Logged in the other day to see that I am not the only one experiencing a bumpy road on the way to securing a teaching job abroad. Of course, I hated to see someone else feeling discouraged, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it was comforting to know that I’m not alone in my experience of trying to pull off a move to a foreign land. When every report from expats teaching abroad reads as if all they had to do was simply think of the idea of doing it, and then magically everything fell smoothly into place, it can feel pretty discouraging when your own experience in searching for teaching jobs abroad has been nothing but an uphill battle.
But that’s the wonderful thing about the Facebook groups I’m in that relate to those trying to make the transition to living abroad – as soon as the member posted her message about needing encouragement, within minutes, the other members rallied around her to supply encouragement, advice, and a list of links to aid her in her search. These groups are awesome, and I tell you, given all the drawbacks that come w/Facebook and the myriad of security concerns and the constant “improvements”, these groups account for about 75% of my incentive for being on Facebook.
Now folks, don’t let me leave you thinking that pursuing a teaching position abroad is overwhelming. Because the first thing I’ll say is that part of the challenge for me (and the poster to the Facebook group) is that as far as Korea, I’m being somewhat selective in only looking for public school positions (as opposed to those in private schools/hogwans). Unfortunately, it’s also what almost all the other the other applicants are wanting too. Add that to the growing popularity of teaching abroad, and my brown skin, which in Korea (as well as the rest of Asia) continues to be more of a liability than it should be, and hey, it’s a challenge. And I believe that the teachers from 2 and 3 years ago and beyond had a much easier time because the numbers (demand for teachers vs. supply) was totally in their favor. Of course, I think the numbers are still pretty good, just not what they used to be, and the problem is all the expat reports (at least all the ones I’ve seen) with regard to their job search reflect the way things were for them and not how they are for us newbies.
The thing with us newbies, maybe we’ve just got to use this experience (that seems to be so unlike those who’ve come before us) as a dress rehearsal for the unknown challenges we’ll no doubt face after getting the job. Who knows, maybe the struggles we’re experiencing now, will allow is to be in better “mental shape” later, when we get to the new foreign land we’ll adopt. At least, I like to think so anyway.