One of our exceptional Canadian educators, Alex, has taken her teaching career abroad to Wales!

She’s been having an incredible time for the past 10 months and has collated her best tips, advice and insights for those of you eager to do the same! Read all about her journey:

Why teach abroad?

I really can’t convince you why you should teach abroad, but I can tell you the reasons why I chose to. The technical answer I’ve given people is that I wanted to experience the difference between the Canadian Education System and the UK Education system, and I’ve learned a lot which I have shared with family and friends who are working in education back home – mainly their policies in classrooms.

Now, every school is going to be different; that’s a given no matter the country. I was lucky because my first two long-term roles were in schools that had such a supportive admin – Headteacher, department heads etc. – as well as the staff. I felt like I had people to go to if I had questions or needed assistance. And the geeky answer is that I wanted to be closer to filming locations, but after living here for almost 10 months, I know that those aren’t the only reasons now.

I’ve known with each move I’ve made – within my own province to another province and back home again – I’ve grown and changed as a person, and that this move would be the same. I’ve learned so much about myself by being cut off, in a sense, from everyone and everything I know. By not having that safety net here to catch me, it has forced me to look into new experiences and opportunities and say yes to more things. And I knew before I became good friends with my roommate that I would be okay doing that alone.


What made me choose anzuk? 

When researching about teaching abroad in 2021, it was simply a passive idea at the time. I had found the anzuk website when I was neck deep in watching Bondi Rescue and thinking about moving to Australia or the UK. So, I filled out their interest page on the website and was almost immediately contacted by someone.

Donald was great at helping me learn all about what anzuk had to offer. When I switched my thought process from moving to Australia to moving to Wales instead, the team was very supportive.  A big driving force for me was knowing that anzuk would be there to help me with all of my visa paperwork, and that they would actively help me to find the right job. Everyone I’ve spoken to has always been kind and helpful whenever I’ve needed guidance on anything. They were right there every step of the way – from when it was just an idea in 2021, to now teaching in Wales in 2024.


How did I find the support from anzuk?

Their support has been great, I’ve asked a lot of questions to not only the team, but to the schools I’ve been in. Asking questions is truly the best thing you can do if you’re unsure about something. I’m sure the Wales team can attest to this, but I would always email or text them when I had questions and they would support me in finding the best possible answer or pointing me in the right direction. Also, following the passing of my father, the team were very sympathetic and quick to offer if I needed time off or anything from them at all which was greatly appreciated.


Differences in the UK vs Canada?

Besides the school uniforms, I think one of the biggest differences between Canadian and Welsh schools is the variety of courses they offer, and that everyone in some sense all take the same courses. I would have loved to take Food and Nutrition when I was in school but because I was in Band, it didn’t fit into my schedule which I felt was unfortunate. The schools I’m in here in Wales really show that there are core courses that everyone takes, then as they get closer to their GCSEs and A-Levels they get more centralised in a sense.

The curriculum also has major differences. Here in Wales, the curriculum is set out with a purpose – it follows specific requirements for the students to do as the content will be included in their exams at the end of the course. Whereas in Canada, the curriculum is more like a guideline, for example, “you must cover an era of history”, but it doesn’t specify what era, nor does it give you any resources to use. I’m lucky that in my Education degree, we created a lot of resources that I retained copies of, but in Wales, the curriculum will state something along the lines of “X needs to be done by this date, and then you need to start Y, and here are all the copies and resources you need”, and all the teachers of that subject will be teaching the same thing, only varied depending on what level they are academically.

In another school I was in, I was working with SRB (Special Resource Based – it’s equivalent to Resource and Learning Centre) where the students are in a mainstream school but in their own classes where they are learning with people of similar learning needs and smaller class sizes. It was amazing to see the way these students were able to learn without having to feel excluded in a class where they’re the only ones doing differentiated work. It was truly an amazing experience.


What do you enjoy most about teaching overseas? 

I love how accessible everything is here. You can walk just about anywhere, or you can hop on a bus or train and get anywhere you need (though the delays can be a pain, but you get used to it). When people say it’s so easy to travel over here, they aren’t lying. The schools are great too, especially if you’re lucky enough to get a long term role in a school where you can build relationships with the staff there as well.

What are your tips for other educators on making friends in another country? 

For starters, don’t be afraid to move by yourself and live with complete strangers. Don’t be afraid to say yes to new opportunities. Can it be challenging in a new country that you don’t know? 100% – but that’s okay.

When I moved over here I was okay with the idea that I might not make any new friends right away and I was comfortable and confident enough in my own company, so I knew I didn’t have to rely on others. Thankfully though, my roommate and I have gotten really close and I’m lucky that I have become good friends with her. She has introduced me to her friends who have become mine. Something that she has told me recently is that she actually didn’t make her friends until only a couple of years ago, and that some people she had met were merely stepping stone friendships to her real friendships that she’s developed.

You have to be okay with some people entering your life for short bursts of time, because once you find your people – which you will – you’ll be good. You’ll be okay regardless, just remember that. Take a deep breath, and you’ll be alright. You’ll find your people.