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The Journey to School: Leysin American School

March 25, 2016

The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Leysin American School (Leysin, Switzerland), described his way to work there as follows:

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I love waking up in the morning here in Leysin. The mountains are always there to greet you, and they are indeed spectacular at which to look. There can be some fog in the morning, but that can dissipate as the day gets warmer. The spring is starting right now, so there can be many days of wonderful, warm sun.

Though many teachers (including myself) can easily walk to school, a number of teachers decide to drive their car on some days because they have other responsibilities after school that requires driving.

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If I walk, then I can get to most school buildings within 3-12 minutes. It is not bad at all and it is a good way to get your heart rate up a bit being that everywhere I need to get to is always at an incline. You need to walk up tons of steep driveways and tons of stairs both inside and outside of the school buildings while working at this school.

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I love this time of the year. There is still some snow on the ground, but it is melting away pretty fast, since much of Leysin is facing the south. Just a few weeks ago, there was a snow storm that dumped A LOT of snow on the ground. Because of the warm sun, you can see trails of melted ice water going down the streets and into the drains. There is a crisp and fresh feeling in the air when you breathe (and you breathe heavily at times depending on how much you have to climb up and if you are having a chat with a fellow coworker).

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This week there was sun every day. The sun is so bright and it feels great on your face. The buildings on campus really light up when the sunlight shines through the windows. I especially like older building on campus, in the main hall. The stained glass windows in the sunlight look so beautiful!

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As you walk along the streets that connect all the campus buildings, you need to keep an eye out for cars and buses. There isn’t always a lot of space for pedestrians and the cars can appear fairly quickly around the corner as they jet up and down the mountain side.

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In one of the other main buildings, there is a cafeteria that also has a great view of the mountains across the valley. How lucky our students and staff are to have this view while eating their lunch and/or dinner!

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As you walk around campus, especially going to work, expect to see many other staff members (and their children) as well as many students. Everyone is usually with a smile on their face though, and kindly greets each other. It is like one big family here sometimes!

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Living in Leysin is definitely not for everyone. But when thinking about the journeys to work at other schools I’ve worked at across the globe, Leysin has a pretty easy and beautiful one.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Switzerland?  There are 12 international schools in Switzerland that have had comments submitted on them:

International School Zug and Luzern (Baar, Switzerland)32 Comments

International School Basel (Basel, Switzerland)37 Comments

SIS Swiss International School Basel (Basel, Switzerland)11 Comments

Int’l School of Geneva – La Chataigneraie Campus (Founex, Switzerland)7 Comments

International School Geneva – Campus des Nations (Geneva, Switzerland)17 Comments

International School of Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland)19 Comments

Leysin American School (Leysin, Switzerland)58 Comments

TASIS The American School in Switzerland (Lugano, Switzerland)32 Comments

John F. Kennedy International School (Saanen, Switzerland)25 Comments

Inter-community School Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland)44 Comments

International School (Zurich North) (Zurich, Switzerland)5 Comments

Zurich International School (Zurich, Switzerland)25 Comments

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

The Journey to School
international school, international schools in switzerland, journey to work, Leysin American School, life of an international school teacher, teaching abroad, teaching in switzerland, the walk to school,

The Journey to School: American International School in Egypt

February 24, 2016

The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at theAmerican International School in Egypt (New Cairo City, Egypt), described her way to work there as follows:

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As I leave my apartment in El Rehab, I don’t know exactly what I will see. Life in Cairo is always interesting and sometimes unpredictable. One thing that is typical is the sunny weather, and today is not any different. The first place that I see from the car I am driving is the El Rehab Mall 2. I go there sometimes to go to the grocery store as it is only steps away from my apartment.

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After Mall 2, you will see the first of many roundabouts. The right-of-way is actually with the car that is entering, NOT the car that is already in the roundabout.

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En El Rehab, you need to exit the area through a gate. There are guards there to keep the riff raff out. You need to show a card that you live there to enter through the gate.

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After you get outside of the gate, then you have a few more roundabouts to go through. Today I saw a group of children with brooms on the side of the room cleaning the streets. Well at least it looked like they were cleaning the streets. I wonder if they were getting paid to do so. It was the first time seeing them on my journey to school.

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Another common sight on the journey is seeing many abandoned housing developments. They are all over Cairo. I still haven’t received an official explanation for this. I can only imagine that there was enough interest and money to get these projects started, but then the money and interest went away for some reason. It is really strange!

