This week, I have asked my friend Jenna Longoria to write a checklist for working abroad, specifically if you are planning on teaching English and need to know specific steps to consider before you move. She has traveled all around the world and lived in places like Honduras and Taiwan, where she currently works as an English teacher. You can read more about her adventures and see beautiful pictures on her travel blog, Nomad Notions. So without further ado…


Top Ten Things to Do Before Leaving to Teach Abroad

1. Take a TEFL or CELTA course. Oxford Seminars offers a 6-week intensive TEFL option for those with busy schedules. The course is a little pricey, but it’s an investment worth making.

2. If you are planning to teach in Korea, and are from the United States, get your FBI background check ASAP. They take forever to process.

3. Photocopy all of your important documents (resume, transcripts, diploma, TEFL certificate, passport, headshots) and put them in one file on your computer so they are easily accessible whilst applying. Leave a copy for someone you trust just in case.

4. Make sure you have enough savings to survive on for 1-2 months (depending on whether you have a job lined up or not) until you receive your first paycheck.

5. Do your homework on the country you are thinking of moving to. This isn’t a light decision; so make sure you are well prepared. Good sources of information are blogs from fellow teachers and travel forums.

6. Get a travelers health insurance plan. If you think you can’t afford it, think again, as they can cost as little as $150 for a whole year.

7. Call your bank to inform them you will be leaving, and to authorize the use of your debit and credit cards abroad. Also ask if your bank has any sister banks abroad, as this can save you paying ATM fees.

8. Learn a few key phrases in the language of the country you will be moving to.

9. Sort out a safe place for you to store the things that you will be leaving behind, or sell everything you own. Your call.

10. Go with an open heart, open mind, and positive attitude. Remember to be like water, going with the flow and embracing the changes instead of fighting against them. Still juggling the idea of working abroad in your head, but still not quite sure if it is right for you? Then take a few seconds to answer the questions below to find out if teaching English abroad might be a good fit:

1. Are you able to make a commitment to live away from home for a minimum of 1 year?

2. Do you have a University degree?

3. Do you love to travel?

4. Would you like to make a nice salary?

5. Are you able to put the norms of your home country on the backburner, and immerse yourself in a new culture?


Helpful links:

Dave’s ESL Cafe

Oxford Seminars


About the Author:

Jenna Longoria is a writer, yogi, and teacher, with an incurable case of wanderlust. You can read more of her tales of expat living, teaching, and tramping at Nomad Notions.