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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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in India

December 27, 2018


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

India

Currently, we have 133 schools listed in India on International School Community.

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

American Embassy School New Delhi (39 Total Comments)
American School of Bombay (34 Total Comments)
Good Shepherd International School (409 Total Comments)
Hebron School (35 Total Comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 Total Comments)
Kodaikanal International School (35 Total Comments)
Oberoi International School (36 Total Comments)
Woodstock School (95 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“It depends on lifestyle. If you like the posh life, your money will be spent quickly at Mumbai’s many hotels and bars. However, if you live a more modest lifestyle and travel around India, you can easily save half of your salary. Expat couples with no kids can live on one salary.” – Oberoi International School

“Bonuses paid to expat staff who renew contracts are the main savings or opportunity to pay down student loans. Very little savings monthly, most people spend it during the generous breaks sightseeing Asia. Comfortable cost of living in India.” – Woodstock School

“See above for monthly salary – due to the unique nature of the school and it’s ethos, this really depends on your own situation, budget, and spending habits.” – Hebron School

School Campus

“The school has a beautiful green campus in the heart of Delhi’s diplomatic district. There are three elementary buildings, and separate MS/HS buildings. In addition, there are shared spaces for PE and athletics, swimming, Performing Arts, cafeterias, etc. The neighborhood features many embassies and other compounds, but there is also a “camp” with a large population of squatters across the street from the on-campus faculty housing complex.” – American Embassy School New Delhi

“The campus is beautiful. It is probably the best thing about the school. It has its flaws, but it is a terrific environment for living and learning.” – Kodaikanal International School

“Not much changes in the Fernhill Campus, the reason is that the Junior campus will soon move together with the Main Campus.” – Good Shepherd International School

Housing Information

“The school owns all the apartments and they are all beautiful safe and guarded either inside the campus or walking distance from the school” – Good Shepherd International School

“School provides furnished housing for expat teachers.” – Oberoi International School

“Cold winters with little indoor heat – wood stoves most common. Think rustic and adventure and you will not be disappointed. Some of the homes updated, others have more historic character. All require walking/hiking to work and to town. Utilities negligible, except cost of fuel for heat in winters.” – Woodstock School

“There is an allowance for housing which covers expenses as well.” – American School of Bombay

Health Insurance and Medical Benefits

“Fine for minor things. Setting not recommended if specialist consultation is required or for faculty with ongoing medical conditions. The hillside alone requires a decent level of fitness (or will soon provide an opportunity for fitness!).” – Woodstock School

“Health cover within India is included, and if need be can include arrangements for travel to home country in extreme circumstances. There is on site team of nurses who provide care in a ‘hoz.’ Local clinics and hospitals are surprisingly good for India.” – Hebron School

“They will count your absence when you are sick as deductible unless you have worked during your day off or exeats which translate to 7 days a week of work. Even the car that you used to go down to a decent hospital will be charged to you.” – Good Shepherd International School

“There is a doctor on site but in general the schools’ medical services are not well respected. Staff can now go to other local hospitals for medical treatment.” – Kodaikanal International School

(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 India, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Vienna

September 6, 2018


Around the world, there are cities (like Vienna) 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 cities, 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 city.

Vienna

Currently, we have 5 schools listed in Vienna on International School Community.

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

AMADEUS International School Vienna (76 Total Comments)
American International School Vienna (81 Total Comments)
Danube International School (14 Total Comments)
Vienna International School (29 Total Comments)

Amount of money left to be saved

“You don’t save that much working here, but on average a single teacher could save around 2500 Euros a year.” – Vienna International School

“If you are smart with money, you could save around 2-4 Euros a year.” – Danube International School 

“This will vary greatly depending on spending habits and situation. As a single, and putting aside 15% toward retirement, living alone in a decent flat, traveling occasionally, I’ve saved about 9000 euro each year. Even with more travel and going out to eat more, it seems reasonable that one could save 2500-5000 each year.” – American International School Vienna

School Campus

“The buildings have undergone several renovations, some of which weren’t really necessary in my opinion, but nice to see that the owners care about the facilities.” – AMADEUS International School Vienna

“The campus is next to very large Prater park, housed in an early 20th century building, next to Danube Canal.” – Danube International School

“Overall, there are more than 70 classrooms, seven science labs, art studios, music rooms, four computer labs, two libraries, a theatre, two gyms, a cafeteria, health unit, and a separate sports hall (which houses three indoor tennis courts or two basketball courts or ten badminton courts). There are various offices for counseling, the International Baccalaureate program, division offices, technology, and faculty departments. The exterior facilities include a soccer field, a running track, an elementary playground, an outdoor tennis court, and an outdoor amphitheatre.” – American International School Vienna

Housing Information

“Not everyone receives housing allowance.” – AMADEUS International School Vienna

“Housing and living expenses are high for single teachers with dependents and for families with non-teaching spouses.” – American International School Vienna

“The school offers a loan to pay for your housing, you need to pay it back within the first year. They help out with rental agency fees.” – Danube International School 

“You get a housing allowance for the first few weeks of your placement. Around 1000 Euros.” – Vienna International School

Health insurance and medical benefits

“Local medical insurance is provided.” – Vienna International School

“Expat teachers just get health insurance through the local social health care system in Austria. No dental.” – Danube International School 

“Outpatient is not covered, you can reimburse 85% of bills up to a maximum of 2,500,000 per year.” – American International School Vienna

“Vienna has excellent hospitals, the AKH (General Hospital of Vienna) is close to school and has a good reputation. Waiting time can be long though. However, the doctors are great” – AMADEUS International School Vienna

(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 Vienna, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: International School of Brussels

September 22, 2017


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the International School of Brussels (Belgium), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to International School of Brussels…

