Interview With Cairogal, EFL Instructor With Experience In The UAE, Egypt And Spain, Part 2

Find Part 1 of Cairogal’s interview here, and find her blog, Here, there and everywhere…here.

On Egypt and culture shock
Money, or the lack thereof, took me to Egypt for two years teaching mainly Egyptian young learners in an English-medium school. Though Egypt is not a hotbed for ESOL teachers, there are opportunities in language schools. The cost-of-living is low, and the quality of life is high. Life is truly never dull, but culture shock is almost inevitable. Patience, an open-mind, and the willingness to learn the language and culture are almost essential for taking your new school management in stride, as well as the taxi driver who will try and rip you off. Don’t visit Cairo before starting work there: you might change your mind.


Four years of teaching forced me to address where I was going with my career. Though I don’t think the MA TESOL makes people good teachers, for me starting the Masters made me feel like my accidental career choice was validated. Why did I choose my particular Med TESOL? All pragmatic, really. It was reasonably priced, I could keep working (in the UAE), and I knew that the degree would yield the university jobs I was seeking in the UAE. What sucked: being an American trying to match the preferred writing style of a British university.

On the Arabian Gulf
I rounded out my six years of teaching back in the UAE. If you’re heading to the Arabian Gulf countries, experience and proper credentials are really your only options for a job with fair treatment, law abiding management, and a decent package, though there are no promises that you’ll still find yourself in a pleasant work environment. Most veterans in the region suggest that newbies to the Gulf not expect too much of management or their students. The students are sweet, but not very academic and many are spoiled. If you’re hoping to see brilliant Arab architecture, turn around, head for DXB airport, and buy a ticket to Madrid. You can connect to Grenada from there.

And some parting advice
Best bits of advice I would give to those heading overseas to teach:

1. Listen, ask questions, and reserve judgment on their religious, cultural, and political ideologies. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself and others. Be prepared for personal growth.

2. Take it seriously, and be courageous. It only takes one first step. Courage, a sense of adventure, and professional direction will come. It’s amazing how infectious that travel bug can be under the right circumstances.

Thanks to Cairogal for taking the time to share her tips and experiences here! If you’d like to get in touch directly, she has “authorized” the sharing of her email which is cairogalthegreat at gmail dot com.