The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Jerudong International School

April 9, 2018


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 Jerudong International School (Brunei), described his way to work there as follows:

The road to Jerudong International School…

Brunei, a small country on the island of Borneo, which is famous for its’ lush jungle and wildlife. Brunei is a beautiful country with views of lush green jungle on almost any journey.

international school

Working at Jerudong International School means we have an option of taking the school allocated housing close to school or taking an allowance and going further out.

My wife and I being a teaching couple choose to stay close to school at Armada Housing (Rimba Estate). The journey itself is a 6 minute drive with hardly any traffic.

Armada Housing has literally been cut out of the jungle to make a complex which is safe and secure comprising of a gym, swimming pool and a variety of different housing styles ranging from 4 bed houses to penthouses.

international school

Our morning generally starts in a relaxing manner when we wake up between 4.30-5am to shower, followed by mediation/prayer. We eat breakfast then start our journey to school around 7am.

We choose to drive, but there are a few colleagues who bike through the jungle every morning. The drive takes us out of Armada Housing, on to the highway with views of the jungle on either side. We then get off at the JIS exit when the DST tower is on our left (5th tallest building in Brunei, a mere 71m/14 floors), where we then drive up to one of four entrances to park our car.

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All in all, a swift and efficient journey to school.

Here is a video of our journey on a beautiful Saturday afternoon:

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Amarpreet Singh. Amarpreet is a UK trained Teacher of Mathematics, currently teaching in Brunei Darussalam at Jerudong International School. He is moving to teach at a leading not for profit international school in Dubai (UAE) later this academic year. He made the move to Brunei with his wife (Teacher of Biology) and has enjoyed the adventures and challenges an international school provides.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in SE Asia?  Out of a total of 311 international schools we have listed in SE Asia, 155 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Ican British International School (74 comments)
Northbridge International School (58 Comments)
Gandhi Memorial Intercontinental School (86 Comments)
Green School Bali (98 Comments)
Sekolah Victory Plus (137 Comments)
Fairview International School (121 Comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (107 Comments)
Mont’Kiara International School (69 Comments)
Nexus International School (82 Comments)
International School Manila (71 Comments)
Singapore American School (90 Comments)
Stamford American International School (108 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.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: American Embassy School New Delhi

March 15, 2018


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 American Embassy School New Delhi (India), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to American Embassy School New Delhi…

I have been working at the American Embassy School (AES) in New Delhi for the past year. My journey to school starts every morning at 7:45am (March 2018) when I leave my apartment. I consider myself pretty lucky because the whole commute takes less than ten minutes and I can walk.

I am currently living at the Embassy of Bulgaria. apparently, Bulgaria had a huge delegation in India in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, but due to some financial issues, the delegation has shrunk considerably in recent years. Thus, many of the apartments at the Embassy that used to be occupied by Bulgarians are now occupied by teachers from my school. Out of twenty-one apartments in the complex, eleven are occupied by AES teachers and ten are occupied by Bulgarian diplomats.

Journey to School

(The gardens on the Bulgarian Embassy grounds.)

The grounds of the apartment complex are quite beautiful. When I leave my apartment, I can hear birds chirping and see the sun shining (at least, I can in the spring and summertime – in the fall and winter there is quite a bit of pollution). But, this time of year, March, the sky is blue and there is bougainvillea blooming everywhere. The bright pink flowers bring a profusion of color to the landscape.

Journey to School

(Bougainvillea along the walls of the Bulgarian Embassy Compound.)

The gardener waves to me as I walk past. He’s busy feeding some of the many cats that live on the compound. There is a mama cat with four kittens who always say hi. They like to hang out in the backyard of the building. Every apartment comes with a terrace and garden, which is quite nice. There is also a pool that we can use, some barbecue grills, and a playground with a trampoline for kids.

Journey to School

(The pool at the Bulgarian Embassy – it’s filled from April to September.)

The apartment complex is a walled compound and there is a guard at the entrance 24/7. On my way out of the complex, I say to the guard “Namaste, Aap kaysayhey?” and he replies “Mayen tikh hoon.” I step out of the quiet of the Bulgarian and on to the street. There is color everywhere and the bees are humming around. It’s warm and breezy, maybe 70 degrees fahrenheit, and the high for the day will be close to 90F.

