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Knowing the Unknown - Teaching English in Taiwan
Written by: International TEFL Academy
Last Updated: January 8, 2020
By: William Whitehead
I have never been one to be sure of anything in life. I find it is full of contradictions in every turn we make. Yet, when you set foot on a land other than your own, you know there is no other place you need to be nor want to be. I say this whole heartily even though I have returned back to my home state of Florida. Through the International TEFL Academy, I was able to teach English in Taiwan for over a year and then in Vietnam for another. During my time in these countries, I was able to grow as a person. I had traveled and even lived in foreign countries before teaching English, yet this experience provided me with something new. It simply allows you to never be stuck anywhere.
When I first finished my TEFL certification class, I was in a Thai hotel room burning money away as I looked for job prospects. I was afraid of what would come next. The unknown is always scary, whether it be a new profession or what comes after this life. However, I quickly found a job and caught a plane within the week. My point is, there will always be uncertainty, yet I have learned through these travels that there is a place for all of us in the world.
Whether you stay abroad for a year or for five years, the next chapter in your life can be daunting and somewhat bleak compared to the recent events of your life. There will be times when you look at your immediate surrounding back in your home country and feel disconnected from your original upbringing. I don't say this to persuade you in any direction, but rather to sympathize with that feeling. Every person who undertook this path did so for a plethora of different reasons but it also changed us forever. The skills you learn by traveling and teaching abroad wont always feel like they translate well for the “real” world yet you will be surprised on how employers react to the life skills you have acquired.
Personally, I was able to land a job that others were more qualified for. This was mainly due to the fact that there is a higher demand for those who can adapt to different cultures and ways of thinking. Now that I have come back to the “real” world, I secured a job teaching 5th grade at a charter school. I am also teaching a summer program that deals with robotics and other tech related gadgets.
The transition period is a bit tricky. I first got back from Taiwan and attempted to get a normal job only to realize I still wanted to see more of the world. This led me to moving back overseas but this time to teach English in Vietnam. As I mentioned earlier, I stayed there for about a year until I made my final move back home. Once I made a conscious decision to stay in the USA, I was left with the question of what to do next. I wasn't sure my time overseas would translate well to the job market here in Florida, thus I took a job delivering food for a short time. I realized this is not what I wanted to do, so I started looking for jobs more suited for me based on my experiences overseas. I started applying for positions that I was not exactly qualified for on paper. To my surprise, I found myself as a viable candidate for multiple jobs that are much more appealing than minimum wage. This led me to different interviews where I unknowingly impressed them with my knowledge of language and culture.
Because I was able to demonstrate my willingness to learn and strive for more out of life, I was seen as someone who can sympathize and perhaps even empathize with those less fortunate then myself. When you travel, you will no doubt be faced with a situation that makes you stomach turn due to an economic crisis that effects both children and the elderly. Once you are forced to deal with the emotional turmoil this causes, you are better suited to help or at least relate to the great many underprivileged folks around your area. This is a quality that will help you as a person but also as a possible candidate for whatever job it is that you may be seeking. The transition from a life abroad to one back home is not an easy one but it is one that is more promising than you could ever imagine.
William Whitehead is 29 from Florida with an AA degree. He was working in public schools as a substitute teacher before he decided to uproot his life and teach English in Taiwan.
Founded in 2010, International TEFL Academy is a world leader in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad & teaching English online. ITA offers accredited TEFL certification classes online & in 25 locations worldwide and has received multiple awards & widespread recognition as one of the best TEFL schools in the world. ITA provides all students and graduates with lifetime job search guidance. ITA has certified more than 25,000 English teachers and our graduates are currently teaching in 80 countries worldwide.
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