Teaching Abroad – The Gift Of Travel

9__1_This month we have a guest post on how to teach and travel at the same time. Elaine D. Smith is a former Mathematics teacher that packed it all in the travel the world and…. teach maths!

I’m not entirely sure why but a lot of professional teachers are also avid travellers. Many a school teacher has kept the class entertained with tales of their travels and that’s not only teachers in the foreign language departments.

Before I trained to be a teacher I was a free spirit. After school I travelled first to Australia and then spent an entire winter sking in France. It was a wonderful time and it lasted for 3 years but at the back of my mind there was always a nagging thought. I needed to do something with my life! I couldn’t just keep on travelling and having fun could I???

So I followed in my fathers footsteps and went to university, followed by teacher training. It wasn’t all bad. University was a blast and I actually liked putting my roots down. I made my parents proud and that was something that was important to me. When the time came I got my head down and studied hard. After trained I found myself a teaching placement and I was thrilled! I had did it! I was a teacher!!

Then the reality began to take hold. I loved my students, but was I really going to stay in the job for the rest of my days. Sure the holidays were better than most people are used too but for someone that had the memory of 3 years of freedom I begain to realise that 6 weeks in the summer just wasn’t going to cut it!

As well as teaching in the classroom I also had 2 students that I gave extra tuition to on the side. I didn’t really do this for the money it was more of a favor for a friend of my mothers but am I so glad that I did because this was the seed of the idea that set me free again!

It was after a tutition session with one of my students that I had the idea, what if I had enough maths students and I could do this remotely over skype.  I did some research and quickly found that this wasn’t such a crazy idea. Once this idea took hold there was no turning back for me.

I realised that I didn’t need to teach in a school to be a teacher. It seems so obvious to me now but I really hadn’t thought of it before. I was so focused on getting into the system that I didn’t realise that I could work around the system to combine my 3 loves, teaching, mathematics and travel!

Of course the naysayers were highly vocal…. you’ll never earn the same kind of money Elaine!

They were right. But they forget is that when you are living on a beach in Thailand you don’t need the same level of income as you do in the United Kingdom. My rent here is $200 per month for my beautiful apartment.

I also combine my Skype teaching with running an ecommerce business in partnership with my mother. I handle the online side of things and my mum back home packs things up and takes them to the post office.

About 50% of my income comes from teaching and the other 50% comes our gift hampers online business where we sell food, sweets and chocolate gifts. It’s a balance that I’m happy with. Too many people think that they need to choose 1 career. Why not have 2 or 3 jobs? Life is much more fun that way and you know what people say about having all your eggs in 1 basket!

It took me a year of planning and building up some skype students, I also saved all the money I could from my job before I took the plunge and handed in my notice.

I sold a lot of my belongings, packed everything left into to a carry on bag that would be suitable for most airlines and hit the road!

That was 3 years ago and I can honestly say I never looked back. I can always go back to static teaching if I want to…. but I can’t imagine ever wanting to!


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