Journey to School

(The outside of the Bulgarian Embassy.)

I turn right and start walking. Along the way, I pass yellow and green auto-rickshaws (the traditional mode of transport in Delhi, very similar to the tuk-tuks of Bangkok), city taxis, motorbikes, and the ever ubiquitous white Suzukis that are used by Uber drives. Uber has recently become the preferred method of transport in Delhi and the white cars are everywhere. That’s one of the reasons why the traffic in the city is so bad. The proliferation of Uber. Thankfully, I don’t have to drive to get to school.

The walk is lovely. I pass the grounds of the Russian Trade Federation and the Ravi Shankar Foundation. There are bushes and yellow flowers and everything has been newly trimmed and smells like cut grass. I think most people who come to Delhi would be surprised by how green the city is. Although it’s home to twenty-five million people, there are quite a lot of trees.

Journey to School

(The entrance to the Russian Trade Federation.)

A sweet yellow dog comes up to me and says hello. Delhi has lots of street dogs and they are, for the most part, super cute and very friendly. I give yellow dog a pat on the head and continue on my walk. I pass a giant banyan tree, it’s roots all twisted and gnarly. I like the way the sunlight looks when its coming through the leaves. Everything is golden and shimmering.

Journey to School

(Yellow dog outside the British School.)

The traffic on the street in the morning is heavy because the British School is on this street. It’s across the street from my own school and parents and drivers are dropping their kids off for the day. I side step the traffic and continue along the street. Like I said, the whole walk only takes about 10 minutes. But sometimes I dawdle and daydream.

Journey to School

(The banyan tree in front of the British School.)

Journey to School

(The yellow and green auto rickshaw waits for someone who needs a ride. Be ready to barter.)

Across the street from the British School is Vivekanand Camp. The people living in this community have been there for generations. It’s a miracle that the camp hasn’t been torn down yet – it’s the only one still left in the Embassy area, Chanakyapuri. It’s estimated that as many as 2,000 people live in the camp. They don’t have running water. Sometimes, on my way home from school, I see the municipal water truck parked outside the camp entrance. The women come outside with buckets to fill up from the spigot on the side of the truck.

There are always kids from the camp hanging out on the street. In the morning, they are headed to school. They wear the white pants and red sweaters that signal the government school uniform. In the afternoon, the boys play cricket. They harbor dreams of being the next Virat Kohli. He’s the current captain of the Indian national team. The camp is a stark reminder of the wealth inequity that persists in India and other countries in the developing world to this day.

Journey to School

(Boys hanging out outside Vivekanand Camp.)

I cross the street after passing Vivekanand Camp and I am at the entrance to my school. The school is surrounded by high walls and security guards. Men stand patrol at the gates and there are armed soldiers present. The campus is secure and safe. It’s right next to the American Embassy. I go in gate number 4.

Journey to School

(A woman walks past Gate #4, one of the entrances to AES.)

Once inside, it’s a short walk for me to the middle school building. The AES grounds are approximately eleven acres, and it feels a lot like a college campus. There are separate buildings for the elementary, middle, and high schools, athletic fields, a theatre, a cafe, a gymnasium, a pool, and even a climbing wall.

Journey to School

(A campus directory points the way to some of the different buildings that make up AES.)

The campus is known for being home to many different species of butterflies and birds. The biodiversity is incredible. Especially if you are used to living in a grey urban landscape. The number of gardeners who work on campus must number close to fifty. There are so many flowers to water and plants to take care of – they do an amazing job.

Journey to School

(Flowers on campus. They change with the seasons.)

I consider stopping to sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine, but it’s close to 8am already. Teachers have to be at work at 8:00, although classes don’t start until 8:30. I’ll go to my classroom to do some prep and get ready for my classes.

Journey to School

(Benches and a garden outside the entrance to one of the elementary school buildings.)

I’ve made it to the entrance to my building. I give thanks for the nature that surrounded me on my walk, blink once more in the sunshine, and go inside to greet my day.

