Some single women would love to teach English overseas, but are worried about their safety. They shouldn’t be. Not only do many countries around the world have far lower crime rates than the United States, but many are safer overall as well. I moved to Thailand to teach English as a single woman more than 10 years ago, and I haven’t regretted it for a second. Neither have I ever had any safety issues.
Here are just a few reasons why you should try it, if you too are a single woman wanting to teach English overseas.
Check out crime rates for cities – If you’re worried about teaching English overseas as a single woman (although unless you’re planning on going to Iraq or Somalia you shouldn’t be), check out crime rates for any city you might be interested in living in. You might be surprised many cities around the world, particularly in Europe and Asia, have lower crime rates than most cities in the United States. To find information about any city you might be interested in teaching in, whether it’s Tokyo, Madrid, Buenos Aires or Mexico City, the United Nations’ ‘State of the World’s Cities’ annual report is a good place to start.
As for smaller towns, if the crime rate of a city is a particular percentage, you can almost guarantee the crime rate in a smaller town in any country you end up in will be even lower.
Meanwhile, I’ve lived in Bangkok, Thailand for a decade and never felt unsafe once. In fact, I feel far safer here than I ever did when I was living in Los Angeles, a place where I would never have walked around alone at night, whereas in Bangkok I do that often.
Thousands of single women teach overseas – When you move to a different country to teach English, the first thing you’ll notice is how many other single women there are doing the exact same thing. Single women you will quickly become friends with, and who will tell you all the things they have learned since they arrived to teach.
When I first moved to Bangkok, I joined the Bangkok Women’s Writers group and, soon after, Bangkok Bookcrossers – a group that read and exchanged English language books. I met extremely interesting women through both of these groups and learned a lot about their experiences living in Thailand.
Women are welcomed by local communities – One thing I’ve noticed about living as a single woman in Thailand is how much I’m welcomed by the local community. Thais go out of their way to be friendly, helpful and kind, and the number of invitations I’ve received to go to dinner, spend a weekend at the beach or a day at a national park are huge.
You will find as a woman teaching English overseas, you are seen by the locals as a welcome gift, and a gift they want to take care of. So don’t be surprised if you are inundated with invitations and made to feel incredibly welcome, no matter which country you choose to teach in.
Other teachers are a wonderful help – When you first arrive in a different country to teach English, you will either have a teaching job already lined up or soon be getting one. Once you start working, you will meet so many other teachers, both at your school and within the teaching community, and you’ll learn about the place you live in from all of them.
Foreign teachers are an excellent resource with information about the best places to eat, and the ones to avoid. They’ll tell you where to buy teaching supplies, how to get the best prices, which shops sell western-sized clothing (a big deal in Thailand), which bars have happy hours, and where are the best places to meet the locals. They will also usually be up on the latest safety issues, if there are any, and will tell you the neighborhoods to avoid and those where you will have no problems.
Schools can be amazing resources – The first school I taught at in Bangkok was excellent for taking care of their teachers. There were 12 foreign teachers on staff, and we were all helped with either finding suitable apartments, figuring out bus routes from where we lived to school, told where the best supermarkets where and which bank we should open a bank account at. The school owner even offered me free use of her beachside condominum in Hua Hin when my parents came to stay, saying it would be a much nicer place to stay than at any of the hotels.
If you start teaching at a good school, you will find the administrative staff are often extremely helpful with any questions or problems you might have, and the local teachers too are more than willing to take you under their wing.
Don’t act like an idiot when overseas – While you would think this should be common sense, it isn’t always, particularly when it comes to younger women teaching English overseas.
Don’t go anywhere at night with men you don’t know, whether they are locals or other westerners. Don’t drink too much and particularly don’t get drunk in public places. Finding your way home when obliterated can not only be dangerous in any country, but can get you into situations you might regret. Dress conservatively and not in short skirts and with tops that leave nothing to the imagination, as many countries around the world deem revealing clothing to be inappropriate.
Finally, know where the local police station is so, if you do have any problems, you know where to go to report them.
In my 10 years teaching and living in Thailand, however, I know of only one woman who had any problems at all and that was because she put herself in a bad situation in Cambodia with a man she didn’t know while she was drunk and alone.
I won’t go into details but, needless to say, she was lucky she ended up coming out of it alive, as she may very well not have.
Use some common sense and, as a single woman teaching overseas in most countries in the world, you are highly unlikely to ever have major problems, particularly when it comes to your safety.