Pakistan: Employment as an English-only speaking Female:
hi there, so lets go point by point:
- all english is all fine, you will catch some phrases from Urdu after a while and it will help you get better deals when bargaining and make your local shopowner smile..
- female is ok, Karachiaites are ok with unacommpanied women walking streets (this is no saudi arabia!), I strongly suggest to dress locally because thats the standard for all (both poor and rich), western clothes are, well, western. I.e. its accepted but not that common outside of "posh" areas. You also dont want to be the only woman in your job to be dressed differently, right? As for covering head, not really needed, except of parts far from centre, in mosques and it helps when you want to make good deals on the markets. As a kind of shawl is part of the local dress, just flip its half over hair.. thats head cover the pakistani way
- fitting in is easy, frankly: tall, short, white, black, blue eye, blond... all CAN be pakistani, due to the location all kinds of races mix here. So just dress locally and walk like you are home and most will not even notice you are a westerner.
- married is great, non-married man+woman is very frowned upon, but hitting on women is ok (non-touch), thus it will help you everywhere (including getting jobs).
- workin in karachi is possible, karachi is economical hub, all international companies and lots of local are there. The wages are MUCH lower than you imagine it to be, but also is the price level - dont plan to save up while in Pakistan but you will have a comfortable life most probably (house, driver, cook, car, shopping in dubai). Use HR agencies (e.g. narejohr) and CONTACTS, find anybody you know or have affiliation with - I recommend to also heat up linkedin and such and "befriend" some local professionals).
- female working is all ok, its nothing strange.
- english is a big business, getting job as english teacher was easy for few of my friends, this is because all students want a foreigner as a teacher (even if not a native speaker). Again contacts are crucial. Definitely go for embassies and consulates and british council... thats very good for getting contacts to foreigners and recommendations on locals.
- universities contacts I have already lost (left PK a year ago), but there are some chances (even though private english schools might be more eager to employ).
You can browse my notes on my stay in Pakistan on my blog www.klepo.net under the Pakiland tab.... my email is email@example.com
I hope you will have a great time, I surely did have :)
Pakistan: 10 Tips for Living in Pakistan:
1. most expats can easily afford to be completely cut off from the local environment, own cook, own cleaning lady, own driver, all very affordable. For reasonable costs you can be living in your own place, meet friends in clubs and basically not be on the streets. Or on the other side you can get dressed locally, learn basics of language and blend in - person of any color or composure can be possibly from Pakistan. The second option is of course less safe, but safety is a very relative term, You can get mugged, which is rather common. The security threats resulting from terrorism are relevant only in areas like Peshawar and Quetta, main cities are hit very rarely (statistically, when taken into consideration that there is 186mio people, the attacks and casualties are not at all common). Women are generally safer than man as harming a foreign woman is a double crime (1. harming somebody, 2. harming a guest to the country, 3. harming a woman). Dont bring around too much cash and be ready to loose Your cellphone (if they ask, give it, no arguing).
2. You will get foodpoisoned. Fullstop. I have not met a single person from as many as 20 countries (except of India) who didnt have stomach problems after arriving to Pakistan. Ingrediences and ways of making are so different that the only way to prevent is to not eat any local food at all and live only from McDonalds and european restaurants, but even in this case its possible You catch a germ. The easiest is to get ready for it, get sick in the first two weeks, go to doctor and get some antibiotics prescribed and within a week You are ok. Only 10% do not finish with a visit of the doctor. Health care is cheap and easy to find, it works on strict cash basis - You pay and claim from insurance company later.
3. Pakistani food is amazing! Very spicy (which is something You have to get used to, as everything is spicy), but once You are over it, its one of the best kitchens in the world. Core is chicken meat and non-fermented bread. Do not expect pork, beef and fish are rather expensive. Its very hard to be vegetarian in Pakistan, chicken meat is omnipresent.
4. As for language, English is absolutely ok, but knowing basics of Urdu helps in price negotiation and also with work with locals (its good to know what they talk about).
5. Pakistanis are motivated by prestige and money. They try to be best, thus if the whole team is weak, nobody will excel - being best is good enough, if it doesnt require too much work - even better. Dont get too friendly - they will feel that You are friends and thus take Your words not that seriously. But also dont be a dictator, if You try to be completely impersonal, the locals will keep their distance, not trust You and will do no work except of what You order them to do.
6. Family and prestige (mostly in front of family) is the highest value. The jobs with the biggest companies and fanciest names are the best, even if the wage is not that high. Invitations for family dinners, weddings or celebrations are common and normal and are part of the culture. People who know You for few minutes might invite You home, its more than just polite gesture, its actually an invitation. If You politely refuse, they wont feel offended. Presence of a foreigner on any family event increases the prestige of the host and event. Loosing prestige is the highest loss.
7. Alcohol is omnipresent but invisible. Most of young people have experience with alcohol, despite it being officially forbidden to Muslims and available only for foreigners and Christians. Local, cheap (very bad tasting) alcohol and foreign, imported, expensive alcohol are available. A combination of cheap and good is not possible. Alcohol is not drunk publicly, only at home and in private circles. A pakistani drinks to get wasted, as there are no places to go while drunk, the fun ends with the bottom of the bottle.
