Look for ways to strengthen and maintain your enthusiasm.
We all have been there before; alone in your new apartment, not wanting to go out onto the street to the nearby market, not wanting to be confronted with a bunch of people that are speaking a language you don’t understand, feeling tired all the time and wanting to sleep through your whole weekend, etc.
It takes some mental toughness to get your spirits up again, to grasp at a tiny bit of enthusiasm when you are knee-deep in culture shock emotions. If this is your third international school, you might have said to yourself, “this time it is going to be different. I am going to accept people’s offers of invitation to go out around the town. I am going to be more positive and active during the first 3-6 months after I arrive.”
Sometimes it feels like every other new teacher at your school is full of enthusiasm and you are the only one not feeling that way. However, it is true that all new teachers go through this tough stage of culture shock, which is trying to stay positive about your situation and keeping an upbeat attitude about the host country and culture.
Ways to increase and maintain your enthusiasm:
• Join a meetup.com group in your host city. There are many groups on that website from all over the world. Sometimes it is good to just get away from your work colleagues and meet some other expats in other industries.
• Invite some of the new teachers out for a drink at a bar in town, for a walk around the nearby park, for some dinner over at your new apartment, etc..
• Start up a blog about all your new experiences living abroad. Keeping your friends and family up to date with all your new experiences can be quite motivating, and your friends and family look forward to your new entries and enjoy hearing about all your adventures.
• Make sure you have some of your favorite TV programs to watch on your computer. We have all experienced in at least one of the host cities we’ve lived in the long wait time that there can be when getting internet installed in your new apartment. Having some TV programs or favorite movies to watch in the meantime can definitely keep your enthusiasm from dipping too low.
• Make sure you don’t pass up your first travel opportunity on the school calendar. Looking online for flights to new destinations can really boost your enthusiasm for the expat life that you have chosen for yourself. If you are not feeling like traveling, just start asking the other teachers at your school where they might be going. Once you hear where they are going, you will for sure want to get on the bandwagon and get your trip planned as well.
• Before you move, make sure to pack some of your favorite home country food products. When you have a day that you are feeling down, you can get one of these products out for dinner. Having some familiar foods can really make you feel back on track. It might just be too much of a shock to your system to only be eating the host country’s cuisine.
Does anybody have any more good ideas for keeping up your enthusiasm? There are many more for sure. Just try and keep in mind the reason that you decided to take on this new challenge and change in your life. The life of an expat is indeed quite nice, but it is not full of wonderful moments all the time. International school teachers need to be prepared to handle these tough situations we experience every once in a while when our enthusiasm for this lifestyle temporarily dims.
This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.