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I feel like I'm stuck in overseas job

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Emeritusbc, Jan 30, 2017.

  1. Emeritusbc

    Emeritusbc New commenter


    Due to the state of work in England I quit after teaching 2 years and went on supply. Supply was a terrible experience no work, I was getting half days if I was lucky maybe twice a week. I wouldn't be able to live off it. So I applied for a job abroad and moved out alone!

    I've been here for 4 months and it's extremely lonely, I believe I've grown a lot over the past 4 months but it's getting harder and harder to be away from home. I feel isolated and because the rest of the teachers began in August and I started later I haven't really managed to make many friends- none I can speak to anyway. There's a 4 hour time difference so skyping is hard. Im in a bit of a dark place at the moment.

    I feel as though I'm stuck here, if I go back to england sure I will be happy because I'm in my home surrounded by friends and family. however, what will I do for employment? Theres no supply in England I may have to train as something else.

    Do I have a choice but to stay here?
  2. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

    If you look at the literature on culture shock, you're not in an unusual place four months in. I say tough it out, go back home on holiday at the next opportunity with cash on the hip, knowing you've a job to go back to, and see how things look then. I'd be willing to bet home won't look so great and away so bad.

    The longer-term opportunities abroad are much better so take the long view. To wax alliterative, you're not in a sangar in Sangin so suck it up. That way, in 20 years you can give smug advice on here like I've just done :(
    JL48 and stupot101 like this.
  3. lovely.lady

    lovely.lady Occasional commenter

    It often takes at least 12 months to adjust but adjust you will, if you really want to. 4 hour time difference must mean you are in the Middle East - sit yourself down and make a pros and cons list - let me start you off:- a job; pleasant weather...

    Sometimes you just need to be bold and force yourself to speak to people. Host an event, invite your colleagues out for a celebration, join a gym but one that has classes so that you join in with other people.
    JL48, stupot101 and ejclibrarian like this.
  4. tigi

    tigi Occasional commenter

    I was pretty unhappy for most of my first year abroad. I only really started enjoying it by the second year. The worst bit was 3-6 months, the excitement faded and reality set in plus homesickness!

    Try to make friends, get involved in things, ask people to join you doing fun things. Most people overseas are aware that people move on more often and are willing to make friends!
  5. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Expat teaching is not for everyone. Alas, some people reading this forum might get the impression that we international educators spend all day by in posh restaurants or by the pool and all our nights - well, I leave that to your imagination. If you have lots of close friends and loving family back in the UK, then of course it is going to be tough and those occasional chats on SKYPE are not really a substitute. In some ways, SKYPEing might even make things worse. Singletons and pet lovers (if the pet has to stay back in the UK) can be hit pretty hard.

    So is there a solution to this problem? Yes, there is. Do not become an international teacher. Stay with your friends and family in the UK. That would be my advice. If you think that you really have made a mistake in becoming an international teacher, then finish your present contract (those two years will whizz by) and get a teaching job back in the UK. And good luck to you (you'll need it).

    I suppose it helps if you see the UK for what it is, namely an overpriced, xenophobic island with lousy weather, dreadful transport systems and insane houseprices. Whenever I get nostalgic for the UK, I just remind myself of some quaint English traditions, such as OFSTED and Council Tax. Well, here I am in the Philippines for the Chinese New Year Holiday (it's the Year of the Chicken). I am writing this on my laptop in the bar next to the swimming pool. The sky is blue, the wind is gently blowing in the palm trees and maybe I will have another San Miguel. It's a tough life being an international educator, but someone has to do it.
  6. Emeritusbc

    Emeritusbc New commenter

    I'm glad your enjoying it Hippo thanks for your input.
  7. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    i can only echo the wise old Hippo's sentiments. international teaching may not be for everyone. yes it can be lonely at times, yes you can miss your family. it can be really hard especially when someone in your family is sick. you can miss the familiarity of "home". the hiring cycle you were hired under will also magnify the feeling of loneliness. all the others that came in at the same time would have bonded over their collective experience.

    my only advice would be that its up to you now. you will have to go out of your way to go and do things. the international community (in my experience) is a very friendly bunch, and we all know that we need each other, much much much more than people you would have worked with in the UK. i had a similar issue years ago when my long term relationship was breaking down, and i felt like i had no one to talk to.... i just made the leap and talked to someone...i found out very quickly that i worked with very supportive people. you might be surprised that a lot of others around you are feeling exactly the same.

    good luck, and just get out there and talk to people.
    stupot101 and tk212 like this.
  8. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Not much to add to the good advice that has been posted. Just keep putting yourself out there and try and find some outlets/opportunities to make connections both in and outside of school (e.g. clubs, classes, activity groups etc). A few new friends (or even one really good new friend) would make a big difference in your outlook about your current situation. As for the future, yes you may need to eventually have to choose between job and home country. In the meantime, do some research and see if there are other possibilities back home you weren't aware of before (jobs within a longer commute, jobs you didn't consider before in a related teaching field, etc).

