Information for Members

Get to the Comments you Want to Read Faster with our Keyword Search Feature

June 25, 2017


Our Comments Search feature is what makes our website unique.

One major goal of our website is to help our users get to the comments (specific to the topic they want to know about) easier and faster!

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say that you want to read some comments related to the topic of “teaching couples“. Simply enter in the keyword/s in the Search Bar at the top of our homepage (or at the top of any page of our website) or go directly to the Comments Search page on our website to search your keyword directly there.

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Then it will take you to our Comments Search results page. There you will find all the comments (out of over 21391+ comments on our website) that have that keyword/those keywords in it. You can also just search by school name here as well, which will show all the comments about that school in one list!

You will find your keyword/s in bold as you browse through all the comments that fit your criteria.

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When we searched the keyword “teaching couples” we got 94 comments that had those keywords; ordered by the date they were submitted.

As you scroll down, if you find a comment that interests you and you want to learn more about that school (i.e. check out the other comments about that school), just click on the school profile link to the left of the comment.

Other keyword search results (performed on 25 June, 2017):

Retirement – 217 comments
PD – 226 comments
Save – 339 comments
Relocation – 49 comments
Housing Allowance – 269 comments
Gay – 44 comments
Singles – 60 comments
Salary – 795 comments
Canadian – 368 comments
Tuition – 325 comments
Happy – 111 comments

Search your keyword here!

We are so excited about this Comments Search feature on our website as it really makes finding and reading comments easier for our members.  It is one of the many unique features on International School Community that makes us stand out when compared to other international school review websites.

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Information for Members

Total comments in all the school profile Travel Information sections: 1069!

June 18, 2017


As all International School Community members know, each of the 1970+ school profile pages on our website has four comments and information sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information.  Our members are encouraged to submit comments and information on one or all of these sections if they currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the past.  It is important that we all share what we know so that we can in turn help other new teachers make a more informed decision before they sign any contract! *Additionally, for every 10 comments you submit (which are anonymous by the way), you automatically get one free month of premium membership added on to your account!  The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!

FOR UNLIMITED FREE MEMBERSHIP, BECOME A MAYOR OF A SCHOOL TODAY!

So, what are the recent statistics about the Travel Information sections on all the school profile pages?  The current total number of submitted comments in the City Information sections is 1069 (out of a total of 21300+ comments); up almost 300 comments since June 2016.

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Example Travel Information page on Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China)235 Comments

There are 6 subtopics in the Travel Information section on each school profile page.  Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out out the total number of comments in that specific subtopic and also an example comment that has been submitted there.

• Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby. (176 Total Comments)

Example comment: “There is an airport in the city, but it is remote and the fairs can be high. They nearest major airport is Monterrey and that can be around 40 dollars in bus fair to get too. The buses are good and go everywhere, but the Laguna is remote and nearest cities are, at minimum, three to four hours away by bus.” – American School of Torreon (Torreon, Mexico)37 Comments

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• Describe proximity of major airport hubs to the city center and give sample taxi, train, subway and/or bus fares to get there. (287 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The airport is about 20 minutes away by car. If you hire a taxi to get home from the airport it will cost you between 12-15 EUR. You can definitely get into the city though with public transport (bus), but it will take a bit longer. The cost of the public bus is less than 2 EUR.” – International School of Riga (Riga, Latvia)12 Comments

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• Popular travel websites to buy plane tickets or tours that are popular for expats living in the city and/or country. (107 Total Comments)

Example comment: “www.thebeijinger.com for finding out about everything that’s going on in town. It can be pretty overwhelming.  www.thehutong.com for great cooking classes and other activities.  www.chinaculturecenter.org for trips, classes, etc.” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China)99 Comments

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• Places to travel to outside the city by bus or train. (258 Total Comments)

Example comment: “You can take a direct, non-stop train to Warsaw for PLN 49. The journey takes 2.5 hours. The train now is super new and nice, impressive really.” – International School of Krakow (Krakow, Poland)8 Comments

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• Are there many teachers that travel during the holidays? Where are they going? (109 Total Comments)

Example comment: “There are times it’s better to stay home than travel, for example on Labour Day, when the locals are also on holiday and everyone wants to go to a park or head out of the city, resulting in huge crowds in public places and on the roads.” –Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China)235 Comments

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• What are the airports like in this city? (arriving, departing, shopping, customs, etc.) (132 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Khartoum airport is an acquired taste. First time through can be a little daunting but you get used to it. Coming into the country they scan all luggage for contraband. Do NOT try to bring in alcohol!!!” – Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan)65 Comments

