Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Almaty, Kazakhstan (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

June 4, 2012

Traveling Around: Almaty, Kazakhstan

Can you relate?

• Seeing locations in a city that the Amazing Race teams did a challenge at.
• Noticing how amazing it would be to live next to a majestic range.
• Buying souvenirs that you normally wouldn’t buy because you are trying to make your current international apartment your “home”
• Being happy that the location that you are currently living in has much, much less pollution.
• Interrupting (in a respectful way) a important culture event that the locals were participating in.
• Talking with the local dried-fruit and nuts man at the green market in the center of town and buying some amazing dates from him.
• Meeting a lot of the expat international school teachers that live in the city and realizing how much fun they are having living abroad in a (very) foreign country.
• Laughing a bit as you walk through a mall and watching people skate around the indoor ice rink in the atrium.
• Passing by much of the produce at the local grocery stores because of its poor quality.
• Feeling grateful to have old work-friends in cool and unusual places around the world.
• Waiting for minutes, hours, and even days for the government to turn on the heat so you can take a hot shower.
• Eating at the main expat restaurant for some good-ole western food.
• Sitting in a cool section of a local restaurant and having some excellent, moreish local food.
• Checking out the very important opera house, but unfortunately not being able to buy a ticket to see a show.

Currently we have 10 international schools listed in Kazakstan on International School Community. They are:

• QSI Almaty International School (4 Comments)

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give 6 free months of premium membership!

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Highlighted Articles

Kazakhstan Attracts Teachers Looking for Career Development

May 2, 2012

Kazakhstan may not be the obvious destination for teachers wanting to work abroad. But the Nazarbayev Intellectual School Network is offering experienced, English-speaking middle and secondary teachers a one-year contract that is proving very tempting for some.

There are NIS schools in cities throughout Kazakhstan, all of which are leading a programme of educational reform in the country led by the President of the Republic. The aim is to develop a new way of educating the future elite of Kazakhstan and the NIS Network is enlisting the skills of experienced English-speaking teachers to spearhead the progress.

Richard Evans is one of these teachers. He was a science teacher in the UK for 25 years and had been at the same school for 19 years. “Every vacation was spent traveling,” says Richard. “So combining a new job with living abroad seemed attractive.” He and his partner both accepted teaching posts with the Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Kokshetau last September and have not looked back. “It was the right job at the right time and we haven’t regretted the move,” he adds.

Richard is teaching the Kazakh curriculum in English to Grade 11 Biology and Grade 9 Chemistry students in collaboration with local teachers. This is one of the specific roles of the expatriate teachers; to mentor the local teachers, working alongside their Kazakh counterparts to support them with the teaching, planning and assessment and leading professional development sessions. Richard is also involved in curriculum design.

“The students have a positive work ethic here, allowing teachers to concentrate on teaching and to spend less time on class management,” says Richard. “Class numbers are small; for English, Mathematics and Physics the average size is 8 to 12 students. The work load is less than in the UK. We work hard and are in school from 8am to at least 5pm, but the demands of producing reams of paperwork that are rarely looked at are not as great. The pressure is less and experienced teachers are valued. The local teachers are very keen to develop their teaching skills and have been excellent, very supportive and friendly. We’ve made some very good friends.”

The new curriculum is being written in association with Cambridge University and is integrating skill development and progression. “These are exciting times with the change towards a new curriculum beginning in September this year; it’s exciting to be in a front row seat as the education undergoes a rapid development,” says Richard adding that this experience is proving  very good for his career development.

As for living in Kazakhstan, Richard and his partner say life is good. “Once you are accepted, the local community is very welcoming. Kazakhs love celebration and love to dance and there are regular concerts here of all types. The larger cities have thriving expat communities. There are many clothes and shoe shops, decent restaurants and bars, local live sport to watch such as ice hockey and football, and a number of pools and gyms. Our apartment is very comfortable and warm and within ten minutes’ walk of the school. Everywhere is very safe; there is little crime.”

As for the financial rewards, “many things are cheaper here and disposable income for a foreign teacher here is higher than in the UK. Income tax is 10%,” says Richard who is renewing his contract for a second year. “After 8 months here, we feel totally committed to supporting the hard working students in achieving their ambitions and helping them to get into the university of their choice. Kazakhstan is a fabulous country in which to live and work.”

There are currently many opportunities for experienced teachers interested in working at the Nazarbayev Intellectual School in the capital city of Astana and at other NIS schools in the cities of Semey, Kokshetau, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Taldykorgan and Uralsk starting in August 2012. Contracts are for one year with option to renew. If you are an English speaking, fully qualified, experienced teacher and would be interested in this unique opportunity, contact Amy Bardsley at TIC Recruitment at or visit

There are currently 10 international schools listed in Kazakhstan on International School Community.  The following have had comments and information submitted on their profile pages:

QSI Almaty International School (4 Comments)
Haileybury Almaty (31 Comments)
International School of Almaty (6 Comments)
Miras International School (Astana) (10 Comments)
QSI International School of Astana (6 Comments)
Nazarbayev Intellectual school of Astana (11 Comments)

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