Teacher Diaries / Vietnam

What We Have Learned While Teaching Abroad as a Couple

Ellie Borrell

Ellie Borrell

November 14, 2019

Eddie and I embarked on our adventure to Teach English in Vietnam as a newly married couple. We have encountered a number of different ups and downs and hurdles along the way whilst teaching abroad as a couple. Some of which we expected. Many of which caught us by surprise. 

man and woman standing with ocean in background

Eddie and Ellie on the Hai Van Pass, which connects Hue and Hoi An, Vietnam

It is no lie that we have learnt a lot about ourselves as individuals. The cliché term “I found myself whilst living abroad” applies more than you’ll expect. No matter how much you may hate it. However, the experience has certainly taught us a lot more about ourselves as a couple. We’ve become more of a unit than I ever thought possible. 

I will begin by discussing the highlights of our time as a couple teaching abroad, exploring the things that have changed us for the better, making us more functional than ever. I will follow with how teaching abroad has impacted us in confusing and challenging ways. Sadly, it’s not all sunshine and roses, like most relationships. Often it can be a harsh reality check. But that’s part of the wonders of this whole experience.

Teaching Abroad as a Couple: The Positives

Time For Yourselves as a Couple

When you make a choice to leave your home country to move abroad as a couple, you’re choosing a life with that significant other in a new and foreign environment. 9 times out of 10 you’re heading to a country where you don’t know anyone, leaving lifelong friends and family behind. 

As a result, you’ll find that all of a sudden you have all the time in the world for each other. Days off can be spent exploring your new home, traveling the country, getting to build new relationships and finding your own routine. You’ll begin to know each other on a whole new level, even if you’ve been together over 5 years! 

You can wave goodbye to family politics at Christmas and social demands of being home. You’re not living for the weekend now! You’re living every day with a fresh outlook. Refreshing to say the least. 

A New Routine

Moving abroad to teach English in Vietnam meant that our day-to-day routine changed drastically. Having worked for many years in dull 9 to 5 jobs in the city, we were craving a new routine. Eddie and I were placed in a Language Centre, where we started working 5-9 pm during the week and 8 am to 7 pm on the weekends. Both of us were given the same days off during the week. This is normal practice for a couple teaching in Vietnam with TravelBud. 

As a result, we quickly slipped into a new routine. One we absolutely love! Our days off are spent:

  • Lazing at the side of a large outdoor swimming pool with a book
  • Attending yoga classes or going to the gym
  • Writing online with a tasty coffee 
  • Trying all of the wonderful restaurants in the city and sampling the best Vietnamese street food you can imagine
  • Hopping on our motorbike and exploring National Parks or beaches 

What’s not to love?

Man in classroom with Vietnamese students

Eddie in his classroom at the language center TravelBud placed us at

Travel Prospects and Saving Money

Due to the location of Vietnam, we have the privilege of being able to fly to most places in Southeast Asia for a reasonable price. We have spent our holidays exploring over 7 different countries so far! A generous salary and a low cost of living means that saving as a couple is perfectly achievable. As a result, our opportunities to travel increased significantly. 

We have been able to explore countries we never thought possible! And this is all a result of teaching abroad as a couple. 

friends looking out over cityscape inTaiwan

Visiting Taiwan with new friends was a highlight of the travels that our teach abroad adventure has made possible.

Teaching and a New Gang

Eddie and I were placed in the same language center in Vietnam. As a result, we were given the opportunity to grow together as teachers and get to know our new positions.

Welcomed into our new centre with open arms, we settled in no time at all. With the support of fellow teachers, we soon found our place and began to enjoy our new jobs. The kids were nothing short of amazing and soon found a special place in our hearts. We began to build new friendships with people from all over the world. Even traveling with some to different countries! 

woman arranging bags on motorcycle

Motorbiking is a popular way to see much of Vietnam.

Teach Abroad as a Couple: The Challenges

Too Much Time as a Couple

Funnily enough, it is possible to spend too much time together as a couple. It didn’t take long for Eddie and I to start craving our own personal space. Back home, we both worked different jobs and had our own friends and spent a lot of time away from each other, while appreciating the little time we did have together.  

In Vietnam we teach in the same center, have the same work schedule and the same circle of friends. As you can imagine, over time this became increasingly challenging over time and the more time we spent to each other, our dependency on one another grew! 

It became clear that we needed to make time for our some much needed “me time” and space from one another. We slowly began to make our own circle of friends and find our own routines and as we did, our relationship quickly returned to its usual state. Finally settling into our new lives completely. 

Home Sickness

You might be surprised to hear that homesickness affected our relationship so drastically. In fact, I’d say it was actually the most challenging element of teaching abroad as a couple.

Homesickness affects everyone differently. You cannot predict when it will hit. And it certainly hit Eddie and I at different times. I never really experienced it at all but Eddie became very homesick within the first 4 months. Heavily affected by the change in life and the separation from his friends and family. He was even unsure if teaching was for him. As a result, it was a challenge for me to remain positive and to not blame myself. 

You have to remember that homesickness is natural though. A move to the other side of the world is bound to hit you hard at some point. It’s important for couples not to blame one and other. It’s a choice you have both made and you need to tackle it together. Unconditional support has never been more apt and supporting each other through these challenging times will only bring you closer together.

My relationship with Eddie has never been stronger as it is thanks to these challenges we’ve live through together.

Is Teaching Abroad as a Couple a Good Idea?

The short answer is YES!

man and woman in imperial city, hue, vietnam

Ellie and Eddie on holiday, visiting the Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam

It is not without its challenges, but such is life, and overall it is the most incredible decision we’ve ever made. Moving abroad to a foreign and unknown country is inevitably daunting and scary. But when it’s done with your significant other it’s so much easier. You have each other to lean on, which is always going to be an added bonus. 

Keep up with Ellie and Eddie:

Instagram: @idiotsteachabroad 

Blog: Idiots Teach Abroad

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