ESL – Diary of a Serial Expat http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com Expat destinations off the beaten paths Tue, 12 Sep 2017 14:32:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/wp-content/uploads/logo-2-161x150.png ESL – Diary of a Serial Expat http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com 32 32 68156955 Libya Jobs – Getting a Health Certificate http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/libya-jobs-health-certificate/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/libya-jobs-health-certificate/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 07:24:52 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=2184 Despite the war, the instability and the very real dangers, Libya jobs continue to attract expats from all over the world. Very little can be found on the internet to help those expats prepare a move to Libya. My expat life in Libya may be over but I lived

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Despite the war, the instability and the very real dangers, Libya jobs continue to attract expats from all over the world. Very little can be found on the internet to help those expats prepare a move to Libya. My expat life in Libya may be over but I lived there and i can tell you what google can’t: getting a Health Certificate is both extremely important and terribly difficult. You ready?

Essential information for expats to Libya is missing. That is a fact. Before moving to Libya in 2012, i had no idea that i would need a health certificate to be allowed to work in that country. No one ever told me, i never read about it online, specialised Libya jobs websites had nothing to say on the subject. Yet i found out later (almost too late) that without medical clearance your employment contract becomes automatically void, your visas will be cancelled and you will be asked to leave Libya as the earliest possible time. That’s how important it is.

But how do you get that health certificate? Where do you need to go? How much does it cost? I’ll try my best to answer all those questions but as usual with the administration in Libya nothing is easy or straight forward and information, even on the ground, is hard to find. As for actually getting a health certificate, it’s gonna take some work.

Important Things to Remember:

  1. only certificates issued in Libya by Libyan authorities are accepted by employers. They may ask you to go and pay for a medical check in your country of origin but they will disregard it and ask you to do it again soon after you arrive in Libya.
  2. Certificates usually expire after 1 year
  3. Prices vary from one city to another but 65 LYD per person per certificate is a good average

 

Libya Jobs: Getting a Health CERTIFICATE

So you got a job offer in Libya which you have accepted, you’ve packed up your life in a few suitcases and you’ve finally arrived. This is when you learn (probably for the first time) that you need a health certificate. Well, brace yourself, it’s not gonna be easy, it’s gonna drive you mad but it can be done and you may even be able to laugh about it afterwards. Here is the day by day, place by place, step by step procedure you are likely to have to follow to get that precious document.

Libya jobs

Day 1 – Step 1:

We go to the University Hospital in Zawia, walk back and forth for some time until we find the right office and as soon as we find it, the person in charge tells us that they can’t issue receipt. In any other country, that wouldn’t be a problem but in Libya that’s the end of the world. Therefore we are asked to move straight to step 2 and for that we need to go elsewhere. No no, not another office in the hospital, elsewhere as in take you car and drive.

Day 1 – Step 2:

We were asked to go to the Ministry of Health in Zawia, which happens to be quite on the other side of the city and so far from the hospital that we almost arrived too late. At the Ministry of Health we paid for our medical and lab analysis and got a receipt. We are now 120 LYD lighter but that’s it, there is no more we can do here. We are directed to go back to the University Hospital in the city.

Day 1 – Step 3:

Back to square 1 in University Hospital we struggle once again to find the right wing of the hospital. There you hand in your passport and in exchange they open a file for you and start the admin process of getting you the right paperwork to get your medical exams done. After that we finally get to the medical part of this whole operation and they take some blood sample. They will keep your passport and issue you with a receipt to get it back once you get the final certificate. I guess this is where things would go badly if you couldn’t get the certificate validated. If your results are positive and you are shown to have HIV, TB or Hep then you will get your passport back but only so that you can exit the country!

Libya jobs

Day 2:

In order to do a series of chest X-rays we went to a different hospital in Zawia. We arrived at 9am only to be told they were done for the day, please come back tomorrow! This is where we learnt that some days are for Libyans only, others for expats. Which days exactly? who knows? No one ever tells you which day to come or at what time. Best thing is to hope you come on the right day and time next time. Ohhh and we’ll need to fork out another 20LYD per person for the X-ray. Didn’t we have to travel all around the city to the Ministry of Health to settle all payments??? Apparently not!

Libya jobs

Day 3 – Step 1:

We went back to the second hospital where we had been the day before arriving at 8am this time. We gave 2 ID pictures and 20LYD each to get yet another file opened in our name. There is no such thing as a centralised bank of information in Libya, so everywhere you go, you need to provide the same documents again and again. We once had to hand out 3 passport copies and sets of pictures in the same place just because it was for different people, whose desk were actually on the same floor and within sight of each other. Anyway after we handed out money and pictures we ….. waited…. for a loooooong time! Finally our turn to do the X-ray came at about 10am. Let’s move to the next step.

Day 3 – Step 2:

Oooops can’t do step 2. A signature is needed on our X-ray card and the only person who can sign won’t be in until 12pm. That’s another thing you’ll learn fast, Libyans love signatures and stamps. Just check out our health certificates once they were done with it!

Libya jobs

How many stamps and signatures can you count?

Instead, we went back to the 1st hospital (the University Hospital in Zawia) to collect our file, the one from Day 1 – Step 3 remember? It’s now ready for us and it already has 6 different stamps on it. We need that file for the next day in order to get our last 3 medical checks done, namely general well-being check, eye check and skin check. Don’t ask!

Libya jobs

Day 4 – Step 1:

At this point, if you’re reading this you may wonder how all this can be done during a normal working week because of course you can’t do all that during the weekend. Answer is simple, you’ll need to take time off work, cancel and reschedule lessons and catch up on other work related business later.

Anyway on Day 4, we went first to the same hospital as day 3 (not the University one, the other one, you keeping up?) to collect our X-Ray card with that signature and the results of the X-ray on it. Not sure which one is actually more important in Libya but i wouldn’t be so sure it’s the results.

