Avoiding Reality By Means Of TEFL

My excitement stemmed from anticipation. I knew that in a few short days I would engage in an act capable of producing the ultimate traveler’s high: I’d be leaving India.

Actually, leaving India would probably be the second-best high. The more intoxicating fact was that we’d be entering a new country. A new land promised fresh cities, different sightseeing, and new culture…It was a classic case of running from the real problem, but who cared? Wasn’t that what this whole trip was about? When you can’t find what you’re looking for at home, look abroad. And when you can’t find it in one country, try another.

Pigs in the Toilet is back from vacation and EFL-teacher-turned-traveler Jeff has now left India.

It does not escape my attention that many would draw an analogy to TEFL and say that by picking up and leaving every year, many teachers – especially those who have more than a few countries under their respective belts, like me! – are avoiding problems that they would otherwise have to deal with.

Certainly a year is a short time to establish any roots, and in TEFL it is fairly practical, if not exactly easy, to just keep starting over. We’ve all heard that you can’t run away from your problems (“wherever you go, there they are”), but it sure seems possible to keep putting them off by moving to a new country.

I realize that people may very well see me fitting into this mold. Do I?

I don’t think I can convince people I don’t – and while it’s not a particularly positive feeling to know that people may think that about me, I don’t feel the need to go to great lengths to explain the variety of factors behind my decision to work as I have.

I will say that moving around as much as I have does make me more and more ready to stop and, I don’t know, buy a couch and park it somewhere for a few years. At the same time, it seems like the more you move, the easier it is to move again and again. And the less it seems like a big deal to throw all your stuff in a couple of bags and head on over to a new country.

However, I think the perception of TEFL as a field for drifters is a bit off. Plenty of people do stay more than a year or even settle in a place, or teach for a year or two and then go back to a different job at home. And even for those of us who stay shorter term, living and working relatively professionally in a place does impose limits on how much you can be a real “drifter”, at least more than traveling.

But the question still remains: do people who TEFL or even travel long term do so in order to avoid dealing with problems at home?