What To Look For
There are many things to consider before taking the plunge overseas. If you're married, does your partner share your enthusiasm for the move? If not, there may be friction both before and after you depart. In the worst cases, it is possible that your marriage may not survive. Besides which, do you really want to be packing up and arguing all the time? Of course not.
Check out the school carefully. How long has it been established? A school that has been in existence for a number of years is more unlikely to go bust than one that hasn't. If it is a brand new school, check out its heritage. Is it linked to an older, well respected, established school in another country? If so, it may well survive. If not, then you may be taking a chance. Try to establish if the school has a history of treating its teachers fairly, or if it is one of those unfortunate places where bullying is confused with leadership. At interview, ask your prospective school head how long he has been in the job and how long he intends to stay. You wouldn't want to accept a post from someone whom you really liked, only to find that, when you arrive at your new school, the person that hired you has moved on, and the people that he/she hired are treated as educationl pariahs because the philosophy of the school has changed. You should also ask if the school has a firing policy and if there is any government compensation for teachers that are summarily fired.
Will you be expected to learn a new language just to survive in your new school or is there a governmental requirement that you learn the language of the host country simply to hang on to your job?
What styles of teaching does it embrace, for instance, American, British, Australian, French, German, and so on. If it espouses a style with which you are unfamiliar, you may find that although you may be qualified to teach there, you might not want all of the cultural artefacts which go with that style.
How will you be paid and are there any currency fluctuation programs? It is possible that you may be paid in 462 Splods to the Firkin, but what happens when the Firkin loses its value like there's no tomorrow? Will the currency fluctuation program be able to cope with it? Will you be able to get your money out to your home country with relative ease, or will it be virtually impossible? Usually, all that is necessary to send money home from less well-developed countries is a few forms, but you should check first.
Will you be accommodated in school-provided housing, or will you have a rent allowance? If the former, will you be accommodated in a housing complex or in separate houses discontiguous from other faculty members? If the latter, how much of the rent will the allowance cover? Try and get hold of a local paper to check that whomsoever interviews you has real knowledge of local accommodation prices and what the availability of suitable housing actually is.
How big is the baggage allowance? Will it cover what you want to bring? Is there any allowance for home storage, or are you on your own for that?
Our experience is that you will be on your own. If you are a home owner with or without a mortgage, you should consider renting your home while you are away. If you like the place you go to, you might stay quite along time, in which case, you could expect to pay off your mortgage. On the other hand, if things go pear shaped, you will have a "bolt hole" or a place to fall back on. For renting, try to find a full service agency to handle all the rent collection and repairs that your home may need while you are away. Our experience is that it is not a good idea to have a friend take care of your home for you. If anything goes wrong, then you will probably lose that friend forever, whereas it is far easier to rant and rave at a professional company.
The same applies if you have a vintage car or motorcycle. Have it stored professionally. It may cost you a bit more in the long run, but at least you will have peace of mind.
Health insurance should be a prime consideration of your decision to go overseas. Will existing conditions be accepted by your school and their insurance provider? Be upfront with your interviewer about your ailments. If you are prone to certain ailments, you should check to see if going to your chosen overseas school will exacerbate any existing conditions you may have. It would be no good, either for you or your school, to go to a place which is quite polluted if you suffer from chest ailments, for instance. You should also check out the country to which you are going to see what dread diseases are prevalent. How many strains of malaria are there? Is bilharzia or river-blindness prevalent? What other dread diseases and parasites are common in the country?
It is relatively easy to check out your country of choice. The CIA has a superb website at http://www.cia.gov which will tell you everything about your chosen destination, even to whether it has narrow gauge railways, and how many of them there are. You will be able to find this link and other links on our Links page. Use this opportunity to check out the voltage of your future country of residence. The standard for TV receivers might also be worth checking, if you plan to bring your own, as the majority of the world uses PAL.
What arrangements does the school make for home leave? Is it annual, biennial or at the beginning and end of each contract? Are there any economies of truth with regard to the contractual home-leave? For instance, if you fly out at the beginning of a 2 year contract, for instance, is that counted as half the home leave ticket, so that you will be left to pay for the return part of the journey in order to complete your contract? Or, if you take a return trip at the end of the first year at the school's expense, that's if they allow that, will you then be left with a single fare to pay at the end of the contract as you will have used up your one return ticket per contract? Will your children also be entitled to vacation air tickets?
The other big point to consider is that if your school offers an economy class ticket per head per contract for inter-contract or vacation leave, what sort of ticket will that be? Will it be a ticket which is valid all year, or will it be an APEX ticket which has conditions attached? Will you be able to use the money that an air-ticket costs in order to travel somewhere else other than your home of record? If you do that, will it be taxable?
Will you be able to get there relatively easily and how much will it cost to go home without school support should you need to do so?
These are just a few of the considerations that you should bear in mind when considering jobs overseas. We will be adding more as we think of them or as you suggest them.
There is a simple printable checklist, which you can print out and take with you to recruitment fairs.
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