Nobody ever likes getting sick. I think it’s safe to say that’s a universal assumption. One of the few things worse than getting the flu is getting the flu while abroad. Far from home without the comforts of your regular bed, or your mother to bring you trusted soup, or whatever may in fact comfort you while ill
Let’s face it, as a TEFL teacher, you will have numerous students and with annual cold and flu seasons, you are pretty much guaranteed to get sick at one point or another. Here are some steps you can take to help make getting through it, a little easier while living abroad, and also keep your classroom moving forward.
1: Stay stocked up on supplies. Everyone is different on the little things they like when they are sick. For me, it’s instant chicken noodle soup and honey-lemon cough drops. So I buy them regularly, whether I need them or not. That way when I get sick, and we all will, I have a large supply and won’t have to worry about venturing out into the cold to get them, which can sometimes be quite a hike, depending on where you are living. Have the things you like mailed to you if you need to.
2: Know where the neighbourhood pharmacy and doctor’s office are. Once you get settled into your new home away from home, scout the area. Locate and make a note on where the nearest pharmacy and doctor’s offices are, in case you need to make an emergency stop.
3: Have an English/native language dictionary on hand in case you need to go to either the doctor or the pharmacist. There is a good chance the professional will not know the English words you are trying to tell them. A dictionary will alleviate any confusion. If you don’t want to carry your dictionary around with you, download one for your smartphone or tablet. That way, you never have to worry about forgetting it, unless of course, you lose your smartphone or tablet.
4: Have insurance. A one time traveler’s insurance was required to get a visa into countries such as China, but they are no longer required. As a result the safety net of said insurance often gets over looked. Many countries, such as Canada, have free health care, but a lot don’t. You may have to go to a hospital abroad for tests or medication if you became ill, and in most places you will be expected to pay cash up front. As long as you have insurance though, you can rest assured you will be reimbursed later on. Make sure to find out exactly what the package you take covers and don’t forget to save your medical receipts. Sometimes your employer will provide insurance; find out!
5: Always keep at least a week’s worth of lessons plans ready to go. You never know how long you will be sick for, and your classes will certainly not be put on hold. If you can keep your lesson plans prepared for a weeks notice, and in an accessible place (perhaps in your desk in the classroom) then any substituting teacher will be able to carry on using your plan. Leaving you time to heal worry free.
Aside from these tips, the regular stuff always applies. Rest, drink lots of fluid, and give your Manager or Director of Studies plenty of notice when sick. Get well soon!
Have you been ill abroad? Tell us about your experience in the comments box below…