Going Back Home: Life after TEFL Abroad
Thomas Wolfe once wrote that you can’t go home again – and this is certainly true for returning to your home country after teaching English abroad. Just as you had a transition period of excitement, adjusting to a new culture, and forming different opinions when you first arrived to your new host country, reverse it and apply it to going back home.
You left a place you were familiar with, but during your time away, you were not involved in the daily banter, gossip, and news. The place you knew has changed a little just like you have changed.
Let’s prepare for re-entry after teaching English abroad.
Who really cares? Some people will only want a brief, “It was an amazing experience” and others such as family and close close friends will want the long talks, stories, and photos. Prepare a few things to say for a variety of interest. Everyone loves an outrageous incident, family loves to hear the specifics about what were different about your school experiences, and school essays and papers are a really good place to input political and social differences.
Where can I share my experience? Talk to your study abroad department. They may want someone to share their experience with students who are leaving for the next semester study abroad program. They also may really love a few blog writings to put up on the schools website! You can also check out popular TEFL forums, like Dave’s ESL café where there are many English teachers who need the advice of a seasoned expert like you.
I really am missing the food overseas! This was one of my favorite activities in college. I had a close group of friends that wanted to know a little about my travels as a TEFL teacher, but maybe not the 10-hour story. So I went online and found out how to make a local meal, and invited friends over. They loved a new home-cooked meal, and it was my way of sharing a bit of my travels and catching up with friends.
There isn’t much to do here. When you were teaching English abroad everything was an exploration from the shopping, outdoor activities, and maybe even driving on the other side of the road. Really put in the effort to look up new places in your area where you haven’t gone. You would be surprised how many things you haven’t experienced in your own city!
Last but not least, watch out for the judge bug. You are more cultured and are feeling empowered by your new insights to the world. But, please don’t go putting your nose up in the air and comparing the old with the new. Each country is different and that is a good thing! But, don’t dismiss people because of cultural differences and your new perspective on life.