Information for Members

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

July 14, 2019


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.

keyword

Then it will take you to our Comments Search results page. There you will find all the comments (out of over 32331+ comments on our website) that have that keyword/those keywords in them. 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.

When we searched the keyword “teaching couples” we got 186 comments (up around 100 comments from two years ago!) 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 14 July, 2019):

Retirement – 279 comments
PD – 442 comments
Save – 536 comments
Relocation – 79 comments
Housing Allowance – 559 comments
Gay – 84 comments
Singles – 139 comments
Salary – 1000 comments
Canadian – 622 comments
Tuition – 478 comments
Happy – 229 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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Money Diaries

Money Diary: How Much Do You Spend in a Week Living in Seoul, South Korea?

July 2, 2019


Occupation: Education Technology Coordinator

Industry: International Education

Age: 32

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Salary: $40,000 USD (not including severance)

Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $3,330 (pre tax and retirement)

School View

Monday:

Each day starts with the regular breakfast. A Vitamin C drink ($0.50 each (multipack)), a plain greek yoghurt (about $1 per yoghurt) and a protein bar ($2 each) . Ever since January I have been walking to work. Regardless the school has a free shuttle bus for staff, transportation in general doesn’t cost me much throughout the week as I prefer to walk everywhere (gotta get those 10,000 steps per day). Lunch at school is also free and there are two options. After school it is raining and I need to get home quick, so I get a local taxi. The ten minute ride cost $3.50. At home I relax with my family (wife and baby), watch Netflix ($10 per month) and eat a home cooked meal of Pork Stew.

Tuesday:

The usual breakfast and then I walk to work again and have the free school lunch. I have a working meeting with a colleague and we decide to go to a local coffee shop. Coffee and a Bagel as a snack runs up to $7.50. I walk home, but on the way stop to get an artisan donut for my wife and I. Each one costs ($3) but they are so worth it. My wife is out with her friends for a meal and I have my son to myself. I order from Seouls Shuttle Delivery service, an app which delivers (for a small fee) food from most of the popular restaurants in the expat district of Yongsan-gu. A Moroccan Chicken sandwich costs $6 and $3 for delivery. My wifes meal at a fancy Italian restaurant with drinks costs $20.

Wednesday:

I wake up early to go work out. The walk to work is a good 20-30 minutes mostly up hill and is a good warm up. Luckily the school weight room is free to staff as is the gym where twice weekly basketball games are played between staff, some parents and occasionally the odd HS student or two. Free lunch at school. Walk home back to a home cooked meal.

Thursday:

Thursday is our end of year party. I walk to work and then get ready for a big lunch. We head to a Brazilian churrasqueria (an all you can eat restaurant which has different cuts of a variety of meats, served via huge skewers. This is $35 per person and one of the more pricey options around, but luckily it is being paid for by the school. At home I don’t eat much and a fresh fruit smoothie is enough to fill me up.

Friday:

Last day of work for the school year. The habit of walking to work has not changed and neither has the free lunch. I get a taxi home again (I had a lot of things to take home from school) which is a bit more expensive this time as we went the long way ($4). At home we decided to order pizza from the cheapest pizza restaurant around $12 + $3 delivery for two medium sized pizzas, its a bargain but definitely not the best pizza you can buy.

Saturday:

Our last full day in Seoul before the summer holidays. We have lunch at home again then we head to a new artisan ice cream shop. We walk the 30 minutes there, choose a Saturday Morning Cartoons Ice Cream (Breakfast Cereal (Fruity pebbles) flavour) and a Mixed Cookie. The two Scoops come to $5. I had previously ordered some frozen pies from an expat chef and heated that up for dinner, each one costs $10 but they are so worth it. My wife had a home made salad, with boxed mac and cheese.

Sunday:

We wake up early to make sure everything is ready for the summer. I have the usual breakfast then we head to the airport. We usually get the subway which costs $5 per person. But as we have our baby boy (6 months old, so first flight) we are getting a taxi, this costs $55 flat fee for an International Taxi, but we think it is worth it to not have the stress of getting on and off subways with a baby and multiple suitcases. We eat at the airport. Coffee and sandwiches for my wife and I comes to $16, then we head off on the flight to the USA.

