How International Experience Shaped My Career

I never thought I would be a teacher

Growing up I always kept an open mind to most possible career paths. One that I never thought I would be interested in was teaching. I was timid, soft-spoken, and had trouble communicating my thoughts in an assertive way. I didn’t think teaching was compatible with these obstructive weaknesses. When I went to college, education wasn’t even in the running for consideration. I just didn’t see myself as an educator.

I knew I wanted to go abroad

Before entering college, I knew that I wanted some type of international experience as part of my education. I grew up and lived in the same small city without having many opportunities to really even get outside the state. I figured that a semester abroad while in college would be my best bet. I was so excited that I did it in my second year. I was off to South America for the abroad experienced I yearned for. I thought that maybe it would satisfy my thirst for travel. On the contrary, those 6 months had me longing for more. Birds set free from a cage don’t go back.

I became a teacher to go abroad

During my last semester of college everyone was either securing a job, getting job interviews or attending job fairs. I tried these things, but I didn’t connect very well with the people at the job fairs or with the jobs themselves. The only people I could really spark up a conversation with were those working for non-profits and the Peace Corps.

After consulting with some people at the international office of my university, I ended up applying for the Peace Corps and a program to teach abroad. For both I would be teaching. As going abroad was my number one priority, I easily adjusted my mind to accommodate teaching as an option. I ended up teaching English in Spain.

It turned out that I enjoyed teaching. And after three years of it I became quite comfortable in the classroom. I enjoyed making lessons and I looked forward to giving them. I liked watching my students grow, and I took pride in the fact that I was taking part in forming the minds of the next generation.

Now I am planning my future career around being a teacher

After three years abroad, my eyes opened to the fact that I was meant to be a teacher. What I thought were shortcomings were only insecurities from being in one place too long. I needed a new experience, a fresh start and some perspective to guide me to a new way of thinking about my future. My experience teaching abroad and being abroad was certainly indispensable to molding my thoughts and galvanizing a new career path.

My experience abroad also helped me stand out back home. I was extended offers without a teaching license, one of which I accepted. I am now on the path towards becoming a licensed teacher in the U.S. I know that this will open up even more opportunities both at home and abroad.

None of this would have been possible without taking the risk to travel in the first place. I could never guarantee you that your individual results will coincide with mine. Not all risks have rewards, that’s why they are risks. But I will tell you this: I don’t think you will regret your international experience. Whether it was good or bad, you learned, you grew and you experienced it for yourself. It doesn’t have to inspire your career path to have value; what is important is that you can view yourself and your place in the world a little better based on knowledge you obtained from outside your usual scope. That isn’t just valuable. It’s irreplaceable.