You are running from something.
This is perhaps overall general life advice but you cannot run from yourself. You cannot run from your experiences. You cannot run from your problems. You cannot run from your past. You cannot. Moving to a new country doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a new person. Your life doesn’t become suddenly new. It is the same you, the same past, the same problems in a new country. The teachers I have met who moved to run from something are still running. Their experiences abroad have been difficult. They have had big breakdowns with none of the people who know and love them around. Be careful if you want to move abroad to get away from something.
You are running to something.
This one might sound strange but I have met so many young teachers who moved internationally to find the partner of their dreams. Perhaps moving for love could be a factor but it shouldn’t be the only factor. Also, dating a new country probably won’t go the same way as dating in your home country. Different cultures have different unwritten rules and expectations for dating. In Poland guys never speak to you at bars. They will not approach you. This can be alarming for some people who moved here to find the partner of their dreams. I’ve talked to a lot of teachers and a lot of young women especially list this as a top reason for moving internationally. Do you date a lot in your home country? Do you put yourself out there? How do you handle rejection and dating in your home country? I wouldn’t say this should be a very high priority on your list. Of course, date while teaching internationally but don’t go international just to date. Ya, feel me?
You’re not independent and don’t like to be alone.
Let’s be real. There is a lot of alone time when you teach internationally. You have to be independent and able to stand on your own two feet. You have to be able to land in a new country and set up a life for yourself all by yourself. Despite having friends you sort of are all alone. Can you problem solve all by yourself? Are you ok being alone? I don’t necessarily mean lonely but alone. I think those are two different things.
You have never spent a holiday away from your family or you have never lived far from home.
Ok, hear me out on this one. Holidays are a big deal for many many people. Traditions live around holidays. Ask yourself if you will be ok not being home for Thanksgiving. What about Christmas? Can you handle your birthday all on your own? Is it ok if you can’t make a family member’s funeral? Wedding? It stinks missing out on lots of family time. But I knew I could handle it. I already skipped Thanksgivings and Easters. I already celebrated my birthday far away from home and I survived. Some people need to be close to family. A very good friend of mine in college explained that some people had wings but she had roots. Having roots isn’t a bad thing. But are you going to be really upset Facetiming your family on Thanksgiving? They’re all together hanging out. Eating pumpkin pie and watching parades. You’re alone and can’t even make your own pumpkin pie because you can’t find the ingredients. Is that ok to you? I do still celebrate Thanksgiving with a lot of fellow American teachers but I’ll be honest, it is not the same as hanging out at home. Not at all. Can you build new traditions around the holidays and be ok with leaving old traditions behind?
You are in a serious relationship and your partner isn’t joining you.
I don’t mean that you’re married and your partner is coming with you. I mean that you have a partner that you’re leaving behind and going to try to make it work long distance. How strong are your feelings for this person? Is it hard to go a few days without seeing them? Can your relationship handle this? Do you trust them? This might sound silly but consider your relationship with your pets too. I left behind a family dog whom I love with all of my heart but who is also 15 years old. I can’t tell you how hard I cried hugging him goodbye at Christmas knowing that he might not be around the next time I return to the US. Can the relationships you’re leaving behind handle the distance?
You just suffered some sort of trauma in your life.
This isn’t Under the Tuscan Sun. You aren’t going to hit a rough patch in your life, move abroad, buy a tuscan villa and fall in love with life. That is Hollywood and we live in the real world. Your life isn’t Eat, Pray, Love. Wandering around the world after enduring a trauma is very traumatic. Going back to the alone piece, you won’t have your support system with you. The people who listen and dry your tears won’t be in your timezone. You also won’t have the supports of the doctor’s and therapists you’re familiar with. The people I’ve seen struggle the most teaching internationally are the people who have suffered a trauma and moved abroad to teach.
You have no savings.
It is expensive to move especially if your school reimburses you for all your moving expenses in the first paycheck… or if they don’t reimburse you at all. Even though you can end up saving a lot of money while teaching internationally, the start up costs can be a lot. When I first moved to Poland there were a lot of start-up costs. I was reimbursed for some of them but I did have to put a lot of money into my move. Think: plane tickets, extra luggage, shipping, first month’s rent and security deposit, trips to IKEA, new phone plans, dinner with new friends, etc. The list could really go on and on. Moving is expensive and moving internationally can be even more expensive. Make plans so you don’t end up in a tough situation.
You are set in your ways and perhaps close-minded.
Living internationally is going to shake up your life. Like your whole life. It is going to shake you to your core. This sounds super dramatic and I don’t mean for it to be but… The majority of your beliefs are going to be tested. Can you handle trying to look at things through a new perspective? What happens when your core beliefs are challenged? How do you handle people doing things differently than you’re used to? I once witnessed a serious breakdown because someone felt the McDonald’s cheeseburger in Poland had pepper. I’m not kidding. If you value your McDonald’s a certain way… rethink things. In all seriousness, you need to be able to handle being the outsider and having people not understand your values in the least.
You don’t want to start over.
Sometimes I just crave my classroom with all of my things that I have in storage in the US. Starting over is hard. I worked long and hard and spent so much money to build up an amazing collection of books. Now I have none of them… although, I have spent a ridiculous money on books since I’ve been in Poland. Starting over is hard and it isn’t for everyone.