Lexi Ward

You're about to step into the unknown; you're about to teach English abroad. But what should you pack? Luckily, we've taken that first step, and here's what we've learnt.

  • Unlocked Phone

This is important for everyone. When you move to a new country, you will need a new sim card. If you're teaching with EF, we'll give you one free. The problem is that some phone providers or network providers lock your phone. So make sure you contact your provider before you arrive as it will save time and hassle.

  • Medicine

If you're going to Asia, then this is of particular importance whether it's Indonesia, China, Thailand, or wherever. The language barrier might make it difficult to get what you need, and there are alternative Chinese medicines that might not be to your tastes. That being said, do some research. The Chinese border control won't be too happy if you bring your local pharmacy. Also, check what you can and can't bring and ensure everything remains in its original package, with clear labelling.

  • Addresses in both languages

What would Dora the Explorer do without her map? Ask for directions of course! You can't ask though if you don't know where you are going. Having an address written down will come in handy when you need help. Don't forget to write down all the phone numbers you need, or store them on your phone.

  • Pack for the time of year

The airline's strict 20kg weight limit makes packing somewhat of a dilemma. To save room, just pack for the time of year you are arriving, and check the climate of the city where you'll live. Also, check clothing sizes. Although China does have lots of western-style clothing, the larger sizes can be harder to get.

  • Copies of relevant documents

When you arrive in a new country, you'll need to provide documents to prove that you can legally work there. Sometimes the host country needs the originals, but copies are always useful. You'll need a copy of your passport, any certificates, and any required legal documents.

  • Films and TV shows

Most countries have American TV shows and films as well as other English language films. However, if you have that one TV show that you watch religiously, then it's a good idea to bring a copy with you just in case they don't have it. If you're old school, bring a DVD. If you're retro, bring a VHS copy (and a VHS player).

  • Essential toiletries

The key word is essential. You can buy toothpaste, soap, shower gel, and shampoo almost everywhere. But some countries don't have the same bathing rituals as western nations. Moisturizer, deodorant, hair gel, can be harder to find, especially if you prefer a particular brand. Bring one to start with, and you can have someone ship you more later.

  • Realia

If you don't know what this word means, then you'll probably need to add a TEFL or ESL book to this list. Realia is standard for any ESL classroom. These are the props, cards, and general items that bring a class to life. You could pack old train tickets, menus, cinema tickets- almost anything.

  • Extra Passport Photos

We're living in the 21st century, but government agencies can sometimes be behind the times. So passport photos are a must and bring spares. You'll probably need these for visa documents, work documents, all types of documents. They're just handy to have. If you do forget, however, you can find photo booths at any metro station in China.

  • Spare glasses/prescription

It doesn't matter how long you're planning to teach English abroad. If you break or lose your glasses, you'll need your spares or replacements. Changing them or buying new ones is much easier if you have a copy of your prescription, so pack wisely.

  • Bonus Tip

Creature Comforts – the little things that aren't essential but we are happier to have! These can be photos, teddy bears, a favorite novel- anything special to you!

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Lexi Ward

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