Brooke Small: #TeachAbroadBecause ... It’ll expand your world

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Brooke Small is a world traveler who has lived abroad on and off for the past five years, spending time in Australia, Mexico, and Guatemala, as well as traveling to multiple other countries. She has done everything under the sun to fund her traveling lifestyle from studying abroad, working holiday visas, and volunteering. She currently teaches English online while building her own automated online business that will allow her to step back from teaching, fund her love of travel, and teach others how to do the same so they, too, can work from wifi and travel the world. 

Find her online at:
Instagram: @brooke_small
Facebook page: Frise Soul

Brooke Small: #TeachAbroadBecause ... It’ll expand your world

What motivated your decision to teach abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?
I always had a deep desire to travel the world ever since I was a young child, which was strange because my family hated traveling—and still to this day, none of them have traveled on a plane. So for me, teaching English was an opportunity to live abroad while doing something meaningful with my time. I began my teaching journey working online in Mexico and now Guatemala, which was mostly spurred by my desire to learn Spanish. But now I’m just in love with this part of the world, and plan to stay and adventure for a while before heading off to Southeast Asia. 

How did you find your job? What resources did you use?
I found my online jobs through my TEFL school International TEFL Academy. They provide you with a list of online schools, as well as partner schools on the ground in other countries. 

What was your experience like? Can you share some favorite memories - and challenges?
My experience teaching online has been really positive! I’ve gotten to know my students in China really well, as I have many regulars now. Getting a glimpse into their lives has been my favorite part. They tell me what they got up to over the weekend or how they spent their holidays, and it’s one of my favorite things. 

As for challenges, finding realiable wifi abroad can often be a challenge. In Guatemala especially, there are often scheduled power outages or random outages due to strong winds and rain, and with certain companies having very strict teacher cancellation policies, it can cause a lot of stress. That, combined with losing my online teaching job in 2021 due to China changing their laws regarding online teaching, spurred me to create my own online business that I am building on the side to ensure I have a reliable form of income so I can stay on the road indefinitely.

Brooke Small: #TeachAbroadBecause ... It’ll expand your world

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your teaching experience abroad?
Ooh, way too many to list, but definitely flexibility and resiliency. When you live abroad, you learn to be resourceful because you might not always have access to things you would back home. I’ve learned how to live with just the things I can fit into my suitcases. 

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today? If so, how?
Without a doubt, my time living abroad has turned me into the person I am today. I used to be an extremely shy child, and now I feel completely confident packing up and moving to a country where I don’t know a single soul. But mostly because I’ve learned that the people you meet on the road end up becoming some of the best people in your life. There’s just something about friendships abroad that bring you closer so much faster, because you become each others' family.

Brooke Small: #TeachAbroadBecause ... It’ll expand your world

Any advice for teachers thinking about working overseas? What are some highlights or things that you gained or changed your perspective?
Do it!! It’ll likely be the hardest, scariest, happiest, saddest, most incredible journey of your life—but you won’t regret a second of it. I have always walked away from my sprints abroad feeling absolutely unstoppable because of how much you’re forced to rely on yourself while you’re away. It teaches you that you’re fully capable. And if it ends up not being for you, you’ll walk away with a story of a lifetime and a pretty awesome experience to put on your resume. I was once hired for a job just because I had experience abroad!

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?
During my time in Guatemala, I’ve become great friends with many locals, which has really opened my world view and taught me a lot about the importance of being a conscious, responsible traveler. Throughout my travels, I’ve been able to see just how much of an impact tourists can have on a community, both good and bad. If you plan on moving abroad and spending an extended amount of time in one place, it’s so important to do your research and make sure the places you want to travel to won’t be negatively impacted by your presence; try to understand the unique challenges those communities face, and leave the community better than you found it by shopping local, donating to local charities if possible, or volunteering your time with local initiatives. And do your best to learn the language! It’ll allow you to become friends with locals and have a more authentic experience and understanding of the country you’re living in. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Traveling will change you in ways you never before thought possible. I never imagined when I set off on my first journey abroad 5 years ago that I’d utilize everything I learned on the road to begin building my own online business helping others make money online and travel the world, as well. If you have travel in your heart, it’s there for a reason! And if you’d like help figuring out how to work online while traveling the world, feel free to reach out on my Instagram @brooke_small :)

Brooke Small: #TeachAbroadBecause ... It’ll expand your world