I’ve done it. I printed my boarding pass, have my luggage in each hand, and I am in line ready to board the plane. I have a million thoughts racing through my mind – is this a good idea? What am I thinking? Is it too late to turn around? Focus. I take a deep breath. I scan my boarding pass and on to the window seat I go. 19C. I look around me, put my luggage in the overhead compartment and put my headphones on. I get myself comfortable and put on my favourite playlist. Eventually I fall asleep, and next thing you know it, I open up the shutter for the window and see the sun starting to rise. I forget about those nerves, and I smile.
“Prepare for landing.” Says the captain. The flight attendant walks around ensuring our seats are upright and tray tables up. This is it. I am landing in the United Kingdom in the next 20 minutes. My stomach starts to turn, but this time, in excitement.
We start to descend, and all I see is green. This is a lot different from what I have seen before. I see hills and different style houses. In my mind, one of the biggest steps I took was to get on the flight in Toronto; now I am ready for my next biggest step – walking off the plane to a different country – the UK.
As I walk off the plane I think to myself, will I be able to adapt? After being in the United Kingdom as a teacher for 3 years, the answer is absolutely.
Here are a few ways help you adapt to the UK:
Depending on which part in Canada you are coming from, you will have a time difference of 4-8 hours. You will either be able to speak to your friends or family home prior or after work, especially on the weekends. To adapt to this, schedule Skype or phone calls with these individuals that suit both of you.
Do Activities That You Would Do At Home
What did you do for fun when you were back at home? Did you go out with friends? Did you bike ride? Dance? Zumba? Hockey? All these things can be done while being in the UK. When I was teaching in the United Kingdom, I took part in ice hockey (yes, ice hockey in the UK!), Zumba and of course, making friends at my school that would go out on a Friday night!
Travel, Travel, Travel!
One of the reasons many go to teach in the UK is to travel. The United Kingdom is a gateway to Europe. You can travel to Paris on train in 1.5 hour. Fly to Ireland for cheap and in less than an hour. Italy is a short flight away as well! This is an excellent opportunity to make the most out of your time in the UK!
Use Apps To Keep In Touch With Home
When you are in the UK, costs can add up quickly if you choose to use airtime, data etc. Why not use things that are free? This will help with speaking to the ones you have at home, or just apps in general to get around!
- Fongo – app that allows FREE outgoing and incoming calls. That’s right. FREE. It is a VOIP service. If you decided to buy a UK sim card and have data on your phone, this app is perfect. You can use this app on data or wifi to make the most of it. Even people at home can call the LOCAL number that is provided by this app, so they can call you as well! (Especially for free if that area code is included with their own plan!).
- Whatsapp – Free app for texting. If you have a smartphone, you can use this app. You can decide to keep the number you originally had, even if you change to a UK simcard!
- Around me – free app that shows what is around you – restaurants, bars, coffee shops, pubs etc.
- Skype – Free service to use over wifi/data if they other individual has Skype as well. You can also pay monthly for unlimited calls to Canada/USA (less than $10) if you wanted to call from your computer! This works for both mobile and landlines.
- London tube map – free app that shows the entire tube map (even offline!).
English Membership Card And Under 25 Railcard
You can get either one of these while in the UK. The English membership card gets you in to numerous historical sites for one low price (£41). Some sites are not included (I.e. Windsor castle).
The under 25 rail card costs 30 for the entire year. This is for 16-25 year olds and you get 1/3 off certain trains. This is an excellent way to adjust to the UK, and save money! Get yours here.
Remember Why You Came In The First Place
Why did you come over to teach in the UK? Everyone has their reasons, and as a teacher, it definitely is a passion for teaching. Knowing first hand, it can be difficult at times to adapt to the surroundings around you; but when you think about what you went to school for, and how this is helping your long term goal, this all is worth it. Trust me. You will adapt with no problems!
If you have any questions or would like to chat about what it was like as a Canadian to teach in the United Kingdom, please get in touch with Joanna on Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 519-566-7571