PREPARING TO TEACH ABROAD
You have secured your job. Congratulations. Contracts are sorted and negotiated. Well done. We're in the same position then. Now you need to start thinking about packing up to go. The time frame you work with will depend on how long you have before you need to leave. I was pretty lucky, as I secured my role in November and am not leaving until August. This has given me loads of time to play with, however, I’ve had friends who have left literally after about a month! I think the other factor is, how much do you need to actually sort? In my case, I have my job, my son, and my house to sort. In no exact order, therefore, I will run you through some of the things I have had to sort out and arrange. Bear in mind however that I haven’t left yet, therefore will write a follow-up blog post on bits I may have missed out, or what I found wasn’t really that big of a deal in the end.
Your Current Employer
Depending on your situation, you may or may not have told your Head Teacher yet. I informed my Head Teacher before I went to the recruitment fair where I secured my role, as I knew references would be requested. This may not be the case for you, so do what best suits your own situation. Once you have secured your role, depending on when you leave, you need to ensure you calculate your notice period correctly, and when you need to hand it in. Be mindful that overseas schools can withdraw job offers, so make sure you feel really confident in your job security at the new school.
Your Current Home
What are you going to do? I have a mortgage, here in the UK, so I had to research what my options were before even thinking of applying. This was also something I was asked at interview when I mentioned my house. Luckily for me, I am in a position to rent my property and have permission from my mortgage provider (see some information that GoCompare provides). This may not be the case with your mortgage so check the fine print. People do what they are comfortable with, however, I like to play by the rules, so sought out what my options would be beforehand.
If you do not have to worry about a property, then this isn’t an action you will need to sort. If you do, think about how you may manage the property, given the distance and time differences. You may want to consider a management agency or if you have family or friends you can entrust this role to.
For those that do not own property, but are hoping to save enough to do so, make sure you research maintaining a credit record in the UK, as UK lenders may not be happy to lend to someone, who has been outside the country for a significant period of time. There is lots of information on this topic, and a good article to start off with is one featured in Money Week, written by Emma Lunn.
Documents, Credit Cards, and Subscriptions
A lot of people might be motivated to leave their debts behind. Who wouldn’t! However, make sure that you sort all your financial commitments out before you go. The last thing you may want is a credit provider chasing you. As I am due to leave sometime this summer, I have contacted my providers to end a number of contracts. This includes my TV/broadband, mobile phone contract, gas and electricity providers, Council Tax, TV licence, car insurance, car tax if you pay monthly, home insurance (this will be changed to landlord insurance), along with banking addresses, and any mail I wish to have delivered elsewhere (see Royal Mail Redirection). I am lucky enough to have family members, where I can use their address for important mail and have them open it for me (cheaper than redirection). Although to be honest, I do pretty much everything I can as paperless, so mail for me is minimal. This might be an option for you also if it isn’t the case already. Oh, and don’t forget to cancel any subscriptions you may have that will no longer be useful in your new country!
There are a number of documents that you may be required to short. I have been really fortunate, as the school I will be working for, have a great HR department and they pretty much sorted all the legal aspects of hiring staff and visas. However, there is still a number of documents I have had to sort out. Below is a list of the documents you will need to ensure you have at hand.
Passport- Is it in date and will you need to renew while away?
Birth Certificates-for yourself and family members (you may need to give send-off originals, so it may be worth ordering a few copies)
Marriage certificate – Is t recognised by the country you are moving to?
Diving Licence – Do you need to apply for an International Driving Permit?
Vaccinations- Do you require any boosters or a course? How long will you need to take it?
Medical- What medication do you require? Can you get it in the country you are moving to?
Insurance Policies- Are you covered? Do you need to change any, such as life insurance?
Living Will- As morbid as it sounds, do you have a Living Will in place in the event of the worst?
Certification of Qualifications- Do you have original copies?