Day 4 – Step 2:

We then had to drive to yet another hospital, 3rd one we visited in this whole process so far, to have the 3 check ups done. This is where it gets funny. Despite being tired and frustrated by the whole thing, when we left the hospital my husband and i bursted in laughter and couldn’t stop for a long time. Here’s why. Remember it’s Day 4, it’s location 4 or 5 or 6… so you’d be expecting something serious and important to happen. Well not in Libya! For the general well-being and skin check “exams” the doctor didn’t even look at us, she just signed the forms. The doctor was actually already in consultation, we were ushered in the room, and we stood there while she signed, her eyes on her patient the whole time.

As for the eye check, this is how it happened. We were both asked to step in the exam room at the same time. My husband went first, he was asked to sit on a stool and to read 1 (ONE) letter from the first line, the extra large font line. Please cover your other eye, Sir. Read that letter please. Can you guess which letter that is? Yep the same one, on the same extra large font line. Thank you. Sir. Could you ask your wife to sit? I sit down, cover my right eye and wait. Please read that letter. And yes, i’m sure you guessed this time, i was asked the read the SAME letter my husband had already read twice while i waited next to him. Cover your other eye and read that letter please, said the lady. Are you laughing already? Yes of course, SAME LETTER AGAIN!!! After this very thorough eye exam, we were both awarded 10 out of 10 for both eyes. Thank you very much. Where it get even funnier is that both my husband and i wear glasses without which we can’t see much. Now you see why we couldn’t stop laughing afterwards?

Anyway can’t stay here all day laughing our heads off in the car, we got some more things to do.

Day 4 – Step 3:

We drove quickly (it was getting late and close to the end of office hours) to the other side of town to yet another branch of the Ministry of Health (nope, not the same as before, that would be too simple) to collect our passports. Unfortunately we arrived too late, the only guy who could give us our passports back had already left… without telling anyone apparently if his colleague’s surprise was any indication.

So???

Well yes, we waited! It was the weekend, so nothing happened for another 2 days!

Libya jobs

Day 5:

After the weekend we went back to the Ministry of Health after work to collect our passports. We arrived in time, went upstairs to the office but at first they told us “come back at 8am“. We explained that we were teaching and that it would be very hard. “Come back in 3 days then” was the answer. Why? Who knows? The guy was there, our passports were ready, it was office hours, we were there but no: come back in 3 days! Ahhh Libya, if you didn’t exist, we would have to invent you. Anyway we insist, they agree to see us. Oh oh turns out we need 4 ID pictures and 10 LYD each!

Luckily we have learnt our lessons and we always carried about 20 ID pictures with us at all times, 20 LYD were not hard to find either so we were back in business. A few more forms, a few more signatures, a few more improbable questions to answer and we were done. They gave us our passports back and they had even made us some laminated Immigrant ID Card, which had our medical results at the back of it.

For the anecdote when i checked my new ID card i was surprised to see that my passport number was written incorrectly, which most likely would make the whole thing invalid if there ever was a problem. But the whole experience had drained us of all our energy and patience so we let it pass. And anyway, remember what i said at the beginning? This whole circus has to be done once a year. Cheers!

Libya jobs

 

One last word

Libya being Libya, this kind of hell rides are only too common at work, at the bank, at the doctor and everywhere else where you need paperwork. Still, i must admit that i miss Libya in many ways. It may sound crazy but Libya is a really nice place to live.

As for that awful system well believe it or not but there are many occasions where the chaos plays in your favour and you can get away with a lot in Libya. I’m not talking anything illegal, just little things that can make your life simple sometimes. Libya i DO miss you.

Have you been to Libya? Did you experience something similar in other countries? Where? Leave comments and share your experience with us.

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ESL salary in Saudi Arabia http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/esl-salary-in-saudi-arabia/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/esl-salary-in-saudi-arabia/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:35:06 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=2009 It is no secret that many people move to Saudi Arabia attracted by the very advantageous salaries offered to ESL teachers. No other country in the world offer better salaries than Saudi Arabia and the lists of perks (benefits) that expats receive on top of

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It is no secret that many people move to Saudi Arabia attracted by the very advantageous salaries offered to ESL teachers. No other country in the world offer better salaries than Saudi Arabia and the lists of perks (benefits) that expats receive on top of their basic salary is usually enough to tip the balance and convince people from all over the globe to move to the intriguing Kingdom.

So what can you expect? How much exactly can you earn working as an ESL university teacher in Saudi Arabia? What is the cost of life and how much can you save living here? Is everything you heard true?

I have decided to be open about my financial situation in this post, not to brag but to shed some light on the actual situation here. Of course I am only one person and as I will explain further down in this post, salaries are often calculated on an individual basis so I cannot account for every expat in every city in every university. Still, I think it will help to get a clearer picture.

ESL salary in saudi arabia

A university in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

 

Basic ESL Salary in Saudi Arabia

If you have already looked online for ESL jobs in Saudi Arabia you must have noticed that there are basically 2 types of offers when it comes to salaries and neither are very specific. They either mention a salary range or simply indicate that salary is negotiable. At first this may seem frustrating: “why don’t they write down HOW MUCH?”.

There is actually a simple explanation for this, they don’t advertise a basic salary because it is very often calculated based on each candidate’s merits. Salary offers are based on several factors, among them: nationality, qualifications, experience, Gulf experience, languages spoken, city of employment… as well as a whole bunch of other factors that are usually neither clear nor advertised.

It can be hard, when you look for jobs, to know exactly how much you can expect and you may have to wait until you receive an offer to get a clear idea. Yet don’t despair, as I mentioned above, Saudi Arabia has no close second when it comes to high salaries and if you are a strong candidate you will be glad you didn’t give up.