All for 3 people (my wife and I and our baby boy)

$800/month groceries

$100/month baby items (diapers/clothes)

$10/month drinking water (comes in 10l jugs)

$100/month Internet/phone

$100/month for bills (electricity, gas, water)

$30/month apartment maintenance fee

$300/month restaurants and meals out (including coffee)

$40/month Transportation (Taxis and Subway)

$250/month retirement fund

$10/month Netflix

Savings potential on my (mid range for Seoul) salary, and lifestyle is about $1400 a month, this in the last 6 months has been reduced as my wife stopped working after the arrival of our first born (together with no baby we were saving around $3000 a month). The above $250 a month for retirement is matched by my employer

Walk to Work
School View – Winter

This article was submitted by an ISC member. Why not submit your Money Diary article for your area of the world and earn free premium membership to the ISC website? Contact us here if you are interested.

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Highlighted Articles

OMG: I’m Becoming a Citizen of my Host Country

June 26, 2019


When most international teachers move abroad, they aren’t thinking “oh, this is the country that I want to be living in for many, many years.” They also aren’t thinking “When I move there, I’m going to do whatever it takes to become a citizen.”

But somehow, some of us get ourselves into that exact position. What was once the goal of staying at an international school for 4-6 years has turned into 8, 10 or even more than 12 years!

If the situation is good where you are at, then why not stay?! Most likely, not everyone can work and live where you are. Actually, some international school teachers would probably die to live and work in your host country! (note: the grass is always greener problem…)

As you stay longer and longer in your host country, the question about trying to become a citizen starts to be a popular one to talk about and discuss (depending on where you are living, of course).

Things to think about:

What are the requirements to becoming a citizen in your host country? There are many in some cases!

Can you have dual citizenship so that you don’t have to give up your home country passport? Some of us would very quickly give up our home country passport, but many of us would very much not!

What is the time frame for waiting around to get your citizenship application approved? In some countries the processing time can take up to two years!

So the question comes, what then does it take to actually become a citizen?

You will probably have to fork over a sizeable amount of money for your application. Could be from hundreds of USDs to thousands of USDs!

You will probably have to pass some sort of host country language test. Some countries don’t have this as a requirement, but others do. Sometimes just having a A2/B1 level is alright, but other countries might want higher than that!

You will also most likely need to pass some sort of citizenship exam. There will be a bunch of questions about the culture, history, politics, laws, etc. of the country. It can take quite some effort to read and study about all of these topics so that you can pass this exam.

Once you pass all the tests and pay all the fees, the next step is to complete and submit the application and also to check and see if you meet the rest of the requirements. For example, if you have unpaid speeding tickets from driving, that can be a problem. If you have received some financial support from the government in the past few years, that can also be a deterrent. Other problems can include: if you have been outside of the country for more than 6 months, if you haven’t been making a certain amount of money during the time you’ve been working there, if you haven’t had full time work for the duration of your stay so far, etc. All of these things can delay or make it so that your host country will refuse your application.

Even if it is fun to get caught up in all the excitement of becoming a dual citizen, what does it mean to really be a citizen of your host country? Maybe you have got married to a local and had children together and need to get citizenship so that everyone in your family has the same legal rights in the country. That can be stressful for you until you get the passport!

Another question to ask yourself: Once you get citizenship, does that mean you will stay there the rest of your life and that your life as a roving international school teacher is over? That prospect could sound daunting to some people. It is good to have choices though in life. Once you get a host country passport, you could still move and try living somewhere else for a bit, and then you can rest knowing that you could always move back if you want. If your new passport is from an EU country, that would definitely open up more possibilities for places to live and work without the hassle of having some school sponsor you in anyway (which is often a problem for most schools in EU).

