Advice on preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime
As you prepare for the English teaching jobs in Austria that comprise the USTA program, there are several things to consider and take care of before you cross the Atlantic. Below you will find useful advice that we at Fulbright Austria believe will help you prepare so that you can get the most out of your experience when you arrive to teach English in Austria. Jobs in this program start on October 1, so be sure to start following the advice offered here as early in the summer as possible.
Start looking for housing as soon as possible. The best way to start looking for housing in Austria is to contact your Stammschule and mentor teachers. If applicable, you should also reach out to the teaching assistants currently teaching in the school(s) to which you have been assigned. In addition, Fulbright Austria provides you with a handbook that contains detailed information on other means of finding suitable housing during your time in the teaching assistant program in Austria.
We recommend that you start saving up some money as early as possible. Please note that while you start your job on October 1, you will receive your first salary in mid-November, so saving money prior to your arrival in Europe to teach English in Austrian schools will help you get settled in your new home and cover your initial expenses, including any security deposit your accommodations may require you to pay.
From November on, you will receive a monthly net salary of approximately €1,200, which will be deposited directly into your Austria bank account. If you do not have an Austrian bank account, be sure to open one as soon as you arrive.
Do not neglect your financial obligations in the US while teaching English in Austria. Apply for student loan deferments—your program officer is happy to help you complete any deferment forms you need to submit to your provider.
Your schools in Austria will, of course, provide you with materials, but bringing pamphlets, magazines, yearbooks, menus, etc., from home can help you enrich your lessons and make your time with your students more personal. Fulbright Austria also maintains a database of lessons used by previous English teaching assistants in Austria, and you will find several useful online resources that will significantly aid in your ability to prepare engaging lesson plans.
DVDs are a popular resource, but please bear in mind that US DVDs are incompatible with European DVD players, so it is generally better to rely on YouTube and other internet-based materials.
Packing for Austria
Appropriate attire when teaching English in Austrian schools tends to be fairly casual, though we recommend asking the mentor teacher at your school(s) what faculty generally wear to be sure you dress according to the standards of your particular school(s). Clothing is relatively expensive in Austria compared to the US, so it may be worthwhile to acquire any necessary clothing before departing for Europe.
Furthermore, we also recommend bringing formal attire, as you will likely have at least one occasion to, for example, attend the school ball, go to concerts, see an opera, etc., while living and teaching English in Austria.
Austrian winters can be quite rough, so be sure to pack warm clothing—particularly if you will be living in Austria’s mountainous regions.
Europe has differently shaped plugs and a different (much stronger) voltage system (240V) than the US. As such, bring suitable adapters with you or ensure that your existing plugs contain an appropriate converter, lest you fry your devices when attempting to plug them into Austrian outlets. Laptops generally contain converters, as do many cell phone chargers. Hair dryers and curling irons typically do not, so consider buying new ones upon arrival in Austria.
We also recommend that you make photocopies of all your important documents before departing for Austria, such as your birth certificate, passport, etc. Such copies can be saved in your emails or using cloud services to facilitate access from anywhere in case of an emergency.
We highly recommend that you book your flight to Austria as early as possible to save money on airfare. We also recommend arriving in early September to give yourself time to settle in before the USTA orientation and to familiarize yourself with your new home prior to starting your job at the beginning of October. What’s more, arriving early gives you ample time to pick up your residency permit or resolve any open issues related to your permit, which you must have in hand before you can start teaching English in Austrian schools.