Traveling in Your Host Country For ESL Teachers
Teaching ESL overseas is a challenge. One of the first challenges with teaching abroad is transportation in your host country. Apart from the United States and Canada most countries use public transportation or mass transit to move their population around. If you have a chance to go to New York or Chicago then use those cities' to practice in before you go. Chicago has the elevated trains for commuters as well as regular trains and buses. New York has the subway and share taxis. Theses share taxis typically follow a route and hold from six to twenty people depending on how many they can shove in.
In the Philippines they are called Jeepnease. In Turkey they are called Dolmush. They will usually take you on routes off of the standard transportation routes that buses follow but not always. Many young people will recognize you as a foreigner and want to practice their English conversation skill with you. Some of them learn English online for free and need a native speaker to practice their conversation skills. They will often be very helpful if you need it.
Buses are a common mode of transportation for between cities. Most countries buses are fantastic. Some even have stewards to serve tea and snacks during the journey. The bathroom facilities on public transportation can be pretty bad so go for you go. Also, always have the necessary hygiene products and anti-diarrhea medicine with you at all times. Door knobs, handles and other peoples' hands are a leading way that you will get sick so wash them, wash them and wash them again after traveling. Bus lines will often give you the option of buying a one way or round trip ticket. Always buy the round trip ticket. You may want to take a detour on your trip but at least you have a way home. If buses seats are not sold many times that run will be canceled potentially leaving you stranded.
Taxis are last on the list because of expense and the isolation that they create between you and the local culture. First they are expensive on an ESL teacher's salary. Even if they are affordable, it is very easy to get taken by a driver fwho didnt turn on the meter or took you for a joy ride and wants full fair. This can break your budget in one bad cab ride. However, keep enough money in your pocket to jump in one during a blizzard or other emergency. The second and more important reason to avoid taxis is that it isolates you from the local culture. The other teachers and the students will be on public transportation. Many good relationships were born and new things learned by talking in the line at the station or bus stop. It also shows them that you are not better than they are but one of them.
The only mode of transportation that you do not want to buy local are your footwear. Have at least two pairs of shoes that have good support that you can stand in all day while you teach and then walk five miles in. You will be happier and healthier for them. Learning to use and ride the local transportation is in your best financial and social interest.