We all know that the passport you hold can really make a difference in many ways. If you have an EU passport, you can often get through passport control much faster. If you want to visit Iran, then it would be much easier to go there on an EU passport vs. a USA one. If you want to vote and participate in the main elections in your host country, a passport will allow you to do just that. If you want to get out of teaching and your current job, a passport would allow you to try out a different school or even a different career. The benefits and advantages go on and on…

Of course, the main advantage of having a host country passport is that you can rest and relax knowing that you will not be kicked out of the country for any reason, you will have the same legal rights as any of the other citizens there, and you can stay as long as you want and enjoy the country that you have gotten to know and fall in love with over the years. Even though you probably don’t have your own relatives and direct family there with you, you can stay with and build even stronger relationships with your new family in your host country (or now just your country).

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Information for Members

The 40 Most Viewed Schools on International School Community

June 18, 2019


So interesting, our top 40 school profiles with the most views page.

It’s like, which school is the most popular amongst our 13K+ members?  Before reading below or checking out the page, which schools do you think show up on this list?

Are the ones at the top those “Tier one” international schools that we all hear about? You might be surprised which schools are really on this list then!

schools

The school that has the most views right now is the Colegio Granadino Manizales (68 total comments), which currently has around 36937 views. Who wouldn’t want to work in South America?!

Here are some of the other top schools on our list (along with a sample comment from its school profile page):

Copenhagen International School (350 total comments) Copenhagen, Denmark (2268 views)

“I feel like we are getting more new students lately and classrooms in the primary are definitely reaching their maximum.”

NIST International School (276 total comments) Bangkok, Thailand (1946 views)

“Most of the large shopping malls have gourmet markets that include Western foods and ingredients, and two or three chains specifically cater to them as well. A huge number of expat-oriented pubs and restaurants can be found, especially along Sukhumvit Road.”

schools

International School of Kuala Lumpur (135 total comments) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2220 views)

“Pay is good, with a great retirement (EPF) program that can go up to 42% of salary (including both employer and employee amounts). Teachers are paid 10 times (August through June) but in June they also get their July salary.”

KIS International School (Bangkok) (306 total comments) Bangkok, Thailand (1766 views)

“KIS has just gone through its five-year accreditation for both the CIS and the IB as well as the one from the Thai Ministry of Education. Obviously the full reports have yet to be made public but the feedback from the team leaders was certainly constructive and said that the school was certainly heading in the right direction.”

Seoul Foreign School (147 total comments) Seoul, South Korea (1818 views)

“I literally think these are the best students to have on the planet. I can’t think of a country where the student caliber is any higher. Wonderful and attentive students who perform well. Require work to get them to think outside of the box and problem solve.”

Hong Kong International School (136 total comments) Hong Kong, China (1725 views)

“The school is a very well established school and has been a part of Hong Kong for nearly 50 years.”

schools

Western International School of Shanghai (415 total comments) Shanghai, China (1871 views)

“Tons of activities if one wants to do something. It’s pretty easy to fund running, cycling, hiking, tennis, basketball, rugby, and so forth. Pretty much anything is on offer here!”

Singapore American School (219 total comments) Singapore, Singapore (1977 views)

“Short term disability benefit. Worldwide health insurance coverage.”

Concordia International School (Shanghai) (175 total comments) Shanghai, China (1507 views)

“The school buildings are quite modern. Many students walk to school as there are many neighbourhoods near the school.”

International School Bangkok (19 total comments) Bangkok, Thailand (1047 views)

“There are scholarships available for staff children to attend the school.”

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (144 total comments) Hong Kong, China (1263 views)

“A fair number of teachers make multiple stops on their way back to “home” in Canada, USA, Europe, Australia, or New Zealand. Since these are long flights (~10-18 hours), it is easy to find extended layovers en route.”

