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Preparing to Teach Abroad: An Essential Checklist


Before you head out to change the lives of students all over the world, you need to make sure you’re prepared.

Excitement - check. Passport - check. But have you checked off all the other boxes on your to-do list?

Don’t board that plane quite yet. Before you do, check out this essential checklist for preparing to teach abroad. 

An Essential Checklist for Preparing to Teach Abroad

If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably already landed that dream job abroad. 

Congratulations! Now, make sure all of your other ducks are in a row before you head out for the experience of a lifetime. 

1. Get Your Documentation in Place

First things first - apply for your passport. It takes several months for passport applications to be processed so you definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute. 

If you already have a passport, make sure it is valid until at least one month after you plan to return. 

You will also need to get a travel visa for the country where you plan on teaching. 

Make copies of any important documentation, such as your passport and visas along with your birth certificate, marriage certificate, and anything else that might be significant. 

Depending on how long you plan on staying abroad, you may want to get an international driver’s license, too. Keep passport photos, reference letters, and resumes with you if you plan on working abroad for a while. You may even want to bring along credentials like copies of your diploma or degree! 

2. Take Care of Finances and Legal Matters

Travel insurance is something you may want to consider investing in when you’re headed on any trip abroad. It can protect you from things like lost baggage, emergency medical and dental expenses, and medical evacuation, if necessary. Nobody likes to think about things going wrong, but it’s a smart move in order to make sure you’re safe and covered.

Before you leave, clear any debts you might have and let your bank know where you’re headed. It’s a good idea to visit an accountant to get country-specific tax information. Don’t forget to plan ahead for filing your income tax when you return stateside, too. 

Finally, make sure you familiarize yourself with the basic laws and customs in the country you plan on visiting. You don’t want to find yourself in a legal snafu when you’re there - it could prove to be challenging to clear up! 

3. Book Your Flights

As soon as you have your passport and specific information on your teaching assignment, go ahead and book your flights. If you can, check in with your school or recruiter to see if they have suggestions on flights.

Before you leave, it’s a good idea to check if your airline has any baggage limitations on weight and size. 

You may wish to purchase a ticket for your return trip home, too. However, this might not be an option if you don’t have a clear end date for your teaching assignment yet. If that’s the case, just make sure you have enough money to cover the return airfare when it is time to book.

4. Schedule Some Check-Ups 

Make sure you have health and accident insurance that covers you abroad - but just in case, schedule all your medical and dental check-ups before you leave the country.

Your doctor will be able to clear you and certify that you don’t have any health issues to be aware of. You can also get enough prescription medication, contacts, and other supplies to last you for your entire time abroad. Get paper copies of your medical reports, since problems with electronic health records (especially those transmitted internationally) are common. 

5. Prepare Your Classroom 

Depending on the logistics of your teaching assignment, you may be expected to start teaching as soon as you arrive. Make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with all the details that are available to you before you leave. 

You may want to prepare and bring certain ESL teaching resources, like lesson plans, activities, and research. It’s a good idea to bring an English dictionary and grammar book in case these items aren’t available to you there, either.

Finally, take the time to research proper classroom attire and behavior in your new country - they might be different from what you are used to!

The Most Important Thing to Remember When Working Abroad

When you’re preparing for a teaching position abroad, there’s one important thing that you need to remember to pack: a positive attitude.

A good attitude is the most valuable thing you can bring with you. It will prepare you to have a great time even if there are temporary disappointments, challenges, or setbacks.

Once you’ve checked off all the items on this list - and you have a genuine smile on your face! - it’s time to get going. There are lives to change!

Author’s Bio:

Bob Hornal is the founder and President of Best Quote Travel Insurance in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. With over 15 years of experience as a financial advisor, Bob has traveled to more than 30 incredible countries and has dealt with a multitude of difficult situations including flight delays, medical emergencies, and weather damage, making Bob an expert at traveling.

His dream is to inspire and inform those who wish to travel by including his personal experiences and professional knowledge in each piece he writes.

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