ESL Salary Booster

Before I give you straight figures, here are some factors that can seriously help to increase your basic salary:

  • accepting jobs with Oil and Petroleum Industry companies located in the Dammam region, which is less popular with expats due to the extremely hot climate and the lack of entertainment
  • a Phd in English or Applied Linguistics
  • applying as a couple
  • a Direct hire offer (as opposed to an offer from a recruiting agency)
  • having previous experience in Saudi or another Gulf country

So how much do I make here in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia?

As a British national, with an MA from the UK with 5 years teaching experience, I started off by earning a little more than SAR 15 000 per month. (SAR=Saudi Riyals). I will let you use a currency converter to get a better idea of how much that is but it is basically equivalent to USD 4000 (USD=US Dollars). With a 3 to 5% increment every year you renew your contract, it adds up quite nicely.

I think this is a medium to high salary here in Saudi. Some ESL teacher earn much less while others earn way more. That’s not the point though,

Saudi is not about basic salary, it’s more about the long list of PERKS that come with it… and this is where to real money is.

Perks are what makes a huge difference in the kind of life you can have here and/or how quickly you can save money for that all important (and expensive) project back home.

ESL Salary in saudi arabia

Money isn’t everything. How’s that for a work place?

Salary, Perks & Savings

I was once talking to someone back in the UK and they were arguing that earning SAR 15 000 is not that much better than a good salary in the UK and that it didn’t justify moving across the world to a country like Saudi Arabia. I had to agree with them that some people in the UK do make some really good money too but…. and there is a giant, huge, enormous BUT…

the question shouldn’t be how much you earn or how much money comes into your bank account. The real deal breaker is how much you got left to live on at the end of the month!

Let’s first make a list of the main perks I’m getting here as an ESL teacher in Jeddah:

  • 2 return plane tickets per year
  • 60 days paid holidays + 21 days National Holidays
  • Visa and Iqama (residence permit) fees paid for me
  • Class A medical insurance
  • Free medical check up + immunization shots
  • Free housing in a fully furnished family flat
  • Free transportation to work, to shopping centers and the beach + free airport transfers every time I need it
  • Gas bill = paid for me
  • Electricity bill = paid for me
  • Water bill = paid for me
  • Free Internet
  • Free telephone home line + calls to other home lines
  • Free and unlimited access to recreational facilities (Olympic size swimming pools, gym, tennis courts, playground…)
  • Zero taxes: what you earn is what you keep

I may have forgotten a few small things but I think this is basically it. Now let’s do the math and calculate my monthly expenses: that means food basically and some mobile phone credit. On a regular month I spend between SAR 3000 and 4000. If you have children, you will need to add schooling expenses on top of that.

So again let’s count: 15000 – 4000 = SAR 11 000+ per month that I can save!!! How does that compare to the UK or to your own home country? No comparison with the UK, where once you’ve paid your taxes, your rent, your bills, your children’s education and your grocery shopping you have nothing left. Forget about savings, you’re usually happy if you can buy food at the end of the month!

So here you go, this is the real math you should do if you’re thinking of moving to Saudi Arabia. I’m pretty sure you will come to the same conclusion thousands of other expats have come to: Saudi is a heaven to make and save money. And it’s not just me! I have heard countless stories from people around me here since I arrived. A lady from the UK can work here for 1 year and she will be able to afford 5 years of education in a fancy private school in the UK for her child. Another from the US will work here for 2 years to completely pay off all her student’s loans and debts. As for us, in less than a year our dream of building a little family house will become a reality inshallah.

Of course there is much more to Saudi Arabia than making money. It is country with a rich culture and the perfect place to get out of your comfort zone and experience something truly unique.

Have you considered taking a job in Saudi Arabia? What attracted you? Or what is it that is stopping you?

 

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Libya in Pictures: Zawia University http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/travel-shots-zawia-university-libya/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/travel-shots-zawia-university-libya/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:13:50 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=1154 I don’t know if you’re like me but when I start looking into a destination I want to see some pictures. I need to get a feel of the place and this is something that words alone can’t give. For future expats to Libya the process of

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I don’t know if you’re like me but when I start looking into a destination I want to see some pictures. I need to get a feel of the place and this is something that words alone can’t give. For future expats to Libya the process of finding pictures is very frustrating, I know, there are virtually no pictures other than those of the war.

Enough words, here are some pictures of Zawia University in Libya. Just one last word, I worked on the new campus in Zawia, the one just outside the city where the English Department is currently located.

 Zawia University – Faculty of Arts

Zawia University Libya

This is the main car park for students and staff of the Faculty of Arts. The English Department is located in the sand colour building. The white building on the right is for classrooms.

Zawia University Libya

The English Department is by far the largest in the Faculty of Arts yet it is given the same number of classrooms as the other departments. Teacher are often left without a classroom and have to roam for one at the beginning of their lesson.

Zawia University Libya

The 2 floor building is where the English Department classrooms are located. In front of it is a the chill out spot and pick up point.

 

Zawia University – The structure

Zawia University Libya

The buildings are organised in a square shape around a little green garden. All buildings have 2 floors.

Zawia University Libya

View from the first floor over the Department of English offices in the sand colour building in the middle. In the background the white building is another Faculty.

Zawia University Libya

White buildings are for classrooms, there are no auditorium in Zawia University.

 

Zawia University – Classrooms

Zawia University Libya

All classroom buildings are the same. A long corridor with 5 or 6 classrooms on each floor. As you can see there is no equipment, no notice board, nothing to indicate you are in a learning environment.

Zawia University Libya

Typical classroom: spacious, high ceilings that are bad for acoustics, no desk for the teachers, sometimes a white board, no AC units and no other form of equipment either.

