What to bring to your teaching job abroad

Of course there are many variables that will affect what you need to bring when teaching abroad (i.e. weather, culture, length of time you'll be gone, etc) but in this entry I want to tell you about some essentials that you should bring with you, no matter where you go. My reason for this entry: I was at the airport the other day picking up some teachers from Japan, and I was shocked by the amount of stuff they brought with them(and they were only coming to Canada for 4 weeks). You'll be thankful for this list after you get off your 12 hour flight and have to take public transit to get to your new home.

Things to bring

Unlocked Cell Phone - When you move to a new country you'll have to get a new SIM card to use that phone abroad

Medicine - If you have specific medicine that you need while abroad, bring it with you. There is no guarantee that you will be able to get it where you are going

Work Clothes - Good to ask about the dress code at your new school before you go

Versatile Clothes - You can't bring you whole wardrobe with you, so you gotta think of clothing that can be worn with many outfits

Adapter Plug - You'll probably want to contact home as soon as you get where you're going. This might be difficult if you can't plug in your laptop or charge your phone

Shoes That Fit - Even people with normal sized feet (like myself with size 9.5 shoes) have a difficult time finding shoes abroad. If you have large feet, don't assume you can get replacements where you are going

Comfort Foods - Don't go overboard with this one, as trying new food is one of the best parts of being somewhere new, but a few comfort food items will go a long way when you just want something from home. Also spices are a good idea, as they take up very little space

Photocopies of your important documents - Trust me, this is something you are going to want to have if you misplace your passport or visa while abroad. Have a list of important contact info as well.

Deodorant - If you're going to Asia especially, as you may not be able to find it there or if you do it will be expensive

Teaching Resources (In digital form) - Try to digitize all your worksheets, lesson plans, etc before you go

US Dollars - Even if you are not from the US, I always find its good to have an emergency supply of US dollars, because you can exchange it anywhere. Also make sure you have some of the local currency with you as well

A phrasebook (or download a phrasebook app on your phone)

Things NOT to Bring

Too Many Toiletries - No matter where you are going you can usually buy most bulky toiletries like soap, shampoos, conditioners, contact solution, shaving cream, etc

Books - Unless you have some go-to teaching resources that you absolutely need, you should avoid bringing books. The best idea would be to bring an e-reader and download books when you need them

Household Goods - Blankets, Pots, Pans, hairdryers, etc. These items just take up valuable space and can be purchased at local markets/stores.

More than 3 Pairs of Shoes - You'll need a work pair, and everyday pair, and maybe something to exercise/hike in

Expensive Jewelry - Depending on where you are going to teach, expensive jewelry can make you a target to criminals.

Too Much Cash - Visa & Mastercard can be used everywhere these day, and also you can usually find global bank machines in most cities that will allow you to withdraw cash from your bank machine

A couple of other pieces of advice about packing: Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on luggage just in case your luggage doesn't arrive when you do. Lastly, and perhaps the most important things that you need to bring are an open mind and positive attitude. These two items are key to successfully teaching abroad and dealing with the inevitable inconveniences that you will encounter.




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