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Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
I was born and raised in a city just outside of Toronto, Canada, but I haven’t lived there since 2005.
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
I first left Canada in 2005 to teach English in South Korea. Originally, I was only going to go for a year in an attempt to save enough money to pay for teachers college in the UK and get relevant teaching experience. Then one year turned into two because I was really enjoying life there and started to recognise all the benefits of living abroad (eg. travel, new cultures, new friends, free accommodation etc.). After the two years, I went to the UK to get my teaching degree as I had originally planned. Living in the western world again was a bit of a shock and made me appreciate my experience in Korea even more. It was then that I decided to look for jobs at international schools in Asia…life just seemed to be more exciting and a bit easier abroad. After sending out applications to random schools, and going to a job fair, my boyfriend and I finally got offered jobs at the same school in Shanghai. We accepted and have been here ever since.
Which international schools have you worked at? Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
The only international school that I have worked at is Shanghai Rego International School. It is unique in that it is quite small but really has a nice mix of nationalities amongst the students. The children are really lovely there and are generally very easy to teach.
Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
At our school, all the teaching assistants are Chinese, so I usually learn something new about the Chinese culture every day. There are lots of teaching assistants that always get really dolled up for work and dress to the nines every day (short skirts, high heels, hair done, lots of makeup, etc). Recently, I was very surprised to see one particularly glam T.A. come in wearing clothes that looked like pyjamas, a radiation-proof apron (supposedly), thick glasses, greasy hair, etc). It turns out that she had just found out that she was pregnant and the Chinese have very strong ideas on what women can and cannot do when they are pregnant, so I learned some pretty unique rules and traditions. For example, you can only look at beautiful things when you are pregnant if you want to have a beautiful baby. Although these traditions sound strange, they are very interesting to learn about!
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
When I’m searching for a new school, I look for several things. I like busy and bustling cities, so that is a must. I also look at the salary and if that can provide us with the lifestyle we’re looking for. Health and dental care is also crucial and accommodation or living allowance is key.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Exciting, interesting, enlightening, educational and unique.
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