I regularly pinch myself, particularly on my commute to school, where I pass turquoise waters and white beaches, green monkeys crossing the roads, and fruit vendors offering coconuts and pineapples. Do I really work and live here? I do, but of course, like all places, there are always lessons to be learned!
Lesson #1: Barbados is not the place to save money
You will be told before you arrive: Barbados is an expensive place. Of course, like anywhere, it depends on your lifestyle, but it is true that most things here are pricey. Your rent, car, and grocery shopping will dent your balance the most and are unavoidable expenses. Not having a car here is not an option, and I quickly learned that my romantic idea of having a little scooter in Barbados is absolutely not an option due to the conditions of the road here.
Lesson #2: People do get bored
During my interview, the principal told me that people have left in the past because they got very bored here. At the time I thought to myself “Who in their right mind would get bored of living in paradise??”. However, what I didn’t consider is, that an island like Barbados might only be a paradise for people like me. I spend every spare moment in, on or under the water. I surf, scuba dive and sail almost on a daily basis and if I didn’t have all these hobbies there may be a chance that I would actually get bored, too. Leaving the island is not as easy as I thought when I first got here, which may have been another reason for people to seek other locations.
Lesson #3: You have to accept ‘island time’
I am a very patient and laid-back person, so this has not really
been an issue for me personally, but I know that some people
struggle with this. Whenever you need to go to an office or
government facility (eg. bank, car registration, national ID office),
it takes a long time. We are talking about hours and hours of
queuing, often outside the building you are trying to enter. This is
often due to the local processes, which still include the filling in
of paper forms, rather than the digitalisation of processes. You will
often find yourself trying to get any of the bureaucratic jobs done
during the school holidays, as it is almost impossible to fit it into a workday, without having to take time off.
Lesson #4: Stay connected
Barbados is a very small island and although there are some private schools, there is only one International School, so there are no local collaboration or networking opportunities. Although there are some international schools in the region, there are no existing links or connections to any of them, so I have had to make much greater efforts to stay connected to colleagues than ever before.
Lesson #5: You do get to live in paradise
Despite the few things that one might have to get used to, Barbados truly is a paradise. The sun shines every single day, even during the ‘rainy season’, the ocean is always warm and there is a lot of fun to be had, especially if you enjoy getting to know the local spots. I moved here as a single female, and I have had no issues making friends and feeling connected, especially through my hobbies. There may not be a huge package with the job, but one of the benefits is certainly that I live a fairly relaxed life in the Caribbean!
This article was submitted by a guest author and ISC member who currently works at The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados)in St. John, Barbados