How To Make The Most Of Your TEFL Time Abroad
First of all, you have to know yourself and your priorities relatively well. This is of course, easier said than done: many people get involved in TEFL specifically to get to know themselves better – in that case, if you come away from it all feeling you have a better sense of yourself, than that one goal has been accomplished.
But in other cases, it’s worth asking yourself how you’ll measure “success” – is it important to you to learn a language well? To travel to lots of places in your host country? To interact with locals and get a feeling for their outlook? To meet and bond with other EFL teachers? To save money? To “broaden your horizons” by becoming more culturally aware? To learn to cook local foods or just eat them? To challenge yourself and see if you can do it?
To my mind all of these (well, perhaps not all of them in one year) are reasonable goals to have, and to what extent you achieve them partly depends on your personality and the nature of your experience and chance, but partly on how you take life by the reins and do them.
I’ve personally spent enough time abroad – including traveling time – that visiting a large number of cities or museums is not very high on my list. My time abroad is more my life abroad; I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that teaching affords me to interact with locals – but people are people and while it pleases me to have people from different backgrounds in my life, I don’t limit myself to “locals only” or “foreigners only”, nor do I set myself apart from people who do, by choice or just by circumstance. For anyone who knows me it should be clear that, for better or worse, saving money hasn’t yet made it very high on that list either.
There is no secret universal answer for how to make the most of your TEFL time…but one step is knowing what you’d like to accomplish.