The International School of Brussels is located in a leafy suburb of Brussels and nestled along the ancient Forêt de Soignes which is filled with towering trees and a variety of paths.  The school began in an old chateau (that is still referred to as “the chateau”) but has since expanded to fill a campus that has separate buildings for each division and a variety of facilities.  Today, the chateau is the main physical symbol of the school and houses administration, human resources, admissions as well as key personnel such as the school’s director and team.

brussels
Arrival at the school takes many different forms.  Some teachers have settled into local life and come by car while others take advantage of the free yearly transport pass and arrive by bus, metro or tram.  The location of your home will determine the best form of transport.  Many of the younger teachers prefer to live in the Ixelles area near the Flagey ponds where they are between the center and the school.  From Flagey, they can catch a 366 TEC bus that takes them in 20 minutes to the doorstep of the school.  Departure times during the school year are at 6:48, 7:30 and 7:50 am and teachers often sit together as they ride into school.  

brussels

Flagey Ponds

Brussels

Bus stop next to Ponds

brussels

TEC bus entering Watermael Boitfort

Another option from Ixelles or the other side of town in Woluwe St.  Pierre is the 94 tram which is more convenient for some as it leaves more frequently but it does require a 10 minute walk to school (The 94 tram cars are brand new and feature leather seats, laminate wood flooring and easy accessibility).  In the morning the walk from the tram stop at Delleur is a pleasant downhill stroll but in the afternoon, it can be a bit of a hike up.  The tram can be a bit slower than a bus, but it conveniently leaves at regular intervals.

brussels

Some teachers also enjoy biking to school.  There are marked paths along most major routes and this is a mode of transport that’s becoming more popular.  While paths are marked, cyclists still need to be aware as drivers can sometimes get very close to the bike paths.  Biking along Franklin Roosevelt takes you past some beautiful embassy buildings as well as some architectural gems from the Art Nouveau era in Brussels.  There’s also an option to cycle on the winding roads that pass through the Bois de la Cambre, a serene manicured park on the edge of the city that connects to the more wild Forêt de Soignes.

brussels

An area of growing popularity to live in has been the town where the school is located, Watermael Boitfort.  There is a lovely village and the walk to school is quick and pleasant.  This is a nice option if you’re actively involved in coaching and need to arrive at school early in the AM or if you want the shortest commute possible and a chance to run home if you’ve forgotten something.  Rent can be a bit more expensive in this area but the teachers who have moved there believe it’s worth it for the convenience.

brussels

Parking on campus is getting more tight but there’s generally always space if you come by car.  Brussels is an easy city to own a car in.  Expenses such as taxes and insurance are relatively low and gas is manageable if you’re mostly using the car for commuting.  The school also offers financial assistance for kilometers traveled in lieu of the yearly Brussels transport pass as an option for drivers.

On a good day, I set my alarm for 6:15 so that I can leave my apartment in Ixelles with my car and arrive at school by 7 to get in a morning workout in the school fitness center.  The fitness center has showers so if there aren’t too many teachers working out, I can sneak in a quick shower before walking to my classroom by 8:10 to prepare for the start of the day at 8:40.  On a bad day (or after a late night), I can set my alarm for 7 and leave by 7:50 which gets me to school by 8:10 or 8:15.  Campus security has been beefed up after the terrorist attacks a few years ago so entering by the large double gates sometimes takes a few minutes if there is a line up of cars. Most teachers are on campus relatively early and until the late afternoon so in the darker winter months, everything is well-lit.  Some teachers stay later on campus taking advantage of faculty fitness classes or free language classes but others are just as eager to head out and try one of the many local beers.

Brussels

Back entrance to ISB Campus

Brussels

Morning sports practice on the upper field

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Western Europe?  Out of a total of 298 international schools we have listed in Western Europe, 137 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Metropolitan School Frankfurt (60 comments)
Bilingual European School of Milan (31 Comments)
American International School of Rotterdam (45 Comments)
Skagerak International School (42 Comments)
AMADEUS International School Vienna (70 Comments)
International School of Paphos (105 Comments)
Copenhagen International School (316 Comments)
International School of Helsinki (41 Comments)
Berlin British School (31 Comments)
International School of Stuttgart (61 Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Information for Members

So Many International Schools WITHOUT Retirement Plans!

January 31, 2017


It is on all international school teachers’ minds. How am I helping to contribute to my future now (for after I retire) as a current teacher in the international school community?

retirement

Not that everything is all worry-free if you just stayed teaching and earning money in your home country, but living and teaching abroad can sound pretty risky to some people (maybe even many people).

If you are working at an international school that has an amazingly high salary with equally amazing benefits, then that is one story. Even if this type of school doesn’t actually offer a nice retirement plan benefit, you still have the opportunity to save a lot of money.

But if you are working at an international school and receiving a salary that helps you ‘just get by’ along with very average benefits (for example, there is not a retirement plan benefit that is on offer to you), then international school educators need to consider if the experience working at this type of international school is a good fit for their future plans.

Does an international school that doesn’t offer a retirement or pension plan benefit immediately equate to being a bad decision for your future? Not necessarily. If you are only planning on staying there for one to two years, then it shouldn’t make that big of a difference. If you receiving a high salary along with paid housing, not having an established pension plan benefit shouldn’t make that big of a difference because your savings potential is high.

retirement

But for those of us that are not so smart with money and don’t have the expertise to manage our own savings/retirement plan, it can definitely not bit a good fit to accept a teaching job at school that doesn’t offer retirement plan benefits.

We did a keyword search on our Comment Search feature and found a number of comments related to international schools that don’t offer a retirement or pension plan benefit.

We found 23 comments when we searched the short phase: “No retirement
Here are a few of those comments:

Amman Baccalaureate School (16) Total comments
No retirement plan right now is on offer as a benefit.”

Canadian International School (Tokyo) (50) Total comments
No retirement plan for teachers.”

We also searched the short phrase “No pension” and found 27 comments.
Here are a few of those comments:

Zhuhai International School (81) Total comments
“There are no pension plans from the school (included in the contract) although if you wished to establish one the office staff would be able to assist you in establishing one.”