 

Zawia University – the Mall

Zawia University Libya

The Mall is located just behind the English Department offices, there you’ll find stationary and photocopy shops, cafes and cafeterias as well as all kind of shops selling shoes, make up, clothes…

Zawia University Libya

Like all the other buildings the Mall is built over 2 floors

Zawia University Libya

On the left hand side of this picture, in the Mall, there are the offices and classrooms of the Art Department. The year I taught in Zawia, the Art Department had no registered student.

 

Zawia University – the best of the rest

Zawia University Libya

When you leave the university by the road you can’t help but notice this striking building. Not sure what Faculty it houses but it does look nice.

Zawia University Libya

This building with a yellow dome is the Administration Building for the campus of Zawia University. The offices of the Dean is there as well as the Finance offices where you can get your pay check.

Zawia University Libya

Shortly before I left, Zawia University had been fully fitted with Wifi Internet. They built a huge tower to get the service in place. It worked for a few weeks then went dead… not sure how it works (or not) now.

 

That’s about all the pictures I have of the Zawia University Campus. If you plan on working there I suggest you read this article first, it explains why and how I left. Click HERE to read about my last months in Zawia.

If you still have questions i’ll be more than happy to answer them so leave a comment or Contact me.

 

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Expat in Libya – The end http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/expat-in-libya-the-end/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/expat-in-libya-the-end/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:48:02 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=986 I lived as an expat in Libya for almost 2 years and I’m now headed to a new destination. It’s time to look back and share my last impressions of my time in Libya.  The big question is: was it all worth it or was

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I lived as an expat in Libya for almost 2 years and I’m now headed to a new destination. It’s time to look back and share my last impressions of my time in Libya.  The big question is: was it all worth it or was it in fact a crazy move like so many people said before I left? and would i ever go back to Libya?

Let’s start with a brief summary of what happened in our last month as expats in Libya. Ever since we left Libya in July 2014 i’ve travelled to 3 other countries and I haven’t found the time to write this post before.

On the other hand it gave me some “de-pressurisation” time: we left Libya after months of extremely high levels of stress at work and a growing unrest was gripping the country, leading to fightings in Tripoli first and then all over the country.

LIBYA NEWS

This was on the TV screen in the travel agency the day we booked out tickets to leave Zawia. This shows the airport we were supposed to fly from and a plane from the company we normally use.

Flashback:

By the time exams started at the University of Zawia, we realised that the situation was totally out of control and truly dangerous on campus! It may sound crazy but I’m not exaggerating when I say that teaching English in Libya can be a life threatening job! It came to a point where I had to give up a group of students to remain safe. Of course the crazier it got the more we wanted out and we started looking for jobs out of Libya, focussing on Saudi Arabia and Oman.

It’s difficult to explain the whole situation, I’ve tried before to tell my friends who asked but every time I realise that people don’t get it. Quite understandably people use their own frame of knowledge, their own circumstances to process what I’m telling them. Only this doesn’t work with a place like Libya where things are wild beyond anything words can describe. I’ll try anyway.

Basically, lawlessness is the rule in Libya, where there is still no stable government and many warring groups fight to gain control of a rich oil producing country. At city level, like in Zawia there are family clans who control many things, including the university of Zawia. They own it, they rule it! and they’re not about to be told what to do by expats like me. So when I tried to do my job and teach them, assess them and when necessary fail them… I got into a world of trouble (very real, scary troubles).

Death threats, physical intimidation and the presence of weapons on campus doesn’t make for a pleasant work environment. It’s even worse for non-Libyans who don’t have the backing and protection of a clan. So you end up having to make a choice between doing your job properly or saving your neck. You can also “cave in” and do as you’re told, become a pawn in their power game but I just couldn’t do that. It became clear that we wouldn’t be able to function in these conditions.

At the end of the academic year, we left Libya without officially quiting our jobs as we didn’t yet have contracts for other jobs so we thought we would leave the door open to return to Libya after the summer break… just in case. However the overall safety situation changed drastically by the time we were booking our tickets out of Libya. In fact we had to fly to the UK from Tunisia as the main Airport in Tripoli has just been bombed and totally destroyed.

By the time we reached Tunisia by road things in Libya got out of control and it became so dangerous that the Tunisian border wouldn’t allow non-Libyans to cross back into Libya. Obviously for us it meant we were not coming back and we had to concentrate our efforts to secure a job in another country.

LIBYA NEWS

Don’t be fooled by appearances, it’s not quite as peaceful as it looks

Expat in Libya – the best and the worst

Despite some really hard time in Zawia, I actually have some very good memories of Libya.

The Best of Libya in no particular order:

  • The weather
  • The colour of the sea
  • A society that value people
  • Misurata
  • Really nice salaries for ESL uni teachers
  • my children’s schools

The Worst of Libya in no particular order:

  • Zawia university
  • Gun fire/shots day and night
  • the admin chaos (although it had its good sides too)
  • the stress of living in a country on the verge of implosion

Conclusion

So what about being en expat in Libya then? Would I ever return? In fact yes I would return to Libya but probably not Zawia. I loved my time in Misurata and life in Libya in general as you can see from my many posts on this blog. However I have never managed to feel at ease in Zawia and later events just confirmed my first impressions so I wouldn’t willingly go back to Zawia. As for Libya, when things calm down again why not? After all it’s got loads to offer.

Have you ever lived in a country considered unsafe? How long did you stay? What made you leave? If you’d like to share your story be in touch please.

 

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Job Hunting Tips for ESL Positions Abroad http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/job-hunting-tips-for-esl-positions-abroad/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/job-hunting-tips-for-esl-positions-abroad/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 06:21:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=9 Have you ever thought of becoming an English teacher abroad? Many people use this way to finance a life of travels to exotic countries. Since English is in high demands in all the countries of the world, you can basically throw a dart on the

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Have you ever thought of becoming an English teacher abroad? Many people use this way to finance a life of travels to exotic countries. Since English is in high demands in all the countries of the world, you can basically throw a dart on the map and choose your destination. But where to start? How to get a job? What are the basic requirements to become an English teacher and make it your ticket to travel the world? It’s easier than it sounds… really!

