Four Reasons I'm Scared to Work Abroad

Lorraine in Shinjuku Lorraine Chai

Written by  May 22, 2017

My top challenges—and how I'm tackling them. 

Working abroad has been a dream of mine that I always thought would never happen. But now that my dream is coming true—after months of interviews and applications, I have been offered a job at a private English language school in Japan—the nervousness and fears are beginning to creep in.

I'm moving to the Land of the Rising Sun in less than two months. There is no turning back. My one-way ticket has been purchased. I've given notice at my current job. My visa has been stamped on my passport. And yet, I still feel uneasy about my decision. 

Here are my top four fears of moving abroad:

1. Leaving my friends and family

I think this is the first fear that occurs through everyone's head. I am moving to a different country and that means I can't go for drinks with my friends after work, or talk to my parents when I get home. I've never really lived alone before, and I consider myself a social person. I need to be around people.

I experienced a similar situation when I was beginning university and was in a completely different environment than my hometown. I moved out and had to rent a place and I made friends there, too. So I should treat it like going back to school, except in a different country.

2. Leaving my career

I am a career-driven person, and so I worry that I'll be jobless when I return to Canada.

It's a common stereotype that teaching English abroad will not help people in their career. In fact, I have been discouraged by my peers as it is looked down upon and considered a waste of time.

However, I also learned that no matter where you go and how long you are away from your country, the job market stays the same, regardless if you come back in a year or five years. Also, teaching English can provide many transferable skills such as communication, team work, interpersonal, and sales skills that are all valuable assets in the job market.

3. Not liking the job

I have never had a professional teaching job before. So there is nervousness occurring in my head as the day gets closer to my departure date.

I have to realize that no job is perfect, there are positives and negatives aspects of all jobs. I also experienced ups and downs with my current job in Toronto. So, I just have to keep an open mind on the situations I encounter.

4. Struggling with the language difference

Although I've been to Japan before, living there is different from visiting. I may not be living in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka that may have a large expat community. This means I may not be surrounded by people speaking (or even understanding) English.

The more I think about the struggles in communicating with a language that I hardly know, it makes me more excited to learn it, too. And what better way to become fluent in a language than to be exposed to it constantly.

I believe it is 100 per cent normal to have fears in this big life-changing event. I am risking a lot to work in a country where I do not know the people, the language, or even have the professional experience.

If you are going through the same situation as I am, just remember it is okay to be scared. But when we overthink these fears, we tend to not pursue our dreams. My friend sent me a quote that reads: "Worrying won't stop the bad stuff from happening, it just stops you from enjoying the good stuff." I will have to keep reminding myself why I am here and that I was given an amazing opportunity that not everyone is able to take.

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Lorraine Chai

Lorraine Chai is a tourism professional that loves to learn about different cultures. To pursue her dream, she took an English teaching job for a private language school in Japan. On her spare time, she likes to chase mountains and uncover local Japanese foods.

Website: https://www.instagram.com/chailatt3/

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