Should I Continue to Prepare to Teach Abroad in the Midst of COVID?

Teaching abroad

I received this message from one of my career coaching clients the other day:

As you already know I have my CV and cover letter prepared to apply for a few positions in S. Korea. However, I was about to start the apostille process last month before this coronavirus situation. I was planning to do the process myself since I had plenty of time to finish it by the application deadline.

However, I go [sic] off track when I started preparing to teach remotely at my current school. I still want to teach abroad if it is a possibility any time son [sic]. Do you think I should continue to prepare to teach abroad in the midst of COVID? I don’t want to waste my time or money if I can’t get a teaching position in S. Korea.

My short answer to this question is “yes”. If you are preparing to teach abroad and this is still your desire even in the midst of this situation, you should continue to prepare for the process. There is a strong likelihood that travel restrictions may not allow expat teachers to begin positions in the upcoming fall term.

However, once the global economy is reopened a large number of expat teachers will be needed to start around January 2021. Chances are schools will be hiring more than double the usual amount of expat teachers during this time. As such, if you meet all other qualifications and have your paperwork ready to go you will have a better chance of getting hired.

Preparing for an expat journey generally requires a bit of groundwork in terms of obtaining passports, visas, and official documents. There is also an additional step that requires expats to get certain documents authenticated by institutional, regional, and national authorities. This process can take some time even in the regular course of business. However, there are currently significant delays in many government processes that could delay this process even further. So my advice is to start or continue the process now.

Working and living abroad also requires a certain level of mental and emotional preparedness. This aspect of preparedness is amplified by the current situation. You really need to consider the many possibilities that may be involved in an international move post COVID-19. You need to prepare yourself and your loved ones (those travelling with you and those staying behind) for the impact of this virus on the economic, social, and political climate in other parts of the world.

Chances are you are going to get a great deal of resistance from your family and friends about moving abroad now more than ever. You will need to have the mental fortitude to press forward if you truly desire to teach abroad in the coming months or years. So you need to properly prepare yourself for this aspect of your journey as well.

One last piece of advice I have is to not quit your current job. If you are among those who were blessed to maintain your current job and income during this crisis try to stick it out as long as possible. There is already a high level of uncertainty right now – adding additional challenges to the situation is not in your best interest.