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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,

The Journey to School: Dulwich College Suzhou (Suzhou, China)

May 25, 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 Dulwich College Suzhou (Suzhou, China), described her way to work there as follows:

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One of the first things most of us did when we got up in the morning and opened the curtains was to check out how bad the fog of air pollution was. If I couldn’t see the lake past the tower blocks of my compound it was pretty usual, if I couldn’t see the apartments opposite me I knew it was really bad and people would be wearing masks to catch the coach. When I checked the AQI index on my phone, and if it was above 250 pmi, then I knew we wouldn’t be letting the children outside at the breaks or lunch-time. Thankfully the school has installed air purifiers in all classrooms though.

I lived on the 18th floor of a 30-story tower block and sometimes it would take a while for one of the two elevators to reach me. It was a pretty walk through the gardens surrounding the towers, I enjoyed watching people walking backwards to exercise and beating their arms to increase their circulation. After a cheery ‘Ni Hao’ to the security guards, I would join my colleagues waiting for the bus. Dulwich spread its staff out amongst approximately ten compounds with no more than two to a tower and no-one on the same floor as you, for privacy. It was always good to chat and pass the time in the morning. Soon the big red maroon coach would pull up and once again there would be a chorus of ‘Good Mornings’ as we climbed on board. There were four coaches assigned to pick up staff from various areas of Suzhou.

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The temperature on the bus never seemed right, either it would be much too warm with the heating on and the windows steamed up with condensation or we’d be cold. Suzhou, inland from Shanghai is definitely in an area with four seasons. I would amuse myself admiring the canals beside the roads with weeping willows and flowering shrubs and sometimes the odd boat. Within twenty minutes or so we’d be pulling up at the Senior School, then it was in through the gates with more ‘Ni Haos’ and sometimes a salute from the guards (depending on who you were with) and I’d look up at the iconic Dulwich tower as I stepped into the foyer and went over to the Coffee Bar to get my morning café latte.

The coaches only had one pick-up time at the compounds and if you missed it (which I often did) you had to hail a taxi. The school provided us with taxi cards for most places in Suzhou, including the school, in Mandarin, so it was easy to direct the taxi-driver who often didn’t speak English, 25 RMB and twenty minutes later I’d be at school exiting the cab saying ‘Xie xie’.

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I soon tired of missing the bus and paying for taxis and bought myself an electric bike. This is when the journey to school became fun! I’d go down into the parking garage below my apartment building and unplug the charger. After putting my helmet on I’d steer it up the narrow slope to the compound roads. Then climb on and off I went. My bright blue ebike reached a top speed of about 42 mph and I felt safe on it because in SIP, where I lived, there were separate bike lanes. It was when I zipped along on the ebike that I really discovered Suzhou. I found I left earlier in the morning on the ebike and I enjoyed steering round the water trucks cleaning the roads, or the people sweeping up. Often as I passed a shopping mall there would be a large group of people doing Tai Chi in beautiful silk clothes, or a group of women doing a fan dance. One morning I stopped to watch a man leaping and spinning with a silver sword. The Chinese schools started earlier than we did and I would enjoy watching the whole student body line up in disciplined military rows as the Chinese flag was raised and the national anthem was played. I didn’t enjoy seeing the conditions the migrant workers lived in when I passed the large compounds of blue and white two-storey buildings where they lived, because then I would see garbage, dirty children and stray dogs which I always felt sorry for.

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Soon though I would pulling in to the industrial park where the school is situated, and after passing through the electric gate controlled by the security guard I’d be parking my ebike in the underground garage and charging it up ready for the journey home. Another day at Dulwich College Suzhou had begun.

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
Dulwich College Suzhou, international school, international schools in suzhou, journey to work, life of an international school teacher, teaching abroad, teaching in suzhou, the walk to school,

The Journey to School: Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China)

March 23, 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 works at the Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) described her way to work as follows:

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Leaving my apartment (which is very downtown near to the Causeway Bay MTR stop), I need to take an elevator down to the ground floor.  Many people live above the 20th floor in the apartment buildings here. They are so tall!  Luckily, in my building, there is an express elevator that skips a lot of the lower-numbered floors so I can get to the ground level faster.

I get on the MTR Island line and go to the end of the line which is Chai Wan. The journey can take around 15 minutes or so. There are definitely may other people on the metro, all with heads down, of course, looking at their smart phones.

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Once I get to Chai Wan, then I hop on a small bus. From there it is a quick transfer down the escalator to Bus 16. It is on its way to Stanley, but makes a stop at Tai Tam Reservoir Road which is right by Hong Kong International School. It is a windy ride, so everyone on the bus has to hold on to the handle of the chair in front of us. This part of the journey takes around 10 minutes.

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From there I just walk down the hill to the front gate of HKIS. These pictures show me looking back though towards the bus stop, which is going UP the hill (the journey back to my apartment, after school is over-with for the day, definitely gets your heart pumping a bit…though it’s not that steep). On this road down to the school entrance, you can also see the apartments of many staff members.  They can just walk to work in a minute!  At the end of the road, you see the school…the huge school campus. But first, you need to scan yourself in through the security gates.

