I’ve connected with several people via social media in regards to teaching overseas. I’ve tried to be as helpful and as transparent as possible by offering suggestions. As several people prepare for their journey to Qatar or elsewhere overseas, I’ve been receiving lots of questions lately. And now since I have completed one full year and will be beginning my second year real soon, some of my previous suggestions may have changed. I have decided to use this time to answer some questions that I’ve been asked and maybe others have the same questions. Hopefully this helps.
1. So now that you’ve finished a whole year, looking back-what teaching supplies would you recommend someone bring? Did you have all the supplies you needed for centers? Would you still recommend a new hire to bring classroom decorations?
I can’t speak for all schools overseas, but I can speak about mine in particular. There is an over-abundance of material there from centers to curriculum items. Much of what we use in the states is there. I generally like to decorate my classroom with a theme so I did purchase some decoration for that but I don’t recommend it and I won’t do that this year. I say this because, the classroom is not yours alone. Four other teachers came into the classroom to teach in the course of one day, so they needed space as well, wall space to hang things and space to store things. The space belongs to the kids so it was a waste of money and time to get hung up on decoration. However, I would recommend purchasing and or bringing specific things you can’t live without as a teacher. I like order, even if I’m sharing a room, and I run a tight ship of independence, so there are certain things that I like that makes this easy. Some examples are: seat sacks and grouping items (same color folders, books, table caddies). I also purchased plastic sleeves for name tags and labeling bins. Butcher paper and borders were provided. I will also bring specific workbooks and teacher resources that I like to use, eg..Words their Way, Sight word work and Daily grammar spiral workbooks.
2. Is it easy to transfer money into your American bank accounts?
It is very easy to transfer money into your American bank account. Once you get your bank account set up overseas, you can set up automatic transfers or individual transfers online. The first transaction can take up to a week but after a few transfers, it only takes about 1-3 days. The overseas bank or your home bank may charge a fee. Find out what that fee is for your particular banks.
3. …would you say that it is best to bring king sized sheets? Any other household items?
You can buy most of what you want in Qatar. You may have to hunt around and it will take time but you can find it. IKEA is in Qatar and they sell the same things as in America but you know their sheets and stuff fit their products best. I prefer to bring my sheets from America. The king sheets fit the king mattresses there. I am very particular about my sleep comfort and I like 100% cotton sheets and pretty comforters with some weight. So I spent too much money on having them shipped via Aramex from Bed Bath and Beyond and had my husband bring some sheets with him when he visited. This summer, I purchased more sheets to take with me. This summer I also purchased melting waxes from Walmart and floating candles from Amazon, but before I left Qatar I did discover some melting waxes at one of the malls. I also found floating candles but not the color I wanted. Much of these items are cheaper in America.
4. Was it easy getting around before getting your drivers license?
My school provided transportation to and from work for the first two-three weeks. They also provided transportation to the supermarket and malls at specific times as well as government offices to take care of important matters. Uber is everywhere in Qatar and most people carpool as well.
5. For work, bag or purse? Do you carry a laptop around? Lots of paper?
We were provided with a laptop and laptop bag. It is heavy and bulky so I use a big Michael Kors handbag to carry everything I need for work. You won’t be bringing a lot of work home so you won’t carry around a lot of paper.
6. Does ____ have a policy against open toed shoes?
There is a dress policy in place. They prefer you not wear casual flip flops but most people wear open toed Birkenstocks or other open toed sandals.
Take at least one piece of apparel that represents your culture, favorite sports team, and something for wacky days eg…favorite storybook character day, mismatched day (polka dots with stripes etc). Bring some hometown knick knacks for kids, they love to get treats from the USA, eg… treasure box incentive trinkets, small birthday gifts, snacks. Although, I have found many spices in Qatar, some I’ve never heard of, many people recommend bringing your own spices. Personally, I would recommend fine sea salt and ground black pepper, oh and don’t forget Vanilla Extract. You cannot find real vanilla extract in Qatar, something to do with the alcohol content. Bring your medicines because although you can get medicine in Qatar, it takes a while to get used to the names, you won’t find the brand ‘tylenol’ but you will find an equivalent. Take specialized toiletries with you. I use Secret clinical strength deoderant and I haven’t been able to find it there so I stock up in America and pack it, enough for a year. I also use Aveeno cream because I have eczema (Aveeno is very expensive in Qatar), so I stock up on that and I buy Shea butter and essential oils and make my own body butter and body scrub to bring. Bring wash clothes, or get them at Ikea. I have found hand towels but not wash clothes anywhere else except Ikea. Also bring kitchen rags, same issue. Buy work clothes and shoes before going. The shoes in Qatar are European sizes and don’t fit me well but if you don’t have an issue with this than forget I said anything. Also Qatar has many malls but I prefer to shop at places I know, like New York and Company and Venus for work clothes. You won’t find these stores there. Do bring a few cold weather items, eg… sweater, jacket, rain boots, sweats; yes it is hot in Qatar but it gets cold for about 2 months and if you plan to travel, keep your destinations weather in mind when packing clothes. You know those bags of white cheddar cheese popcorn and peanut chews that you gotta have, well bring those, you probably won’t find them in Qatar and if you spot them there, you may never see them again. So in short, bring the snacks you love, until you learn to love the snacks that are there.
Don’t take big electronics, in fact outside of your Personal laptop, phone, and IPad, buy your electronics there. I can’t begin to tell you about the whole blowing things out, that I went through in the beginning.
That’s all I can think about right now if you have any more questions feel free to leave a comment and I will try my best to answer.
My advice: Have an open mind, try new things, be flexible and by all means enjoy yourself.