Meredith College alumna and former Board of Trustees member Phoenix Haydon, ’74, ’08 (MAT), shared insights about living and working overseas with a group of Meredith students on Thursday, February 4, 2016.
The group met, appropriately, in the StrengthsLab, a dedicated campus space for students to explore and build on their strengths.
Haydon, who came from Taiwan to attend Meredith College, has received a Distinguished Alumna Award and was instrumental in Meredith’s early global education efforts. Currently Haydon owns and runs a school in Taiwan that was founded by her mother.
She had a number of tips for the students, whose ages and majors were diverse but who shared an interest in working and living abroad.
- Do specific and thorough research about the culture of the country where you’ll be visiting or working – and don’t generalize. Many habits and cultural expectations are very different from what you may be used to, and you don’t want to offend people inadvertently.
- If you’ll be living overseas for an extended period of time, going with a friend, partner, or spouse is a plus.
- If you’re planning to teach overseas you must be certified. If you want to teach English in another country, you should be certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
- You must have a work permit to work in another country. If you’ll be living in a country for more than six months, Haydon recommends that you register with the American Embassy.
- Housing is an important consideration. Some employers will provide housing as part of your contract – for instance, Haydon’s school offers furnished apartments to teachers. If housing is provided, ask if it’s furnished and includes linens and other necessary items.
- Transportation is another piece to consider when working overseas. Haydon encourages you to negotiate with employers for reimbursement of travel expenses to and from the country.
- Think about where you’ll find support in a new country and culture. Does the school or employer have a mentoring system? Will someone be available to introduce you to others or will you be exploring on your own? Be prepared for culture shock – it will happen and should be expected.
- You are responsible for your own safety. Don’t assume that everyone you encounter has your best interests at heart – be somewhat cautious and protect yourself.
- Most important - take full advantage of this experience! Learn some phrases of the local language, eat local food, and travel to nearby countries during free time. Having an open mind and being willing to step out of your comfort zone are critical to making the most of your time overseas.
Presented in partnership with the Offices of Career Planning and International Programs. Phoenix Haydon’s school in Taipei, Taiwan is currently accepting applications for a full time English Language Teacher for the 2016 - 17 school year – for more information, contact Career Planning or consult job#10635 on CareerLink. Meredith students are encouraged to meet with the Office of International Programs to discuss international internship options through our Meredith Affiliate study abroad providers.