It took some time (6 months!); around 9 interviews and countless moments of decision-making when I FINALLY received an irresistible offer from an international school in Kuwait.
At this point I want to say that prior to receiving this contract, I had never been to Kuwait or done more than any perfunctory research on this small Arab country. However I am the kind of person who cannot turn down an opportunity to sightsee and experience another culture coupled with a high paying job just for fear of the unknown! So I did some digging about the school and checked forums to see what other teachers have said about working at the school. I highly recommend this by the way- there are loads of schools that are ‘blacklisted’ on teaching forums online because of the shoddy way they treat their teachers. I have read about schools that don’t pay their teachers, don’t provide working visas, promise accommodation but don’t deliver etc. So if you know the name of the school offering you the position then do some research!
Remember to check out the school’s website as well; a good school will have a friendly website that is constantly updated. Questions you should ask before you accept any offer abroad:
-Where will I stay? (Will the school provide accommodation? If so, what kind will it be- private or shared? If they don’t, will they provide a housing allowance and assistance in finding a place to live?)
– Will the school cover the cost of medical aid? (If they do, what percentage will they cover? If not, is the public healthcare of a high standard and is it available to expats?)
– Are you entitled to paid holidays? (And if so, how many vacation weeks will be paid? If not, will you be able to supplement your income with private tuition/other employment?)
– Does the school expect you to come over on a working visa or on a tourist visa which then be converted into a working visa after a few weeks in the country? (Beware- lots of schools promise that they will sponsor your working visa after you arrive but eventually don’t want to shoulder the cost of sponsoring you. Without a working visa, they are not obliged to pay for your medical care or even your salary. Also remember that you will be working illegally on a tourist visa and this had led to deportation in many countries…).
After doing the research and not finding anything too sketchy about my chosen school I decided to accept the offer.
The next step was to send a scanned and signed a copy of the contract to my recruiter and then I waited to hear what visa documents the school wanted from me. Lots of countries, like South Korea & the United Arab Emirates are super popular for expats and therefore, there’s a ton of information of the visa process involved. Since Kuwait is a less popular working destination, I had no idea of the visa requirements and of course I accepted the offer a day before Eid so of course I didn’t hear back from the school for about a week.
From the time I accepted the offer to the time the school wants me to leave is only about 2 months which doesn’t leave me a lot of time to collect documents, pack up my possessions, rent out my apartment, finish up work at my current job, hand in my resignation and of course, spend time with family and friends! But it always happens this way doesn’t it? You spend months prepping and thinking you will have enough time and all of a sudden, you’ve signed a contract just when you have given up hope and realized how little time you have and how much you have to do! I would like to say that I got cracking with all of my tasks immediately after I accepted the offer but after I wrote a to-do list this is how I found myself spending the first few weeks…
As I go through the process of applying for my visa, packing up my life and saying goodbye to friends and family, I will be documenting my experiences here so look out for it in the next few posts!