TAPIF | Setting up support systems before going abroad
What happens if you get sick?
Who would you contact if you have problems with your employer?
What’s the equivalent of 911 where you’re staying?
It’s impossible to plan for everything that can go wrong, but having some basic idea of what to do beforehand can bring a little bit of peace of mind! Here are some ideas for how to set yourself up to deal with whatever comes your way:
Try to have a couple of trusted friends or family members back home that you can message with, “This thing is happening and I don’t know what to do.” Even if they can’t immediately help you, it’s always nice to know you’re not totally isolated and that someone, somewhere cares. An outside perspective can also be valuable in trying to make sense of a confusing situation.
Keep contact information handy for people who are supposed to help you; I know that during our orientation, we were given contact info for people at the académie level who could help out with any problems at schools.
Nourish other networks in your area like Couchsurfing, Airbnb, or Blablacar; if you’re in a situation where you need a quick place to crash or an urgent ride somewhere, it’ll be easier to get it if you already know some people and have some reviews to show that you’re a trustworthy person.
Travel insurance can help cover theft or catastrophic emergencies while abroad. Also, check your health insurance coverage before going abroad; I got a letter from my insurance company saying that they’d reimburse me for anything that happened while I was away.
Try to have a little extra saved; even a few hundred dollars can hold you over for a bit in a bad situation or worst case scenario, buy a flight ticket home. In addition, if at all possible, see if you can cultivate some additional income streams for while you’re away. Is it possible to continue doing some remote work for your current job while away? Can you make a bit of extra money through an extra side hustle?
Bad things can happen anywhere, but it can be especially easy to be caught off guard when in a brand new place and without your preexisting support system. In general, try to have back-ups and redundancy, like saving a map offline in case your internet stops working or carrying a paper map if your phone dies. Have money spread out in different accounts; sometimes weird things happen and a card for one account might not work, so be prepared to have a backup handy.
Obviously we can’t anticipate everything bad that will ever happen, but thinking about a few plausible scenarios and creating a plan before you need it can make it a bit easier to deal with anything difficult that happens.
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