Where to start your research?

If you’re new to the worldwide job hunting game, here are a few tips to get you started. Just like any other jobs, you’ll need to look everywhere and remember you’re not the only one looking so make sure you try everything.

  • Specialised ESL job forums: There are hundreds of them, simply type “ESL job in [name of country]” in Google and you’ll see. Take the time to explore all the possibilities. Make sure the website/forum is up-to-date by checking the dates of the latest job posting. Some of them offer to let you upload your CV or you can sign up for email alerts.
  • University/School websites: Using good old Google find a list of schools/universities in the country that interests you and find their official websites (Wikipedia works too). Then look for the Vacancy/Recruitment page to see what positions are available. If they have no current openings, you can either save the page for later or try to get the contact details (through the website) of the Head of Department. Send them your CV anyway, you never know.

USEFUL TIP: When sending your CV to schools, always try to contact the person in charge of education rather then HR. Heads teachers, Heads of department are the ones who usually originate the demands for new staff and if they like your CV they might suddenly “need” you while HR will just ignore your CV if they haven’t been told of job openings.

  • Networking: it’s time to open your long forgotten address book and ask around for anyone you may know who is already teaching abroad. People on the ground are usually the first to know about job openings in their departments/university/school. Some employers actually ask for in-house reference when you apply with them and preference may be given to friends of current employees.
  • Expat Communities/Forums: If you don’t have any friends who can help you it’s time to make new friends, preferably in the country where you’d like to teach. The internet is full of communities for expats. Register (it’s often free), participate in forum discussions, get some tips and advice and try to connect directly with other teachers or people who could help you in your job search.

USEFUL TIP: This may not sound like a good way to find a job but combined with the other ones above, you may strike gold. It happened to me once, i found out a university was looking for new teachers and then on one of those forums (www.internations.org) i met a lady who was working there and she gave me a direct email address to the Head of Department.

  • Social medias: in today’s world, who can ignore Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and the others…? Get yourself a professional profile on all of them. Don’t use the same one where you post photos of you in shorts in holidays or just woken up from a night of partying!!! When possible, include your contact details, upload your most recent CV and picture and describe what position you’re looking for.

Applying for jobs

As with any job search you’ll need to have a recent CV and cover letter ready. Different countries have different practices of course but those 2 are usually required everywhere. Make sure your CV highlights any English Language or Teaching qualifications, include any certificate or training you may have done. Also highlight any teaching experience. If you have no experience, highlight past jobs which demonstrate the qualities required to be an ESL teacher abroad such as ability to work others, a curiosity for other cultures… And don’t forget a recent, clean ID style picture on the CV.

USEFUL TIP: Have a comprehensive CV ready with ALL your qualifications an experience, then use this Master CV to cut and paste to create a Specialised CV aimed at a certain employer and targetting a particular position so that it always look like you’re perfect for the job.

If you have those, your CV has a strong chance of catching someone’s attention:

  • a Phd (in more or less any subject)
  • a CELTA, DELTA or TEFL certificate (See my article on CELTA for ESL teaching HERE)
  • 2+ years of teaching experience
  • Available for immediate start
  • Teaching couple
  • Degrees from respectable universities in the UK or the US

It is important to know than in some countries Online degrees and certificates are not recognised. Check the internet to find out about this point in the country where you’d like to relocate and be prepared to answer that question in interviews.

Getting an ESL job abroad
Korea is a very popular destination
for ESL teaching

Getting yourself ready

When you have send your CV and applied for jobs, you need to put together an application pack. Once someone like your CV they will request a series of documents to further your application and shortlist you. Since you are applying to move abroad and they cannot talk to you face to face, you need to convince them by email most of the time.

The following are very often asked by employers and recruiters:

  • Valid Passport + scanned copies of it
  • Scans of all your qualifications/Diplomas/Certificates…
  • Letters of recommendations from at least 2 recent employers
  • Certificates of employment indicating job title, responsibilities, salary, dates of employment…
  • Recent ID pictures
  • A Skype account for interviews
USEFUL TIP: beware of scams. Now that your contact details and CV are out there, you may receive some fake job offers by email. Scammers are after your CV (with all your personal details of course), money and passport details (some genuine employers request to see passport copies to check your nationality and make sure you can get visas). Read my post to learn how to Recognise and Avoid Scams.

While you wait…

  • If you don’t have a CELTA or equivalent, it might be a very good idea to get one. Use the time until you get a job to get a TEFL certificate. Some can be done in very little time and will be a great boost to your CV
  • Read about Skype and phone interviews. While they are similar to regular interviews, they also have their own rules and specificities

I think you’re ready now, i wish you all the best in your job hunting… see you somewhere around the world and let me know when you land your dream job abroad.

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Do i need a CELTA? http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/do-i-need-a-celta/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/do-i-need-a-celta/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:24:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=11 If you’re an ESL teacher or you’re thinking of getting yourself on the ESL teaching market then you must have heard of CELTA. It’s in most of the ESL job offers and very often a requirement to apply for a position. In this article i’ll

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If you’re an ESL teacher or you’re thinking of getting yourself on the ESL teaching market then you must have heard of CELTA. It’s in most of the ESL job offers and very often a requirement to apply for a position. In this article i’ll go over the essentials with some tips to really make it work for you. But first, what exactly is CELTA and do you really need it?

What’s a CELTA?

CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. It is delivered by the prestigious Cambridge University, UK and it is the most widely recognised TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages certification. Basically if you plan to become an English teacher abroad, this is your ticket to getting a job. This certificate effectively turns an average Joe into a qualified and experienced teacher.

CELTA for ESL job

Who can take the CELTA?

There are some basic requirements of age and level of fluency in English of course but almost everyone can apply. It is especially good if you have no qualification in Teaching or English Language and you want to teach English abroad. ESL teaching is one of the most popular way to finance a life abroad. It can take you to any country around the world while providing a steady and very often generous income. For more info you can visit the Cambridge website, it’s got all the details.

Do i really need a CELTA to teach abroad?

Not necessarily as some employers will be happy to take you without it BUT… and there is a but… if you have no prior or very little teaching experience or your degrees are not related to the English Language then finding a job may be very difficult. If you have a CELTA however, it won’t really matter. It is also desirable if your highest qualification is a BA as most employers prefer an MA or Phd. Here again if you have a BA (regardless of your major) and a CELTA you’ll have a real chance of securing a job.

Pros and Cons

In my opinion and based on my experience looking for ESL abroad over the years i would recommend getting a CELTA. There is no doubt you’re better with it than without it. To help you decide here are the main pros and cons of the CELTA:

Pros: 

  • Most widely recognised and accepted TESOL certification
  • Increases your chance of getting an ESL job
  • Prepares you for the realities of a teaching job
Cons:
  • Expensive: at least £1200
  • Time consuming: options to study full time (4 weeks intensive) or part time (over 10 or more weeks) 
  • Hard Work: be prepared for some intense lessons and a lot of hours for preparation and writing assignments. It won’t be easy.

For those who are not ready to invest in a CELTA, there are other options such as TEFL certificates, they are certainly a good addition to your CV and will help you to get a job but CELTA is the way to go if you plan to make a “career” in ESL Teaching.

CELTA for ESL job
That would look nice on your wall

Can i do a CELTA online?

Yes and NO. You will find many organisations offering CELTA courses online but you must remember that many employers do not accept online degrees and certifications. The best is to check online job offers for the country you want to teach in and see what’s the trend. Saudi for instance will disregard any online qualifications.

On the other hand, Cambridge itself offer a mixed study programme where you study the theory at home using online materials and attend the teaching practice at one of their centres. It is only partly flexible since dates and times of your classroom based sessions are decided by the centre, not you. However in the end, they give you the same certificate as if you had done it 100% classroom based so employers will accept it without any question. This is what they state on their website:

“Cambridge CELTA Course Online leads to exactly the same certificate as the face-to-face CELTA
Assessed outcomes are the same for all trainees so there is no need for separate certification.” 

In my opinion, if you’re going to invest so much time, effort and money in a CELTA you shouldn’t take the risk of reducing its value by taking it online. If you’re gonna do it, do it right. You’ll get your money back when you land a fantastic ESL job with a high range salary in a totally exotic location!

Do you have a CELTA? Did you get a job without it? Share your views on the CELTA by leaving a comment below.

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Beware of ESL Scams http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/beware-of-esl-scams/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/beware-of-esl-scams/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:21:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=12 Today, you can type any word in a search engine and you’ll find loads of info on just about anything. Sadly it also means that there are nasty scams around just about anything. ESL job hunting has not been spared and those scams could seriously

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Today, you can type any word in a search engine and you’ll find loads of info on just about anything. Sadly it also means that there are nasty scams around just about anything. ESL job hunting has not been spared and those scams could seriously harm you. Here are a few tips to help you spot and avoid those frauds.

Scammers have been targeting ESL job hunters for as long as the market has existed. OK so here you are thinking “pfff what could a person be after?” Well think about it. Just think about what information you put on your CV? And what someone could do with those?

How scammers get to you?

Typically a scam looks just like your run-of-the-mill ESL job advert. They pass themselves off as employers or recruiters, sometimes they even use the names of real schools/institutes/universities, sometimes the whole thing is fake. They have mainly 2 ways of getting to you:

  • they wait for you to reply to a VERY attractive job offer
  • they contact you directly by email with an offer

In both case, the aim is to get a few important details out of you as well as money if they can get it. They will ask for all your personal details as well as a copy of your passport (real employers do that too) and some will offer you a job then ask money to supposedly process your visa or even your application.

ADVICE: never ever pay to apply for jobs! Real employers will never ask you for money to let you apply or to process your application. Only fake employers do! As for visa fees, you shouldn’t have to worry about that until after you have signed a contract.

As i explained in another post on ESL job hunting, once you’ve put your CV online it becomes more or less public and it is extremely easy for anyone to check it out. Those scams are run by “professional” fraudsters, they have no trouble getting to you so don’t ignore this threat. Keep reading…

ESL job scam

How to recognise a fake advert?

Fake adverts or scams look just like normal adverts at first sight, the layout, language and everything is similar. It may sounds silly but one of the first sign you are reading a fake advert is gut feeling, a “something’s not right” kinda thought. Don’t ignore it, you’re probably right. Check out the following, this should help you root out the fakes:

  • Bad English/spelling mistakes: remember you’re looking after English teaching job, if the guy writing the advert can’t even write proper English, there’s gotta be something wrong. I’m not talking about the occasional typo, i’m talking about bad phrasing, basic spelling mistakes, words not used correctly and so on… If you see those spread out all over the advert stop, think and double check before you do anything else.
  • Too good to be true: Once you’ve read loads of adverts, you realise they all offer more or less the same package in terms of salary, benefits, working hours, qualification requirements and so on… So when you stumble on an advert offering twice or three times the normal salary with no qualification requirements, here again a little red flag should go up in your mind. If it sounds to good to be true, then they would have found the perfect candidate already, they wouldn’t need to advertise! 
  • Asking for money: as i mentioned above in some cases, once you reply to the scam advert they will ask you for money. Never ever give money to anyone before checking who they are.

