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Your TEFL packing list
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Mrkev



Joined: 02 Feb 2014
Posts: 11
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:11 am    Post subject: Your TEFL packing list Reply with quote

Hi all,

I spent half of last year working as a native speaker in the Czech Republic, and am hoping to go and study for my TESOL over the summer. One of my biggest regrets whilst I was out there was choosing to 'pack light' to the extent I did - considering I had my own apartment (and the salary I got there) I ended up living a very spartan lifestyle! With that in mind let's help first-timers out: what would be your packing essentials for someone doing a 6+ month stint in a TEFL job be?

Edit: Let's try and stay away from the obvious ones (climate-appropriate clothes, teaching materials) that'll turn up in pretty much any TEFL packing list.


Last edited by Mrkev on Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3231

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends on where you're going. Dental floss (some places it's hard to find and/or expensive), socks (in China), vitamins. That's all I can think of right now.
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Mrkev



Joined: 02 Feb 2014
Posts: 11
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll get the ball rolling.

Things I took with me that were great:

- A kindle. I had one of the older models at the time so no fancy games or browser included, but I do love to read and an e-reader is a really great choice for living abroad. No need to worry about portability or finding a book locally.

- A ukulele. Music is one of my weaknesses, and a guitar is too much of a pain when you're in an airport. Ukuleles are a great compromise, and mine turned out to be a great hit at the school (and a nice conversation starter when out and about!)

- A wall-planner/handy bits of stationary in English. Bit of a daft one really, but not being in a city I had great difficulty finding day-to-day stuff in English. Having a nice big wall calendar in English and other bits and bobs turned out to be much more useful than I thought it'd be.

- Lemsip. One for the UK people, I'm still convinced there's nothing as good at knocking a cold out of the way than lemsip, and you'll seldom find it (or anything like it) abroad. You can pick it up in the departure lounges of most UK airports, so if you're nervous about taking something like that with you simply buy it in the airport, put it in your hand luggage, and keep the receipt handy.


Things I wish I'd taken with me

- A proper laptop. I took a 9" netbook with me that's maybe 5 years old at this point, and it simply didn't cut it. By 'didn't cut it' I mean it struggled to run Itunes and couldn't handle full-screen videos. There can be quite a lot of down-time in TEFL work, and especially in more rural settings you won't have a great deal to do. A laptop with an internet connection means access to English language TV/film, radio, and games, not to mention getting in touch with friends and family. Don't take a brick like I did!

- Something to make coffee in. I'm a coffee junkie, and I like to make good coffee at home, and not bringing my stovetop percolator was a real rookie error. Doubly so considering how little room they take up.

- Formal clothes. Packing light meant I forwent bringing a suit and instead only took shirts, trousers, and jumpers. Though these were fine for working at the school, there were a handful of times when there were events that called for smarter attire, leaving me looking out of place. A suit's also doubly useful if you're actively looking for work when abroad, too.
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Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 1217

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot will depend on where you're going, not just the country but the individual city/town/village. In this day and age, the internet has allowed people to purchase 'home comforts' without too much difficulty.

I can only speak of China, but along with the normal packing stuff (clothes, laptop, phone etc), I was thankfully I took spices (which could be bought online Taobao in hindsight), but really thankful I took a year supply of medicine and vitamins/minerals. Especially in China, where you never know what you're buying. An odd one, but deodorant and razors, again you could get them off taobao, but with razors especially, the quality just doesn't come close.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3231

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
but with razors especially, the quality just doesn't come close


Ain't that the truth. I finally bought an electric razor; now that I've learned how to use it, it's not bad. I still miss the clean blade shave, but ......

Quote:
A ukulele. Music is one of my weaknesses, and a guitar is too much of a pain


The Martin Backpacker is pretty convenient.
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Lack



Joined: 10 Aug 2011
Posts: 91

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prescription medicines, a good e-reader, and a laptop that is good for travelers.
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Mrkev



Joined: 02 Feb 2014
Posts: 11
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

johntpartee wrote:
The Martin Backpacker is pretty convenient.


Yeah they're handy, but for me you lose too much tone and volume to make it worthwhile IMO.

If you want to get really tough as nails, the Outdoor Ukulele Company make bulletproof instruments
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3231

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Yeah they're handy, but for me you lose too much tone and volume to make it worthwhile IMO.


It's funny, every time I show a guitar player my Backpacker the first thing they ask about is the tone. Yeah, you lose tone and volume, but the idea is to keep the guitar chops up; you can't do that with a uke. I quickly got used to the lower volume and now I actually prefer it.
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JoeKing



Joined: 30 Apr 2008
Posts: 400

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mrkev wrote:

- Something to make coffee in. I'm a coffee junkie, and I like to make good coffee at home, and not bringing my stovetop percolator was a real rookie error. Doubly so considering how little room they take up.
.
I would second this, and add that it would also be a good idea to bring a supply of coffee with you to tide you over until you can find out where to buy it. In China, it took me a month to find a store that sold it, because I did not know the lay of the land, and none of my co-workers drank coffee.

If you're a tea drinker, I'd suggest bringing one of those little non-electric tea makers that you just add hot water to.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3231

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In China, it took me a month to find a store that sold it, because I did not know the lay of the land, and none of my co-workers drank coffee


A month???? I would've DIED going a month without mud!!! I never had a problem finding it here. Every store I've been in I just say "coffee" and they've known what I meant.
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Mrkev



Joined: 02 Feb 2014
Posts: 11
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A month without coffee sounds terrifying. Dealing with nescafe was tough enough
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JoeKing



Joined: 30 Apr 2008
Posts: 400

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

johntpartee wrote:
Quote:
In China, it took me a month to find a store that sold it, because I did not know the lay of the land, and none of my co-workers drank coffee


A month???? I would've DIED going a month without mud!!! I never had a problem finding it here. Every store I've been in I just say "coffee" and they've known what I meant.


Well thankfully I had brought a supply, so I did not have to go through any withdrawal.

Anyway, it was not a matter of them not knowing what I meant, it was just that the 2 major grocers in my neighborhood only sold that instant stuff. But you're right, there was really no reason it needed to take me that long - I was just asking the wrong people. In fact, finally, someone one who was just as incredulous as you asked me "why didn't I just go to the Metro store?" Turns out there was one on the other side of town. And then there is also high-priced Starbucks, and of course once you learn the system or have a Chinese friend there is online ordering.

But still, it's worth bringing a supply and a maker even if it is only for the first few days. Even one day without is too much.
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TeacherTim



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 60
Location: Deep undercover

PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A decent towel (Korea)
Decent deodorant spray (Taiwan,Korea)
A good, reliable laptop
An ESL teaching materials book as your new home probably won't have a decent bookshop or it will be expensive
Family photos
Originals of certificates, in case you want to apply for another job before returning home

Try sticking your life on a USB drive. It will save space.
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Mrkev



Joined: 02 Feb 2014
Posts: 11
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something I just remembered - you should aim to have four copies of ALL important documents.

1) The original
2) A photocopy backup
3) A digital scan
4) Another copy left back home with parents/someone you can trust
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1828

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the Kindle. I would also suggest researching the type of electrical socket and taking adaptors (assuming you are bringing your own electrical equipment). If you have a laptop, it would be a good idea to bring the back-up operating system CD, as in the event of a system collapse, you don't really want an OS in a foreign language.
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