Teachers are often assigned to one locale or school for their entire lives and never get to see the world. But if you’re one of the lucky few that’s been offered a residency in a foreign country, there are some things that you need to be prepared for, ideally before you step foot in your new campus.
Keeping these tips in mind can be crucial to making sure the first couple of weeks of your stay in a foreign country goes well—and the teaching stint that you’ll have to go without any significant problems. Aside from acclimating to a new place, you need to remember that you’re there to teach, and that puts a certain level of responsibility on your shoulders to get it right.
Language is always a priority for people who go to other countries, not just teachers. However, professors need to be somewhat well versed in or familiar with conversational exchanges as far as the language is concerned. There are tasks that they’ll need to navigate in the first couple of weeks that will make their lives rather difficult if they’re blocked by a language barrier.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that can help. Things like online German books for teachers are very accessible, and there are courses that are offered locally or through digital means that can help you grasp a rudimentary mastery of the country’s language. If done correctly, this should make your life much easier.
Academia isn’t exactly the same all over the world, or even within your vicinity. One of the things you should always keep a look out for once you start teaching at another university is how their campus culture can differ from the one you’re used to. Factors like ethnicity, tradition, and trends are all extremely important areas for you to pay attention to so you can avoid any social faux pas.
Campus culture doesn’t just stop at faculty—students abroad may also behave differently from the ones that you teach back at home. With a different set of values and culture than your usual students, it’s a good idea to be a little more involved in student activities so you have some idea of how to interact with your future students.
It doesn’t just mean the documents to get you in the country—but the actual paperwork that your students (and sometimes fellow staff members) will be submitting to you. Aside from the aforementioned language issues that you may face while checking, there’s also the possibility that the cultural differences may confuse you on how to properly evaluate their paper.
Of course, this really doesn’t apply to science or mathematics papers since numbers are universally understood (though you may need some help on bigger numbers, as some countries either pronounce or group them differently). It’s always best to get a teaching assistant to look over the papers you’ll be grading to explain some finer points that students may use or some turn of phrase that you aren’t familiar with.