Things to bring in Thailand
Things to bring in Thailand - Information for TEFL Teachers
It is not a matter of insignificance to spend a fortune and having a couple of months of your life completely occupied in training as an EFL teacher in a country whose tradition, culture, custom, language, and beliefs are entirely foreign to yours. One who is willing to embark on a complete lifestyle change can also mark this as a gambling venture where by dedicating oneself to teaching the various structures, labels and rules governing English language can reap incredible rewards.
Excluding the things automatically associated with EFL teaching such as travel opportunities, late night drinking or ex-pat society in a foreign land – everyday routine chores tend to become tedious. The primary reason is a complete alienation from the familiar Western World. It is impossible to adapt to this sweeping change in lifestyle immediately and demands time to settle. Most people agree that in order to make the transaction a smooth one it is a good idea to choose what you bring with you carefully. An efficient choice making and packing is important. The list according to priority can be –
An open mind
Some people read reams of information on their destination of choice, some aren’t sure if it’s in Africa or Asia! Either way, you are certain to see things which you weren’t expecting; this continues to occur regardless of how long you have lived there, pre-fabricated opinions don’t make for useful travelling companions. A willingness to adapt and be accepting of a new culture isn’t always easy but it is always necessary.
Branston pickle, Heinz beans, Tetleys tea etc
Everyone has their little eating idiosyncrasies, some people even like to eat processed cheese. Your immune system takes a while to adapt to the different flavours in food from other countries whether it’s the extra garlic, oil, un-treated water, chillies or some other local 'delicacy'. A small amount of food that you’re used to eating may prove essential to fall back on in times of need! You should check with the country’s "International customs" internet page first to find out what you’re allowed to take with you. Getting fined for carrying illegal goods across international borders isn’t the best way to start your new career!
Copies of important documents and passport photos
It is best to have your working VISA sorted out by the school or language centre you are working for. They will know the correct procedure and can speak the language, always a bonus! You may need to give them your passport, qualification certificates etc for long periods of time, so it is essential that you make copies of these documents. I also needed to provide what felt like several hundred passport photos and sign a few thousand pieces of paper.
A decent guidebook
As an EFL teacher you may be above the traveller mindset where the Lonely Planet is your bible, but having a guidebook with a bit of background information on the country, local customs, festivals/bank holiday dates etc is a valuable asset to refer to. Make sure you get one which includes up-to-date, detailed maps of the area you’re planning to live in.
A variety of clothes
Find out what your place of work requires you to wear during teaching hours and ask them to inform you of the local prices of things. There’s no point spending lots of money buying shirts and ties back home when they’re half price where you’re going.
It is quite difficult to stay in touch while living and working abroad. Your friends and family are living in a different time-zone and getting in touch can be expensive. It’s a good idea to set up how you’re going to communicate before you go, if you have internet access you can set up instant messenger accounts such as MSN messenger and get yourself an e-mail address. Find out if you can use your mobile. Usually you can find international calling cards which you can use from you mobile or a public phone which enables you to make long distance calls at a cheap rate.
Find out what materials your school/language centre uses and decide which books you won’t be able to live without. Swann’s "Practical English Usage" or Murphy’s "Essential Grammar in Use" are both excellent wide-ranging grammar books. To save on weight you could visit a library and copy pages relevant to the country you are going to or your perceived weaknesses in English teaching areas.
Yes, it’s expensive but necessary. It is not unheard of foreigners who have spent a small fortune in medical bills not having had the appropriate medical insurance.
A phrase book
Depending on where you’re going, finding an English speaker to translate and explain things may prove to be a difficult task. It is worth learning some high frequency words or phrases just so you can recognize them when you hear them. In your first couple of weeks it is also worth taking the time to learn how to say the address of your apartment for those late night taxi rides home!
Reminders of home
Whether it’s to remind yourself of that wonderful place called home, or a reminder of why you left, a few photographs or small bits and pieces with sentimental value will do wonders to help you settle in to a new apartment and make your time spent there a little bit more comfortable.
Of course what to take with you is completely subjective and depends on where you’re going--the above should make for a decent starting point. Looking on EFL forums will often enable you to get in touch with EFL teachers already living in the country you want to go to, they will provide the best sort of advice regarding what else you might need.