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With 30+ million people living in and around Cairo, you are bound to see a number of people sitting on the curbs on most streets. So many interesting characters with I’m sure VERY interesting stories to tell.

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Around one of the roundabouts, you can find a number of men apparently waiting for work. Many of them are sitting around with sledgehammers next to them. I guess they get picked up by people needing some construction work done.

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There are a number of billboards around the city advertising the many international schools in Cairo. In the other places I’ve lived and visited, I’ve never seen this done before. I guess these billboard advertisements are contributing to the fact that a number of international schools have high numbers of local children attending them.

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There are a number of people selling things on the side of the road. Mostly fruits sellers, but there is a plant shop as well.

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What looks like a jail is actually a police academy. At certain times of the year, you will see many young recruits standing around the outside of this place. It is definitely a sight to see!

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Finally, I arrive at the school in about 15-20 minutes from El Rehab. The school is located all on one campus.

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Here is the gate you enter to get inside. Of course, there are guards to let you in.

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Once you are inside you can see the fields and playgrounds to the left.

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To the right, you will see the many schools buses that bring the children and teachers to school every day.

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The school has a nice terrace part with a cafe!

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When you leave out the other gate, you will see a guard that has been working at the school for decades. He definitely has some stories (and secrets) to tell I’m sure!

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Cairo?  Check out our blog article in our Traveling Around category about Cairo.

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

The Journey to School
American International School in Egypt, international school, international schools in cairo, journey to work, life of an international school teacher, teaching abroad, teaching in cairo, the walk to school,

The Journey to School: Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

January 31, 2016

The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Ruamrudee International School Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand), described her way to work there as follows:

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When you think of Bangkok you automatically think of bustling and busy streets which are lined with vendors with their food carts hawking their wares.  Well, when I travelled to Thailand as a tourist, that was the image that I had of living here.  So in January 2015 when I signed a contract to move to Bangkok from Dubai I thought I knew what I was moving into to.  How wrong could I have been….

Ruamrudee International School is not in downtown Bangkok, it is out towards the airport in an area known as Minburi.  A taxi to the airport might take about 20 minutes if the traffic is in your favour – a godsend when you are doing boarding pick ups the weekend before school starts and you have to go back and forth as the flights never seem to align where you can pick up more than one airline’s arrival…On the other hand, to get downtown in a taxi could take up to two hours.  The main road through Minburi is Ramkhamhaeng and it is a really busy road.  A couple of Friday nights ago it took us 70 minutes to travel about 6km – the traffic was insane – on the way back the same trip took 10 minutes.  But traffic flows eventually – there is no beeping like in Ho Chi Min or Beijing and the drivers are nowhere near as crazy as what we encountered in Dubai… these drivers just take it in their stride and no one gets upset – everyone lets everyone else merge without any problems…

Some teachers chose to live downtown, they have regular drivers who pick them up and drop them off each day.  They have to leave as soon as they are able as any delay could mean hours added to their drive home time. 

I chose to live in the community near the school – Perfect Place 2.  Perfect Place is a large secure community with wide leafy streets.  Within the community there are plenty of parks and lakes to walk around and most parks have exercise equipment available to use.  I have seen groups doing some kind of tai chi style exercise at sunset by the lake and it looks so peaceful and calming to the spirit.

imageLots of teachers use scooters to get around although some, like me, have hired electric golf carts – they can be driven around the community, as long as you don’t go out onto Ramkhamhaeng Road, they are perfectly acceptable. Plus, there isn’t that much road traffic in the community.  Once you get into the Pak Soi (where all the shops, restaurants and food carts are), traffic starts to build up as it waits to get onto Ramkhamhaeng Road.

I work in Boarding so I do crazy hours – no day is the same as the one before.  I work weekends and have other days off to compensate.  I might go in at noon but either not come home til noon the next day or if someone else is covering the overnight, I might leave at 10.30pm.  The journey is still the same regardless what time it is.  Traffic in the community isn’t an issue so I know I can leave any time and it will only take 7 minutes to get to school.

So, when I leave my house, I find myself in a quiet street (except for the dogs… not soi dogs – they all have homes, but they all bark).

A couple of turns and I say goodbye to the guards at the entrance to Perfect Place 2 – they click their heels and salute every entry and departure.

A left turn onto Ramkhamhaeng Soi 174 and I’m off….

The wide streets are incredibly clean – maybe something to do with the fact that every 500m there is a cleaner assigned to keeping her part of the street clean.

