Teaching English overseas can be quite daunting, but most people who take the plunge find it to be a life changing experience, which results in memories that they will cherish for many years to come. Despite this, many people are put off from travelling abroad to teach because of a few horror stories they may have read in the press, or a fear for their safety or security in a strange country. In fact, teaching overseas is incredibly safe. Of the many thousands of people that head abroad to teach English each year, the vast majority experience no problems whatsoever, but a few things are worth knowing about before you travel that can reduce the risk and consequences of anything untoward that may happen.
Before you head off abroad, it is vital you have some form of travel insurance, especially to cover you for a medical emergency should one occur. Nobody can see into the future, and without insurance, you may find it extremely costly if you have to be admitted to hospital because of an accident or illness. Insurance need not be expensive, but without it you could end up in real trouble. Some schools and colleges that take in overseas volunteers and teachers provide medical cover, but it is worth checking this before you leave home, because if something happens, you don’t want to find yourself with a large medical bill that you may not be able to cover. Furthermore, if you are heading to a destination where vaccinations are recommended, ensure you have them done. Prevention is better than cure, so make sure you are medically protected before you go. And on that note you’ll also want to make sure you have the right travel documentation – ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a travel authorization for people who are visiting USA for either holidays or business.
Always listen to local advice. All cities have areas that are best avoided. Don’t take unnecessary risks, especially when you first arrive, and be sure to follow all local laws and customs. If you are working in a conservative country, respect local modesty and avoid baring unnecessary flesh, as this may not only invoke anger among local people, but also may make you a target for unwanted attention.
Some locations have political problems that by and large shouldn’t affect you as a teacher. However, keep updating yourself with what is going on in any country that you are working in and check with your local foreign office as to what the latest guidance is regarding areas to avoid and whether a particular country is considered safe for foreign visitors.
Duty of care
If your teaching assignment has been arranged by a third party, this company will have a duty of care towards where you are placed. Everybody has the right to work in a safe and secure location, so if something untoward happens the company that has sent you may have some responsibility. For instance, if you experience an accident due to poorly maintained accommodation, or are assaulted due to a lapse in security at the location you are working, you have the right to claim for damages.
While your travel insurance should cover you for any medical emergency, an injury abroad could have all sorts of repercussions, such as you not being able to work for some time when you get back home. Therefore, if you have had an accident, become ill or injured while away and it wasn’t your fault, speak to a personal injury solicitor, as you may be able to seek compensation. Many injury solicitors have experience dealing with overseas cases and can go a long way to put things right, as nobody want the memories of an overseas teaching trip to be negative ones.