Varee Chiang Mai International School (27) Total comments
There is no pension provision, but an end of contract gratuity is awarded in lieu.

On the more positive side, we had a quick search for this key phrase “matching” hoping to find comments related to international school that match the pension plan contribution of the teachers.  Here are a few of those comments:

American International School Vienna (38) Total comments
“Under the newest contract, teachers now have 10% matching for retirement fund commencing at first year. Certainly better if you’re there short-term, though perhaps not if you’d plan to stay 30 years.”

Hong Kong International School (110) Total comments
“I spend a lot of money here because I love to do eat out a lot, travel, and there are many things to do in the city. With that being said, I save about 1,300 USD a month, not counting the school severance/matching scheme which is another 1,300 USD.”

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #2: Go out to eat all the time!

March 16, 2014


We all hear about the big possibility of saving money while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t save much of any money.  So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #2 – Go out to eat all the time!

IMAG0333 When you are on a trip, it is easy to spend lots of money going out to eat. I mean most likely you are staying at a hotel or in a room at some hostel and not able to cook a dinner for yourself there.  So you can justify going to a restaurant for both lunch and dinner when traveling.  It is a luxury, that’s for sure, because you wouldn’t normally being going out to eat for lunch and dinner where you are living.  Not unless you are an international school teacher though!

In some locations in the world, you can indeed justify going out to eat for most meals during the week.  I mean it could be that you are living somewhere where the food is really ‘cheap’.  Even if you are making a lot of money (and have your housing, etc. all paid for), it is always nice to get a bargain for your meal and you would be a fool to not take advantage of this supposedly cheap and good-tasting food while you are living in your host country.

You could also justify going out to eat a lot in your currently location because going out to eat is more convenient than going somewhere to buy groceries, and then going back to your home to cook them (for maybe 1-2 hours let’s say…maybe you are short on time as well).

IMAG0091

Some international schools in Shanghai have deals with nearby restaurants which allows for easy ordering if you want to buy a lunch from them.  It is a nice perk if your school is waaaaay out in the suburbs somewhere.  And because it is cheap, why not go for it?

But even in these types of locations where many international school teachers eat out a lot, it can start to get a bit excessive.  All your pocket-money might start to dwindle away.  Additionally, in locations where there is cheap food and you are also making a nice salary, there are also going to be more expensive places to choose to eat at as well.  It is nice to live it up and take advantage of the expat life in most cities in the world, but there is a price to pay for that kind of lifestyle and you must be mindful of the amount of money you are actually spending!  At some of these ‘expat-priced’ restaurants you pay a premium to get the style of food that expats like.  Problem is that you most likely would NOT pay the same price for that same food in your home counties.  A ‘you deserve it’ attitude comes into play and your wallet pays the cost.

IMAG0117Now to the locations where it is ridiculously expensive to eat out, let’s say Norway.  What is an international school teacher to do then?  Going out to a restaurant in these expensive cities will really take a toll on our bank account.  Some people though still choose to do it.  I think it is related to the idea that they are still ‘traveling’ in their host country.  Like I said before, when you are traveling, you go out to eat all the time.  Not all teachers do it in these expensive cities, but some do and it can get out of control real quick.  Gotta be careful so that you are saving some money as well.

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To save you some money, we do have a comment topic on our website related to this theme.  It is in the city section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city.

‘Spanish Stairs is the great place to hang out. It has many nice shops, restaurants and a beautiful view, especially in the sunset. For restaurants, I recommend Pastaritto-Pizzaritto in Via Quattro Novembre. Prices are decent and the food is delicious.’ – Marymount International School (Rome) (Rome, Italy) – 7 Comments

‘I like “Witwe Polte”. It’s a small restaurant in the 7th district. It’s called the Spittelberg area, where you can also find a beautiful Christmas market in winter.’ – AMADEUS International School Vienna (Vienna, Austria) – 13 Comments

‘There are some great places to eat near and in the main market, Mahane Yehuda. There are always people around there and it is very lively. Though it can be a bit touristy, there are also a lot of locals that are here as well.’ – Jerusalem American International School (Jerusalem, Israel) – 8 Comments

‘It is a bit touristy, but there are many restaurants around the Dam tram stop. Just a short 5-7 minute walk in many directions you can find some cozy restaurants to eat at. There are Christmas markets already set up right now, it is nice to walk around during the evening.’ – International School Amsterdam (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – 26 Comments

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #28: Denes Tilistyak (An international school educator currently working at Western International School of Shanghai)

October 1, 2013


Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Denes Tilistyak:

  Denes Tilistyak and sonsTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I was born, grew up, and graduated from college (BA in Mathematics and English Language and Literature) in Hungary. During my third year of college I found a flyer by the college entrance showing “Teach in New York” and I immediately got interested. As a result, I got in touch with AAECA (Austrian American Educational Cooperation Association) that was recruiting teachers to the Big Apple from all over Europe. I traveled to Vienna for an interview and, after I was accepted, for a weekend workshop. From then on it all worked out quite smoothly and just about a month after being handed my college diploma I found myself on a plane heading for New York City. After the initial chaos in NYC I was placed in Walton High School to teach 9th-10th grade Mathematics. After one year I was reassigned to teach at Bronx High School for Law and Community Service and remained there for the following two years. During this time I met and married a Filipina and then we decided to move to the Philippines.

After teaching three years in the NYC public school system I got a position as Secondary Mathematics teacher at Cebu International School. There I got familiar with international teaching and the IB Diploma Programme. After my initial two-year contract with CIS I moved on to teach Upper School Mathematics at Xiamen International School in China, where I taught in both the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP). During my 2nd and 3rd year at XIS I was appointed the Head of the Mathematics Department and for my final two years I held the position of the Diploma Programme coordinator as well as Pamoja Education’s Site-Based Coordinator.