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We have a lady who walks up and down our streets in PP2 and sweeps up all the leaves and dirt off the street.

Through another security gate (it only takes about 3 mins to get to this point) and you are at the Clubhouse, overlooking the lake, it is a private gym and infinity pool but the space also houses a restaurant, coffee shop, hair salon (150 baht to wash and blow dry your hair) and the local 7-11 (they are everywhere….).

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Round the corner and its a lovely drive along the lake.

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Some days the fountain is working and it is really pretty.  There is another smaller lake on the opposite side of the road when you get to the end

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and at that point it’s a left turn into the road that finally takes you to the school’s entrance,

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albeit the one at the rear of the school, but that’s where the staff parking is located.

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The car park is full of bikes and scooters but very few cars.  Who needs a car when you can fit 5 on a bike… I wish I had a photo to share but it does happen all the time – 3 and 4 people on a scooter is a very common sight.

So, you’re now at school, ready to engage with whatever new challenges come your way.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.

What to know more about the many international schools in Bangkok?  Check out our blog article called – Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Bangkok, Thailand.

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

The Journey to School
international school, international schools in Bangkok, journey to work, life of an international school teacher, Ruamrudee International School Bangkok, teaching abroad, teaching in bangkok, the walk to school,

The Journey to School: Western International School of Shanghai

October 7, 2015

The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who worked at the Western International School of Shanghai (China), described his way to work there as follows:

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Shanghai, the East’s equivalent of New York. The city runs 24/7, nightlife is rampant, traffic induces headaches, and glamour seems to be always in the spotlight. That is usually the thrill behind the city’s most vibrant areas such as the French Concession and the Bund. All of which is exciting to your common expat. That of course is if you are an expat living around these areas.

Most international schools in Shanghai exist around the peripheral suburbs of the city and for many new teachers entering the school they are given an interesting choice. One can either live near the school in bang-for-your-buck valued houses usually in areas with relatively limited entertainment or live in the downtown where the action is. As you probably can insinuate on your own, it is usually the young single people who trade-off for the longer commute and smaller apartments in order to have a larger selection of nearby restaurants, bars, and social gatherings.

I on the other hand belong to the group that lives in compounds near the school I work at, Western International School of Shanghai. Now this area is not as boring as I may have indicated as it has become a bit of a development zone for the never-ending expansion of Shanghai. Part of the reason being that the area we are in, Qingpu, is the location of several of the well-known international schools in Shanghai, and developers are aiming at them as their audience. In the last 2 years I have seen a great Italian restaurant open up down the street, a whole new nightlife commercial area has come about by Jinfeng Road, and a few imported grocery stores have popped up. We might not have the adrenaline of downtown, but at least we are being well fed!

From my home the school is less than a 10-minute bus ride (or in my case a 10-minute e-bike ride) away. Having two school-aged children, this location is a solid choice for housing, given its lower monthly rent (compared to apartments downtown), spacious and safe environment where kids can play with their friends without constant supervision, and most importantly the ability to wake up later on schoolday mornings. A perk that I don’t take for granted and often poke fun at one of my young colleagues in the math department about.

My school day usually starts off with a 5am wake-up, which at times means a quick morning bike ride to get the blood flowing and other times it gives the opportunity to check e-mails and get some quiet time before the start of another busy day.

At about 6:30, which is the same time most of my downtown colleagues start walking out of their apartments toward their bus pick-up points, I wake up the kiddos, throw them in the shower and take a shower myself. Cereal for the kids, bacon & eggs for daddy and walk outside at about 7:40. If weather permits we hop on the e-bike and off to school we go.

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On the way to school we pass by the well-known “corner store”, the one right outside the compound gates. After a quick right turn the scooter takes is into the already buzzing Ming Zhu road. On weekdays the traffic is usually busy, drivers tend to ignore most traffic rules, e-bikes go in all sorts of direction without much concern for red lights or other vehicles. It sometimes feels like a game of chicken while driving. Experience has taught me that it is best to adopt the local culture and go with the flow.

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Within the first kilometer we pass by a building that houses the strange combination of a dodgy KTV on its second floor with a wet market on its first floor. The road nearby this building gets extremely busy resulting in traffic jams almost daily, thanks to cars making illegal U-turns without signaling or other scooters pulling a left or right without looking in their rearview mirrors. Sometimes I question myself on whether it was the safest idea to get my own scooter. But at least the ride to work gets my blood pumping enough where I consider skipping my morning coffee.

