Ready to be inspired? Read on for the story of Ashleigh Kate Kinder, who has concrete tips on how to create and fund your adventures abroad.
Take it away, Ashleigh!
When you’re teaching abroad, the possibilities for adventure are endless.
In two short years while living in Chile, I’ve been lucky enough to hold monkeys in the Amazon, ride a boat under one of the highest waterfalls in the world, sunbathe on the beaches of Rio, play with penguins in Patagonia, dance the tango in Buenos Aires, ski the Andes Mountains, and so much more.
Fortunately, a teacher who speaks English has an infinite number of job opportunities worldwide. The only decision to make is where to go!
Before graduating from the College of Education at Penn State in 2007, I knew I didn’t want to move home to substitute teach or find a job in the same school district for the next 30 years. I loved to travel but didn’t want the hassle of finding living arrangements or the stresses of being alone in a foreign country. So a great alternative to teaching was to be an Au Pair: a nanny.
I looked on GreatAuPair.com and found an amazing American/Greek family living in the Central European country of Luxembourg. For 11 months I took care of their 3 trilingual children, took German classes, and traveled to 20 countries.
It was sometimes hard to cover travel expenses, but since my insurance, classes, and room and board were covered, I made sure to put enough aside for train rides to Zurich or flights to Sweden. I strongly recommend this type of experience if you want a good transition into working abroad.
When my time was coming to a close there, I started researching teaching jobs in South America to improve my Spanish. I felt like I was ready to have my own classroom and put my degree to use. I used TIEonline.com, which has a huge database of schools that are hiring and teacher profiles.
Knowing that Chile is both economically stable and safe made it an easy choice to accept a job at the Antofagasta International School in the Atacama Desert.
I was hired as a Pre-Kindergarten teacher, with 16 students learning English for the first time. We had such great success together that I decided to continue with them to Kindergarten this past year.
It has been an amazing transformation watching them become bilingual, especially knowing that I’ve been their only source of learning English. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
To make it more personal, I’ve tried to integrate activities that are related to my home in New York. For example, we did Spanish/English Pen Pals with my nephew’s class, had a Thanksgiving celebration, and even won a contest from my local zoo in Syracuse to name a Chilean penguin that was recently born.
Last week I watched my Kindergarteners receive their diplomas, hoped that I’ve prepared them for First Grade and ruined my eye makeup with an embarrassing amount of crying. But now my bags are packed, it’s time to say goodbye and be on my way once again.
It’s never easy closing these life-changing chapters of your life, especially knowing that you may never see the same faces again. But the next adventure can be right around the corner and it’s all worth while.
If you’re thinking that it’s outside of your means or guts to do something like this, reconsider. Working abroad is much more economical than constant vacations and you have so much more to gain by immersing yourself in a culture. Just open your mind and a map. Good luck!
Awesome, Ashleigh! Readers, any comments, questions, or thoughts?