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Couples teaching abroad - is it possible?

12th August 2019

By Lara Treacy

Are you and your significant other both qualified teachers? Are you looking for a job abroad? Are you wondering whether it is a good idea to apply for jobs together? Read on and you will find the answers to your questions.

When it comes to teaching abroad there are actually more advantages than disadvantages to working together. Let’s have a closer look at some of them.

Financial advantage

Two incomes are always better than one, right? There are plenty of jobs out there that do not pay that well, but would be a great experience for you because you have always wanted to visit that country, or because it would look good on your CV, or both.

Even if you are going to a country where salaries are not very high, having two incomes and sharing accommodation and living expenses is definitely going to work in your favour. Depending on the country some schools will provide accommodation to their teachers. You will only pay utility bills. However it might be wise to do some research and have realistic expectations about the kind of accommodation you will get. In some countries, for example, you might not have a washing machine in your apartment. If you manage your budget right, you will be able to put enough money aside for going on adventures together, trying out new things and travelling both within and outside the country.

Mutual support

A move to another country can be quite stressful, especially if it is your first time abroad: you do not know what to expect and it can take time to adapt to the new culture and language and make new friends. Be prepared to feel homesick at times and to miss familiar things from home, like your favourite food, or a night out with friends in your favourite bar. But rest assured everybody goes through the phases of culture shock to some degree. Things start to get better. You adapt and begin to get your bearings and feel more comfortable in your new surroundings.

Having someone who is on the same wavelength by your side, and experiencing things together will significantly reduce the stress and the pressure of adapting to your new life and job abroad. When one of you is feeling blue, one can cheer the other up and offer support and encouragement.

Professional advantage

Working together is great fun! You can help each other out when you hit some snags; bounce ideas off each other; help with lesson planning and homework or test corrections; give each other tips on activities to use in a classroom. You can also complain to each other at the end of the day about difficult students, or other work-related issues and be sure that your other half fully understands and sympathises.

It might also be easier to find a job as a couple. Most schools are looking for more than one teacher at a time and some of them will be more than happy to offer a job to a couple. In fact couples may even be preferred to single teachers as there is a better chance that they might want to renew the contract instead of being on the move and looking for new adventures all the time.

Fun

Of course you will make new friends in your new job in a new country, but it is so nice to have someone you love (or really like, if you haven’t yet got that far in your relationship) with you so you can go on adventures together, and share all the positive and crazy experiences from day one! You will create beautiful memories together and have something special to share with your friends and family at home.

There are some other considerations that you need to be aware of when making a decision to travel abroad to work together.

Working together can put your relationship to the test

Some people can’t stand the idea of working together with their other half and they think that spending so much time together both at home and at work can affect their relationship. On the personal level, you can get bored with each other and you might feel like you need your own space and some “me” time.

On the professional level you can become too competitive and jealous of each other’s success, one of you can become too bossy, or you can start projecting work relationships onto your personal relationships, but guess what - all this can happen in any relationship, even if you are not working together.

Here is a little test to see if working together is for your:

Imagine waking up together… having breakfast together…going to work together… seeing each other at work…maybe having lunch together… coming home together…preparing for lessons together… talking about your day… spending your free time together… spending your weekends together…

How does it make you feel? If you want to run away screaming, then working together is definitely not for you. But if it makes you feel fine, then go for it!

If you are the kind of person who cannot imagine working together with their significant other, but still wants to go abroad to teach and does not like the idea of a long distance relationship, you will be glad to hear that there is a solution for you. How about applying for jobs in different schools? You can still travel and live together, but each of you will be going to work in a different school and that way you can avoid working together, but still enjoy the benefits of travelling and living together in a foreign country.

Do your research

One other important thing to consider, especially if you are going to work in the Middle East or in a Muslim country, is cultural and legal requirements. Make sure to do your research before you apply for a job as a couple.

For example, if you are going to a Middle Eastern country, be prepared to respect their cultural norms and not to demonstrate your affection in public: no hand holding or kissing.

Also if you are applying as a couple and expect to be living together in the same apartment provided by the recruiting company or school, make sure you can prove your status as a couple. Some countries, like Saudi Arabia would not even consider you if you are not married, but in some other countries, like Oman, you might get away with not being married but living together. Just make sure you have all the information before making the move - taking risks may not be a good idea.

These are some of the things you need to know to make an informed decision about travelling abroad together as a couple to teach. It is definitely possible and even advisable, so you can start looking for a job right now. Soon you will be able to go camping in the desert and watch camel racing in Oman, go wine tasting in the Valley of the Beautiful Woman and relax in the thermal baths in Hungary. You might prefer to experience cold Russian winters or to go see the Great Wall of China. Whatever your choice, adventures are waiting!

Lara Treacy

Lara has over 18 years’ teaching experience and has lived and worked in Russia, Hungary, China, Oman, Ukraine, Ireland, Portugal teaching English in colleges, universities, language schools, in-company and online.

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