Consent to Travel- If traveling without the other parent, do you have a notarised letter giving consent to travel?
Current CRB- Do you have a police check?
Address History- You will need 10 years for your ACRO Criminal Records check.
RESEARCH YOUR NEW COUNTRY
Culture, Traditions, Language, and Rules
I am moving to a country I knew little about. It has therefore been important for me to do some research on the location, to which I am going to be moving too. Now, this isn’t a Ph.D., but at least know some of the basics. This will really help you feel confident in the decision you have made (in my opinion), and also helps answer questions others may have when discussing.
Think about the language, will you need to learn a new language? I do not have great linguistic ability in learning new languages, and I am ashamed to say, I can only speak English. My new country will speak Russian and although excited about learning, I am slightly nervous! But I will give it my best shot. I have ordered a BBC beginners course and am hoping Google translate helps me to start off with. You need to consider if this approach works for you? How comfortable are you going to be in an environment where English is not widely spoken?
What traditions does your new country have that you will need to ensure you follow? I know for example, that within Kazakh culture hospitality is very important. Are there other aspects that you will need to consider, and decide if these are traditions that you can respect and align with?
Rules and Customs
Rules or local customs are also important and in some parts of the world will play a very big role in day-to-day life. For example, when I visited Dubai, as many may know, there are laws and customs that must be followed. Women are expected to dress modestly and cover their shoulders when entering buildings, restaurants, and malls. It is important for you to consider if this works for you, as you are entering a new country as a guest, therefore respecting these rules and customs are important. Further, consider the regulations of the country you are moving to, such as visas and permits. You will want family and friends to visit, so this may be useful for those individuals. Is there an embassy nearby or represented in the country for you, in the event of an emergency? Are particular vaccinations required for yourself or pets before being allowed to enter?
Cost of Living
Have you researched the cost of living in your new country and if this will work for your salary and package? I used a website called Numbeo to research the cost of living in Kazakhstan. If you have read my post ‘Let the Adventure Begin’, you will know that I had other job offers, but that there were a number of elements that caused me to choose the school I am going to. One of these was the overall cost of living. As a solo mummy, I will need to consider if I can financially afford to sustain myself and my son, as well as what it may offer long term.
Will you be able to pay towards a pension or will your school pay a pension contribution? Are you comfortable with not paying into your pension while teaching abroad? If your part of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme you will not be able to pay into this while away. What’s your plan? Just something that you may want to think about.
Do you have medical needs and if so, have you considered how you will meet these needs? Does the country you're moving to have good medical facilities? Does your package have good medical cover, such as Bupa? This is just something you may want to consider before leaving your home country, to ensure you are fully equipped for this new adventure.
Will you be provided with accommodation or an allowance? How much will you be given and is this reflective of the costs of renting in your new country? Check out websites that will give you an idea of how much an apartment would be to rent and ask for specifics if your future employer has not detailed the allowance. I have heard some people get a shock when they realise that the allowance doesn’t get them very far. I have made sure I researched this cost, as ideally, I don’t want to have to top it up with my earnings. Ask your school if they have a system for supporting you in this process?
Baggage Allowance and Airline
Check the baggage allowance you are given in your package. Did you discuss this at the interview? How much baggage do you think you will need to take with you? Can you take additional baggage on the airline and if so, how much? What is the cost? Do you need to pay upfront and the school reimburse you?
Storage and Moving
So, you're almost ready to go, but what to do with all that stuff? Think about what you really need. Make piles of stuff to keep, pack and throw. Take whatever you can to charity, as unless you have somewhere to store your stuff without being charged, you may find the cost doesn’t meet the benefit of keeping. Try minimising how much you need to keep and pack. Trust me it all adds up. I’m struggling right now! What are essential items you will need? Seasons you will pack for. Consider using vacuum bags to compress items further, but don’t forget to still check your weight.
Most importantly, enjoy the process. It's all a journey.
Love Carole xx
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