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9 Things About Living Abroad That May Surprise You


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If you are considering teaching abroad, a big part of that is actually living abroad! In most cases, you won't be in walled off compounds that separate you from the native population. Instead you'll be in a whole new culture that can often seem strange, difficult, and even scary.

You know you'll be using a different currency, and you know you'll probably be speaking another language – but there are many other things that you might not expect, but should be prepared for. 

Let's take a look at some things most people don't know about living abroad before they actually go do it.

1.    Your coins will probably have a lot more value than you'd expect. In America, our coins aren't worth much. A handful of coins could easily be worth less than a dollar. In many countries, however, a handful of coins could easily be worth the equivalent of $20 or more.

2.    Most countries don't swipe credit cards anymore, and haven't done so for well over a decade. Instead they have you stick one end of your card into a machine that will read a chip there, or you wave the chip across a specific area of the machine. If your current credit card doesn't have a chip in it, you need to ask your bank to update your card.

3.    The standard size for condoms is completely different in every country. If you are comfortable in a normal condom in the United States, you might have to buy a large condom in some countries and a smaller one in others.

4.    Yes, you should tip in most countries. Some guides will tell you not to tip, but they are wrong. You don't generally have to tip as much as you would back home, but you should always leave something for your drink, meal or taxi ride. You will be looked down on otherwise (and the locals know very well you leave tips back home). Even just rounding up with your change is welcomed.

5.    Very often, things like aspirin or sleeping tablets that you can easily get in grocery stores in America are only sold in pharmacies – which tend to have limited opening hours, and you must speak with a pharmacist to buy the meds. Also, not all countries sell their medicine in pill form. Be prepared for dissolvable tablets, syrups, etc. as well as different names for what may be your usual meds.

6.    Nobody likes it when you say, “Well, what we do in America is...” They watch our TV and movies. They know how we do things in America, and find the topic super boring. And in many cases, what they do in other countries is equal to or better than what we do in the States – chances are you'll learn something cool!

7.    People bring their children to bars, restaurants, and on walks late at night. It's accepted, and something you sort of have to deal with.

8.    Unless you are teaching in the Vatican, talking with people about Jesus is likely to get a pint of water poured over your head (or, in some countries, beaten up, shot or beheaded). Keep your religious beliefs to yourself.

9.    What you call “beer” the rest of the world calls “lager.” What they call beer is brown, warm, and has a high alcohol content and limited amounts of carbonation.

cc InternationalEducators.com 2016

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