After my five years in Xiamen I recently moved to Shanghai to continue teaching Secondary Mathematics at Western International School of Shanghai (WISS).

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

My first international school experience was in the Philippines, in Cebu city at Cebu International School. Through them I got introduced to International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Programme and became a DP Mathematics teacher, teaching Mathematical Studies SL and Mathematics SL. From here on living the life of an international school teacher came naturally and I very much enjoy what I do.

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.

In SY2006-2008 I worked in Cebu International School. After teaching three years in the NYC public school system this place felt like paradise to me. The students were attentive, kind, and genuinely fun to work with. Being in a small school such as CIS helped me make friends and rediscover what teaching was really all about. Being part of a small but genuinely kind and helpful community was an amazing way to start working in Asia, so far from my roots.

In SY2008-2013 I worked at Xiamen International School. After my first year at XIS I gained the respect of both the Upper School principal, Dr. David Freeman, and the Headmaster, John Godwin, who entrusted me with the position of the Head of the Mathematics Department. I held this position for two years before I was given the opportunity to be the Diploma Programme Coordinator for SY2011-2013. During these five years at XIS I also became MYP Mathematics Moderator and DP Mathematics Examiner, as well as Site-Based Coordinator for Pamoja Education. As the school is about a 40-minute bus ride from the island, where most faculty and families live, I started to regularly cycle to school to the point when it became routine to pedal to and from work every day.

Now, in SY2013-14, I am at Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) as a secondary Mathematics teacher and I immensely enjoy the start of this new chapter in my life in this fantastic school with such an amazing staff. Although the school is only a 5-minute bus ride from my home now, keeping my passion for cycling will be much easier as there are plenty expat cyclists who organize regular rides around Shanghai.

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

Having “cultural encounters” in China is really a daily experience. Moving around the city and observing the local customs and habits really became natural by now, after having spent five years in China. One of the many habits of the Chinese that still put a smile on my face is to see them walk backwards as a form of exercise in the pajamas. This morning as I ventured out for my morning jog, I discovered a running track nearby my home. (We just moved to Shanghai a few days ago and I’m still discovering my area.) On the track, at 6am, I found at least 15 people of all ages walking backwards in their pajamas to perform their (I guess regular) morning exercise. Yes, I smiled.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

Having a non-teaching spouse and two school-aged boys my very first criterion is whether the school accepts two children as dependents. Once that’s given I check the school’s location, the programs they offer (which is crucial for me being an experienced MYP/DP teacher), and the salary and benefits. The size of school becomes important only when seriously considering an offer simply because I have experience with both large and smaller size schools.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Living life full of energy.

Thanks Denes!

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the China like Denes?  Currently, we have 22 international schools listed in Shanghai on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

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Great Resource

American Overseas Schools Historical Society website

February 11, 2012


The overseas education of more than four million American children and youth since World War II is an unwritten chapter in the history of American education and represents the schooling of several generations under circumstances unique to human history.

Today the U. S. departments of Defense and State operate or assist more than 300 schools in over 100 foreign countries.  Additionally there are more than 600 private American owned or supported schools abroad.

The mission of AOSHS is to collect, record, and preserve the unique history of educating American children and youth abroad; and to enhance public knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the contributions made by American educators and their students in the advancement of democracy around the world.

The American Overseas Schools Archives (AOSA) was first established on the campus of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff in 1989. The AOSA is dedicated to preserving the history and memorabilia of the kindergarten through grade 12 education of an estimated 4 million American children who attended more than 900 American overseas schools over the past 150 years.

In 1995 the American Overseas Schools Historical Society (AOSHS) was incorporated as a non- profit IRS 501(c)(3) organization.  The AOSHS office and archives are located in Wichita, Kansas.

They even have a section called: Overseas Educator Information.  There is much information about the teachers that work at these schools.  There is a picture on this page showing a reunion of some overseas teachers in Japan.  How cool to be reunited with the colleagues that you worked with in another country a long time ago perhaps.  I know after being at my third schools now, I am already starting to lose touch with the teachers that I worked with at my first international school.


Antwerp, Belgium

One part of their website has all the American Overseas schools and their alumni associations listed alphabetically.  Some of the schools listed are:
American International School in Vienna
Asociacion Escuelas Lincoln
American International School of Kabul, Afghanistan
Antwerp International School (AIS)
American Cooperative School of La Paz

There are many, many more schools listed on their website here.

Most of the schools listed on the American Overseas Schools Historical Society website are also found on International School Community.  Some of the schools listed on our website can be found here (the number of comments and information submitted by our members is also listed next to each school’s link):

There are many, many more American international schools listed on our website which can be easily searched on our schools list page.
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ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community Newsletter v2011.08 – 10 December, 2011

December 10, 2011


Site Stats:
Current members: 195 ( 23)
School profiles
: 985 ( 30)
Blog entries
: 152 ( 25)
Posted comments & info
:
1677 ( 250)
Facebook likes: 118 ( 13)
Twitter followers: 206 ( 11)


School Profile Search Result #1:

Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you. Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search for the perfect school using up to 8 different criteria.
Search Result #1

Criteria chosen:
1. Region of the world (All)
2. Curriculum (USA)
3. School Nature (Non-Profit)
4. No. of students (Medium: 300-700)
5. Country (All)
6. Year founded (16-50 Years Old)
7. Kinds of students (Mostly International)
8. Size of city (Medium: 750K-3 Million)

Check out the results of this example search on our blog!