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Highlighted Articles

What To Expect When You’re Going To Study Abroad

June 11, 2017


Studying abroad offers students many wonderful opportunities and experiences that they just cannot get at home. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that studying abroad is a popular option for many who are looking at a post-secondary education. Just like any major decision in life, there are Pros and Cons to consider when studying abroad. For those that are doing this for the first time, here are some things you can expect when studying abroad:

Expect a Language Barrier at First 

If you are choosing to study abroad, there is a good chance you will be heading somewhere that has a different national language than you are used to. This is one of those factors that works as both a pro and a con. At the start, it will seem negative as you learn to adjust, learn the language, and figure things out. However, over time, this will be a positive experience because you will be learning a new language which can only help you down the road in your education and professional life.

In order to adjust to a language barrier, be sure to enroll in a language class as soon as possible. If you do not want to take a class, you can always use an app or some sort of audio CD that teaches you the basics of the language. Additionally, you will need to immerse yourself in the local culture. Locals are often very helpful and patient when you are trying to learn a new language or culture.

Study Abroad

Expect a Bit of Homesickness

Even if you are excited and anxious to start your studies abroad, it is still perfectly normal to feel at least a little homesick. This is just part of the adjustment period and it will become less noticeable over time. Find ways to stay connected to your life back at home whether it is through video chats, emails, messages, or even postcards. This connection with home and your loved ones will help to keep you grounded and feeling positive.

Expect Things to Feel Overwhelming and Confusing at First

When you head to a different country, you will be dealing with finding a place to live, finding transportation to and from the school and other places you need to visit. You might also be looking for part-time work if allowed, meeting new friends, and getting used to an entirely new way of life. This can be rather overwhelming especially since it is all happening at first.

Again, it is important to remind yourself that this is a temporary feeling. As you start to familiarize yourself with a new place, you will feel more comfortable, confident and those feelings of confusion will be a distant memory.

One of the best ways you can fight these feelings is to get out there and make some new friends. They can help to make you feel more welcomed, help you learn your way around, introduce you to the best places to eat or hang out, and also introduce you to their circle of friends. Meeting people will also prevent you from feeling isolated, which can happen when studying abroad.

Get Your Finances in Order Before You Leave 

Even though we are living in a global economy where countries are more connected than ever, it is still a good idea to get your finances in order before you leave. Get yourself set up with an online banking account so you can access it with ease from any destination in the world. This will allow you to make bill payments, see your balance, and transfer money any time.

You will also want to familiarize yourself with the local currency and know how much it’ is worth when stacked against your home currency.

Study Abroad

Go in With an Open Mind

Keep an open mind when studying abroad. Do not automatically assume that things may be one way or the other – difficult or surprisingly easy. Prepare yourself the best you can, and take things one day at a time. Soak up the culture and the people. Enjoy the new adventure in life. Do not limit yourself by thinking negatively or basing things on inaccurate assumptions. Embrace this wonderful opportunity without any hindrances. An open mind will truly allow you to make the most of studying abroad.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Studying abroad is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can enrich your life in ways you never thought possible. With that said, there is a bit of an adjustment period and this is completely normal. Knowing what to expect can help you make it through that adjustment period much quicker.

Study Abroad Punyaa Metharom has always harbored a love for teaching.

He has been teaching English as an Additional Language, English, and Writing at Bromsgrove International School in Thailand for eight years.

When he isn’t teaching, he loves to travel around the country and beyond. Punyaa wants to have a firm grasp on the world so his students can as well.

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Photo Contests

Top three photos for Your Favorite Mountain Picture: And the winners of this photo contest are…

June 6, 2017


We’re happy to announce the winners of our latest Photo Contest: Your Favorite Mountain Picture

First Place: Mt. Kazbegi and the Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia

“This is Mt. Kazbegi and the Gergeti Trinity Church (Georgian: წმინდა სამება) in the country of Georgia. It was taken in April 2012 when I was 7 months pregnant with my son.”

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Congratulations, Kristina Blin (an international teacher working at Colegio Albania (Colombia, La Guajira).

Prize awarded: Premium membership for TWO YEARS on our website!

Second Place: Mt. Pulag, Philippines

“Mt. Pulag, Philippines is the highest mountain in the luzon island. This photo is taken at 2,926 metres above sea level.”

mountain

Congratulations, Sassa Mendoza!

Prize awarded: Premium membership for ONE YEAR on our website!