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Beyond this madness, the road gets a bit less congested. Crossing the Huqingping highway can also be intimidating to many but the traffic light is mostly followed there. In this area there are several newly opened compounds with real estate agents already standing outside with their signs advertising apartments for rent or sale. I always find it curious just how desperate they are to sell leases. I wonder how many houses are actually occupied.

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Once we passed these compounds we see the friendly faces of the security guards greeting us at the main gate of the school. The entire journey from door to door takes less than 10 minutes for us living nearby the school, while others may spend as much as 50-60 minutes on the faculty bus coming to work day after day. Either way, we all end up at the school we love, doing the work we enjoy!

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member: Denes Tilistyak. Check our his HighFour competition website here.

What to know more about the many international schools in Shanghai?  Check out our blog article called – Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Shanghai, China.

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn six free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

The Journey to School
international school, international schools in shanghai, journey to work, life of an international school teacher, teaching abroad, teaching in Shanghai, the walk to school,

The Journey to School: Chatsworth International School (Singapore)

July 10, 2015

The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who worked at the Chatsworth International School (Singapore), described her way to work there as follows:

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At 5 am the loud whoop-whoop-whoop call of the Asian Koel bird echoes through the condo grounds waking me for another day in Singapore. I enjoy drinking a cup of tea, looking out the floor to ceiling windows as the sun comes up over the park between a couple of tower-blocks. Eighty percent of people here live in apartments or ‘flats’ as they call them. I take the elevator eight floors down and as I step out of the air-conditioning, the heat and humidity immediately hit me. I always enjoy walking through the gardens, past the tennis courts where there is usually a gentleman doing tai-chi or a couple of ladies doing chi-gong. As I step out of the side-gate, the calming notes of a Chinese flute float on the air from the HDB (Housing Development Board) across the road and I always wonder who plays so beautifully?

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It’s a short walk along the sidewalk under the lush canopy of beautiful trees to the pedestrian bridge over the road, where I’m usually lazy and take the elevator up. As I cross the bridge I admire the beautiful pink flowers on the bridge. I always feel at home in Singapore as someone who grew up in the UK because there are many reminders of this city-state’s former status as a British colony – like the double-decker busses passing below me.

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Singapore is a very safe, orderly society and they queue up even better than the Brits. People line up one behind the other and wait for people to get off the bus or train. I swipe my pass at the gates of the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) station which is like the London underground, Paris Metro or New York Subway. I’m lucky I live on two lines – the yellow Circle line and the red North-South line. Down the escalators I go and line up on the red arrows indicating each door waiting for my train. The computer-controlled trains run like clockwork almost every minute, so there’s not long to wait till the glass safety doors open.  Then the train doors open and people exit between the green lines and then the red-coated attendants urge us politely to “move to the centre please.” The trains travel at an enormous speed and I always have to hold on, but the Singaporeans seem to balance effortlessly as they read their papers or check their phones. Singapore is an incredibly diverse society, and I enjoy the bright colours of the Indian ladies in kurtas and the Indonesian ladies with their headscarfs. As we pass through the stations if an elderly person or pregnant lady get on people immediately stand up for them to have a seat. There are also announcements in English, Mandarin, Malay and Indonesian “mind the platform gap”, “if you see any suspicious persons or packages please notify station personnel.”

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Twenty minutes later I get a kick out of getting out at ‘ Somerset ‘ MRT. Up the escalators into the shopping centre I join everyone else getting my morning coffee and breakfast to go: I enjoy Costa coffee from the UK where the guys know I like a “medium latte to go lah?” Everyone speaks English but It took me a while to get used to the ‘lah’ added on to many phrases here. That and the ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ for positive or negative answers. After picking up my favourite mushroom bun from the Swiss Marche bakery, I’m out onto busy Orchard Road, a world-famous shopping street with stand-alone luxury stores.

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Chatsworth International School’s Orchard campus is in a prime downtown location. The blue and white buildings are a historic property, originally a private home for the founder of Orchard Road and then the first Chinese Girls School. I don’t usually go in the front gates past the security guard. Instead I prefer walking up lovely Emerald Hill Road looking at the historic Peranakan shop–houses to the back-gate. I swipe my pass in the electronic lock and another day at CIS has begun.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member: Sara Lynn Burrough. Check our her personal blog here.  It is called Travelling Teacher.

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn six free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

The Journey to School
international school, international schools in suzhou, journey to work, life of an international school teacher, teaching abroad, teaching in suzhou, the walk to school,