Teaching Overseas: 7 Things to Do in Your Spare Time

by Lexa Pennington /
Lexa Pennington's picture
Mar 20, 2012 / 0 comments

You landed that aweosme job teaching overseas (congratulations!), moved, and have spent the last few months acclimating to your new country, neighborhood, school, students. It can be exhausting, especially when culture shock sets in and everything can seem more difficult than it actually is. While you probably don't have a lot of vacation time accrued yet, there are plenty of things to do in your spare time that can revitalize you. This, in turn, will enhance your teaching, lead you to enjoy your students and colleagues more, and once again have that joie de vivre about being in a new and exciting place.


1. Plan weekends away

Learn more about your country (or your neighboring ones, if you can find cheap flights) and play tourist. visit the temples, forests, national parks. Head to a beach, scuba dive or snorkel, and feast on the local cuisine. Explore the desert (take a 4wd tour!), tour historical sites, zipline through the canopy. Most importantly, interact with locals and ask what they love about where they are, what they are doing, their favorite foods. You'll come back with a renewed appreciation for both being a tourist - and having a home.


2. Volunteer

Plan a working holiday and volunteer. Whether your passion is for helping animals, kids, women's groups, libraries, schools, literacy, or another worthy cause, you'll be helping people (or animals) who need it. And, not only will you change others' lives, but you'll change your own.


3. Give back

Find small local businesses and support them. Talk with the owners and workers, and learn more about their lives, passions, hobbies. You might find someone looking for employment (hello, cooking lessons!), or someone who shares your hobbies (fly fishing?). Always be curious about where you are and who you interact with - and give back, as much as possible. It can be a smile, holding a door open for an overloaded mom, buying your morning coffee at a small cafe instead of at Starbucks, or hiring a cook instead of bumbling on yourself when you get home from work.


4. Take up a sport

Run with the local Hash House Harriers. Join the neighborhood football (soccer) team. Learn to scuba dive. There might even be an ice hockey team in the desert. You'll find (or rediscover) a new passion. It will help both your mental and physical health - and you'll make new friends.


5. Photo Walks

On g+, there is an enormous global photography community that just loves to take photo walks. Connect online, and then meet in real life for weekly photo walks. You'll gain a new appreciation for where you're living - and discover treasures you never knew existed.


6. Eat!

Do your best to try out all kinds of new foods. Head to the market and ask questions about ingredients - and ask for recipes! Join a gourmet group and cook meals once a month. Take cooking lessons. Visit farms where chili peppers, tea, coffee are grown.


7. Learn

Take a class that's all about where you are. You might learn ikebana, art, yoga, calligraphy, woodworking, stone carving, glass blowing, literature, music, cooking, cultural traditions, language - the sky is your limit! You'll gain a lifelong skill, an appreciation for the subject, and something to show off (and teach yourself) when you move back home.