Third PlaceSeoraksan National Park, South Korea

“This is a shot from the top of Seoraksan, Seoraksan National Park South Korea. These massive boulders were uniquely balanced on top of each other naturally. It was a misty morning, which gave the scene a bit more mystery as well.”

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Congratulations, Maurice Mickle!

Prize awarded: Premium membership for SIX MONTHS on our website!

Thanks to everyone who participated!  We have awarded everyone else ONE WEEK of premium membership for participating in this photo contest.

mountain

Stay tuned for our next photo contest which will happen sometime during the next 2-3 months. Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

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Lessons From Your Country

Five Lessons I Have Learned From Living in China

June 1, 2017


China

Lesson 1: Manage your frustration

If you came from a place with an easier transition – any big expat city really – then China brings frustration to a whole new level. Other than Hong Kong, most Chinese citizens do not speak English, there are ever-changing bureaucratic regulations to stay up on, and even taking a cab is a challenge when drivers regularly reject you or change the fare.

In my first few weeks in China, I would often plan a wonderful day out to explore and end up coming home early, tired and angry.

But there’s so much to love in China and so much to see. Instead of getting frustrated, China has taught me to redirect my frustration into patient curiosity. Instead of a cab driver ripping me off and getting angry, I try to find a clever way to win the situation without letting my temper rise – that might mean using my few words of Mandarin to say childish things like “No,” “I don’t like,” or “Too expensive.” Sometimes it also means just accepting the circumstances you’re in, moving on, and laughing.

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china
Lesson 2: Smartphones save the day

Given the frustrations above, you need life hacks to navigate without losing your mind. There are now apps that you can speak into in English, and Mandarin comes out of your phone (and the other way as well). Google Translate can translate Mandarin characters with enough accuracy to understand the context, and there are apps for finding your way around the subway, bargaining at the markets, renting bicycles, paying at stores, and of course for learning the language.

Owning and mastering a smart phone makes your life exponentially easier. Staying up to date on blogs that showcase apps, or reading expat newspapers giving tips and tricks, is a worthwhile use of your time. And when you find out something, share it! On Facebook, in the workplace, wherever. I’ve found that many of my hacks are new to the people who have been here for a while because they just found a different way to deal with their needs.

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china

Lesson 3: Explore your country

China has to be one of the greatest countries to travel in. The Gobi desert, the Yellow Mountain, the Tibetan Plateau, and the Mongolian Steppe are so vastly different and so worth your time and energy. Not to mention the monuments in Beijing, the water towns outside Shanghai, the walled city and warriors of Xi’an, and the pandas of Chengdu. Did you know that James Cameron’s movie Avatar was inspired by the landscape of Zhangjijie? China is seriously beautiful and my list could go on and on.

To truly understand and appreciate China, you need to explore. Meet the Muslim cultures in the Northwest and the Buddhists in the Southwest. Visit ice castles in the North East or go to beaches in the South East. Eat Sichuan Hotpot in Chengdu or eat roasted Scorpion in Beijing. The landscape changes, the food changes, the people change, and your perspective on China will change.

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Lesson 4: Don’t always listen to what you hear about a country

I know our first source of information on a new home is to talk to those before us.   I also understand the irony of this lesson as I write a blogpost telling you what it’s like to live in China. But here me out: your experience will be different – often in a good way.

I was told, and believed, that China was crowded, polluted, pushy, and dirty. To me, none of those claims stacked up to the level I expected. Is China crowded? Yes. But not if you know where and how to avoid the crowds. I regularly am walking in downtown Shanghai thinking to myself, this sure doesn’t feel like the most populated city on Earth. Is China polluted? Yes. But my home has an air purifier, and in Shanghai from Spring to Fall, the air is similar more to a big city like LA or New York. Are the Chinese pushy? At times. But you can predict those times like when you’re boarding or exiting a plane. The rest of the time, the Chinese are thoughtful and observant. Is China dirty? It can be. But it’s much cleaner than you would imagine, particularly in the cities.

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Lesson 5: Love where you live

After moving from the glitz and glam of Dubai, Shanghai felt like a downgrade. It felt like we had lost the amazing lifestyle and the ease of living we were so fortunate to have in the UAE. That thinking held us back for several months and stunted our adjustment. A year later, we’ve finally formed a new appreciation for our new home. We’ve bought locally made furniture, hired a local to help with our housework, explored the alleys and temples of small towns, tried 1000’s of local dishes, met locals in our neighborhood, and fallen in love with the uniqueness of China. In one year, we have stories that can last a lifetime and I know after summer break we will be longing to return.

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This article was submitted by a guest contributor living in Shanghai, China

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