7 things I’ve learned in 7 months abroad

  1. Celebrate all accomplishments:  Whether it be engaging all of your students through a fantastic lesson or receiving positive feedback from senior leadership, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on what you do well, not just what went wrong. Some days, your accomplishments will be getting out of bed and making it to work on time. There is nothing wrong with that. 
  2. Self-care is key: I am a better person and much better teacher when I get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat foods that don’t come out of a package. We all have days where doing all of those things isn’t an option, but making a conscious effort to act in ways which help us be the best version of ourselves will make life much easier. 
  3. Perfect your poker face: Teaching internationally will expose to many different cultures. You will see and experience things you wouldn’t at home. In class, during parent meetings, in the workplace; sometimes it’s best not to give an immediate reaction. Keeping your cool and thinking things over will never turn into a regret. 
  4. Age really is just a number: I’ve met many people since I moved to Dubai. Some of my closest friends are my mother’s age. I’ve also met individuals my mother’s age who act like they’re in high school (and not in a good way). Make sure you surround yourself with people who are positive, loyal and admirable. 
  5. Brush things off: In a perfect world, everyone would be well-intentioned, inclusive and kind. We don’t live in a perfect world. Minimize contact with negative people and move on with your day. This is something I’ve been preaching to close friends for years but it wasn’t until I moved away that I started following my own advice.  
  6. Wine is your friend: Buy a few bottles every time you pass by duty-free. You will thank yourself when you’ve had a rough day and the voices of 25 small children are still ringing in your ears at 4 pm. 
  7. Keep a record: My last weekend in Canada, my friends gave me a notebook as a parting gift. I filled it up with notes and memories whenever I got the chance during my first few months in Dubai. I love being able to look back and see how I have evolved, personally and professionally, since moving away.