Teaching English: Making My Dream to Travel the World a Reality

My last whole day in Korea 003Since 2009, I’ve lived in 3 countries abroad and visited several others. The countries I’ve lived in have been as diverse in culture as ice cream and pickles. Some people have found this to be very courageous, and some wonder how I was able to do this. It’s been my dream since I graduated high school to travel the world. Early in 2009, at the suggestion of an acquaintance, I decided to pursue a career that would allow me to take the first step to make my dream a reality. I would become an English as a foreign/second language (EFL/ESL) teacher.

Because of that decision, I’ve been able to travel to some amazing places in the world. By choosing to work as an EFL/ESL teacher, I’ve been able to utilize my funds and benefits offered by some of my teaching gigs to afford my travels. Before deciding to get certified to teach ESL/EFL, I had been a teacher in the U.S. public school system for several years, so I already had a little teaching experience, although I’ve known teachers who’ve taught English abroad who had no experience before teaching ESL/EFL and many places do not require teachers to have any.

The first country I taught in abroad was South Korea. Having some money saved, I was able to purchase my flight ticket there which the school reimbursed me for within a few weeks of my arrival. The cost of living there was quite low, and my apartment was paid for by my school. So, I was able to save quite a bit of my salary. The school paid for my flight ticket back home, and I received a bonus for completing my contract. So, I had money to take back with me.

My second country to teach in abroad was Saudi Arabia. The company paid for my flight ticket there and housing. Because I still had previous savings and was able to save a large portion of my salary there, I was able to travel to a few countries during vacations. I had enough money saved to pay for my return flight home since I left a little earlier than planned losing out on the free flight home.

My third country to teach in abroad was Peru. I still had some savings left before I went. So, I was able to buy a round-trip flight ticket there, as most schools in Latin American countries do not offer to pay or reimburse airfare. This would be a shorter stay and probably a good idea because there really wasn’t an opportunity for me to save, and I had to spend most of my savings to make up for what my wages didn’t cover. To experience Latin America was great, but the ability to save wasn’t the greatest.

So, that’s how I’ve been able to afford traveling the world through my career as an ESL/EFL teacher. I haven’t finished traveling, though. There are yet more continents and countries that I’d like to traverse before I can feel that I’ve truly accomplished my dream of traveling the world to the full. So far, my vehicle to do so has been teaching English, but who knows? Maybe I’ll continue on as an ESL/EFL teacher, or at some point, I’ll change and do it some other way. I invite you to sign-up to follow me to see what happens. Cheers! 🙂


If you’re considering teaching English abroad and want a few tips, you can check out my page “Teaching Abroad Tips” or an article I wrote on Hubpages titled “Traveling the World Via Teaching English”.

Categories: dreams, English, goals, Inspiration, Motivation, Teaching, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “Teaching English: Making My Dream to Travel the World a Reality

  1. Pingback: Teaching English in Colombia | Travel, Discover, Experience

  2. Color me natural

    This is absolutely amazing and inspiring! I’m currently in my third year of college and plan on pursing similar career goals, but whenever I think about traveling the word ALONE, I start to get fearful.

    I enjoyed reading this post 🙂

    • Thanks! It’s okay to have a little fear even while you pursue your goals. Just don’t let it stop you. You can always find a travel buddy or someone who wants to do the same thing. Lots of people do that. However, if you do travel alone, there will always be new people for you to meet wherever you go :-).

      • Color me natural

        You’re absolutely right! 🙂

  3. Sounds amazing, you are brave. Love, Anne

  4. I am really happy for you! Doing the thing you feel passionate about make you feel good!

  5. thexenophilediaries

    Wow, you are so blessed to go so many cool places. Which country has been your favorite so far? What are the programs in Peru and Sadia Arabia called?

    • I do feel really blessed, too. So far, my favorite country to live in has been Korea. My favorite country to vacation in has been Israel. I actually didn’t work with any programs in Peru or Saudi. I just searched for jobs for each on job boards. However, I know there are different programs that some people join with the purpose of going to Peru. I met quite a few people who were there working with volunteer programs (that they had to pay fees to participate) and NGOs. For Peru, I was in contact with the owner of a language institute before going. I was hired and made my plans to go. However, most employers there don’t post jobs internationally. I also found another institute to work at while I was there. For Saudi, I found a couple of recruiting agencies that I was in contact with, as well as applying directly to some schools before making a final decision of who to work with. I’m not aware of any programs for Saudi Arabia, though. Are you considering going to Peru or Saudi?