New members:

·Gary Conomos
(North Pine Christian College)
·jltassie Anderson
(Anglo American School of Sofia)
·Jennifer Kim
(Korea International School)
·Becky Galvan
(A’takamul International School)
·Cory Greenberg
(Copenhagen International School)
·Damir Tejic
(International School of Beijing)


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:


Jo Hughson

I worked at SRIS for three years. I taught Grade One and Grade Two in the time that I spent there. SRIS had a fantastic and diverse range of teachers that I felt privileged to work with. I learned a lot from them…”

Check out the rest of her interview on our blog here.  If you’d like to be one of our next member spotlights send us a message here.  Highlighted members will receive a coupon code for 6 free months of premium access!


v2011.08 – 10 December, 2011:

The holiday break is nearly upon us!  Is it cold where you live right now? It is for most people in the northern hemisphere.  There are though however some of us that are working in locations closer to the equator, and their weather must be quite nice right now.  Some of us farther away from the equator have already taken out our winter jacket and even have progressed to the “heavier” winter jacket this past week.

 

So, the big question is: Why did we choose to work here?  And that question is mostly directed towards the weather of your current location.  The local people where you are living probably say to you, “Out of all the places you could have chosen from (In their mind…Barbados, Thailand, Rome, etc.), how is it possible that you have chosen this cold, miserable place?  What they don’t realize is that some of us actually prefer to be in a place that has four distinct seasons.  Some of us like like the snow!

 

There are many reasons to move to another country: Money, Travel, Love, Career, etc.  We must be honest (not usually in an interview though) and admit that moving to another country based on its climate is very important for most international school teachers.  That is why International School Community has included a category under the City Section on the school profile pages about climate: Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.  Here is an example:

 

Right now there are 38 comments and information that have been submitted in this category on a number of international school profile pages on our website.

Feel free to make your own searches (both close to the equator and farther away from the equator, depending on your preference!) for international schools based on your criteria on International School Community.  Members with premium membership are able to do unlimited searches on our website.  If you are already a member, you can easily renew your subscription on your profile page.  If you are not a member, become a member today and get 1 month free of premium membership.

With regards to our current members, International School Community’s members work at or have worked at 84 international schools! Check out which schools here.


Recently updated schools:

· 09 Dec  International School of Ouagadougou  (7 new comments)
(Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso)
“Settling-in allowance is 600 USD, you get around 2000 USD for a flight home every year. Other benefits are French lessons, a car loan and recruitment leave…”
· 09 Dec  Bahrain Bayan School (6 new comments)
(Isa Town, Bahrain)
“It is important to note that female teachers applying are unable to sponsor their dependent husband and children. The age limit for hiring is 58 years old. The school retirement age is 60, so they usually don’t hire people close to that age…”

· 08 Dec  The American School of Kinshasa  (4 new comments)
(Kinshasa, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the)
“TASOK is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The School was re-accredited in 2008…”

· 08 Dec  Dasman Model School (7 new comments)
(Kuwait City, Kuwait)
“The school offers a bilingual program for students in grades K to 12. DMS has a fully self-contained Special Needs Division within the main school…”

· 08 Dec  Thai-Chinese Int’l School Bangkok (7 new comments)

(Bangkok, Thailand)
“Tuition for 2 children studying at TCIS is free although there are annual student supply fees of Baht 15,000+ / child to be paid by teacher for education materials, PreK-Gr2 lunch/snacks, insurance upgrades, year books, ID card, and graduation…”

(Click here for the last 40 schools to be updated with new comments)


Recent blog entries:

· Out of the thousands of international schools, people ask me why did I choose to work here?
“One year you are thinking that Asia is the place for you to move to the following school year, but then suddenly you open your eyes and you are actually in South America…”

· Educators Overseas: Helping teachers secure a job teaching abroad.
“There are many ways to secure a teaching job at an international school.  The website Educators Overseas also offers such a service.  Here is what they have to say about their philosophy of helping candidates find the “right fit” in their search to teach abroad…”

· The Wonderful World of Int’l School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #4 – “Being yourself is better, come what may, than trying to be someone else.”
“Even worse is when you realize mid-interview that you are indeed not the “best fit” as you had hoped you would be for that international school you have been wanting to work at that in the city you really had been wanting to live in…”

· Great resource: Association of International Schools in Africa
“Curious about what international schools there are in Africa?  The Association of International Schools in Africa website has 100s of international schools listed that are found in many of the African countries…”

· Comments and information about salaries on International School Community #2 (Hangzhou Int’l School, American School of Bcn & Int’l School of KL)
“Our reps are in the process of renegotiation our salaries. It is a difficult time in Spain right now, so it is not likely we will get much of a raise. The board is focusing on…”


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to be reviewed:


This last month we have had visits from 73 countries around the world!

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Recently Updated School Profiles

School profile highlights #7: American Int’l School Vienna, Kodaikanal Int’l School & Makuhari Int’l School

August 21, 2011


Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments on the following schools:

American International School Vienna (10 new comments):

New Comment: “If you have a BA with 4 yrs experience your salary will be around 38K euros. If you have a MA with 8 yrs…”

__________________________________________________________________________

Kodaikanal International School (15 new comments):

New Comment: “KIS is fortunate in having a fully staffed Travel Office to coordinate student, staff and community travel. Our travel partner ‘Around the World Travel’ is an India-wide agency with…”

__________________________________________________________________________

Makuhari International School (7 new comments):

New Comment: “The monthly accommodation allowance is JPY 30,000.00. The average rent for a 2bd apt is JPY 50,000.00.”

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ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community News v2011.04 – 13 August, 2011

August 13, 2011


v2011.04 – 9 August, 2011:
Back to school!  If you are new teacher at an international school this year, right now is the most exciting time.  You are now officially in the honeymoon phase of your culture shock. Enjoy it.  Many times for new teachers there is a nice BBQ at the director’s house, catered lunches during workshop days, a nice tour around the city, etc.  If you are lucky, there is a nice group of new teachers at your school this year.  Why, you ask?  The other new teachers that start at your new school at the same time as you will typically become some of your best friends that you will make there.  It is because you guys will be sharing the same experiences as you explore your new city, new country and new school together at the same time.  So, new teachers enjoy your first few months!  Take everything in stride and appreciate every minute.  Try and say “yes” to all the invitations you will receive from other teachers in their attempt to make new friends with you.


