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Keep in mind that when you are teaching
overseas, there are seldom set rules that apply in every given
situation. Rules vary from country to country, and each school is
different. As a result, so will each situation vary from one job to
another, and the following questions and answers may or may not apply
• What should
Besides casual wear and clothes to teach in, it is important to take
with you things that you cannot live without. If there is a particular
brand of tea you love or pictures of your family, fine, but be very
careful not to pack anything that would break your heart to lose.
• Is there anything I
shouldn't take with me?
To begin with, anything illegal in the country you are going to should
not be taken with you. This obviously includes drugs, but may also
include men's magazines such as Maxim. Try not to take with you denim
jeans for a hot summer; they are very uncomfortable to wear. Things
that might also be on the prohibited list are insulin needles, birth
control pills, and in the Middle East, movies and DVD's.
• What is the
housing situation like?
Again, this depends on where you are going to go. If the school offers
you accommodation, it can range from a very small hole in the wall to
a very large house. It totally depends. So make sure this is one of
the questions that you research. If at all possible, try to talk to
people who are living in the housing that you will have. Remember
where ever you are, apartments will never be as large as they are in
North America and rent is sometimes very expensive if it's not
subsidized by the school.
• The job
description says 'furnished accommodation'. What's usually included in
Again, this depends on the school. But you want to make sure what is
included in the house is clearly spelled out in the contract. This
allows you to accurately access how furnished the apartment is, but it
can also act as a checkout list for your landlord so you know what was
provided and what you have acquired in your stay.
• Will I be
able to find any (fill in your favorite item) overseas?
I would answer this with a hesitant yes. Most developed countries do
have a foreign-type market store that is filled with imported
Coca-Cola, cream of mushroom soup and all the Kraft dinner you could
choke down. These types of stores are almost always located in major
cities, and almost always cost up to three times as much as the same
items back in your home country. So use them when you absolutely must
have (blank), but try to use local products as much as possible. A
word of warning, however, I once saw a Kool-aide package on sale on
the shelf that was past the expiration date. I hadn't thought that was
possible. Make sure to check all the best before dates before you buy
it, and be very wary of foreign food on sale.
• Are there
any English television programs or stations overseas?
Although you should be out of the house actually doing stuff rather
than staying inside all day watching television, there will be the
occasional cold, rainy day. Most industrialized countries will have
the occasional English television program on its regular channels, but
make sure your television is sub-line capable in order to listen to it
in English. Other countries have English satellite television or cable
packages that have newer shows (read last season's) available at a
Are English movies, magazines, and books
Again, most countries will have English movies playing in their
theatres, but the ticket price is usually twice what it costs in North
America. Make sure you can read the words for "subtitled" or "dubbed"
to make sure you can understand what the actors are saying. English
newspapers published in your areas should have what is playing as well
as the times. English magazines and books are usually available at big
booksellers again in the major centers. You can either learn the words
for "Do you have any English books here?" or look sufficiently stunned
enough for a kind clerk to show you where they are. You won't be the
first person they would have had to help.
• What am I
able to do with my free time?
Basically anything you want, within reason. With very few teaching
hours in a week, you might find that you have more time on your hands
than you are used to. You might pick up a hobby or make local friends.
There are hundreds of places to explore, and thousands of shops to
poke around in. You might even want to *cough* take a private job or
two. More on this in the work environment.
• How much
money should I take with me for the first month abroad?
Enough to last at least a month, if not more. Ask the other English
teachers working in your potential school how much money that will be.
If you are traveling under a tourist visa, or if your school has only
provided you with a one-way ticket, that you have enough money to get
you home if something goes wrong or if there is an emergency. It is
important to have that emergency fund available to you so that you
will never feel trapped in your country.
• Is the
Sometimes. But unless you know for sure, no. There are some countries
that require the water to be boiled, sometimes it needs to be
filtered, sometimes filtered and boiled, and in some countries,
nothing you will ever do to the water will ever make it portable. Make
sure you know for sure whether the water is good before you drink it.
Most countries have drinking water at a very low cost, and watch out
for ice outside your home.
options are open to vegetarians and/or vegans?
Only eat food that you have prepared unless you can see how it has
been prepared. Learning the words "Is there any meat in this?" might
help, but if the country you are in considers only beef to be meat,
you will get a false positive and have a meal served to you that is
full of ham, chicken, or fish. Vegans need to be especially careful,
as extracts of meat are often used to flavour food that is otherwise
meat-free. It is possible to be both vegetarian and vegan if you are
especially vigilant. Whether or not you eat meat, make sure your diet
is balanced. Teaching overseas is initially stressful, and getting
sick only makes it worse.
• Am I able
to take my family with me?
Yes, you can. But make sure you tell your employer that you are taking
your spouse and/or children with you. This will ensure that you have
suitable housing for a family rather than an individual.
• Is it
possible for a friend and I to get jobs teaching in the same school or
Yes! In fact, some schools would much rather hire a pair than a single
teacher. The cost for hiring, as well as living expenses, are cut in
half, as well as the fact that if two people are traveling together
they experience a less severe case of homesickness. If you are trying
to live in the same town, make sure both of you have done your
homework for each of the schools.
• Will I be
able to take my pets with me?
This question is again a very qualified yes. Each country has a
different set of rules for importing animals, so make sure you are
familiar with each country's requirements. Check here for regulations
and restrictions. Also remember that your house will be much smaller
than what you are used to now, so large pets may not be as welcome.
Again, make sure your employer knows what you are planning to bring
with you so that they can find suitable accommodations.
• Are there
any English-speaking doctors in the foreign country I am going to?
If you ever get sick overseas, you want to make sure that you can
communicate with the doctor that is assisting you. Joining the IAMAT
before going overseas is the best way to get in touch with English
speaking doctors. The information for joining the program is included
in the job manual.
If you have a question that has not been answered below, or if you
would like to speak to one of our Global TESOL advisors concerning
upcoming course dates, registration, or any other matter, feel free to
e-mail us at: (Global Tesol malaysia e-mail add)
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Malaysia phone number)