Bangkok Patana School (39 total comments) Bangkok, Thailand (1096 views)

“The school provides free transportation for teachers who live within areas adjacent to the school. Teachers who live outside the defined area and who require transportation are required to enroll in the transportation service offered by the school. The teacher will then be respo…”

American School of Dubai (114 total comments) Dubai, UAE (1245 views)

“The area across the street from the school, Barsha Heights (previously known as Tecom) has a number of highrise buidlings and good number of restaurants and shops in the area. It’s a 10-15 minute walk from there for the teachers that live in that area. On the opposite side a…”

schools

American School of Warsaw (127 total comments) Warsaw, Poland (1199 views)

“In connection to the school’s growing percentage of ELL students, every grade level in the elementary and middle schools now has a dedicated ELL coach/teacher/classroom aide.”

Check out the rest of the schools on our list here.

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Mexico

June 13, 2019


Around the world, there are countries (like Mexico) that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

Some countries, though, have MANY international schools!  When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same country.

Mexico

Currently, we have 31 schools listed in Mexico on International School Community.

21 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

American Institute of Monterrey (61 Total Comments)
American School Foundation of Guadalajara (111 Total Comments)
American School Foundation of Mexico City (72 Total Comments)
American School Foundation of Monterrey (105 Total Comments)
American School of Durango (39 Total Comments)
American School of Torreon (51 Total Comments)
Madison International School (32 Total Comments)
Westhill Institute (23 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“Depends on you, if you are single you can save 10,000 a month. If married with children then maybe 2,000.” – American Institute of Monterrey

“If you have any debt – school or mortgage – you will find it difficult to save any money as peso has weakened.” – American School Foundation of Guadalajara

“Depends on your lifestyle but I saved nothing because I had a child.” –
American School Foundation of Mexico City

School Campus

“The school building is excellent. The area surrounding the campus is desert and a nice suburban that is newly developed. It is on the outskirts of the town, but it is very safe and the building is new and very well-maintained.” – American School of Torreon

“The school caters for Elementary, PYP and MYP. It is quite a big complex and it is still expanding to cater for more classrooms. It is walled like any international schools over here so it is relatively safe.” – Madison International School

“School facilities are quite nice for Mexico (wifi, projectors, top notch gym and exercise equipment, etc.). As others have alluded to, the surrounding area is MUCH more proletarian than the school clientele.” – American School Foundation of Mexico City

Housing Information

“You have to live in the middle of nowhere (close to school) for your first year, unless you demand a housing allowance. It’s very unsafe. Someone was killed in our backyard a few years ago, and one of the teachers got his passport stolen. You have to pay for the utilities, but only if they confront you about it.” – Madison International School

“The teachers now have their own apartments. The houses are random.If you are a married couple you will be placed in a house. Some single teachers have houses due to availability.” – American School of Torreon

“Houses are very basic. Little or no furniture. When something is wrong with the house neither the school or landlord will help.” – American School of Durango

“I would recommend taking photos of your accommodation (walls, any marks, shabby painting) as now that I am transitioning out I am being asked to pay for things that may or may not have been my fault but I didn\’t expect the school to nickle and dime me at the end so I don\’t have any proof.” – American School Foundation of Monterrey

Health Insurance and Medical Benefits

“The private health insurance is only for major accidents, otherwise is pretty much useless and you must pay out of pocket if you get sick.” – American Institute of Monterrey

“There is no preventative care. Insurance is private and supported by the national health care program. For example, maternity leave is mandated by the state and paid for via IMS (national health care ). There is no international coverage – just 50,000 for accident coverage while you are visiting the US or Canada. Coverage is poor compared to other international schools. Doctors and service at private hospitals is very good!” – American School Foundation of Guadalajara

“Health insurance and dental but find a good doctor. Many are not good here.” – American School Foundation of Mexico City

“Unfortunately this school year the deductible went up substantially and the coverage is still not covering anything preventative. This was not told to staff until the week before school started which in essence dropped a lot of people’s salaries as now more is going towards health care costs. As someone who did not previously make any claims I did not appreciate this change when it finally came time to use the insurance.” – American School Foundation of Monterrey

(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)

If you work at an international school in Mexico, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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