Recent blog entries:

· International schools that were founded in 1978 (Mauritania, Egypt, Kuwait, etc.)
“The Vienna International School was founded in September 1978 to serve the children of the United Nations and diplomatic community in Vienna. It is also open to children of the…”

· Blogs of international school teachers: “Ichi, Ni, San…Go.”
“It has some great insight into how important the first few weeks are for new teachers during their orientation days to their new city and new school.  There is also much information to be …”

· School profile highlights #6: Luanda Int’l School, Amer. School of Tokyo and Int’l School of Iceland
“Candidates should note that most foreign-hire teachers live near the main campus in Chofu, a suburban environment one hour west of downtown Tokyo by train…”

· TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS: #2 – Anticipate a challenging adjustment period of six months
“Some international school teachers tend to experience different levels of culture shock and can pass though the stages quite quickly, but I still think for those people that you need to give yourself six full months to decide…”


Recently updated schools:

· Stafford International School (3 new comments)
(Colombo, Sri Lanka)
“Religious activities are promoted with weekly assemblies by each group and the celebration of festivals in which all participate…”
· Copenhagen International School (10 new comments)
(Copenhagen, Denmark)
“The apartment that I got was complete unfurnished. I had to buy everything for it. Luckily, you can use the relocation allowance to help you buy furniture and what not (which is around USD 2000)…”
· Greengates School (British Int’l School) (5 new comments)
(Mexico City, Mexico)
“The PTA is very strong. International Day Fair is the most interesting event that you will see. High School graduation is very respected with Ambassadors as guest speakers …”
· Robert Muller Life School (3 new comments)
(Panajachel, Guatemala)
“The school has around 11 teachers and they are from Guatemalan and the United States…”
· International School Dhaka (3 new comments)
(Dhaka, Bangladesh)
“This well-resourced school has a purpose-built centrally air- conditioned buildings and classrooms, specialist teaching rooms including…”

(Click here for the last 40 schools to be updated with new comments)


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to be reviewed:


This last month we have had visits from 51 countries around the world!

 

Site Stats:
Current members: 114
School profiles: 840
Surveys: 5
Blog entries: 78
Posted comments: 606


100 members:

Back in July we celebrated our 100th member on International School Community!  We are definitely on our way to our goal of having 200 members by the end of the year.  Please refer your international school teacher friends to join our community.

Officially, we also have 66 likes on Facebook and on Twitter we have 119 followers. How exciting!


New members:

·Carolyn Brown (Seoul International School)
·Duncan Rose
·Deirdre
·Sonia Chan (Cempaka International School)
·Silvia Chavez
·Etsuko Yamamoto (AI International School)

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1978 (Mauritania, Egypt, Kuwait, etc.)

July 31, 2011


Random year for international schools around the world: 1978

Utilizing the database of the 840 international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found  schools that were founded in 1978 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):

The American International School of Nouakchott (Nouakchott, Mauritania)

“The founding of the school in 1978 was very much an effort of the American and international community, and its strengths corresponded with the talents and the generous volunteer spirit of the community. The school was initially in one wing of the Grayzel house. There were two classrooms and an atrium with a garden. Initially instruction was from the Calvert Correspondence course.”

Lycee International School of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, United States of America)

“The school opened in a small house in Van Nuys with only seven students. Some 30 years later, the school has grown to five campuses with more than 900 students and has earned an enviable reputation with its placement of graduates in French universities, grandes écoles and within the American university system.

Of the original 1978 founders, two are still on the Board of Trustees. Others have joined the Board which now renews itself regularly. By combining those who have been Trustees for years with new Trustees bringing a fresh perspective, the Board is prepared to meet the 21st century with both maturity and vigor.”

New Cairo British International School (Cairo, Egypt)

British School of Kuwait (Safat, Kuwait)

“The British School of Kuwait (BSK) traces its origins to 1978 when Vera and Sadiq Al-Mutawa established a small kindergarten which became known as The Sunshine School. Steady growth took place through the 1980s and, having recovered from the ravages of the invasion of 1990, by 1992 the School accommodated 550 kindergarten and primary students. The decision having been made to serve the community at both Primary and Secondary levels, a move to the present site in Salwa took place and in September 1992, newly-named, The British School of Kuwait opened to 900 students.”

Vienna International School (Vienna, Austria)

“The Vienna International School was founded in September 1978 to serve the children of the United Nations and diplomatic community in Vienna. It is also open to children of the international business community and of Austrian families. Over 100 nationalities are represented among its 1,400 children.”

Acs International School – Hillingdon Campus (Hillingdon, England)

The main house: The handsome and substantially built mansion was originally constructed in white brick and stone in the classical style, between 1854 and 1858, by P.C. Hardwick for Sir Charles Mills, an international banker from one of the most affluent City families of the 19th century.”

International School São Lourenço (Almacil, Portugal)

Sotogrande International School (Cadiz, Spain)

“The school was opened in Cortijo Paniagua with just 11 pupils and very soon developed into a successful and popular primary school. The school was governed by a Board of Governors who retained close links to Sotogrande SA, the company that owns the prestigious Sotogrande estate and provided premises for the original school. By 1990 the school had a roll of 250 pupils and included a high quality secondary school offering UK O-level and A-level courses. For twenty years the school grew steadily and established itself as a leading British-style school in Spain.”

Fairview International School (Kuala, Lumpur)

American School of Douala (Douala, Cameroon)

” Founded in 1978, the American School of Douala (ASD) is an independent coeducational, non-sectarian school, which provides an English language educational program from pre-school through tenth grade.”

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Information for Members

Which Regions of the World Have the Most Comments on ISC?

July 24, 2020


Finding comments and reviews on the schools we want to know about is a top priority for most ISC members.  We have a number of features on our website that help our members do just that!

