How to Tell Your Family and Friends That you are Teaching English Abroad

How to Tell Your Family and Friends That you are Teaching English Abroad

After I made the final decision that I was going to teach English in Thailand, it dawned on me that telling my friends and family this news was going to make for an interesting conversation. Heck, just saying the sentence, “I am moving to Thailand for an undetermined amount of time to teach English” out loud to myself, I even knew I sounded crazy! How could I possibly expect my dad to get on board with this plan when I naturally had some hesitations myself? I struggled for at least a week, trying to figure out the opening sentence to the conversation that I was inevitably going to have to have.

While everyone is different and will react in different ways, here is a list of tips to help you prepare for “the talk” with your loved ones.

1. Know Your Country

The more information you know about the country you are moving to the better. Your loved ones will understandably have concerns about your safety and well being. Be able to speak fluently about everything from natural disasters that have occurred to how bad the crime rate is. My dad immediately began Googling Thailand and started reading everything from the Tsunami in 2004 to the political protests that occurred in 2014. It was much easier to calm his nerves because I was already aware of these issues. Recognize that there are some dangers in the country you are moving to, but also emphasize that bad things can happen anywhere, even in the good ole U. S. of A.

2. Teach them about your country

I think the reason that people get scared about their loved ones living abroad is because they essentially know nothing about the country that they are moving to. They don’t know what people in that country eat, the language they speak, how they get to and from work, what currency they use, or if it is even safe for you to drink the water! If you are anything like me, these uncertainties excite you. However, it probably terrifies your family and friends. It is important to share with them why you want to move there. Show them a picture of a new food you are excited to try or a temple that you can’t wait to see. The more they know about the place you are moving to the more at ease they will be.

3. Explain that it is an actual job and not an extended vacation.

While teaching English abroad is a great opportunity for you to travel the world and go on some fun adventures, at the end of the day you will be working a full time job. I think people have this idea in their head that just because you are working in a different country, that it is equivalent as being on an extended vacation. Contrary to what they might believe, you will not have the money or time to travel to a new city or country every weekend. It isn’t any different than being a teacher in the United States. I think it is safe to say that most K-12 teachers do not go to a new State every weekend or small break that they have.

4. Give them time to process.

You have been researching and thinking about this decision for a long time. In your mind, you are making an informed decision. From their perspective, it might seem out of the blue or rash. If they want to be mad or sad, let them speak their mind freely and don’t react if they say things that you believe are irrational. At the end of the day, they are most likely just sad that you are going to be gone for an extended period of time. Let them cycle through their emotions. At some point it might be necessary to help them move on from their initial reaction. Refer to Tip 2 to help them become more at ease with the fact that you are moving there, and if they choose to stay in a distraught state they will only be hurting themselves.

5. Stick to your guns

Your loved ones will probably question if this is a good idea. Most people asked me why I wanted to do this, what am I going to do when I get back, and how am I going to teach English to kids that don’t speak English? They will have concerns and probably make some valid points that you may or may not have thought of. But at the end of the day, you have made your decision. You have done your research, figured out your finances, and taken care of everything that needs to be done before you leave. It is your life. You might be young, but you are also old enough to know what you want out of life. I have yet to find someone who has regretted teaching and living abroad. While you should be respectful of your loved ones’ opinions and address their concerns the best you can, you also need to live your life.

 Bonus Tip: Provide an alcoholic beverage!

Beer. Wine. Liquor. Pourer’s choice! I am half kidding, half serious. My dad mentioned that I should have given him a beer before dropping this news on him. We did pop open a bottle of wine half way through the conversation. I don’t know if it really helped, but it definitely didn’t hurt!

Again, these tips were based off my experience of telling my loved ones that I had made the decision to teach English in Thailand. Comment below to add some of your tips and tell me about your experience of breaking the news to your family and friends!


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