I wish somebody had told me this first…
As an Australian SLP living and working in the United States I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! Working abroad as an SLP is wonderful….
But these are some of the things that I wish somebody had told me before I decided to work abroad as an SLP:
1. The whole process can take a long time
You don’t realise how much paperwork, certifications, licences etc. you may need, until you are halfway through the process. It took me 6 months to find a position until I entered the country. A lot of the things that you need to apply for will have a 4-12 week processing time, plus there is a lot of running around, so it really is a ‘waiting’ game.
2. It can cost a lot of money
When you add up flights, obtaining licences/certifications and the cost to buy new things for your house, it is likely that this initiative could cost quite a few thousand dollars. Plus a little more. Just be prepared and have more in your budget.
3. You need a support person/people
You may not realise it before you decide to go ahead with this, but moving to and working in another country is really stressful. You will need someone who will let you vent your frustrations on how much things cost, how long they take and why are you doing all of this in the first place. This person will keep you on track!
4. I wish I knew someone else who did this
It would have been so much easier if I would have known an SLP who worked overseas just to give me the tips and point me in the right direction. Search on online forums and see if anyone can answer your questions as it is likely that someone out there has already done what you want to do.
5. You will still be stressed when you first arrive
This is not a holiday… you will likely have to look for a place, buy a car, get phone/internet connection and that is all non-work related. My first few months were stressful and a little bleak because I thought it would be exciting like going on a holiday! All you have to do is adjust your expectations (and not expect that you will tick off all the great attractions in the first month) so that you don’t get disappointed.
6. You will feel like a student again
All the lingo, acronyms, departments, government organisations (and spelling!) and laws may have to be relearned. You will feel like you are on your first day on student placement except that you know how to do therapy. People took for granted that I knew what an RTI meeting was, FERPA rights and the difference between a 504 and an IEP. So you may go back to not knowing what anybody is talking about and feeling lost, confused and questioning if you will ever learn all of the things that are seemingly ingrained into your new culture!