Using the School Search feature on the ISC website, members can specifically search only for the international schools that have had comments submitted on them. All members need to do is use the filter feature + tick the “schools with comments” box. Here are current results we got (from 24 July 2020) along with five random schools from that region:

Asia: 68 Schools

American International School Dhaka (110 total comments)
American Embassy School New Delhi (39 total comments)
Good Shepherd International School (409 total comments)
Kodaikanal International School (53 total comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 total comments)

Caribbean: 24 Schools

The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (70 total comments)
Somersfield Academy (44 total comments)
The Bermuda High School for Girls (41 total comments)
International School St. Lucia (West Indies) (21 total comments)
International School of Havana (20 total comments)

Central American: 32 Schools

International School Panama (49 total comments)
Lincoln School (San Jose) (61 total comments)
Marian Baker School (33 total comments)
The British School of Costa Rica (31 total comments)
The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (75 total comments)

most comments

Central/Eastern Europe: 67 Schools

International School of Belgrade (59 total comments)
Anglo-American School of Moscow (69 total comments)
Wroclaw International School (46 total comments)
American School of Warsaw (155 total comments)
International School of Latvia (33 total comments)

East Asia: 222 Schools

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (155 total comments)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total comments)
Hong Kong International School (148 total comments)
Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan) (81 total comments)
Keystone Academy (119 total comments)

most comments

Middle East: 152 Schools

American International School of Kuwait (74 total comments)
International College Beirut (121 total comments)
Awsaj Academy (43 total comments)
Qatar Academy (Doha) (71 total comments)
Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (83 total comments)

North Africa: 41 Schools

Alexandria International Academy (79 total comments)
American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (62 total comments)
Cairo American College (174 total comments)
Misr American College (53 total comments)
George Washington Academy (91 total comments)

North America: 50 Schools

American School Foundation of Guadalajara (117 total comments)
American School Foundation of Mexico City (72 total comments)
American School Foundation of Monterrey (129 total comments)
International High School of San Francisco (37 total comments)
Atlanta International School (31 total comments)

Oceania: 8 Schools

Woodford International School (12 total comments)
Port Moresby International School (8 total comments)
Majuro Cooperative School (16 total comments)
Kwajalein Senior High School (24 total comments)
International School Nadi (9 total comments)

most comments

SE Asia: 182 Schools

Ican British International School (74 total comments)
Northbridge International School (59 total comments)
Green School Bali (148 total comments)
Sekolah Victory Plus (143 total comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (135 total comments)

South America: 64 Schools

The American Int’l School of Buenos Aires (Lincoln) (48 total comments)
Colegio Nueva Granada (60 total comments)
American School of Asuncion (145 total comments)
Colegio Internacional de Carabobo (95 total comments)
Uruguayan American School (32 total comments)

Sub-Saharan Africa: 71 Schools

The American School of Kinshasa (59 total comments)
International Community School Addis Ababa (80 total comments)
International School of Kenya (52 total comments)
Saint Andrews International High School (41 total comments)
American International School Abuja (58 total comments)

most comments

Western Europe: 167 Schools

American International School Vienna (81 total comments)
International School of Paphos (123 total comments)
Copenhagen International School (375 total comments)
International School of Stuttgart (78 total comments)
Berlin Brandenburg International School (87 total comments)

Well those are all the regions of the world on our website. In total, we now have over 1140 international schools that have had comments and reviews submitted on them! Our goal is to keep that number going up and up. Thanks to our hundreds of Mayors as well for keeping their schools consistently updated with new comments and information every one or two months.

* To access these school links you do need to have premium membership access. Become a paid member today!  Or if you would like to become a Mayor and get free unlimited premium membership, send a request here.

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Comment Topic Highlight

How Much Curriculum Development Work are You Expected to Do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.)

February 27, 2017


When you work in a public school district in the USA, it is typically unlikely that you will also have to spend time specifically working on curriculum development. Unless I suppose when you are getting paid extra to do so. Usually curriculum development is handled at the district office.

curriculum

But at international schools, it is very common place to also have this task added to a teacher’s annual workload. Especially at small schools with fewer teachers, then the odds are quite high you will spend a number of hours doing curriculum development.

Who even can remember how this work was done 20 years ago, but of course now it is all done online. A popular choice amongst international schools is Rubicon Atlas. Though this service has a lot of good features and is “easy to use”, it is not always so popular and user-friendly for teachers.

curriculum

Many international schools require teachers to plan their lessons every day and then also update their units on whatever the school uses for their written curriculum. It can be a lot of work!  Each international school needs to think about what is the right balance for the teachers and who is responsible exactly for the updating of their writing curriculum.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of curriculum development, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.)

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 128 comments in this comment topic (March 2017).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Since this is a new-ish school, there is still a considerable amount of curriculum development going on. The MS/HS uses Managebac and the PS uses something similar. There is a decent amount of time allocated during the day for division and grade level planning.” – Keystone Academy (Beijing, China)14 Comments

“I have to say, there is a lot of “reinventing the wheel” when it comes to curriculum, particularly in Elementary. We are expected to create several Unit plans for Reading and Writing Workshop when we already paid for (and have in our possession) Lucy Calkins detailed Units and Plans available. In this regard, work is highly repetitive, redundant, and unnecessary. Of course, there is a need to review, modify and adapt Units and Lessons to meet the needs of your kids, but in the Elementary division, it seems reinventing the wheel is more cherished than using the proven resources we already have.” – American International School Abuja (Abuja, Nigeria)36 Comments

“The goal is to have a UbD plan for every unit of every class. Some departments are closer to achieving that goal than others, depending on the schedules of curriculum review cycles. Each department is given specific goals, and some meeting and planning time arranged (occasionally pull-out times during a school day, for which substitutes are required for your classes) to facilitate the process, but much of the work is expected to be done during teachers’ planning times.” – American International School Vienna (Vienna, Austria)38 Comments

“International teachers are expected to undertake all of the curriculum development work, and the school introduced the use of Atlas Rubicon at the back end of the 2015/2016 school year. This development is expected to tail off, however, as the authority with oversight of the NIS schools has decreed that all curricula must be uploaded by the end of the 2015/2016 school year, with the understanding that no changes will be made after that time.” – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (Astana, Kazakhstan)37 Comments

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Lessons From Your Country

How to Enjoy Life in Japan (Part 1)

February 23, 2017


Japan is unique among Asian countries. Many expats, even those who have lived in Asia for years, struggle living in Japan. I’ve seen families leave after only a year. What makes Japan so difficult? Is it the culture? Some secret only known to the initiated? The answer, while it may seem obscure, is simple.

japan

Japan is not Asian.

