tendencies I have and my personal qualities, perhaps the most valuable information I have learned (and am still learning) is how I am perceived by others.

I have learned about the sorts of communication habits I have, and how to adapt to different cultures. I am also learning about the parts of myself that I dislike, where there is room for growth and improvement. I am now much more aware of my strengths, and my weaknesses, which become much more apparent when you are living in an environment where you have to learn to rely on yourself in order to survive.

While there are plenty of different ways that you can learn about who you are as a person, teaching abroad has taught me a lot about how I can improve, how to communicate effectively, and what my strengths are. Had I stayed in the United States, I know that I would never have gained this knowledge, which is another reason why I consider the time I have spent living abroad a worthwhile investment.

Related: 5 Things You Might Not Know About Working Abroad

It Showed Me What I Want and Didn’t Want in A Job

I feel a bit like a broken record, but, teaching abroad has showed me what I want and don’t want in a job. Like the thousands of twenty-somethings around me, a lot of my career has been trial and error. Each job has allowed me to learn a lot about the sorts of environments that I like, what matters to me in a job, and what I am willing to overlook.

Having this knowledge and reflecting on my past experiences has given me a clearer picture of what I want and don’t want in a job. While it’s impossible to find an absolutely perfect job that ticks all of your boxes, knowing what you are and are not willing to compromise on is enormously helpful when deciding your next move in your career.

While I am unsure about what my next move is, I know that the knowledge I have gained in the positions I have worked while I’ve lived abroad has yielded invaluable knowledge that I can use to help me guide my next choices.

Related: 3 Things To Consider When You’re Trying To Find A Teaching Job Abroad

It Has Turned Me Onto Other Interests 

Working and interacting with people from around the world has allowed me to be exposed to various perspectives and changed my overall impression of East Asia. More importantly, working abroad has allowed me to interact with people from various socioeconomic backgrounds who have dynamic and interesting careers.

Learning from and interacting with people has allowed me to become interested in other things. For instance, although I wasn’t initially interested in politics, living abroad has piqued my interest in those issues, partially because of the different perspectives and issues that others have brought to my attention. Living abroad has broadened my horizons in ways that I couldn’t have initially imagined possible, which is why I don’t regret leaving.

Living abroad isn’t for everyone, and everyone who does go abroad leaves their homes with different expectations and goals. Everyone’s experience is different. I can only speak for myself, but despite its challenges, living abroad has forced me to grow in ways that were at times uncomfortable, but I know will make me a better person in the long run.

About the Author

Alisa Tanaka

Alisa Tanaka graduated with a Communications degree from Lewis & Clark College in 2012. She hopes to develop a career that allows her to make a measurable impact on the world while doing something that she loves. Her interests include psychology, linguistics, and mental health. She can also be found reading, watching documentaries, and writing her blog.