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FAQs for Living and Working Overseas:


Written by a former Peace Corps Volunteer living overseas since 1989

The Expat Guy: FAQs for Working and Living Overseas

What if I am physically challenged?
Can I still get a job overseas?

Will it be a problem?

It may be a problem - it depends on what your personal challenge/issue is, what your target job is and in which country you intend to work. 

Much of the world is not physically-challenged friendly.

Physical Problems

In the developing world - where many of the best jobs are available - sidewalks are often uneven, may have large holes in them, or sometimes don't even exist.  Elevators are a happy invention of the developed world. Offices or classrooms can be on the fifth floor of a building with uneven and steep stairs. 

The author taught at a college in Korea in 1993-4 where he had to leave a classroom on the fifth floor of one building, go outside, walk up a hill, go into another building and back up to a fifth or sixth floor -  all in the ten minutes between the two classes - and no elevators.  I was younger then - and relatively fit - but found myself arriving in class out of breath and covered with sweat, sometimes even a few minutes late. 

In the winter the path between the buildings was often covered with ice, making progress even more difficult.

Adaptability

If you have physical challenges of any sort, be sure to ask about the specific circumstances of any job you may be interested in.  While at the same college I wrote about above, the school hired a significantly overweight teacher.  She, needless to say, didn't work out.  Just too much physical strength and agility required.  She hadn't asked about the physical demands of the job - and they hadn't thought to tell her.

Minor or Major Issues

I worked for a few years at a school with an older woman who had had knee replacements.  She often had trouble with the stairs being uneven.  In many places, stairs are not built in a uniform manner, one may be higher or wider than the next.  Stairs may also be slippery, hand rails may not be provided.

Progress

I am happy to report that the university where I was working from 2003 to 2005, put in physically-adapted bathrooms on every floor of every building! 

Wow! Fantastic, but there was NO elevator to get up to the fifth floor (or any other floor) to use them!  Progress is being made, but in a rather uneven fashion.  Some day - I am sure they will have elevators.  But not yet.

Getting About

Cities in the developing world can be particularly problematic.  Buses jolt about, don't come to full stops to pick up or discharge passengers - it is a tough place if you can't move quickly.  The author's wife, who is not physically challenged in any way - refuses to use Bangkok's water taxis.  Why?  They don't really stop and if you have a misstep - it's into the water you go.

I don't mean to be discouraging - but do look for more developed countries - or places where everything is on one floor.

It is far better to have this issue handled BEFORE you get there.

 

 

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