I don’t mean this literally, of course. Metaphorically, however, it is true. Japan is the America of Asia, and the key to enjoying life in Japan is to understand this. It’s not that Japanese speak English well. Most can’t. Nor is it that Japanese eat mostly Western food. They don’t. In fact, culturally, Japan is perhaps one of the most enigmatic countries in the world. You can spend a lifetime in this country and still not understand all of the intricacies of a simple business transaction.

So what is it that makes Japan un-Asian?

It’s economically Western. Things aren’t cheap here, and it pisses people off. Yet no one bats an eye at the high price of living in Western Europe. Why? It’s a trade-off of salary for lifestyle. Yes, your salary might not go far in Vienna, Paris, or Stockholm. But generally international teachers move there for the culture, not the money. Asia, in contrast, remains one of the premier locations for expats wishing to live a lavish lifestyle. A typically international school salary puts you in the top 1% in countries like Thailand or Bangladesh. Top salaries in China soar over top salaries in Japan. Working at a major international school in Tokyo or Osaka, you can expect to be firmly middle class, at best.

japan

The teachers I know who leave Japan after a few years are those who are used to having nannies, hired help, frequent vacations to beach resorts, and people catering to them as something special. This kind of lifestyle is unaffordable in Tokyo. Take traveling, for example. In Japan, hotels charge per person, not per room. And it’s not uncommon to be charged $200USD per person, per night. Nor is transportation cheap. Bullet train tickets from Kyoto to Tokyo run upwards of $150, one way. Just accommodation and transportation for a weekend trip could be well in excess of $1,000. You can live a good life in Japan on an international school salary, but not the same expat life you could in other Asian countries. Much like living in Copenhagen, this means going local. Don’t buy all American products at jacked up prices in Costco. By local, Japanese products. Eat, drink, and live like a local, and perhaps you can live an upper-middle class lifestyle.

Coming to Japan from developing Asian countries, expats lose considerable social and economic status. They find themselves unhappy, and return to the Asia they know and love. Cheap Asia. English Friendly Asia. Cater-to-foreigners Asia. So why stay? What does Japan have to offer, if not generous salaries and a super affluent lifestyle?

japan

The answer is, of course, culture. Part II coming soon…

This article was submitted to us by an International School Community member guest author.

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Great Link

Great link: 2011 Quality of Living worldwide city rankings – Mercer survey

November 30, 2011


Who works at one of the 7 or so international schools in Vienna? If you do, then you are living in one of the cities deemed to have the highest quality of living by Mercer.

It sounds great to be living in the city ranked number one, or even in the top 10.  At a certain time of your life and in your international teaching career maybe one of these top cities just might be the perfect place to settle down.  That is though if a vacancy pops up at an international school there, and by some stroke of luck you get the job.  It is all about luck and timing.  It is even more so about luck and timing when it comes to securing a job at an international school in one of these supposedly top city locations.  The international schools in these cities do appear to also have attractive benefits packages.  When you couple attractive benefits packages and a top city to live in, the schools find that there are a higher number of teachers staying long-term instead of the shorter tenures we usually see at other international schools in “less” desirable locations.  Long-term teachers at a school means a lesser likelihood of vacancies popping up.

So, how do these decide the quality of life in cities across the globe?  They use criteria from the following ten categories:

1) Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc)
2) Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services, etc)
3) Socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom, etc)
4) Health and sanitation (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
5) Schools and education (standard and availability of international schools, etc)
6) Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transport, traffic congestion, etc)
7) Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc)
8) Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc)
9) Housing (housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services, etc)
10) Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

Indeed there are many factors to consider when thinking about accepting a job at a great international school, but maybe not in the best location.

From the article, here is what Mr. Parakatil said about the following regions around the globe:

Americas
“The disparity in living standards between North and South America is still considerable. Though a number of South and Central American countries have experienced positive change, political and safety issues predominate in the region. In particular, drug trafficking, drugs cartels and high levels of street crime, combined with natural disasters, continue to impair the region’s quality of living.”

Europe
“European cities in general continue to have high standards of living, because they enjoy advanced and modern city infrastructures combined with high-class medical, recreational and leisure facilities. But economic turmoil, high levels of unemployment and lack of confidence in political institutions make their future positions hard to predict. Countries such Austria, Germany and Switzerland still fare particularly well in both the quality of living and personal safety rankings, yet they are not immune from decreases in living standards if this uncertainty persists.”

Asia-Pacific
“As a region, Asia Pacific is highly diverse. Countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore dominate the top of both our general and personal safety rankings, in part because they have been continuously investing in infrastructure and public services,” said Mr Parakatil. “In general, the region has seen a greater focus on city planning. Nevertheless, many Asian cities rank at the bottom, mainly due to social instability, political turmoil, natural disasters such as typhoons and tsunamis, and lack of suitable infrastructure for expatriates.”

Middle East and Africa
“The recent wave of violent protests across North Africa and the Middle East has temporarily lowered living standards in the region. Many countries such as Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen have seen their quality of living levels drop considerably. Political and economic reconstruction in these countries, combined with funding to serve basic human needs, will undoubtedly boost the region as a key player in the international arena.”

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