Prepare yourself and your wardrobe to make the perfect first impression at your teaching job in Asia!
Whether you have taught in your home country or are completely new to the education game,
teaching in Asian countries presents a whole new atmosphere. There are different rules of culture and custom, different social faux pas to avoid, and different styles of dress deemed appropriate.
Let's start with the ladies:
One of the biggest differences (in my opinion) between what is acceptable to wear to work in my home country and what is acceptable to wear to work in Asia is...
Drum roll please...
Not that I was wearing anything very plunging or revealing in the US, but in Asia, a whole new level of conservative is expected when it comes to the chest area.
Many Western ladies, such as myself, find this challenging because, if you are even a bit well-endowed up top, it can be difficult to find a lot of outfits that will completely cover that up.
In some Asian countries, you will also find requirements about leg coverage. You may be expected to be covered down to the knee or even below. You may be asked to always wear leggings under a dress or skirt. (That second one is particularly common if you teach young children and have to be very physically active.)
And now, the men:
For gentlemen, the requirements are generally more routine, but may also feel a bit uninspired and constricting.
Think: Anything you would wear to a nice restaurant or a country club.
Wait, there's more:
Now, let's talk non-clothing regulations.
With ALL of these, you will want to stick to the side of conservative.
There are variations, of course, from school to school and country to country. But, you will find very few Asian employers that are comfortable with big, showy tattoos or noticeable facial piercings being visible to students.
So, here's the plan:
Now, having said ALL of that, do not be discouraged. As long as you are creative and flexible (and you probably are, if you are going into this field of work), you will be just fine.
Have a large, colorful tattoo on your arm? Pack plenty of long-sleeved shirts.
Adore pastel-colored hair? Get some of that semi-permanent stuff you can use when you have long weekends or vacations.
Want to wear some dresses that are a little on the short side? Leggings are your new best friend.
Not ready to say good-bye to your facial hair? Pack the tools you need to keep it looking trim and tidy.
And - I can't stress this enough - find out what your employer expects BEFORE you pack. You will save yourself a big headache later.