Journey to School

(A bulletin board next to the entrance to the middle school. Go AES tigers!)

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Megan Vosk. Megan Vosk is a middle school MUN and Humanities teacher at the American Embassy School in New Delhi. She loves helping young people become more compassionate and engaged citizens. When she is not teaching, she likes to spend her time reading, watching movies, practicing yoga, and dining out with her husband.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Asia?  Out of a total of 201 international schools we have listed in Asia, 59 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

American International School Dhaka (53 comments)
American Embassy School New Delhi (39 Comments)
Good Shepherd International School (411 Comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 Comments)
Kodaikanal International School (53 Comments)
Oberoi International School (36 Comments)
SelaQui International School (36 Comments)
Woodstock School (58 Comments)
Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (53 Comments)
Abraham Lincoln School (Nepal) (36 Comments)
Colombo International School (64 Comments)
The British School in Colombo (41 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.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: International School of Brussels

September 22, 2017


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 International School of Brussels (Belgium), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to International School of Brussels…

The International School of Brussels is located in a leafy suburb of Brussels and nestled along the ancient Forêt de Soignes which is filled with towering trees and a variety of paths.  The school began in an old chateau (that is still referred to as “the chateau”) but has since expanded to fill a campus that has separate buildings for each division and a variety of facilities.  Today, the chateau is the main physical symbol of the school and houses administration, human resources, admissions as well as key personnel such as the school’s director and team.

brussels
Arrival at the school takes many different forms.  Some teachers have settled into local life and come by car while others take advantage of the free yearly transport pass and arrive by bus, metro or tram.  The location of your home will determine the best form of transport.  Many of the younger teachers prefer to live in the Ixelles area near the Flagey ponds where they are between the center and the school.  From Flagey, they can catch a 366 TEC bus that takes them in 20 minutes to the doorstep of the school.  Departure times during the school year are at 6:48, 7:30 and 7:50 am and teachers often sit together as they ride into school.  

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Flagey Ponds

Brussels

Bus stop next to Ponds

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TEC bus entering Watermael Boitfort

Another option from Ixelles or the other side of town in Woluwe St.  Pierre is the 94 tram which is more convenient for some as it leaves more frequently but it does require a 10 minute walk to school (The 94 tram cars are brand new and feature leather seats, laminate wood flooring and easy accessibility).  In the morning the walk from the tram stop at Delleur is a pleasant downhill stroll but in the afternoon, it can be a bit of a hike up.  The tram can be a bit slower than a bus, but it conveniently leaves at regular intervals.

brussels

Some teachers also enjoy biking to school.  There are marked paths along most major routes and this is a mode of transport that’s becoming more popular.  While paths are marked, cyclists still need to be aware as drivers can sometimes get very close to the bike paths.  Biking along Franklin Roosevelt takes you past some beautiful embassy buildings as well as some architectural gems from the Art Nouveau era in Brussels.  There’s also an option to cycle on the winding roads that pass through the Bois de la Cambre, a serene manicured park on the edge of the city that connects to the more wild Forêt de Soignes.

brussels

An area of growing popularity to live in has been the town where the school is located, Watermael Boitfort.  There is a lovely village and the walk to school is quick and pleasant.  This is a nice option if you’re actively involved in coaching and need to arrive at school early in the AM or if you want the shortest commute possible and a chance to run home if you’ve forgotten something.  Rent can be a bit more expensive in this area but the teachers who have moved there believe it’s worth it for the convenience.

brussels

Parking on campus is getting more tight but there’s generally always space if you come by car.  Brussels is an easy city to own a car in.  Expenses such as taxes and insurance are relatively low and gas is manageable if you’re mostly using the car for commuting.  The school also offers financial assistance for kilometers traveled in lieu of the yearly Brussels transport pass as an option for drivers.

