What to expect if you're thinking of moving abroad for work.

Working in Paris

What to expect if you're thinking of moving abroad for work.

Fresh baguettes. Accordion music playing softly on the streets. Charming cafés and endless cups of coffee to start the morning. The perfect French scenario was what I had set up in my mind for a new life in France. Reality was a little different than what I had anticipated, but the experience was no less amazing.

In the Fall of 2014 - after dreaming about it since I was a teenager - I finally made the leap and moved to France from the US. I would be teaching English, something that wasn’t necessarily my passion but as I had been working as a tutor after graduating university, and still wasn’t sure what to do with my career, I thought why not just go for it?

The program that I was accepted into was facilitated by the French government. They hired teaching assistants from all around to world to showcase different cultures to students of all ages.

I was placed with the youngest group, and taught half hour English lessons to kids aged 6 to 10. I had plenty of experience working with kids by that point, but never in a classroom setting, so this was definitely a change of pace for me.

I quickly had to learn how to be authoritative, something that didn’t come naturally to 23-year-old me. I also had a lot to learn when it came to planning lessons, scheduling, and working in a new professional setting.

Making the decision to move so far away from home helped me to grow as a person. For the first time I had to figure out how to do everything on my own, from making payments on my apartment to grocery shopping, as well as learning to dealing with loneliness head-on.

It took some time, but eventually I adjusted to my new routine and made friends with a few of the other teaching assistants in my program - some of whom I keep in touch with today! I stayed living and teaching in France for a full school year, and it was probably the best decision of my life.

what it's really like moving abroad for work

So you want to move abroad for work?

If you’re at home thinking that you may be interested in moving to another country for work, there are some considerations to take before rushing into a decision.

I was lucky enough to have EU citizenship, but initially getting citizenship involved a lot of paperwork and costs before I moved. It made my transition a lot smoother than if I had applied to the program as a Canadian citizen, so in the end the effort was worth it.

I suggest looking into possible dual citizenship if that’s an option for you, or else decide on the type of visa needed for the length of your trip.

It won’t come as a surprise but make sure to plan before you leave. While you’re abroad are you looking to travel or be in school? Will you be able to work remotely while you’re abroad, or are you planning to wing it and live off of your savings?

Everyone will have a different plan based on what works for your personality and your lifestyle, but being clear and realistic about your financial situation, and your career goal is a must before taking off.

Another thing to think about before moving is your housing situation. I chose to go with the accommodation recommended by my teaching program, but you may want to take time to look for an apartment, especially if this will be a long-term decision.

Do your research to find out what housing costs to expect and what kind of fees are involved in the moving process so that there are no surprises.

No matter your current situation, if you’re looking to try something new and immerse yourself in a new culture, a job in another country can be a great learning experience. You’ll grow both personally and professionally, while making lasting contacts and friendships.

If you’re ready to take a leap, it just might be the professional push you’re looking for!

Written by: Kate Mendonca

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