You're pumped and ready to get started on your adventure teaching abroad! But, don't take off just yet - there are a few things to do first.
1. Learn Some Basic Language
No one's expecting you to be fluent from Day One. But, I can tell you from experience, you do NOT want to get to a brand new country and realize you have no idea how to ask where the bathroom is. That becomes a very awkward game of charades.
Instead, take a little time before you travel to learn some basics in the local language, like:
|You're welcome.||Help me!|
|Where is the bathroom?||Do you speak English?|
|I don't speak ______.||What is that?|
|I don't understand.||Please give me ______.|
|My name is ______.||Where is _____?|
|How much is this?||I'm sorry.|
2. Research Tech Requirements
Every country has different specification as far as voltage, plug size, wattage, and so forth. I can't tell you how many hair dryers have sparked and died in my hand thanks to a lack of research on my part.
Depending on the differences between your home country and new country, it is best to either:
Make sure to consider EVERY electronic thing that you use. Otherwise, you'll need to add some phrases to your language learning list so that you can explain to your new landlord why the entire building is suddenly powerless and why your hair is standing on end!
3. Look Up Packing Needs
You'd be amazed at what things you can or cannot find easily in your new country. I was shocked, for example, to discover that deodorant in Korea was A) expensive, B) quite small, and C) sold in very few places. Listen people, some of us need deodorant!
And, if you're like me and require peanut butter to survive, you'll be out of luck in China. Consider throwing a jumbo-sized jar in your suitcase!
Every country you can travel to will have a few things that simply aren't there. Furthermore, if you will be living far from a major city, there will be even less as far as "foreigner goods" and luxuries. Now, don't panic - this is the perfect scenario for an adventurous spirit such as yourself! Just be smart and be pack wisely.
(But, maybe don't pack your dog in your suitcase!)
4. Register Online as a Traveler/Expat
Hopefully, it will never be necessary, but better safe than sorry! Many countries have registries that you can access online that will let your home government know where you are in case of an emergency.
They will then send you safety alerts as needed and be able to account for you in the event that you need to be contacted or evacuated.
5. Study Up On Cultural Taboos
You know the old saying: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Well, it doesn't just apply to Rome! Every country and culture has its own do's and don't's when it comes to appropriate public behavior. For example, in Thailand, it is incredibly rude gesture to or touch something or someone with your foot, something you would probably do without even thinking about it if your hands were full!
Later on, we will be providing our own list of taboos by country for you to study up on, but until then, there are plenty of resources online from the expats that came before you. We suggest that you take the time to learn them; otherwise, you'll be one of those "rude, uncouth foreigners", and nobody wants to be that!
Have any other tips for you fellow travelers? Share them below!