Student Handbook: Living and Working Abroad

Eventually, your student days will come to an end – so why not go somewhere far away? From our Living Abroad guides to life in some of the world's greatest cities, the things you need to know before making the jump

Article by The Skinny | 10 Sep 2018

Pune, India

Most foreigners, like myself, arrive with employment lined up. In order to qualify for a visa, you have to have a place to stay at the very minimum and a job helps if you want to stay for more than three months. A hotel can suffice, and a hundred pounds can go a long way if you arrive with slim funds. Koregaon Park, Kalyani and Viman Nagar, the newest of Pune’s developments, are on the north and south banks of the Mutha river, and if you work in tech you’ll spend most of your time here. You’ll need a phone SIM, so get to a photocopier and scan your visa acceptance document, “host” document, and passport. Get used to bureaucracy. Don’t skimp on a data plan, as 3G is often more reliable than wifi. [Ross Devlin]

Mexico City, Mexico

If the ‘world language’ is your native tongue and you have an IQ that allows you to function as an independent adult, well-paid work as an English teacher abounds. Options include everything from teaching in preschools to teaching English for business to CEOs and big-timers. Those with TEFL certification or a university degree will be in higher demand; however, these credentials aren’t obligatory. The widely admired British or Australian accents will take you places an American or Canadian accent can’t [but] unless you speak a reasonable level of Spanish or have been transferred by an international company, finding work as virtually anything else is like trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat. [Kate Morling]

Mexico City Old Town by Creative Commons

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is expensive. Renting here, like anywhere, means handing over a deposit, which is about one month’s rent. Key money is basically just a gift to your landlord and that’s a month's rent, insurance fees are half a month and agency fees are usually 8%. Doesn’t sound like fun? Of course, it is! If you don’t have that kind of yen to throw down then a sharehouse has you covered.

What we're talking about is pretty much the same as an Airbnb situation, but you’re sharing it with a whole host of other people and for months not days. They will still be expensive but the fee usually includes bills. For that money you’ll never eat a meal alone again, there’ll always be someone to offer you an Asahi after a long day at work, and you’ll be proficient in cheers-ing not just in Japanese (kampai!), but probably six other languages too. [Katie Hennessy]

Copenhagen, Denmark

You won’t be able to open a bank account without a Danish ID-number (CPR), but you need an address to obtain a CPR. The punchline is it’s impossible to get a flat without a bank account. If you manage to sort out a job before you get here, then you’ll be able to get a CPR and things will fall into place a bit more easily. Finding a place to stay is tough too. If you manage to find a reasonably priced place with a bath, then you’re either extremely lucky or a blatant liar. [Brian Cloughley and Caroline Cloughley]

Copenhagen Pride by Thomas Høyrup Christensen Copenhagen Media Center

Istanbul, Turkey

Teaching English is really the only option available to foreigners here legally – strict rules mean it’s nearly impossible to get a work permit to do anything else. That being said, most language schools won’t bother to get you a work permit because of the high turnover of staff and the costs involved. This doesn’t put off most newcomers though... no teaching experience required, although an online TEFL won’t hurt. If you have a recognised teaching degree, this gains you access to much better-paid jobs in international schools and such like, where they are more likely to also invest in your work permit. [Rhiannon J Davies]

Málaga, Spain

When I came out here I spent the first two years job-hopping and was surprised to see that, in many cases, qualifications and CVs weren’t even skimmed over. Many employers are far more interested in you, and how you sell and present yourself than they are in reading about your past experiences. I blagged my way into various jobs and now have quite the colourful résumé – I’ve worked as a dental assistant, a real estate agent and a decorator for a popular radio station, with no prior experience whatsoever. The first thing you need to realise is that you’re going to have to wing it 60% of the time. [Roxanne Sancto]

Melbourne, Australia

Think carefully about employment before you go. A steadier, established job will likely provide more of the work/life balance that Australia is famous for – one of the core reasons people migrate here. If your skills and experience do relate to the cafe or bar industry then do not fear. Many businesses in this sector treat skilled employees well but having a specialism is important. If you’re going to work in a coffee shop, being a skilled barista is key; if you’re going to work in a bar, being trained in cocktail-making will serve you well.

Whatever kind of work experience you have in the UK, find a couple of specialist recruitment consultancies in Melbourne and use them to help you find work in a field that you already have skills and experience in. It’s also worth checking the Australian Skilled Occupations List to see if you are qualified for jobs that will make your visa applications process much easier. Otherwise, you’ll need to be under 30 years old and willing to endure back-breaking labour such as fruit picking if you want to stay longer than one year. [Ian Paterson]

Santiago, Chile

With loads of slang, fast-talk and word merging, Chilean is the type of Spanish that even Spanish speakers can’t understand. It’ll be OK, though – as soon as you learn you can replace any word you don’t know with the term ‘weon’ or ‘wea’ and add a ‘po’ at the end of each sentence, you’re almost already there.

Most English-speaking natives who live in Santiago are English teachers. There are hundreds of language schools that will employ you even if you don’t have prior teaching experience – all you need is to speak English. If you do have teaching experience or a teaching qualification, you can apply for better-paid jobs with prestigious institutes like The Instituto Británico or the British Council. These places will set you up with a visa and, in some cases, even help out with flights. [CM]

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