New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: An organized trip to help you get furniture for your new home.
November 30, 2012
In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school. A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to your start at your new school, in your new host country.
Must-have #5: An organized trip to help you get furniture for your new home.
It is not ideal to arrive the first day/night in your new host city only to arrive at your new apartment and find it VERY unfurnished. It doesn’t necessarily start you on the right foot with regards to settling-in with your new life when maybe you do not even have a bed on which to sleep. For sure there are many international schools out there that place their new teachers directly into furnished apartments or houses (e.g many international schools in Asia or the Middle East), but there are still quite a few international schools that can’t offer that same benefit. And even if your new apartment is furnished, many times it is not FULLY furnished with all the things you need and would like to have.
So….what to do then? The first step to getting new furniture into your house is typically by going to in nearest IKEA in your new host country. Now how do you get there (or another furniture store)? Navigating the public transportation in a new city when you don’t read or speak the local language can be a bit stressful and a bit of a headache. Taking a taxi in many European cities is just not the norm and can get quite expensive. Even if you take public transportation there, how will you get all your new things back with you? We all know we leave with many more things than we thought we were going to get when we first walked in! It would be a must then (since you most likely will not have a car) to pay the IKEA shipping fee as you are checking out. In some countries that fee isn’t so bad, but in others, it can get a bit expensive. Don’t forget too, that everything will be in the host country language, including the drivers of the IKEA shipping truck that comes to your house in a few days. Trying to let the drivers know that they have the right place (when and if they finally arrive) will be one of your first stressful (or very funny) culture shock moment for you, that is if you are not able to speak a word of the language of the locals.
How great would it be then if your new school helped to coordinate your first visit to IKEA? There are some international schools that appoint a go-to person for all new teachers. This person will plan many trips for you around the city, but most importantly, they plan the all important trip to IKEA. A colleague of ours has worked at a school where this go-to person was actually the director. The director even offered to drive his own mini van to IKEA himself. He also offered for the new teachers to use his credit card to pay for all the purchases at the check out when the new teacher’s own credit card didn’t work at the register because it was first time they used it overseas or something (of course that new teacher paid the money back to the director as soon as they could).
Another colleague of ours worked at a school that had a go-to person that even organized a large moving van to come and take the purchases to each of the new teachers’ homes after the shopping trip. The guys driving the moving van even brought the furniture items up from the street level, up many flights of stairs to some teachers’ apartments; very lucky indeed! As an additional benefit to the new teachers was the ability to request help putting the furniture together from the school’s custodian (up to around 3 hours). Not having to put together your new IKEA furniture is just what you would dream of having, especially after exhausting day of being a new teacher at an international school. Oh, and we forgot to mention that the new teachers also got an nice, sizable allowance from the school to spend on buying furniture as well!
In the Benefits Information section of the school profile page on our website, we have a topic related to housing – Details about the staff housing or the housing allowance. If there is no housing allowance, how much are rent costs and utilities? There have been 100s of comments and information submitted in this topic on our website and many of them refer to the potential furniture needs that you may require. Here are a few of those comments:
“Housing is provided for single teachers. There are five schools houses about one or two blocks away from the school campus. Houses are not coed. Each teacher gets a bedroom and a bathroom and shares living space with 2 to 4 more teachers. The houses come fully furnished and they are equipped with appliances.” Colegio Inglés A.C. (Torreon) (12 Total Comments)
“Total US dollar equivalent of annual benefits comes to approx: $15,800. The School provides modestly furnished housing for teachers on temporary visas who are single, providing a one or two-bedroom apartment depending upon single or shared accommodation; (b) for a married teaching couple with no children or with one child, and who are temporary visa holders the School provides a two-bedroom apartment or equivalent. All housing contains the following appliances and furnishings: stove, refrigerator, beds, sofa, dining room table and chairs, washing machine and basic kitchen utensils. The School will retain ownership of these items, which will be kept in good condition by the Teacher. The School will pay the rent, condominium fees, and property taxes related to the apartment/house. The employee is responsible for all other expenses, such as utility bills (water, electricity and telephone bills) but installation and maintenance charges for these utilities as well as Internet connections (not usage) shall be at the School’s expense.” School of the Nations (11 Total Comments)
“Apartments are located at Riffa, within 10 minutes drive of the school. They are within walking distance of most amenities. Most apartments are two/three-bedroomed, with good sized rooms, kitchen and two bathrooms. Most of the teachers reside in two apartment buildings close by to each other. All apartments are fully furnished. All items that you may want to purchase to personalize your apartment are readily available in homeware centres. Rugs and other traditional Arabic items are readily available at affordable prices. Apartment water and electricity bills (up to BD8) are paid directly by the school. Telephone bills are paid by the teacher.” Naseem International School (Bahrain) (19 Total Comments)
Log-on today to check out the many comments and information submitted in this section topic! Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding out the benefits an international school offers to its new teachers.
So, does your international school organize a trip to help new teachers get furniture for their new homes? Please share your experiences!