5 Things You Need To Do Before Teaching Abroad
Teaching abroad is a wonderful opportunity to expose yourself to new cultures, network with people around the world, and gain incredible life experiences and insights in a learning environment unlike any other.
If you already have your TEFL certification, and a job offer accepted then. you can start getting excited for the most amazing experience of your life.
But right before actually leaving to teach abroad, there are some important things you need to consider and do before departing.
1. Research the destination
Get to know your location ahead of time. Once you know where you will be working, take some time to learn about the language, especially if they speak a different language than you. Learn about the culture and the religion. If there are strict religious rules where you are teaching, it might influence what clothes you pack ahead of time.
Obviously, on the ground you will learn much more about the nuances of everyday culture and mannerisms, the local cuisine, but knowing at a minimum things like how much to leave as a tip can help you avoid cultural faux pas during your first week.
2. Have a local phone plan
When you go abroad you are going to want a local phone, even if it's nothing more than a prepaid phone. In fact, in some countries getting a prepaid phone might be your only solution particularly if you are working in Africa or Asia.
It will be much cheaper for you to invest in a local phone plan with a local number rather than try to extend coverage on your existing phone for international calls, text, and data especially if you are teaching abroad for a year.
3. Prepare your budget
You need to have a budget in mind so you know how much you have to spend. You will be on your own and the currency exchange between your home country and your host country will fluctuate on a regular basis which means you can't plan down to the pound how much you are going to need. You also have to contend with fees from your bank for being overseas. Every time you conduct a transaction with your debtit card or take money out from an ATM your bank might charge you fees but can add up very quickly and you need to be aware of these.
Some people choose to open a local bank account for the duration of their stay which can be helpful because you can move all of your money at once and then operate on the local currency. Speaking of local currency, make sure you familiarize yourself with countries that have different types of money than yours.
For example: If you are teaching in South Korea remember that the equivalent of $1 or 1 pound in your home country is 1,000 won. As you start making exchange rates in your head when you go out on the town you need to be aware of this. Also, if you go to a country where coins are used regularly for small purchases, familiarize yourself with the different coins in your wallet so you don't get confused at the checkout.
4. Send your luggage ahead of time
When you travel abroad, the last thing you want is to be overwhelmed with excess baggage. Working abroad can be a somewhat chaotic transition especially when you don't know what you will need or you are heading to a location on the opposite side of the world where the weather might be different than in your region. If you are heading to an area that is just starting the winter season or the monsoon season, you might need to pack a lot of extra heavy gear.
Send your unaccompanied luggage ahead of time so that they arrive at your destination. This will make it much easier for you to set out on your new adventure confidently without being weighed down with your cases. Moreover, once you reach your destination you will start accumulating new things. Chances are you will realize you want a different duvet than the one provided by your accommodation, or maybe because of the exchange rate you can buy gifts for the upcoming holidays for all of your family, or perhaps there are just a few oversized items that you have put in your temporary dorm that mean a lot to you and represent some of the important lessons you learned on your trip.
So, when you head home, you will probably have bigger bags and more bags than you did on your trip there. This is definitely a time to send your luggage with a luggage delivery courier service so that you don't have additional baggage fees.
5. Get ready for culture shock
Finally, be prepared for some culture shock and homesickness. No one wants to admit that they miss home, but if you are teaching in a foreign country that speaks a completely different language, cut yourself some slack and find time alone in your dorm to watch your favourite TV show from home or listen to music in your native tongue. It is easy to get overwhelmed when everything is completely different but that doesn't mean you aren't enjoying the experience, learning from it, and immersing yourself. It just means you are human.