Returning home from my semester in Spain was a bittersweet moment for me. On the one hand, I was grateful to be back home near family and friends. On the other hand, I was left with the feeling of wanting more.


A year later, as graduation neared, I began applying for jobs in Spain. Any kind of job. Au Pair/nanny jobs. Corporate jobs. Teaching jobs. Jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry. I applied to any and all jobs without discrimination. But the harsh reality set in that no one was going to hire someone without a work visa. No one was going to sponsor a recent college grad with very little work experience and no real expertise. 

I had the same experience while attending grad school in Europe. While I was able to secure contract work during my nearly 4 years in Europe, I still struggled to find a permanent position abroad. In December 2010, I gave up, packed my bags and returned to the US. It was one of the worst days of my life. I felt like a failure.


After a few years in the US, and with a husband and debt, we decided that a life abroad is what we wanted…at least for a while. But how would we get visas to live abroad for at least one year?

The answer: get certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). 

Immediately, all the doors that used to be closed were now open. Even before we finished our certification, we were offered jobs in Turkey! The difference between the job hunt was night and day.

My husband and I had never been teachers, nor did we have a particular passion for teaching English. But what we saw was an opportunity to live in another country for 1+ years, lower our cost of living (resulting in saving money), increase our quality of living (I’ve said before that we lived like the 1% in Turkey) and add to our global, professional profiles. This is the easiest way to obtain a visa to live abroad for 1 or more years. 

And if you’re wondeirng how hard it is to find a job abroad, we were hired before we even finished our certification course!


If you’re not planning to go into teaching after your time abroad, I recommend teaching abroad for 1-2yrs. This will demonstrate your commitment to your job/employer as well as show that you have lots of experience applying and using your knowledge and skills. Even if you’re not planning to go into teaching as a profession, there are TONS of transferrable skills that come with any teaching experience abroad; including:

  • economic, cultural and geographic knowledge (specialized knowledge),
  • ability to adapt to a new environment,
  • ability to live and work with people from different cultural backgrounds (practical experience),
  • experience working in a multicultural team (practical experience),
  • ability to communicate across cultures (practical experience),
  • self-confidence,
  • writing and analytical skills,
  • business skills (especially if you work as a freelancer),
  • management skills, and
  •  using leadership skills to conduct classes.

After returning from teaching abroad, with the right job materials, employers will see you as someone who learns quickly, is adaptable to new surroundings, can work well with others, is eager to learn and someone who is up for a challenge.

Your Next Steps

Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Check out these awesome resources:

TEFL Articles (FREE)

Read blog posts about TEFL certification, getting a job abroad and many other TEFL-related topics here & here.

TEFL Consultation ($75)

From TEFL certification to finding a job abroad, I can help you find your way to a fulfilling teaching career abroad. After our consultation, you’ll have clarity on what you want out of the experience, strategies for finding the best job for you, answers to all your questions about any part of the process

Your consultation includes:

  • Pre-consultation Workbook – to help you reflect on your wants and needs
  • 30-minute Consultation– where we discuss your questions and options
  • Consultation Follow-Up Roadmap– which outlines a personalized plan of action to help you get started

BONUS  #1 | Because I know what it’s like to feel desperate to get abroad again (and the need to make money while abroad), I’ve partnered with the awesome people at International TEFL Academy (ITA) to get you $50 OFF your TEFL certification course. Just tell them Pouneh from Longing to Travel sent you! 

BONUS #2 | Once you’re signed up with ITA, send me your proof of enrollment and I’ll give you a free 30min TEFL consultation where you can ask me anything about TEFL and life abroad!

Book your consultation here:


One thought on “Teaching English Abroad – TEFL

  1. Teaching abroad has been a vivid dream for over a decade, but I never knew how to proceed. Should I do a CELTA or TEFL certification? Are online programs well-received internationally? How does one go about finding a teaching job overseas with a reputable institution? After my consultation with Pouneh, those questions were answered as well as a long list of others ranging from her experience in her online TEFL certification program to what it was like teaching in Turkey and what she wished she knew before going abroad. She openly and honestly shared with me her thoughts and experiences thereby solidifying my decision to enroll in an online certification program with the International TEFL Academy. (I am very pleased with my choice!) If I hadn’t spoken with Pouneh, I don’t know that I would have found the courage to enroll in the course and finally bring my dreams to fruition!

    Liked by 1 person

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