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76 posts categorized "Teach Abroad Tips"

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?!


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


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.


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.


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!

This week’s hottest couple: Study Abroad and TEFL

Here at CIEE TEFL, we’re pretty much teaching English as a foreign language gurus. We understand exactly the kind of person who is getting TEFL certified: young, adventurous, nomadic, but also career-oriented and practical people. TEFL-ers are out to achieve the best of both world scenario: professional development and serious adventuring all at the same time!


But there’s one thing we just can’t seem to figure out: if these are the kind of people getting TEFL certified, why the heck aren’t more study abroad students doing it?!

Anyone who has studied abroad—which is almost anyone who is now teaching abroad—knows firsthand what a semester in a foreign country does. Some do it to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. Others hope to satisfy a budding sense of wanderlust. For some, it’s an integral part of their academic track. Even though everyone has different reasons for going in the first place, most come to the exact same conclusion: study abroad is just the beginning of their international adventures.


We get it! Four or five months just isn’t enough time for those who had their worlds rocked by the transformative power of cultural immersion. Chances are you’re already thinking of ways to get back if you are currently studying abroad or recently arrived home.

Stop thinking so hard and get on board with TEFL! Whether you want to return to your study abroad host country or try somewhere new, a TEFL certificate can and will get you there. It really is the simplest and most practical solution for rising seniors or recent graduates looking to get back out of dodge as soon as the caps and gowns come off.


Here’s are five key reasons why:

1. You don’t have to put off professional development to travel. In fact, with TEFL and teaching abroad, career growth and travel adventures are kind of a package deal. So no one can give you any heat for traveling after graduation. Ha!

2. Keep that professional momentum going! You’re coming off a huge milestone in your professional and personal timeline and are now more qualified than ever. But at graduation, you’ll realize just how many people are leaving with exactly the same qualifications. A TEFL certification adds a gold star to that diploma and helps you stand out in a huge stack of applications that look more or less the same.

3. If you’ve studied abroad, then you’ve undoubtedly gained huge confidence and independence. Although they offer some fantastic programs, you don’t really need a middle man to apply for positions abroad if you have a TEFL certificate. This means you could be in the driver’s seat of your abroad experience—work location, age level, and learning environment are your calls to make!

4. There is no better time to travel than right after graduation—which is why so many people are taking off as soon the dorms have been emptied and the textbooks have been burned (well, more likely returned). After your senior year, there are absolutely no strings attached. No job, no lease, no big commitments, no problems! As you get older, it only gets more complicated to up and leave. So get it in now! Plus, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll be able to link up with friends abroad since it seems everyone’s out there somewhere!

5. TEFL isn’t just about teaching. It’s about deepening intercultural competence. If you hope to be a lifelong traveler or spend more time abroad in any other way, TEFL could be a key piece of this puzzle. TEFL and teaching abroad get you one step closer to becoming the international citizen you set out to be when you studied abroad.


So study abroaders, if there is one piece of advice we could give you for your newly wide-open future, it’s to get serious about not getting too serious. There’s no need to settle for a highly demanding job right away. The great thing about TEFL is that is opens up endless opportunity abroad without committing you to anything. It’s exactly what you need to calm your post-grad freak out (don’t worry, we’ve all been there).

Again, if you have any questions, ask us TEFL gurus. Of course we think everyone can benefit from getting TEFL certified but we’ll tell you one way or another how it might fit into your post-grad path. Pack your bags, it's time to kick start your next big adventure!


-The CIEE TEFL Squad

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:

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!


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.

* * *

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.

TEFL to the Rescue: Classroom Problems Solved

This post was written by Zoe Sand, a TEFL Alumni and a Teach in China participant. 

Nervous about teaching abroad? Taking a TEFL course is the best way to boost your confidence before heading into the classroom. Speaking from personal experience, TEFL helped me land my first teaching English job without any prior teaching experience. Most importantly, it has helped me navigate tricky classroom situations. The best lesson I learned from TEFL was to “plan for Z.” In other words, be prepared for whatever problems may come your way. Since starting my teaching position in Shanghai, I’ve encountered several problems that I was well prepared for thanks to my TEFL training. 

CIEE Teach in South Korea

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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

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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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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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"If I Could Do It Again..." 6 Things I Would Do Differently if I Taught Abroad Again


About a year and a half ago, I decided to teach abroad.

I applied. I waited. And I found out I was accepted just moments before giving my master's degree thesis presentation. (*Note, this did not help my presentation, and it only made me more nervous.)

But, I was ready to move abroad the second I read that acceptance email. In fact, moments after my presentation, as professors asked me what my next step was, I confidently told them I was moving to Thailand.

Had I planned any of the details yet? Nope. Had I ever been to Thailand before? Nah. Did I know what was in store? Not really. Was I certain I was going to go? You bet.

So, for the next few months, I took all the necessary steps: I got my CIEE TEFL Certification, I closed my lease, I put my stuff in storage, and I read a lot. It was all shockingly easy to do. I found it funny that this part - the figuring out how to close one part of your life - seems like so much work. But, in actuality, it was so easy.

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14 Reasons The Friends You Make Abroad Will Be Your Friends Forever

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What's one of the best parts of traveling or living abroad? 

Making friends!

Here's 14 reasons why those friends you make abroad will be your friends forever:

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Traveling Today: Staying Hopeful and Inspired


It’s no secret that the world can sometimes be a scary place. At a time of political, cultural, and economic unrest in many areas of the world, the thought of traveling can often be daunting more than inspiring.

We hope that’s not the case.

Because traveling is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

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15 Challenges You May Face While Teaching Abroad: TEFL Can Solve That!

Ah, teaching. It's the most rewarding career you can have.

But, that doesn't always mean it's easy. Especially if you're teaching abroad. You face numerous challenges and road blocks.

Never fear, that's what TEFL is for!

Here's a few challenges you can expect, and how TEFL can solve them.

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