What Should i Pack??
Clothing and shoes
Pack these according to the weather where you are going to, but be aware that all countries have some kind of seasons. The other issue is cultural and religious sensitivity.
If you’re going to the Middle East (UAE and Qatar are popular destinations), you will need summer clothing but also clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. This is especially important for females but also respectful dress is expected from males. I am currently based in Saudi Arabia where you’re expected to cover most of your upper arm above the elbow and down to the calf at least. Most countries in the Middle East (at least the countries with the most expat jobs) don’t expect you to cover your head if you aren’t Muslim.
Even In Saudi, I don’t cover my head. These clothing rules apply when you are in school and out in your leisure time in an Islamic country, even if you work in a British, American or Australian curriculum school – there will still be a sizable number of colleagues and parents who are Muslims. The dress code is usually smart casual but check this. The parents are fee-paying so a level of professionalism is expected. Also note that the Middle East has seasons, with an extremely hot summer in the middle of the year (40-50 degrees Celsius) and a very nice climate in the winter (in the 20s Celsius) where you can go out and do things much more comfortably. I was surprised to find out that it drops to teen numbers in Riyadh! Don’t forget also, that your destination country will have shops and you’ll be able to buy things there. Remember if the shopping malls have familiar brands from your home country, these imported items will be more expensive than if you bought them at home.
Universal plug adapters.
Probably a good idea to get a few of these and also the universal kind (with every plug type on one unit). The reason is you might move countries after your contract and go somewhere else (as I always say ‘Once an expat, always an expat!) You’ll then need different plugs, plus there’s exotic holidays you might now go on, so always useful.
You might become a little homesick so it’s a good idea to pack some of these as items such as snack foods might not be readily available at your destination.
Expats often like home brand chocolate bars, crisps/chips etc. Also other items such as photos are fine to take, but don’t over-pack on these as you won’t have the space. Make sure they’re small things. Remember it won’t be long before you’re settled into your new way of living and have made new friends. Then you won’t need to rely on home comforts so much.
If you’re an experienced teacher, you might want to bring some resources you’ve made, to save yourself having to make them again. You might have some tried and trusted activities which you want to do again and will need specific resources for. Space in your luggage is precious, so if you can bring electronic versions, do so. This is fine, but if you’re in China, Google Drive is blocked. In this case, put them on a USB.
Don’t forget your passport needs some validity left on it, as it’s easier to renew your passport in your home country and you might not be back for several months. Your new workplace should organise a visa if required and a flight for you – usually free or reimbursed. Have originals or copies of your qualifications and your contract.
Buy some local currency when you’re still in your home country and take it with you. This will tide you over as you won’t get paid yet. There are some countries where buying their currency in your home country is very difficult to find. Take US dollars in this case. You can also use credit/debit cards to buy things and to take money out but have cash until you know the lie of the land.
An unlocked phone
Ask in advance about getting a local SIM card. You may be asked to pick one up at the airport when you are met, or you’ll be taken to get one. You’ll definitely need this as otherwise you’ll get stuck with roaming charges. Whatsapp calls don’t work everywhere, just be mindful of this.