Travel, Teach, Live in Europe and Middle East
When you get a job in the Middle East you many wonder, “What should I bring?” Each country does vary in what is available but there are some tried and true items to take with you so you can adjust.
1) An attitude of tolerating ambiguity in perpetuity:
Be prepared for expectations and decisions to always change. The Middle East is largely a reactive climate in many organizations. There can often be last minute changes to plans, meetings and what is agreed upon. What is said and what is done can be poles apart. Understand that concepts of time are different, and concepts of individualism.
Bring a map of the country you are going to and the city. Maps are difficult to find and even more difficult to find in English. Also, when you arrive it is good to know exactly where you are and where all the important sites to visit and get organized are. If you can’t find a map, print out one from the internet.
3) Cotton clothing:
For women the most useful items are long cotton skirts and long sleeved cotton blouses that are not too revealing. For men, cotton polo shirts and dress shirts and khaki cotton pants. These items of clothing are especially of use in the Arabian Gulf as the weather can be extremely hot and synthetic clothing can be uncomfortable. Check the weather charts on the internet to gauge the weather throughout the year. Middle Eastern countries farther West like Turkey can be extremely cold and wet. Another useful item for women is a mid-size scarf. Any color will do, although extremely bright colors may get you unwanted attention.
4) Bring your hobby supplies:
If you have a hobby like painting or reading certain novels, bring your supplies with you. Hobby stores and craft stores in the Middle East do not have nearly as much supplies as the West. Specialized supplies are more difficult to come by and may be very expensive.
The Middle East is limited in what English books it offers. Large book stores with every subject imaginable are a feature of the West. Books also may be expensive. Stationary stores are much more common with pens and notebooks. You may want to bring a few solid English grammar books.
6) Exercise DVD’s:
Some cities have gyms but they tend to be very expensive. Exercise DVD’s are difficult to find and extremely limited. Specialized books are very limited as well, especially in English. Women may have a difficult time finding public places to exercise, so pack your kickboxing, Pilates, yoga etc…
7) Clean sheets:
Some companies may provide company housing without sheets on the bed. The sheets may be new but poor quality. Cotton sheets may come in handy.
8) Comfortable shoes:
Maybe you have to walk to work, maybe wait outside for a taxi or teach long hours. Invest in a comfortable pair of shoes. Sandals are great for the Gulf region.
9) Bring antibacterial wipes:
These can come in handy everywhere, such as on the plane, in restrooms and your newly found apartment. Each situation is different. Some bathrooms in the Middle East do not have toilet paper.
10) Comfort items:
Items from home that remind you of home, photos etc. It could be a specific food item also. Expect that grocery stores will carry different kinds of items. If you have special dietary needs bring extra. Generally, organic items are hard to come by and health food items like soy milk. There may be a very small selection. The popular hypermarket Carrefour is located in most Middle Eastern countries and you can search prices and items available on the internet.