    I did have to laugh a bit at the four hour time difference being an obstacle to Skyping people back home. Try 13 hours!
  9. tk212

    tk212 New commenter

    As a prospective waiting to go back abroad; (having lived abroad), all I can say is that I had the 'best of both worlds'. I was able to pursue a life that was a dream, entertain family and friends who came to visit us, but also thoroughly enjoyed the 10 days or whatever it was, I had every time I went back to 'home'. It was quality time with everyone.
    Having said that, I am now a parent, which I wasn't then and yes of course, I worry about my dear own. I think that being close is a good idea, perhaps looking at locations that are not too long on flights??

    I come from a culture where those who left their motherland, like my father, just simply never returned, even with his friends and parents there. It was too expensive and he was working hard to provide for his family. I asked him if he regretted it; he said no. He said he was thankful for the time he had with his parents and friends, and would have liked to have gone more often, but he wanted a better life; he also said he wouldn't have his wife or children if he never left.
    His words were; everyone's life path is different; do what you enjoy; don't regret; family, friends, parents are only a small flight away.
    I think he is right; the world is a smaller place; and although it may be really hard; you have to assess your priorities; what is it that you want?

    I would hands down remain in England, if the cost of living wasn't so high; if my career and husband's career was better paying in this country, have the ability to invest and grow a property business like many other have over the past few decades, not to mention the weather; and the 'busyness'; no time to pursue hobbies - plus they are tooo expensive!
    Now, I look at those I teach; and it scares me; what my children will be exposed to. I don't feel it is safe to allow my children out 'to play'. I just can't stay in a cycle that produces an identical generation to the last.
    I wouldn't make any progress in this country; stamp duties, taxes, etc... we can't afford to buy a 'second home' for investment because of new tax duty laws. I'd need 100K to buy it on buy to let. It really is crazy.
    What I can do, is, eliminate the worry and thoughts, take each day as it comes, and make sure I always have a pot of money to pay for flights when I need them and to take the kids.
    ejclibrarian likes this.
  10. Arepa

    Arepa New commenter

    The advice given you by the other commentators is spot on in my opinion. You essentially need to decide if the international life is right for you or are you simply going through the normal period of culture shock that all expats face when they engage in living and working in a foreign environment instead of simply being a transient tourist. If the latter is the case, you simply need to muddle through. There are some coping strategies which might help you.

    At one stage in my life, I worked as a consultant giving workshops on culture shock and on re-entry culture shock (a look at one of the other threads on this page shows that it can also be a major issue). Developing coping strategies was a major part of these workshops. Without knowing your situation in more specific detail, I can only give a rough guide to these strategies. Nonetheless, I would suggest the following five coping mechanisms. 1. Recognize that culture shock is normal and expected. You are not weird or alone in having to deal with it. Indeed, it generally hits right after the excitement and newness of your move has started to wear off. In addition, Christmas vacation is over and you are facing the long slog to the end of the year. Just like you would fully expect to catch a cold back home at this time of year and prepare for it with chicken soup, a hot water bottle, and, if fortunate, a hot scotch and lemon. You can prepare for culture shock. 2. Look for others who are going through it. Misery does love company. 3. Look for a stabilizer: something you do on a regular basis to ground your day. I, for example, would begin every morning in Nigeria by listening to the World Service on my short wave (a long time ago) over a cup of coffee. Once this simple routine finished, I was ready for the day. In Venezuela, at the end of the day, we would stop off for a mandarina juice at a coffee shop just down from the school. These events would stabilize my day. 4. Briefly, take a break from the culture. Once a week in Nigeria, I would head up to the Premier Hotel sit in the peaceful lobby, with its excellent service and enjoy a club sandwich and a beer. In Venezuela, we would have brunch and swim every Sunday at the Hotel Tamanaco. It was peaceful, safe, and unchaotic. I am sure you can do the same. 5. Take advantage of being overseas. You will then come to appreciate its’ advantages. A. Follow the Hippo’s advice and take a break to wallow in a warm pool someplace exotic. If you are in the Middle East, can you not take a long weekend to fly to the Greek Islands or Cyprus ( for example, we used to go to Aruba and Bonaire from Venezuela). Find out where your fellow expats take off for quick weekend visits. B. If you are 4 hours from home, then you are only 2 hours from Greece or Italy. Take a break there. Indeed, if you miss family and friends meet somewhere in the middle and sip metaxa under the acropolis or an espresso on the via Veneto. This will make you appreciate being abroad. I had some Canadian friends in Venezuela who were going through what you are: we rented a yacht and spent a long weekend cruising around the Caribbean. They felt much better about it after calling their friends back in Moosejaw who were in the middle of a blizzard (the perfect schadenfreude). They stayed in international education and have not yet looked back. If you are watching your money, think of these trips as an investment that will keep you in gainful employment. It is worth it, in my opinion.

