| | Re: Reasons for teaching abroad
I think I decided to go abroad to teach for 2 reasons. Firstly I wanted to go travelling and have an adventure. I'd done adventure holidays to many cool places but I wanted to live somewhere, experience the life, culture etc of somewhere diifferent. I was enjoying my 20's in ENgland but it was time for something different. Secondly, I really loved Mexico. I'd done one of those adventure tours and seen the beaches, rainforests and mountains, eaten the food, heard the music, met the people and fallen in love with it all. I didn't have the guts and wing it, didn;t have the money to do volunteering, so discovered teaching was an option (never really considered teaching ESL as a profession, just a way to see the world). Here I am 8 years later, teaching ESL in Canada as my "career". I came to Canada because after marrying and having a child I decided I needed more money, stability and safety.
I found in Mexico that it took a long, long time for culture shock to hit. I loved the differences between there and England. Things I remember were the "vague" invitations. "Let's go out tomorrow" students would say. "We'll come and get you around 4 o clock". Either they'd come at 6 or not at all. I learned that people don't always mean what they say. They don't lie but messages are more indirect and you shouldn't always take them at face value. I had problems with greeting with a kiss. I never remember who you were supposed to kiss and when and where so I ended up kissing my future sister-in-law on the lips! I think I had more culture shock when I moved to Canada which was surprising because obviously there wasn't the language barrier. I felt more affinity to Europeans in Canada than other ENglish speakers. Obviously moving from a nice hot climate to freezing rain and blowing snow didn't help!! I have since done a course in Multicultural counselling and learned all about direct/indirect communication, Hofstede’s Four Cultural Dimensions, collectivism and all that stuff. I love all our cultural differences. It's what makes the world interesting! And of course, as ESL teachers it's something we need to be aware of and sometimes teach about. OK, sorry to waffle!!