On Friendship & Finding Your Feet While Teaching Abroad
This week, we've been treated to Tracey and Este's story - two teachers who found an amazing friendship in a new, strange land. Both teachers are in Dubai, and have shared a few of their thoughts and experiences so far.
Have you ever worked and travelled overseas? What was this first experience like?
Este has not worked overseas before. I (Tracey) have worked in the Congo before, teaching. It’s a huge adjustment in terms of leaving home and leaving the familiar to go to somewhere new. It’s always challenging no matter how nice the new country may seem.
What did you do for the first few days in Dubai?
The first few days were spent shopping for the apartment and getting ready for the start of the school year. Keep in mind that you should start saving as soon as you sign your contract. It’s very costly to set up an apartment that only comes with the minimum like a bed, stove, pots and pans etc.
How are the students different to students in South Africa?
The kids are different in the sense that they are disciplined differently both at home and at school. The way that we as teachers are allowed to discipline them is very different to the way things are allowed and done in the South African schooling system so that is challenging as well.
How is the culture different to South Africa?
We've found the culture to be different based mostly on gender. The way men and women are viewed is very different. Women have to dress very modestly, keeping things like the knees and shoulders covered. Certain rules and regulations are taken very seriously and you will be fined etc for breaking these rules. They follow their religion very closely in the UAE.
Any advice you would give to future teachers?
Make sure this is really something you want to do. Research, research, research!! Research the country, research the culture, and research the school. Do as much as you can. Prepare yourself and make an informed decision. Make connections with people already in Dubai and that are at the school. Bring photographs and things like that to make your apartment feel more like home. Prepare for tough times and that things are done very differently. Take it one step at a time and adapt.
Best and worst experience so far?
Our best experience was finally being able to meet each other face-to-face, also making new friends and doing sight-seeing. Our worst experience has been adjusting to a different schooling system and being home sick. We also want to encourage you that once you’ve made those connections with people at school, your flat mate etc, it does make things easier.
We wish Tracey and Este the best on their future travels and adventures!
For more on how you can have your own adventures, visit