8. Nature of relationships are different between cities and villages. Arranged marriages and virginity before marriage is very common. Public presentation of any other relationship between a man and woman than husband-wife, father-daughter and brother-sister is a taboo. Its OK for a foreign girl to have a Pakistani boyfriend, mostly the male part of the nation will consider it a good thing. They dont expect the boy to get married to a foreigner, but they will accept it most probably. A pakistani girl to have a foreign boyfriend is not that good. Its not considered a good thing by anybody, the family (if not very modern and from big cities) will frown on and badly judge the girl. If a Pakistani girl dates a boy, family must agree, or else the family ties might get severed and marriage is always seen as a clear next step.
9. The local currency is the only one used, shops dont accept any other. Exchange offices and ATMs with Visa/Mastercard are rather common and its always possible to get cash. Very few shops have POS terminals. Travelers cheques are exchangable but USD, EUR, CAD or any other major currency is easier to exchange.
10. Foreigners are still very rare and Pakistanis are very hospitable. Simple walking the street can bring you lots of people trying to start conversations. In Pakistan is OK to stare... If somebody is staring at You and You try to stare back the person will not feel awkward, s/he will actually feel encouraged to come and talk to You. If You are a man, do NOT stare at women, its an art that only Pakistanis can perfect (both sides look at each other, but it looks like they dont even notice their presence).
11. Its ok to be Christian, they have no animosity against them. But Pakistanis do not understand a situation when You dont have a religion, saying You dont believe in any God will create a big gap between You and locals. The religion is very alive and is the core of behavior.
12. It is not common to see women wearing headscarfs on the street (at least in towns), in villages they use loose scarfs that cover the head only partly or they go straight for Burkas (whole body cover). Local dress - a loose shirt till knees and baggy pants - is the standard for dressing of all classes, while business men wear suits, business women wear fancy versions of this dress. In middle and lower class everybody wears the local dress.
...more info on page that I wrote on life of foreigners in Pakistan (for purpose of AIESEC Exchange program) www.aiesec.pk/experience
Afghanistan: living and working in kabul, afgahnistan:
hi there, try my friend Michal, he has recently come back from Kabul - was working there as management trainee. He might give you interesting insights. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Just say that you got his contact from KLepo and make it clear that you are NOT and AIESEC Intern.
wish You that You enjoy the place, he definitely did...
sahiwal area... dont know it, where is it?
its safe for foreigners to be in Pakistan, sadly some high profile places have been targeted, but a normal low/mid-profile expat is not a target. Accept the fact that you might loose your cellphone and possibly avoid the most posh places in Islamabad. The fact that You should avoid the tribal areas, interior Sindh, Peshawar or Quetta is without any discussion.
Send some more info and I will try to answer, I have spent in Pakistan one year all around the country and feel very much connected to the place.
Czech Republic: Desperately Need Help:
Hi, I am KLepo from Slovakia, neighbor of Czech Republic, nearly the same countries... literary.
Well, my first advice is that You keep a cold head. Dont act too hasty, that is not a good start for moving out. Denial of entry or deportation is not that horrible, worse things happen - plan it out properly.
The Emergency system is I guess the same as You know it (never been to US but I assume). For a person to work in ES, the person needs certification which is given based on education and experience. The terms are the same for both state-run and private organisations in this field. There are medical schools where the topics are taught, but in heavy majority are in Czech (with of course the amount of Latin and English needed for the job). In Prague the biggest medical schools also run some programs in English, make a research on them and see their terms. Just google Prague and Medical University.
For start do not count with job in Your field, as most inhabitants are not fluent with English, the standard medical facilities wont accept You, and those focused on foreign clients are very picky when it comes to experience. A way how to make money during studies could be English teaching, that is something that is always possible somewhere (demand is still very high).
For work You need work visas, but those should not be that difficult for a person from USA. If Your boyfriend was in Czech it would help You as he could assist You in the process of search for job and getting visas.
Wish you luck and I say, think it though, what You know... You might both finish up in UK or where.
Pakistan: What is Your Neighborhood Like?:
DHA - Defence Housing Authority - was originally established in all main cities to accommodate the army personnel. But as time passed, the cities have realized that the prices of houses in these places have shot up and they soon became the most posh, expensive and comfortable places to live in.
The mentioned system of numbering is common for them all, the lower the Phase number, the older and closer to center. But all Phases in all DHAs are well furnished and safe locations to live in. Prices are reasonable and the houses are spacious and nice. House guards and guards or police-like-troops for specific colonies are common.
Islamabad - is an artificial city built in the 60s-70s, practically only expats live there, entertainment is expensive and mostly organized by expats and embassies.
Karachi - main city of business, fun, food and activity. A very disorganized place but with most chances to have fun and meet friends. All major embassies have consulates and clubs here for expats.
Lahore - Culturally most interesting city of Pakistan. Lots of monuments and places to see in city and around. These places are not well kept in most cases, but are worth seeing, when it comes to business, Lahore is rather SMEs and middle-size companies market.
Rawalpindi (also called Pindi) - is a twin city with Islamabad. The border between them is indistinct and a lot of people who work in Islamabad, live in Rawalpindi. All fun is in Islamabad, Pindi is rather a big quiet town.
Faisalabad - a textile city with very few expats and not much to do.
Hyderabad - a nice town to see with very countryside feeling, a lot of historical places in the area.
Peshawar and Quetta - due to current security situation, strictly out of bounds.
Hunza valley - worth visiting with direct flights from Islamabad, in the middle of 7000 m high mountains, very safe and tourist-friendly place.
Gwadar - a new port city, being developed into a "dubai-like" place, right now just a port with some houses in the middle of desert.