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The campus is super cool with many nice views to be had. On a nice day, the trees, the mountains and the sea all look so beautiful!

Currently, we have 29 international schools listed in Bangkok on our website.  17 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members. Check out which ones here by using our school search feature and ticking the box ‘schools with comments’.  Hong Kong International School is a popular school profile page on our website.  It has 62 total comments on it.  It also has eight members that either currently work there now or have worked there in the past.

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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
Hong Kong International School, international school, international schools in hong kong, journey to work, life of an international school teacher, teaching abroad, teaching in hong kong, the walk to school,

The Journey to School: NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)

February 9, 2015

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

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

DSC_9540In February, it isn’t so hot in the morning. Still though, you might still be wearing shorts as you walk to work.

Not many people are out on the street that the school is on just yet, but there are some people getting things prepared for the day. There are a number of hotels nearby so there are taxis and their drivers waiting next to their cars. If the taxi isn’t moving around though, this typically means that the taxi guy is off-duty.  Off-duty can only take you somewhere without the meter on, meaning you will have to bargain the price.

There are motor scooter darting through the narrow street as well, so make sure you look both ways before crossing the street to the other side.

Actually, you should always watch what is going around you wheel walking on this street because the pavement can be uneven. There can also be some mysterious smells and puddles on the ground that you would do best to avoid.

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There are some secret entrances that you can get a glimpse at if you walk a bit slower and take a peek. Who knows what really inside those areas though. These areas, guarded only by light metal doors, don’t looks like much as you can see what looks like a bunch of nothing and garbage all over the ground.

You can see many of the locals preparing their food carts. Actually, a number of NIST students go to these stands to get their lunch for the day. Great business opportunity for the locals.

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And I think they are quite happy for the business from the NIST staff and students because you can see many smiles on locals’ faces, even in such early hours of the morning.  I guess the smells of good Thai food is better than the random smell of the rotten garbage just down the street before the food cart area.

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There are many beautiful colors in the Thai design to look at as well. Even the gates to some of the apartment buildings are quite nice to look at and appreciated.

As you get closer and closer to NIST, you can see that many of the locally hired people are all busy, getting ready for the rush of students that are to come. There are many locally hired folks that work at NIST to help each day run smoothly!

The entrance to NIST is a long walkway, ending in a beautifully designed mosaic. The NIST campus is one to be proud off. It is quite welcoming and you can feel the excitement from the staff and kids, all wanting to have a great day!

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Currently, we have 49 international schools listed in Bangkok on our website.  22 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members. Check out which ones here by using our school search feature and ticking the box ‘schools with comments’.  NIST International School is a popular school profile page on our website.  It has 65 total comments on it.  It also has 3 members that either currently work there or have worked there in the past.

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So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn 6 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 Bangkok, journey to work, life of an international school teacher, NIST International School, teaching abroad, teaching in bangkok, the walk to school,

The Journey to School: International School of Tanganyika (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

October 19, 2014

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

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One of our members, who works at the International School of Tanganyika (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) described her way to work as follows:

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.27.23 PMYou either walk, drive your SUV, or ride your bike to school. It all depends on where you live and what you prefer to have/use.

If you do decide to walk to work and have to carry something, it should be in a small plastic sac (like what you would get when grocery shopping). Don’t carry a bag that looks like it has something valuable in it (Ipad, computer, etc.)!

I personally drive to work.

On the side of the road, the “African mommas” can be found with their pots making coffee out of (possibly) not the cleanest water.  But boiled long enough, maybe it is just fine. They heat the pots by using actual fire that they have made themselves using wood.

You also see Daladalas going by, the name for the localScreen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.27.00 PM buses here.  There is always somebody hanging out the window/door of the bus.  He says, “Hey, Hey!” really loudly trying to get people’s attention and to see who wants to get on to the bus.

There are also many locals on bikes passing you by with high-stacked food items on the back or front of the bike; like eggs maybe.  Other bikes have many water bottles hanging off the side. Sometimes you can see ones with fish or sticks of wood.

The extreme bounciness of the road is something you can’t ignore during your short 3-5 minute journey.  Though not the best road in the world, it can be good wake-you-up in the morning, bouncing around so much!

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.26.42 PMOn good days with the sun out, there is a nice breeze in the air (like in October). The soft sound of the wind is blowing through the tree leaves. Lovely!

Currently, we have 12 international schools listed in Tanzania on our website.  5 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members. Check out which ones here by using our school search feature and ticking the box ‘schools with comments’.  International School of Tanganyika is a popular school profile page on our website.  It has 59 total comments on it.  It also has 6 members that either currently work there or have worked there in the past.

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So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn 6 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 School of Tanganyika, international schools in tanzania, journey to work, life of an international school teacher, teaching abroad, teaching in tanzania, the walk to school,

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