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Dec 27, 2014

Expat Journey, V2: Authenticating Docs, Items to Pack & Cell phone needs

As promised, here is the second post of this series "So you wanna teach overseas".  If you miss my timeline of events check that post out because that is always a hot questions as well. I am not an expert but since I have recently lived all this I figured sometimes it is just easy to share to ease the mind of people that are making this journey or even just thinking about it.

So you've been offered a position in Abu Dhabi by way of TeachAway and now you have to gather up your documents and get them authenticated. I waited until I had the offer letter to authenticate because I knew that it was going to be costly. Major props to all those who do most of the authentication on their own. Me, not so much. I was under a major time crunch since I has an ASAP leave time and I was scared to death I would do something wrong.  Here is what I needed to have authenticated:

1. Current teaching certificate (I made a color copy at Kinkos to send)
2. My highest degree (again, a color copy)
3. My marriage certificate (obvi. you won't need this if you're flying solo)

My cost = $520
Yeah you read that correctly. If you only have 2 docs it should be about $370.

If you are a parent traveling with kiddos and/or your divorced there are other papers you have to get authenticated as well (like birth certificates, spouses permission, etc). The lady at ProEx is great, and can walk you through everything. I only had to worry about sending her my papers and she did everything else. I HIGHLY recommend them.

If you want to do the document authentication process on your own (mad props!) take a look at this post by another expat who gives really good directions.

Once you get those docs back DO NOT TAKE THEM APART!!! They will have stamps and ribbon and be bolted together. I am pretty sure I had the ribbon and the bolt thing in my craft room but it was all done. Now scan and send them to TeachAway.

So the burning question..What do I pack?!

Well I thought I had all of this figured out. However, when I took my 3 suitcases to the airline counter and was told I could have 2 of the three and to make my decision, I wasn't prepared. I needed everything I packed. Everything. Yeah, I didn't need everything but I wanted everything. So here are my must haves, or rather what I wish I would have brought more of:

*T-shirts - maybe I am just picky but I like what I like.
*Workout pants/capris - especially more if you plan on wearing an Abaya for work
*Tennis shoes - they have them here, but I think they are cheaper in the states
*Any hair products you are a die hard about (for me, deep conditioners or straightening serum) or brand specific.
-----they have several brands (Tresemme, Pantene, Herbal Essence, Lorel Vive) available but if you are a Paul Mitchell or Salon Brand person -bring some and have some shipped over. I haven't found them yet.
*Make up foundation. I wear exclusively MAC - the studio finish liquid make up is $58 a bottle! You can get it here... but it is not as cheap as the states. They also have Maxfactor, Lorel, and Maybelline; I have not found covergirl yet.
*Plus size clothing - bring clothing that you are comfortable in. I have found business clothes in larger sizes but for the most part, its size 0-14 or 16. I found 18 in a few places. Same for guys.
*Shoes- If you wear a size 10 or larger in ladies, you might want to bring your favorites. I have been able to find size 10 shoes, but it is not as accessible. I'd say save the room in your bags and buy here. It is not impossible to find.
*Passport photos - it has taken a few weeks to figure out why I need these, but I have to give one to my landlord, to the property management company, to ADEC. You will use them just not right away.
*Apple TV or Roku- I brought my Apple TV with me. I also have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for movies.
*Headphones- my dad gave me beats with the noise canceling feature before I got on the plane. They were the best thing ever on that long flight.
*iPad/Laptop - I would definitely bring one or both. Keep in mind that many schools do not have laptops or computers for their teachers so you could be using your own. I brought a MacBook Air because the school computers are riddled with viruses.
*Pens - my family will laugh about this one, but I am a pen snob and I only like to write with certain pens. Again, this is a preference thing. Also Sharpie markers and Expo board markers if you are particular about brands.
*GPS - like a Garmin or Tomtom - when you rent a car it will be a life saver. I am great with directions and I paid attention a lot in the cabs so I am without one. I also can use my cell phone sometimes to load the map feature but sometimes it doesn't work. Or bring a good ol' map.

*Unlocked cell phone- You will need a GSM unlocked cell phone if you want to pick up a SIM card and be ready to go once you land. You can also buy a phone here, this is a preference thing if you want to shell out the money when you get there. Here is what I did:
1. Switched my service to T-Mobile before I left the states. They have coverage here in the UAE.
--My plan includes international coverage so I have my same unlimited texting and unlimited data with calls being .20 cents a minute. I have been using my phone on Wifi Calling in the hotel and the calls are free as well. My coverage is fantastic as they are partnered with Du (local provider here) and I have been extremely pleased with my service.
2. Before I left the U.S. I requested the unlock code from T-Mobile (keep in mind this takes about 72 hours to get sometimes so plan accordingly).  This means I can take out my US SIM card and put in the UAE SIM card to use my phone with a UAE number.
*I choose to not switch back and forth between the two; therefore, I carry two phones.

I did not want to do that but with my excellent plan from T-Mobile why give up that service, plus I am not losing my number from back home. I have an additional T-Mobile phone from home (also unlocked) and I have my UAE SIM card in that phone.
--Note: I was reluctant to getting the UAE SIM because I felt I didn't need it. WRONG! Everything here is done by SMS (text) and you cannot open your bank account without a local number. Go ahead and get the SIM card when you arrive.
--you will need a color copy of your passport which you can obtain from the hotel front lobby and your work visa for the SIM card

I feel like the packing should really be focused on necessities. If you want it, you can 95% find it here. There are more shops and malls that you can even imagine. However, if there is something that you are die hard, gotta have it - then bring it and buy some to leave at home so people can ship it to you. You can also ship things here in a barrel of sorts. Some of the ladies in my group did that! Good for spices, toiletries, and other things. They said it was very cost effective so I would google that for your area.

As always, if you have something specific you want to know about just comment or shoot me an email!

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