On a good day, I set my alarm for 6:15 so that I can leave my apartment in Ixelles with my car and arrive at school by 7 to get in a morning workout in the school fitness center.  The fitness center has showers so if there aren’t too many teachers working out, I can sneak in a quick shower before walking to my classroom by 8:10 to prepare for the start of the day at 8:40.  On a bad day (or after a late night), I can set my alarm for 7 and leave by 7:50 which gets me to school by 8:10 or 8:15.  Campus security has been beefed up after the terrorist attacks a few years ago so entering by the large double gates sometimes takes a few minutes if there is a line up of cars. Most teachers are on campus relatively early and until the late afternoon so in the darker winter months, everything is well-lit.  Some teachers stay later on campus taking advantage of faculty fitness classes or free language classes but others are just as eager to head out and try one of the many local beers.

Brussels

Back entrance to ISB Campus

Brussels

Morning sports practice on the upper field

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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 Western Europe?  Out of a total of 298 international schools we have listed in Western Europe, 137 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Metropolitan School Frankfurt (60 comments)
Bilingual European School of Milan (31 Comments)
American International School of Rotterdam (45 Comments)
Skagerak International School (42 Comments)
AMADEUS International School Vienna (70 Comments)
International School of Paphos (105 Comments)
Copenhagen International School (316 Comments)
International School of Helsinki (41 Comments)
Berlin British School (31 Comments)
International School of Stuttgart (61 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.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Anglo American School of Sofia

May 28, 2017


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 Anglo American School of Sofia (Bulgaria), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to Anglo American School of Sofia…

Some teachers drive to work. It is not that far from the center of the city. The school is location in a more residential, countryside area. These pictures of from a spring day with lots of sun!

Sofia, Bulgaria
The best part of the school’s location is of course the amazing view of the nearby mountains. The school grounds are also pretty to look at and walk around in as they are well-landscaped. In the spring a number of the plants are flowering.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Walking towards the school’s main entrance.

Sofia, Bulgaria

There are huge sports fields for students to play in.

Sofia, Bulgaria

There is a sense of community as you walk around the campus. There is even an outdoor amphitheater. This day the school was using it during their Bulgarian cultural week.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Here is the road leading out of the school campus.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Here is that same road looking back towards the school.


You do need to pass through some security. Even taxis are not allowed through when you get visitors. This day I was actually leaving via an arranged taxi going to the airport. It was very cheap and quick. I think I was there in 15-20 minutes that day.

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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 Eastern Europe?  Out of a total of 105 international schools we have listed in Eastern Europe, 55 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Pechersk School International Ukraine, Kyiv 122 Comments
International School of Belgrade Serbia, Belgrade 34 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow Russia, Moscow 66 Comments
American International School Bucharest Romania, Bucharest 20 Comments
Wroclaw International School Poland, Wroclaw 46 Comments
American School of Warsaw Poland, Warsaw 89 Comments
International School of Latvia Latvia, Riga 33 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia Bulgaria, Sofia 49 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan Azerbaijan, Baku 39 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.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Singapore American School

October 9, 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 Singapore American School (Singapore), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to Singapore American School…

It is no accident that I wake up each morning to sweeping views of the rainforest. Like all SAS teachers new to Singapore, we had to decide if we would live near the school in Woodlands at the northernmost point of the island or commit to more of a commute by living away from campus.  While many teachers make this decision based on their interest in being closer to the city center, we were looking for the opposite!  My family and I decided early on in the relocation process that living close to some sort of green space was a must.  Finding just such a spot in densely populated Singapore which also had all the necessary transport options was a challenge, but not impossible. Though, we do feel a little like we hit the jackpot with our condo.

Singapore American School

The MRT (train system) in Singapore is known for being efficient and punctual, which in my experience is definitely true.  What many people don’t realize is that the bus system is equally so!  I was tipped off by a fellow expat, (thanks Mette) who encouraged us to venture further away from the MRT stations and look for housing with a great bus route.  We hit the jackpot there too! Before we signed the lease, we did a practice run to the school and were very relieved to discover it was easy peasy. We’ve been for a while now and have our commute down to a smooth routine.

Here is our journey to Singapore American School in numbers:

5:15: time the alarm goes off (for the first time)

6:35: time I have to leave in order to make it to school around 7am (nice and early to get a head start on the day)

> 3: number of apps available which track public transport services and tip me off to when my next bus will come by.  On a perfect day, I can leave our condo and stroll to the bus stop just in time to walk onto the bus.  On the less than perfect days, rarely more than 10 minutes passes between busses.