What to do if you’re in doubt over an advert?

Simple answer is to Google it. Enter the specific details like name of the school, name of the contact person, their email or phone number in a search engine and see what comes up. If it is a long running scam, you’ll have loads of articles on it. If nothing comes up, keep looking. Use Google again but this time with the word “scam” added to your search words. 
Finally, try calling the number in the advert/email. If it is a real advert, you’ll be in touch with someone responsible for hiring teachers and they will provide all the details you need, here again, without asking for any money. If you get through to a real school but they don’t know what advert/job opening you’re talking about, it means the scammers used real names to hide their scams behind. Pay attention to the number itself, especially the international code, it should be from the same country you are applying for.
ADVICE: Don’t be fooled by the “look” of the advert or the email, or even the website you’re directed too. Internet offers thousands of possibilities to set up a professional looking website in minutes and anyone, i repeat anyone can make themselves a university website. 

A few examples of scams

Like everyone, i’ve come across a few scams myself. 
  • The “too good to be true” job:
I found this one on a reputable ESL job website. Scammers use real forums to plant they fake adverts. It sounded so amazing… i had to check. I ran it through Google and bingo, it’s a scam that’s been running for years. They change their email address from time to time but it’s always been around.
ESL job scams
Click on the picture to make it bigger

  • The “something’s not right” advert:
I have received this by email one day. Since my contact details are on many ESL websites, i do receive a few unsolicited mail from time to time. I have highlighted what’s wrong with it. 
ESL job scams
Click on the picture to make it bigger
I knew straight away it was a fake, but i did check and indeed it turned out to be a common scam, which has been run for some time, albeit with different names.

You’ve been warned, keep your eyes open and stay safe. Your REAL dream job is just around the corner.

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Jobs in Libya – IMPORTANT http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/jobs-in-libya-important/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/jobs-in-libya-important/#respond Sun, 12 Jan 2014 06:59:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=29 If you plan to come and work in Libya there is something very important you need to know. A medical certificate is asked of every foreign employee (at least in universities and in the Oil business). There is a law in Libya which makes it

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If you plan to come and work in Libya there is something very important you need to know. A medical certificate is asked of every foreign employee (at least in universities and in the Oil business). There is a law in Libya which makes it compulsory for expat to submit to a health check and provide a medical certificate to their employers before they can sign a contract.

How it works: As far as i know only Libyan medical certificates are accepted and they must be recent too. So when you first report for work, you’ll be sent to a hospital to have some blood sample taken. They look specifically for HIV, TB and Hepatitis (not sure which one though). It takes from a few days to a few weeks to be done.

   If the results are negative and you do not carry any of those diseases, you’ll need to provide a copy of your certificate (+ show the original) when you sign your contract. You will not be allowed to sign a contract without it. Libyans are very strict on this point.

   If unfortunately your results are positive and you carry on of those diseases, as far as i know you’ll be fired on the spot and asked to leave the country. I do not know how they work out compensation for the time you have worked and i do not know how long you’ll have to exit the country but for sure you won’t be allowed to stay, you won’t sign a contract and you will never be able to apply for Iqama (resident status).

This is something that i didn’t know before moving to Libya, yet it is extremely important. Imagine turning your life around to move here only to be sent back after a few weeks! If you know you carry one of those diseases please take it seriously and do not move here until you have discussed your case with your future employer. From what i have been told there is nothing employers can do, it is way above their heads and the law is applied very strictly.

Questions I’ve been asked by future expats:
Can it be avoided? the answer is NO
What are the chances of being undetected? I would say very slim
Can you still work if your results are positive? Not legally – no one will make you sign a contract

There are not a lot of websites or blogs that talk about his but this is very real and as of the time of writing (January 2014) this law is very much in place and enforced. 

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Jobs in Libyan Universities http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/jobs-in-libyan-universities/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/jobs-in-libyan-universities/#respond Wed, 01 Jan 2014 06:37:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=32 Many times on expats forums, future expats ask me about job availability in Libya and tips on how to get a job. I thought i’d put my tips and advice here for all to see. Anyone can contact me for further details or if you

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Many times on expats forums, future expats ask me about job availability in Libya and tips on how to get a job. I thought i’d put my tips and advice here for all to see. Anyone can contact me for further details or if you have more specific questions.

Based on my experience, i can only discuss ESL teaching jobs in state universities. I know for sure that at the time of writing this post (January 2014)  there are loads of posts available and demand is very high. It is a great time to apply for work in Libya and to make the process easier for you, here are some things to consider:

Preparing a strong CV package:

Before you travel to Libya, to give you the best chances, you should prepare the following items in a neat file. You’ll need originals to show and clean, colour photocopies to hand out.  Your files, with your full name written in English and Arabic should contain:
* A complete CV with picture
* A cover letter
* originals + copies of your qualifications (going back to Baccalaureate or end of High School qualification)
* qualification equivalents or certified qualifications (you can have them certified in Libya for about 50 Libyan Dinars but it takes weeks)
* letters of recommendations from past employers (originals + translated in English and/or Arabic if necessary)
* your passport
* Photocopies of your passport
* passport size photographs (at least 2 per university to start with)
There is no doubt that the best way to apply for a job in Libya is in person. You must find a way to travel to Libya, establish contact with people in the universities you want to apply to and deposit your file yourself. If this cannot be done, you may use a contact in Libya to do it for you. Forget about sending things by post (unlikely to ever get there) or by email (not a main mean of communication yet).

Where to submit your application?

