- Europe is on your doorstep
London is the gateway to all sorts of European cities and flights in Europe are much cheaper than flights in North America. While writing, I looked up flight prices for one month from today. Flights to Frankfurt are £48, flights to Madrid are £49, and flights to Budapest are £53. Did I mention those prices are for a return trip? If you’re living in London, a holiday to Spain is a normal part of life, and teachers here enjoy plenty of holidays.
- Schools are dying to hire you
I won’t sugarcoat it: teaching in London is hard. A lot of new teachers struggle with behaviour problems in their class or the British assessment system. But for new teachers willing to work hard, there are incredible opportunities available. It is not uncommon for a Canadian-trained teacher to be offered a full-year contract after a short phone interview. That’s just not something that happens at Canadian schools.
- Everything is free
In some ways, London is weirdly expensive (why so many private parks?). But where it counts, London is full of free activities. The British Museum? Free. The National Gallery? Free. A weird old architect’s house full of stolen mummies and nude mannequins? Also free. Hyde Park, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Library, and even the National Health Service are funded by the government. London is full of mind-blowing cultural activities without any fees.
- Everything has cultural significance
If you live here for a while, you’ll start to notice small blue plaques everywhere you go. Those are Heritage Plaques and they’ll let you know about sites of cultural significance. They are everywhere. Even buildings and towns that haven’t received a blue plaque yet are older than Canada. The first flat I lived in was built in the early 1800s. I taught Oliver Twist at a school in Barnet and, as we were reading, realized that Oliver and Dodger first met in Barnet. Charles Dickens used to live down the street from where I live now. London is full of these stories.
- You’re not trapped in a job
Sure, you can sign a one-year contract if you’d like. But London is full of flexible work options for teachers. You can get a guaranteed supply teaching job, which means you’ll have the freedom to choose when you want to work, but if you decide you’d like to work, you’re guaranteed to get paid. Or you can take a job for a few months. Even taking a year-long job and leaving a bit early doesn’t have the same penalties – London isn’t like some foreign countries where they’ll dock your pay and cancel your completion bonus if you decide you want to travel instead of finishing the school year. I’m not recommending starting a job you can’t finish, but I know that I felt better knowing I had flexibility and options.
- Fund your travelling
The British pound is a very strong currency. Even right now, post-Brexit, it’s holding up reasonably well. If you live cheap and save a quarter of your salary, you’ll have £100 a week to travel. That’s enough money to go abroad every single weekend. Alternatively, you could save up by visiting some of London’s free museums (see #3) and go away for the entire week every half-term break.
- The kids will think your accent is cute
The kids will think your accent is cute. People you meet in bars will think your accent is cute. Everyone will love that you’re the new kid from overseas and you will hear repeatedly, “I just love the Canadian accent.”
- Make friends from all over the world
Some of my friends from university came to London around the same time as me and we spent some time together, but I’ve also spent a lot of time with people from around the world. I have friends from South Africa, the Netherlands, the US, France, and New Zealand, and my husband is originally from China. London is full of people from all over the world and you’ll have the chance to make friends for life with people who grew up in a completely different culture.
- Reinvent yourself
People change a lot during university. Your friends from high school and first year think of you in a certain way, but the way they think of you isn’t always accurate by the time you graduate. You might be wrestling with new ideas or considering making some big changes in your life. Sometimes you need space to grow as a person without all the pressure of old friendships and your parents’ hopes for your life. Living abroad can provide that space. You have the chance to try new things and discuss new ideas without affecting your reputation back home.
- Because it’s London!
Who hasn’t wanted to climb the Monument, hear Big Ben chime, attend a service at Westminster Abbey, cross the Thames on London Bridge, whisper to a co-conspirator in the dome of St Paul’s, admire Van Gogh’s artwork in person, or examine the Rosetta Stone? Move to London because it’s London and there’s nowhere else in the world that comes close.