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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 8th, 2006, 02:38 pm
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Join Date: Jan 26th, 2006
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Default Reasons for teaching abroad

I have two questions:
1. I wonder how come you left your native country and chose to teach abroad, in countries where the language and culture are so different from your own?
2. Can you recollect any instance of the so called "culture shock". when you understood that something you considered common knowledge was unheard of in your new country of residence, or when you did something you considered OK but which made people around you raise their eyebrows?

Ok, i'll go first.
1. I changed countries when I got married and then when the divorce came I already had a daughter and believed that she needed to stay in touch with her father while growing up, Anyway, Greek and Romanian people are not so different. They fought together against the Turks, they supported each other throughout history.
2. In Romania when you offer flowers as a gift you make sure that they are an odd number 1 or3 or 5 etc. Flowers in even numbers are only taken to funerals.
Here I was newly wedded, expecting guests for dinner. House clean, soufle in the oven, table nicely laid, butterflies in the stomach. The bell rings. The first guests arrive, all smiles, holding 4 beautiful red roses in the hand.
It was the first time I realised that this was a different culture.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 8th, 2006, 08:13 pm
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Default Re: Reasons for teaching abroad

cool questions!

1. I wonder how come you left your native country and chose to teach abroad, in countries where the language and culture are so different from your own?
i was studying marketing management in school and by the time i had finished my degree i was pretty sick of business. after i graduated i spent 3 weeks in europe and that made me realize i wanted to travel some more. so after i got back from europe i enrolled in a tefl course and months later i was in a classroom in korea.

2. Can you recollect any instance of the so called "culture shock". when you understood that something you considered common knowledge was unheard of in your new country of residence, or when you did something you considered OK but which made people around you raise their eyebrows?
even after 5 years in korea, this seems to happen almost all of the time. one funny thing that springs to mine happened at my first school. the classroom doors all had windows. my director was standing at the door, which she sometimes did just to observe the class, waving at me. i smiled. she waved again. i waved back. then she opened the door and asked me to step out of class for a moment. then i remembered that when koreans gesture "come here" with their hands they do so with their palms down in contrast to americans who gesture "come here" palm up. gesturing with palm up in korea is how you summon a dog and is very offensive.

thanks for the great questions manuela!
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 9th, 2006, 10:32 pm
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Default 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, Hofstedeā€™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!!
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 27th, 2006, 10:02 am
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Default Re: Reasons for teaching abroad

I'm just off the plane so I'm a real rookie still. Had to say that my reasons are exactly the same as you Eric, I do intend to go back into business long term but live is too good here to do anything different at the moment I'm in Thailand BTW. Hey TRL, do you need any spanish to teach in Mexico? I'd love to live around Central America for a while, so any feedback would be cool.

Biggest culture shock, hmmmm, the ladies are all fine.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 1st, 2006, 07:34 pm
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Default Re: Reasons for teaching abroad

Quote:
Quote Colin

Biggest culture shock, hmmmm, the ladies are all fine.
hhhmmmm How exactly is, the ladies are all fine, culture shock?? lol
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 1st, 2006, 09:21 pm
TLR TLR is offline
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Default Re: Reasons for teaching abroad

Sorry for not replying before Colin. GOt lost in life for a while (unfortunately!!). I went to Mexico 8 years ago and could only ask "Donde estan los banos?" if I needed to pee and not much else! You don't really need it to get a teaching job as many schools have the old-fashioned idea that it should be English only in the classroom. Also good schools will give you free Spanish classes. Obviously it's a good idea to know some of the language for everyday living, but that'll come with time. It's part of the fun learning the language through experience any way, isn't it? Have you picked up much Thai? I assume that'd be much harder to learn than Spanish which is pretty easy as it's very phonetic.
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  #7 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 2nd, 2006, 02:09 am
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Default Re: Reasons for teaching abroad

Thanks for the reply TLR, all info is welcome.

The most difficult part of learning Thai for me is that it's tonal and spoken slightly slower, but it's easy enough to pick up. I'm used to speaking in kind of monotonal voice so this is a nice change.

I agree with you on the learning by experience. When you have to know it to get by you start learning quickly, plus it's more fun too because most people are slightly surprised when a foreigner can just hello.

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