  6. Matt

    Sounds like an amazing time. I appreciate you sharing your experiences as I’m hoping to teach in Korea next year. Any advice on getting a job? I received a BA in English and I’m currently working towards a TEFL certification as well as volunteer ESL teaching within my community. I’m hoping these experiences put me in position to get a job. Thanks for any help you might be able to share.

    • Hi Matt :-). Thanks for stopping by. Korea is a great country to teach in, especially for your first year. You only need a bachelor’s degree to obtain the work visa, so you’re already qualified. Your volunteer teaching experience and TEFL certification are going to make you more marketable, as well as earning you a little higher pay for your salary if you’re looking to work at a public school. I’m not sure about the private schools, but you could make quite a bit in some of those because you can usually get a lot of hours since the pay is usually based on how much you work.

      Getting a job in Seoul and other more popular cities for foreigners is more competitive, as the market in those cities is pretty saturated with most everyone vying for jobs there. If you are open to working in rural cities, there are always positions available, as well as in cities not considered as major as Seoul. The public schools usually offer perks for working in rural areas, like extra vacation days, transportation allowance, etc.

      I would recommend working for a public school if you prefer stability. Because they are government regulated, they are more likely to follow the rules and laws as far as your treatment and upholding what’s in your contract as opposed to private institutes (hagwons) which aren’t government regulated. However, it’s a choice. Some teachers prefer hagwons and have good experiences with them, too, but I’ve some who haven’t.

      If you haven’t started with your FBI background check yet, you should start with it soon because it could take several weeks before you get it back. Plus, you’ll need to get things apostilled which you could send off or go to one of the offices where you can have it done.

      I would also suggest asking any schools you’re interested in if you can contact any current or previous teachers to ask any questions you may have about the school and area. Whether the teacher has a negative or positive experience, it’s good to hear what they have to say as it can give you a little insight into what to expect or not expect. That will better help you decide which school sounds like the one for you.

      Do you have any specific questions you’d like to ask me?

  7. South Korea, Saudi Arabia, South America: congratulations for your engagement!

  8. From the time you started this blog ’til now, you’ve really been quite the butterfly. Congrats on living your dream of travelling the world. Living rent free is definitely a plus for ESL teachers in Korea…teaching experience is not required but, man, does it make a difference when you’ve been thrown into a classroom with neither a textbook nor a curriculum to teach from. That was the challenge for me, but it was a lot fun to figure things out on my own.

    • Yes, you’re not alone. I remember colleagues in Peru who had never taught before who were put into class for the first time. Albeit, they did have a few hours lecture (supposed to be training) on techniques and terminology preferred by the school’s owner and textbooks (which weren’t the best in my opinion in terms of navigation, quality and explanations). A couple had really hard times in the classroom. I know one was completely lost about what and how to teach. Another had a hard time with classroom management so much so that he pretty much gave up and told the students when they were ready to learn just let him know and he’d teach them, but they hardly ever did and just goofed off most of the time. I don’t believe it was his fault either b/c I feel students should have some respect for authority no matter who it may be. Unfortunately, that’s a rarity nowadays. Another teacher got those same students and had the same issues in the beginning until she got help from their original teacher. Lol…It almost sounds like your screenplay, eh ;-). It turns out, the original teacher used to be rough (language-wise) with them. The students didn’t prefer nice teachers which is why they took advantage of the teacher after the original one. However, with advice from the original teacher, the 3rd teacher changed from being so nice to being a little rougher, sterner, and noticed a change in their response to her.

      I’m glad you had fun figuring things out!

  9. Nicole

    Great post! It’s so great that you’ve been able to experience so many different countries! I also hope to do the same, but so far every country I’ve lived in, I’ve loved so much I haven’t wanted to leave. I’ve only been to Mexico and China so far, but I hope to travel more before choosing a place to live in for an extended period of time.

    • Yes, I’d say when you find a place you love, it’s okay to stay there. My first year abroad in Korea, I stayed there without traveling elsewhere besides visiting back home for summer break. I had wanted to go to Israel but waited until the next year when I was in Saudi which was much closer. You’re doing right to take your time and enjoy what you find you love :-).

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