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4 posts categorized "Food for thought"

Reverse Culture Shock: the good, the bad, and the utterly bizarre

The weeks and days leading up to moving abroad look more or less the same for everyone: constant back and forth between nerves and excitement, everyone you encounter asking if you’re ready, packing crises and double, triple, quadruple checks of travel documents. And of course culture shock worries that will make your head spin: What will it be like? Can I live without peanut butter? Will I like the food? How easy in the transportation system? Do I even speak Spanish?!

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Yep, anticipating culture shock to the point of obsession is totally normal no matter who you are and where you are going. But what we all tend to give less thought to is what will happen on the other end of your journey. I’m talking re-entry and reverse culture shock.

Re-entry might feel a little different depending on where you are and when you’re coming back. Whether or not you’ve traveled before and how long you’ve been away from home are big factors. If returning home from my second 8-month jaunt in France was difficult, I can’t imagine what it would be like to come back from a one to two year stint in a non-Western country. Still, I think it’s safe to say that everyone—everyone—experiences some degree of reverse culture shock.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the utterly bizarre things you will experience upon re-entry:

The good:

    • Friends and family. This is by far the most exciting things about coming home after being abroad for an extended period of time. It's a mini reunion party everywhere you go!
    • Home cooked food. Your mom is so happy to have you back that she’ll cook you all your favorite meals for about a week (warning: this wears off quickly so take advantage while you can). Plus your dog is there. 
    • Everything is so darn easy! You know exactly where everything is located in your home town: Your bank, post office, grocery store, favorite restaurants—they’re all right there. Plus, no language barrier! You’re suddenly the most competent person in the world. #adulting

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The bad:

  • Missing foreign friends and family. Returning to one set of friends and family inevitably means leaving another. The first couple days back will have you feeling a little off kilter in light of their absence.
  • No more delicious, foreign food. This is one of the greatest tragedies of leaving abroad life—no more melt in your mouth baguettes or steaming bowls of bun cha or juicy, green olives. Get ready to cling to any restaurant that comes close to recreating your favorite delicacies.
  • Everything is so darn easy! Yep, this is a good and a bad. While knowing your home town by the back of your hand feels nice for a while, it will eventually feel too The challenges of living abroad can be exciting and overcoming them results in incomparable growth.

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The utterly bizarre:  

    • Everyone is speaking English! It is so weird to walk around and not have to have your translating hat on all the time. Get ready for the first time you try to order a coffee in a different language.
    • Readjusting to customs and rituals. No more cheek kisses, no more language barrier, no more wondering which greeting you should use or how to address someone. The customs and rituals that were once second nature suddenly feel foreign!     
    • Going back to “the real world.” For many travelers, going home often means buckling down. Desk jobs and time clocks can feel really strange for people who have just spent a year or more in an unconventional work setting like a foreign classroom.

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In your moments of panic and frantic searches for plane tickets back, take time to remind yourself that switching gears can take some time. Re-entry should be treated as delicately as initial culture shock since it is similar in so many ways. Be patient with yourself and those around you who might not fully understand the experience you’ve just come from.  

For those who have yet to squash their travel bugs, remember that travel isn’t going anywhere—especially with the option to teach English. A nomadic lifestyle requires some give and take so if you’re not ready to be done, trust that you’ll find a way back after some time of hard work and patience.

Good luck with the good, the bad, and the utterly bizarre aspects of re-entry and remember, we’re all in it together!

5 Ways To Use Your TEFL Certification At Home

We know what you’re thinking: “If I invest time and money in getting TEFL certified, that means I have to go abroad to make it worth it.” While a TEFL certification can unlock endless ways to travel, we understand that not everyone is ready to pack up and ship out right after completion. 

If your readiness (or lack thereof) deters you from getting TEFL certified, we have one piece of advice: don’t let it. Of course you should get as much out of your certification as possible, but that doesn’t mean that you have to move abroad right away.

There are as many opportunities to use your TEFL certification at home as there are countries in this world! In fact, people who are qualified to teach English as a foreign language are needed on domestic soil now more than ever. Across the country, TEFL teachers bridge cultural divides between Americans and immigrants and help to foster more tolerant and harmonious intercultural relationships. In light of today’s political climate, it is up to the public sphere to achieve these goals.

So how can you use TEFL to contribute to society and without going overseas? Here are 5 ways to use your certification on your home turf:

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1. Assist English programs at your university.
There are thousands of non-English speaking students on campuses across the country looking to improve their language skills. You can use your TEFL certification as a student volunteer or a paid teaching assistant, which could help you pay your way through school!

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2. Teach at an English literacy program, school, or summer camp. You know what they say: just because you speak English doesn’t mean you know how to teach it. All of these types of programs constantly seek paid workers and volunteers to help foreigners improve their English. Your TEFL skills are invaluable in these specialized classrooms!

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3. Teach English online. Online English programs are more popular now than ever. Teaching through an online platform can help you to experience a country from the comfort of your own home. You’ll still get to connect with locals and learn what life is like through their eyes, all while helping them in a big way (and making some cash!).

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4. Utilize your cultural competence in any profession. It is no secret that international experience gives you an edge in the job field. They respect and seek out people who are interculturally competent in order to promote innovation and better interpersonal relations in the workplace. In an ever-globalizing world, being able to work with people from all walks of life is a must!

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5. Host international exchange students or work for an inbound exchange program. Living with a TEFL-certified host is a HUGE bonus in any exchange experience. While most host families help with English, they don’t necessarily know how to teach it. Plus, if you’re not ready to move abroad, hosting foreigners or working for an inbound exchange program brings the country to you! This can also be a great source of supplemental income.

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Just like that, we’ve eliminated all excuses to not get TEFL certified even if you're reluctant about moving abroad. Whether you’re not ready to live in a foreign country, haven’t saved enough money, or simply don’t want to uproot your life in the U.S., rest assured that there is ample opportunity to use your TEFL Certification right here at home. You can make a full-time career out of teaching English in the U.S. or use it to earn some money on the side.

Remember, your contributions in your home country are just as valuable as the ones you make abroad. We need you now more than ever, TEFL teachers! Help your country to create a more tolerant, accepting, and culturally competent world.

Around the World in 12 Unique Ice Cream Cones

One-of-a-kind ice cream from some of our favorite destinations to teach abroad in.

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No matter how nervous you are about trying the local food when you teach abroad, you can find solace in one universal truth— nearly everyone loves ice cream. You may find it in unfamiliar shapes, flavors, and forms, but nonetheless, you’ll be able to enjoy some variation of the dessert. In a way, ice cream is a symbol of world culture— our similarities bring us together and our differences are worth celebrating. So, in honor of the different ways we eat the world's favorite treat, we are taking a virtual tour around the globe, one scoop at a time. 

Continue reading "Around the World in 12 Unique Ice Cream Cones" »

Why move to Canada when you can Teach English Abroad?

Google trends revealed that on November 9th, 2016, there was a spike in searches for “Canada Immigration.” No, Americans did not get a sudden craving for poutine and maple syrup.

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Google Trends shows an increase in searches for "Canada Immigration," on Nov 9, 2016 

Continue reading "Why move to Canada when you can Teach English Abroad? " »

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