You should target the English Departments of the Faculty of Arts as well as the Faculty of Education. Other departments and faculties also hire ESL teachers but the demand is not as high and as English is a non specialist subject for them, it is likely that your request is not given top priority.
As for university, try all the main ones: Tripoli, Misurata, Al Khums, Zawia, Benghazi (although things are a little dangerous there at the moment), as well as every small campus in between big cities like Sabratah, Zuwarah…

Be Ready to Wait…

In Libya, everything takes a long, very long time so when you have dropped your applications, get ready to wait. As far as i remember there are at least 5 different steps to be appointed by uni:
1- a head of department must say that they NEED a teacher and WANT you. So you need to start there and convince someone to take you. A full CV package is ideal and visit in person is advisable. Phone contacts are not good enough in Libya, things are dealt face to face here.
2- Once the head wants you he will apply to the Dean so that the request for a new teacher, and you in particular is considered. At this stage, unless you know the Dean there is nothing you can do but wait.
3- If the Dean gives his clearance and you are accepted, your files goes to the Admin/Finance section to check that there is no problem with your application and determine what kind of salary package they can start you on.
4- If the admin gives the OK then your file goes to the President of the university who has to accept you as well. Usually once you have been approved by the Head of department and the Dean, the president has no reason to refuse you but this step cannot be bypassed.
5- After all that your file leaves the university for the Ministry of Labour in Tripoli which has to approve you. This is where the the process of issuing work visas will start if they give the OK.
What you must understand is that those steps can take a very very very long time in Libya. If for example the person on step 2 is on holiday then your file will stay buried in a pile for weeks or months. Same if it is the summer holidays or Ramadan and such.
There are ways to speed things up, through contacts, in Libya knowing people is the fastest way to get things done. So if you know someone highly placed in the Ministry or in university, you may ask for their help to speed things up.
By all means, never leave your files “unattended” you must follow up all your applications regularly by phone or in person or else there is a good chance they will remain unnoticed for weeks or more. In Libya if you fail to check with them for a while they consider you are not interested anymore and they forget about you.

Last recommendation

I’m not being negative about Libya, i’m only trying to paint a realistic picture of the situation as it is now. Everything is slow in this country so be prepared, don’t count too much on quick results. On the other hand, rules in Libya are there to be bent and broken so if they really want you they’ll find ways to get you appointed faster. It happened for us the first time we came to Libya.

Libya is a land of opportunity, jobs are available in plenty, salaries are good, life is comfortable so don’t be put off by how hard it is, it’s worth it!

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In Zawia, finally! http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/in-zawia-finally/ http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/in-zawia-finally/#respond Sun, 24 Nov 2013 13:39:00 +0000 http://www.diaryofaserialexpat.com/?p=36 After a very long summer holiday in Tunisia, we have finally returned to Libya. I say finally because we only managed to get back at the end of October 2013, having waited for our visas a much longer than we had planned. Quick flashback in

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After a very long summer holiday in Tunisia, we have finally returned to Libya. I say finally because we only managed to get back at the end of October 2013, having waited for our visas a much longer than we had planned.

Quick flashback in time:
We had left Misurata in July 2013 to move to Zawiya at the beginning of August. We spent a week there waiting for our exit visas to be ready. For some reason our resignations had not been processed immediately and therefore our exit (without re-entry) visas were delayed.

A long wait over the summer:
Since we were starting a new contract with Zawiya University, it was up to our new employers to provide our new entry visas. Unfortunately for us, the timing wasn’t in our favour. When we left Zawiya in August, it was the very beginning of the month of Ramadan, which is the month of fasting in muslim countries. While it is not considered a holiday month, office work certainly slows down (yes even more than usual) and our job applications and visas forms were left virtually untouched for the whole month, taking us to beginning of September. Then we had to wait some more for someone to finally catch up with the Ramadan accumulated backlog and give some thoughts to our visa problem…

Visa clearance not clear:
It did happen eventually sometimes towards the end of September but then they seem to be unclear as to where we should collect our visas. They first asked us to come to the Libyan Embassy in the capital of Tunisia, Tunis, it turned out we should have gone to the consulate (or vice versa can’t remember). We therefore arranged to travel to Tunis (with all our paperwork and passports) where we found the right office and the person in charge. A university official from Zawiya had even been sent to meet us to make us sign our contracts.

First question to us:
– where is your medical certificate?
– Euhhh our what now?
After all this waiting and the trouble you’d think someone would have thought of telling us we needed a medical certificate! 
– no problem, there’s a lab across the road, go have it done and come back tomorrow
– OK we’ll be back

We made our way to the lab, had some blood sample taken, paid a heavy price for those little drops of blood we gave then we were told to come back the following day to collect our results. As we were leaving the lab, the person from Zawiya university met us, they’d had a chat with another official and as it turned out, we wouldn’t need any certificate and we wouldn’t need to come back to collect our visas either because… we should make our way to Libya by plane and have our visas stamped into our passport at border control in Tripoli airport.

So basically a whole overnight trip to Tunis (hotel night, transport, fees from the lab and other expenses…) for nothing!!! Have to admit, we felt a little irritated at that point, especially as we were now well into the month of October which meant that we would be getting no salary for the month of September and a full salary for October now was out of the question too. We also started to wonder what directions to follow and we were not sure that once we’d land in Tripoli, our visas would actually be there.

We left Tunis and returned to our family in the South of Tunisia. There was another muslim holiday coming and we thought we’d spend it with our family then try to fly into Libya, hoping but not quite believing, that our visas would be sorted in time. After the holiday, we booked our tickets and made our way once more to Tunis and boarded the flight to Tripoli, Libya.

Once we got off the plane we headed for immigration control and asked for our visas which were eventually stamped into our passports… but not before they made us wait for a few hours, looking for a paper they needed and couldn’t find (no electronic forms or even computers in that office)! We had our visas documents but they couldn’t locate the university letter that accompanied our visa applications.

Anyway we’ve arrived now, expats once more in Libya, ready for new adventures…

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