    Rather a long message, but it saved you $100.00 which was my consulting fee! Since you saved it, you can now justify going on a trip.
    tk212 likes this.
  11. newageteacher

    newageteacher New commenter

    There are lots of supply teaching jobs. I don't understand why you can only get half days. The supply market is worth billions. Or get a full time job in England instead.
  12. SecondPlace

    SecondPlace Occasional commenter

    You've recognised you're finding it tough and that's a great start. And be assured, it's quite normal. Culture shock, transition etc. are tough. You'll go through euphoria where you think everything is brilliant, next thing you'll feel loss, you'll feel lost and you'll experience doubt.

    But you can come through all of this. Continue being honest with yourself and you're on a goof track.

    Talk to people. You aren't the first to feel this way and other people are mostly supportive. Maybe your school has a counselor in a different section to yours who you could reach out to.


    Post on here and take on board good advice and make it work for you.

    Good luck.
  13. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper


    100K to buy a property,tk212? No, less than twenty thousand can buy you something like our five-bedroomed villa in the mountains, but not in the UK. I do not understand why so many people want to buy property in Good Old Blighty. Maybe they like bad weather and Council Tax.
    senlady likes this.
  14. tk212

    tk212 New commenter

    Its a security as both our families are in the UK and likely to visit often. Your home does look lovely though.
  15. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Well, they could visit you in Bulgaria. There are lots of cheapie flights to Sofia. A huge mortgage, tk212, is not a "security", unless of course you are using the word to mean something completely different. (That is, of course, assuming that a mortgage company will be so kind and so generous as to give you a mortgage if you are not living and working in the UK!)

    If you do not like the idea of Bulgaria, then how about Greece or central Spain? By the way, this is the view from our top balcony.
    Dramakween and senlady like this.
  16. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    A mortgage in itself isn't a security, but having a home at the end of it is, as it means you no longer have to pay rent to a landlord. It's also something to leave your kids.
    tk212 likes this.
  17. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    buy a property in a European city that has cheap flights back to the UK. you could own your property outright and fly the whole family back as often as you want and it would be a lot less than the deposit on a half decent house in the UK :)

    although this will only be valid until the lunacy of Brexit kicks in..... then im pretty sure you wouldn't want to go back then anyway !!!! ;)
    tk212 likes this.
  18. Leebeez

    Leebeez New commenter

    I am from the generation of international teachers who started their international career using the phone system to phone home. Once I had to wait for a young girl to finish "chasing the dragon" in a public phone box (remember them anyone?) before I got the chance to talk to my family. This was in a European capital city, where it took my letters two weeks to arrive to their destination. The school I had started working in had just purchased their first white board (plastic, not interactive). They had no white board pens, so I had to learn the local vocab to buy my own. I now speak that same language to my children.

    If lovely lady is correct in saying that you are working in the ME, then save your hard earned tax free cash. I worked in the ME for a number of years; importantly I stuck it out and we bought a property in the SE of England. For me now in retrospect, all the hardship was very well worth it. If we had given up and returned to the UK, we would have nothing to show for it. My wife and I always say that it takes nearly 3 years to embed yourself in a community. And this varies according to your character, the culture in which you live and whether or not you have children. You have to be patient, count your blessings and always look at the glass to be half full and not half empty. If this doesn't work, spend three hours reading the threads on the TES "Workplace Dilemmas" and imagine you will start work in a multi academy trust school tomorrow morning 9am sharp........
  19. senlady

    senlady Senior commenter

    This made me snigger! I have just begun my international career this academic year and am in a place where using the phone system is still the way to contact 'home' (UK) skyping without video might just about patch through but it's not great, phone is by far the best. There are mobile phones here - the network was introduced in 2005 but much of the place gets no connection at all and the majority of people do NOT have a mobile. You can connect to the internet very slowly in your home (for a princely sum) but out and about you get no internet connection.


    Sorry off track from the original posting. Only been here 5 months - I think you need to give it a MUCH longer go. Get out and do things - join a club, join a gym, find a choir, approach someone in school and say you'll go for lunch together, make someone a brew. Basically put yourself out there and stick it out! If you moved to a new town in the UK you wouldn't expect to feel it was 'home' so quickly. And good luck
    Leebeez and tk212 like this.

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