By Matthew Clark on Wednesday Dec 29, 2010
We have all heard the benefits of teaching English abroad. Among the most commonly quoted—teaching English in a foreign country allows you to understand another culture and language (crucial in an increasingly global world); it will give you a changed, broader perspective in life; it’s a great platform to make a positive international impact; it’s a boost to your resume, etc. The truth is, I agree with all of the reasons listed above (and there are many others). Nonetheless, here are my personal top 5reasons that I’m glad I taught abroad:
5. Buckwheat. Living in Ukraine I discovered a new favorite food (and I love food). With 11 grams of protein and almost 9 grams of fiber in a ½ cup serving it’s incredibly healthy. It’s also versatile—I use it as both a potato substitute in breakfast skillets and as a noodle substitute in my Ukrainian Spaghetti dish.
4. Sauna. I didn’t even know what this was before I went abroad. Now that I’m back stateside I go monthly.
3. Students. Your presence alone will make a difference in the lives of your students. They may not always tell you and they may not entirely realize your impact on their lives until later, but being there is enough. By the way, this one works both ways—they will change you too, for the better.
2. Eating and Drinking. Alcohol is also often part of the culture in Eastern Europe. I almost never drank before I taught abroad, and didn’t drink in Ukraine for my first three months (I needed to feel comfortable before doing so). It was clear that my reluctance to drink was a point of contention with my host family; they seemed distrustful of me in the way that I would be wary of someone in the United States who was always drinking. Once I made the decision to drink with them a huge barrier fell away and we were able to develop our relationship further. I love and miss sitting around the table for hours, eating and drinking as good friends should.
1. Language. Я сильно люблю говорить по-русский! Speaking English just isn’t as much fun.
About the AuthorMatthew Clark
Originally from Colorado, Matt earned a bachelor’s in English literature from Wichita State University in Kansas, while also playing for the men’s basketball team. He joined the Peace Corps with his wife in 2006 and spent over two years teaching English in Ukraine. The experiences he had and relationships he developed during his service shaped many of the core beliefs he holds about international education. Matt is a huge advocate of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and the way it transcends cultural boundaries and connects people in ways that aren’t usually possible. He is the Jobs Advisor at BridgeTEFL.