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Making Friends Outside of Your International School is…

August 30, 2020


…HARD!

I don’t know about you, but I think making friends outside of your school community can be one of your biggest challenges when you live abroad.

International teachers hanging out in a bar

If you are an outgoing person, maybe it is a bit easier. However, if you are on an introverted side and also don’t know the local language, then you are up against a steep hill.

Either way, you could say that it is just safer and more comfortable to be friends with your colleagues at your international school. You usually have a lot in common with your colleagues as they also like adventure, share your love for traveling, and have the same vacation calendar as you.

But to get the most out of your international school teaching experience, the elusive goal of many international school teachers is to make some local friends, too.

Lonely expat on the street

If you don’t know the local language yet, then you are limited to the locals that are able to speak English (or your home language). Normally, these locals already have other foreigner friends and most likely have traveled internationally or had even lived abroad. These locals are easy to find as friends because you have a lot in common. For example, you probably have many places to go visit and hang out together in the city. If you are lucky, these locals are even available to do some traveling with you during your vacations.

To meet locals who don’t speak English and have a very tight-knit group of friends, let’s say, is a different story. To befriend the locals is typically easier if you have a partner or spouse that is also a local. If that is the case, then you have “a ticket in” to those exclusive groups of friends. Having these kinds of local friends really can give you the “VIP level” on the experience of the city and country that you are living in. These locals know what and where things are happening. International school teachers without these types of friends typically miss out on a number of cultural events and are left without a deep insight into the local lifestyle.

Expat friends talking

One of the ultimate events in your friendship with a local is to be invited over to their house, even better – for a meal. It can be that you invite a local to your house for dinner multiple times before finally, the stars align and they invite you back to their place. If you are at your international school for only two years, that might not be enough time for this to happen. Building this kind of relationship usually takes longer than that.

What is your experience with making friends in your host city/country? Logon to ISC and share what you know by submitting some comments on your school’s profile page.

When using the keyword search feature (premium membership required), we found 143 comments about friends. Read below a few that are connected to making friends outside of your international school.

Comments about Making Friends

“Leysin is a small mountain village and as a result, the community is limited. There is a definite LAS bubble and most of the staff spend time outside of work with each other. It is rare to meet and become friends with people outside of the school community unless you have worked here for many years. It isn’t easy being single here, but the lifestyle is worth it if you love the outdoors and the mountains. It is a quiet village and a great place to live if you don’t like the city.” – Leysin American School (113 total comments)

“I find my Albanian friends quite generous: they always fight to pay the bill in a coffee shop but also for lunch. It is a local tradition though, and keep in mind that, if you want to keep your friends close to you, next time will be your turn. It is important to understand quickly these cultural habits as it will allow you to make good friends. One thing that it is generally badly perceived is to be stingy in friendship.” – Albanian College Durres (111 total comments)

“The locals are very friendly and accommodating. We recently went on a one-day trip with a local tour company. As the only foreigners, we didn’t have much company at the beginning but we found out the locals on the trip actually spoke a very good level of English. By the end of the day, we made friends with many of them!” – Khartoum International Community School (153 total comments)

“Lots of people learning English in Saigon and they will all want to practice with you. Learning some Vietnamese helps with bonding and making local friends but generally, a lot of people speak or are learning to speak English.” – Renaissance International School Saigon (52 total comments)

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Albania

February 15, 2020


Around the world, there are countries (like Albania) 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.

The big question always is…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.

Albania

Currently, we have 6 schools listed in Albania on International School Community.

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

World Academy of Tirana (41 Total Comments)
Albanian International School (32 Total Comments)
Albanian College Tirana (12 Total Comments)
Albanian College Durres (103 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“You can save around 1000 to 1500 Euros each month depending on your lifestyle. Traveling around the region is quite tempting, so you will have to prioritize if you really want to save some money or explore the world…” – Albanian College Durres

“Extremely easy to save money. Restaurants and local hotels are not expensive…” – World Academy of Tirana

School Campus

“In south of city, owner just bought a field in front of school for student play…” – Albanian College Tirana

“The school has serious safety concerns. The railings could easily fit a small child through them. The ceilings on the main floor have collapsed. There is a pool in the basement without proper ventilation. The only outdoor space for the children to play is on the roof and it is woefully inadequate…” – Albanian College Durres

“The school moved to its current 4-storey building in 2015, with a purpose-built Science Laboratory, Design workshop, Permaculture Garden, multi-functional Sports Court, Gymnasium, Visual Arts studio, Dance Studio, Music Studio, two Libraries, Cafeteria and Bistro…” – World Academy of Tirana

Housing Information

“Housing is provided by the school. Value is 300E per month. Staff pays their own utilities, cable, internet, etc…” – World Academy of Tirana

“Housing allowance is 400 Euros per month for a single teacher…” – Albanian College Tirana

“Housing allowance ranges from 300-400 Euro’s per month depending on single status and number of dependents…” – Albanian College Durres

Sample prices for food, transportation, average hourly rates for a housekeeper, etc.

“Prices much lower than surrounding countries…beer in local restaurants range from 1.2 E to 2.5 euros…” – World Academy of Tirana

“To take a taxi from within the center of the city, it will cost you around 350-450 LEK. Quite cheap! Going out for food will probably cost you around 1600-1700 LEK for two people, and that includes a few drinks and appetizers…” – Albanian International School

“Housekeepers prices vary. Some expats pay 10,000 Leke per month for a housekeeper visit 2 per week…” – Albanian College Tirana

(These are just 4 of the 66 different comments topics that are on each school profile page on our website.)

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

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