23: number of floors we ride the elevator down. We’re not alone in our highrise living.  According to 2014 Singapore Housing statistics, over 80% of island residents live in HDBs, while a further 13% live in apartments and condos.  This means that a full 93% of the country’s inhabitants live high above the ground.  In that way, we are definitely amongst the majority with our one-floor-shy-of-the-penthouse condo.

up to 2: minutes of elevator time. The bus stop in front of our condo is max 200 meter as the crow flies from our front door, but I inevitably underestimate the vertical commute! Luckily, when I step off the elevator I’m greeted with a lush pool area and I’m reminded of one of the many reasons we made this move.

Singapore American School

26-29: degrees Celsius, the temperature that greets me each early morning as I stroll through aforementioned pool area. The temperatures vary very little here, with an almost daily high of 33 and nighttime low of 26. It’s easy to dress knowing exactly what the weather will be like each day (just remember to pack an umbrella). I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the constant gloss of sweat, though.

2: number of taps of my school ID card it takes to pay for the bus ride to school-one to get on and one to get off.

S$1.30: bus fare each way

70-80%: passengers sleeping on the bus, head nodded forward or leaned awkwardly against a window.  I’ve noticed sleeping on the bus is a ‘thing’ here.  The result is a truly quiet ride, perfect for getting into the mental zone of the day.

4: languages (Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English) bus sign are written in which is reflective of the cultural mix on the island.

0: sips of coffee I’ve taken since getting on the bus. I’ll avoid the $500 fine, thank you! I do miss the option of bringing my mug and a snack on the days when I’m running late though.

12-15: total bus ride, in minutes.

4: times per hour the school shuttle departs from Marsiling MRT station to the campus in case you want to skip the…

8: minutes walk between Marsiling MRT and campus.

Approximately 2 out of 5: days in a work-week that I get to witness a beautiful sunrise from the top deck of the bus.  On the days when I’m a little behind schedule, nature reminds me to slow down and enjoy the ride with one of these:

Millions: trees and plants lining the roadside. Singapore prioritizes landscaping in any new building project, roads included. While the result is a very manicured landscape, it certainly beats the concrete jungle. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest and lived many years in Scandinavia, I do miss a good wild forest though.

Dozens:  motorcycles and scooters zooming by, weaving in and out of traffic, sometimes erratically.  

1*26’: distance of school from the equator. Because Singapore sits so close to the equator, the day is consistently 12hrs long: sun up 7:15ish, sundown 19:15ish.

At least 10: school busses backed up at the intersection leading to the school. Something like 80% of students arrive on school busses each morning. That requires dozens of busses and quite complex logistics. It works though, like a well-oiled machine.

7-8: security guards smiling, waving, standing watch at the school’s well-guarded main entrance.

S$2.50-4: price of a tasty Hawker Center meal. A bonus of the walk back to the bus stop from school in the afternoon is passing through the local Hawker Center where very inexpensive and tasty local food can be had.  Good for those late afternoons when the thought of cooking is just too much!

approx S$10: cost of a taxi home on the days that I can’t take the thought of an 8 minute walk to the bus stop after a loooong day. Taxis are relatively inexpensive here, especially compared to owning a car (astronomical, and purposely in order to keep the number of cars down). On taxi days, I’m home in less than 10 minutes.

There are days now and then when I wish we’d chosen to live in the neighborhood close to school. They are, however, far outnumbered by the days I look out over the jungle and am thankful that we stumbled upon this little gem. And, that all the numbers add up to a pleasant journey and a smooth start to our school day.

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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 Singapore?  Out of a total of 24 international schools we have listed in Singapore, 13 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore)30 Comments

International School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)17 Comments

Nexus International School (Singapore, Singapore)22 Comments

One World International School (Singapore, Singapore)16 Comments

Overseas Family School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)26 Comments

Singapore American School (Singapore, Singapore)38 Comments

Stamford American International School (Singapore, Singapore)40 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.

continue reading