The instant I saw the ad I knew I was set for a life of adventure.
But I never imagined just how far my native language could take me: All the way from leafing through the classifieds section of The Globe & Mail, in Toronto, Canada, to a new life in exotic Hong Kong. In between I picked up teaching posts in Istanbul, Turkey and Seoul, Korea. Both were incredible experiences and I can tell you that having a job, which enables you to sip Turkish coffee on the banks of the Bosphorus, ramble through the ruins of Troy, and walk the frontline of Korea’s Demilitarized Zone, is an addictive way of life.
But what did the ad in The Globe & Mail say? It was a company looking for English teachers. That was a decade ago, and today I live in one of the world’s best cities, with every Western convenience and a fascinating Chinese culture.
Beyond the skyscrapers and the air-conditioned malls you’ll find incense-filled temples, vibrant street markets, and lively Chinese festivals. That’s why I chose to settle here (and teaching English is all about great destination choices).
This is the ideal base for adventurous expats. You’re only a few hours’ flight from anywhere in Asia and Hong Kong airport is a major hub. I’ve been camel-trekking along China’s Silk Road, explored the ancient temples of Cambodia, sailed along the Mekong River in Vietnam, spent time in the Himalayan city of Kathmandu, and, of course, had plenty of R&R on the beaches of Thailand. And believe it or not, Hong Kong is also a great outdoors location.
With 70% of the land reserved for parks, you’ll find breathtaking natural beauty along hiking trails, on outlying islands, and on clean beaches. I’m not surprised both the UN and World Health Organization say Hong Kong has the second-longest life expectancy in the world (Japan tops their lists).
I wouldn’t trade this life for anything!
Teaching has allowed me to eliminate debt, build a nest egg, and, most importantly, to pursue my passion for travel photography. But the biggest reward for me is the connections I make with my students as they improve their English. It feels great to walk into a classroom and see the excitement on kids’ faces as they cheer “Yeah! Mr. Mason’s lesson!”
English teachers are in high demand and you’ll find thousands of posts in every country. You don’t need experience or training to get started. The basic requirement is to be a native English speaker. In many countries you’ll also need to have a university degree of some kind; it depends where you want to go. Experience working with children is a plus. Many places also require certification for teaching English as a foreign language (there are many different programs available that offer a certificate).
To attract native speakers, schools in Asia tend to offer excellent benefit packages. A standard one-year contract generally includes generous salary, round-trip airfare, free accommodation, an end-of-contract bonus, subsidized health care, and paid vacation time.
The real beauty of this job is that you can pick up and go almost anywhere, knowing that you have the skills to fund an amazing life. My next big adventure will be building a house in Central America, learning Spanish, and continuing to work part-time. Teaching has opened up the world to me and it can do the same for you.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to learn more about other ways you can pay for your life or travels overseas, sign up for Fund Your Life Overseas, a free e-letter from International Living. Sign up here and we’ll send you a free report: Fund Your New Life Overseas With These 5 Portable Careers.