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10 Tips to Prepare you for the Difficulties of Life Abroad

This post is by Zoé Paddon, a CIEE TEFL and Teach in Chile alumni

Nikki Dacosta 3
CIEE Teach in Spain

If you’re reading this, you’ve decided to teach abroad. Congratulations! The hardest part is over. Deciding to live and teach abroad is a bold choice. We support you all the way.

You’re probably already making mental lists of all the things you need to do to prepare: apply for a visa, start looking for a place to stay, pack, get a phrase book for the local language, etc. Of course, there are the initial hurdles to overcome and there will be challenges along the way, but your program will help you with that and you’ll be amazed how quickly you adjust to life in your new country.

No matter how well you adapt, though, some things that may be easy back home may become a lot more difficult in your life abroad. Don’t despair! It happens to the best of us. To make your life a little easier, here are some tips to help you prepare for some difficulties down the line.

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Announcing Destination TEFL: Travel to Spain, Vietnam, and Thailand!

Destination TEFL

The plane landed on November 7 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The students arrived in the city, exhausted and jet-lagged, but none-the-less excited to taste real pho, ride a Vespa, and immerse themselves in local culture. They had spent over 20-hours on a plane to get there, yet the journey really took them 130 hours.

These students were the first cohort of CIEE’s Destination TEFL program. The new program combines both the flexibility of CIEE's 130-hour online certification course with the incomparable experience of teaching abroad. For the program, TEFL students will get to travel to either Vietnam, Spain, or Thailand for two weeks to complete their teaching practicum. After two weeks, they will return home with an accredited TEFL certification, 60-hours of assistant teaching, and an experience of a lifetime. 

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Top Phrases for Making Friends in China: Giving Compliments (Part 1)

This post is by Jennifer Rives, Teach in China Alumni and Teach in Thailand Participant

Have you decided to move to China to teach English with CIEE and start a new life in one of the world’s most culturally rich and diverse places? If so, congratulations!

As someone who has lived in China twice, I can assure you that you are about to immerse yourself in one of the most beautiful cultures I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Without a doubt, you will learn things about the global community and yourself that you could never have imagined you’d learn before.

With that said, moving to another country requires a lot of cultural sensitivity and personal adjustment. Sometimes, adapting to the norms and values of another culture can be overwhelming and downright stressful. During those times of cultural disequilibrium, a strong and supportive network of friends will help you to pull through. When I was feeling misunderstood or out of place in China, my Chinese friends were always there to cheer me up and remind me of my purpose and value as a TEFL teacher abroad. 

So now the big question is... How do you make friends with people in China?

CIEE Teach in China, photo by Jennifer Rives

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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. 

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Culture Chat: Understanding the World through Food


During my time traveling alone, I’ve found comfort in local flavors. With each bite, I feel myself relaxing into the culture a little more. The land feels a little less unknown as the language barriers and cultural gaps melt away along with the rich chocolate on my tongue.

Food goes beyond a meal or recipe, it’s about traditions, social philosophies, and history, and it’s a passion for it runs deep in my family. Whenever we would travel, we would plan our vacations around our meals and allocate a good portion of our budget on eating out. We'd pick locations famous for its food and ensure to try all the delicacies. As an adult, I’ve continued this tradition in my own solo adventures. Food has since become my best icebreaker in a new country, an excuse to walk miles in a foreign city, and a way to understand the local culture better. Gelato doesn’t just exist for tourists’ Instagrams, it serves a purpose, I intend to discover it-- to learn the story behind the meal. 

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21 Inspirational Quotes to get you Through Every Tough Stage of Teaching Abroad

Teaching abroad is a magnificent adventure. But don't be fooled by the glamorous photos... it’s no vacation. But that's all to be expected. After all,  if you wanted a relaxing time abroad, you wouldn’t have spent 150 hours getting TEFL certified, or opted to work with a classroom of 20 eager students. While it may be more work than your average trip to the Caribbean, the experience is completely worth every little hurdle and is guaranteed to make you a stronger person. This is easy to see in hindsight, but during the challenging moments, it's normal to get frustrated and want to quit, cry, or take a long nap. Before you start stress-eating churros, take a look at these quotes to motivate you through the hard times.

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CIEE Teach in Thailand

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Yes! You CAN Afford That Flight. Here's how.

The best flight deals, and how you can easily collect enough cash to buy them.  

You know you have wanderlust when Skyscanner is your most visited web page. This morning, I was going through my daily routine, get dressed, do my hair, check flights, when I noticed something extraordinary. Flight prices are down, across the board!

If you’ve always wanted to teach abroad, or just want to travel, now is the time to start planning your trips. You’ll have to be a bit flexible, maybe move some vacation days around-- or just quit that day job that you loathe anyways. Still not sure travel is in your budget? We’ll make it easy for you. Here are a few simple ways you can earn or save enough money so you can afford these cheap flight. Before you know it, you’ll be sipping sangria in Spain.

*Flight prices as of Feb 10, 2017


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How to Really Immerse Yourself in a New Culture

Welcome to Culture Chat, a new series on intercultural communication and how we can get better at it! 


Social media has taken a toll on my mental health. I realized it this morning as I lay in bed, not quite awake yet, and scrolled through my newsfeed full headlines of displaced people, unstable foreign affairs, and divisive politics. I wanted to curl back into covers and hide from it all. But I knew that was not a solution.

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Where to Watch the Super Bowl Abroad?

This post is dedicated to football fans who won't let timezones stand in their way of the end zone. 

Feeling homesick lately? We know why. It’s because you’re missing the Super Bowl. Whether you are a football fanatic or only tune in for this one event, the Super Bowl is one tradition you probably don’t want to miss. It goes beyond fumbles and team rivalries. It’s about the fight for the best commercial, the halftime show (go Gaga!), and, perhaps most importantly, copious amounts of buffalo chicken dip. But you’re going to miss all that since you’re teaching abroad. No wonder you’re so sad. But wait… The Super Bowl isn’t just the watched in the USA- It’s watched all over the world.

Mexico, Argentina, South Korea, and the United Kingdom are among the countries with the most NFL fans outside of the USA, and you can be sure they’ll be showing it in plenty of bars across the country. So you may have to stay up late or get up absurdly early to enjoy this event. Nonetheless, you can enjoy it. So put on your team jersey, and head out to one of these bars around the world.


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Six Nontraditional ways to Journal your Travels

As you prep to teach abroad, I’m sure you’ve heard at least one person suggest you keep a journal. The idea is great; journaling gives you a chance to reflect on each day, to remember the most exciting experiences, and have a document to look at after you return. Yet, no matter how lovely the idea sounds in theory, some people just can’t bring themselves to do it. We get it, journaling is not for everyone. So we won’t give you the same advice as your mother. Instead, we’re giving you six alternative ways you can document your travels, ideal for people who hate writing and like to think out-of-the-box.


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