Traveling Around

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

August 27, 2015


Traveling Around: Riga, Latvia

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Can you relate?

• Enjoying a wonderful view from our hotel window. Perfect for relaxing in the hotel room after walking around all day.
• Rolling my eyes a little bit as I watch all these tour groups walking around the city; the tour guide with some sort of funny umbrella so that the group won’t lose him/her.
• Arriving at one of the important buildings in the main square only to find it covered up by scaffolding, I guess it will have to be the next time I visit that I see it.
• Seeing well-designed and well placed wall murals on old buildings throughout the city, quite beautiful some of them!
• Getting to Riga at just the right time for raspberry and strawberry season; some tables at the market had huge lines waiting to buy some of these unbelievably delicious fruits.
• Finding a restaurant that was in a building built way back in 1221, well at least that was the year that was on the building.
• Listening to some street performers and being amazed at their talent; I could only guess that they were professionals.
• Spending time with an old friend in a foreign city for both of us; just so nice and get to make some new memories.
• Feeling fortunate and lucky that we had really great weather every day of our trip; the sky and clouds were magnificent.
• Going back to a restaurant more than once because of the great food and great restaurant staff, so nice.
• Laughing out loud a bit watching a local trying to count out change in EUR, a currency they just started using a year ago I think.
• Using my Russian every chance I got, only to find myself in a conversation at the main market where I could only nod my head like I understood everything that the saleswoman was saying to me.
• Singing the Latvian Eurovision song from this year in our hotel room, and watching the performance on Youtube.
• Getting a tip from the hotel receptionist to take a certain tram, thinking it was going to give us a nice tour of the city, only to find out that it took us way out into completely nowhere.
• Looking at a pastry display case and being in awe of the decadent sugar masterpieces. (and then not trying any of them!)
• Loving the central market here, located in an old German Zeppelin hanger. You can get everything here!
• Being a stupid tourist and probably paying a tourist price to get on a boat and take a 30 minute ride up and down the river running through the old and new parts of Riga.
• Going up the main tower here to get a good view of the city. We went up on the perfect evening with amazing clouds and sun shining!
• Walking by an 60s restaurant with a live honky-tonk band playing American music, how strange it’s here. People love it too, always a packed house.
• Entering a museum, getting all the way into the entrance and the ticket counter and NOT buying a ticket to get inside.

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Currently we have 2 international schools listed in Riga, Latvia on International School Community:

•  International School of Latvia (15 comments)
•  International School of Riga (12 comments)

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com 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 you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Discussion Topics

Why Do International School Educators Teach Abroad? To Work AND Party!

December 1, 2018


The majority of international educators are professionals. They are some of the most innovative and progressive teachers out there.

However, International schools teachers certainly like to have their fun as well. Some might say the whole point of teaching abroad is to escape their boring home country/city life and inject some more excitement.

When not teaching at their international schools, there must be time to take in the city life and party!

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It is not that difficult to find a group of colleagues at your international school to go out and party with you. And depending on what city you are living in the world, there are always certain spots at which to hang out.

People teach abroad for many reasons, and one of them is for a good nightlife. Some cities in the world are better known for their nightlife than others, so it is good to do a bit of research before your move. But anywhere there are expats, there is bound to be a neighborhood or two that they like to hang out in.

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And let’s not forget the annual school Christmas party! Many international schools go all out to put together a nice Christmas party for their staff. Crazy antics usually happen at an international school Christmas party, thus proving that numerous international school educators indeed like to balance doing their job and also saving some time to party!

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Using our ISC’s unique Comment Search feature, we searched the keyword “party.” We found that we currently have 71 comments (Dec. 2018) with that keyword on it.

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“There is so much nightlife here. If you want to go out and party in the city centre, there are endless place to do that. Locals love to go to a pub and stand outside of it and drink away with their friends, even if it is cold out outside. But I must say that last night, we saw at least spots on the sidewalk where someone had vomited. So people are definitely getting piss drunk here. LOL.” – American School of London (London, UK)15 Total Comments

“Plenty of nightlife. Clark Quay is probably the most known of the party scenes, but there are lots of other options from a plethora of rooftop bars, brewpubs to small local clubs…” – Singapore American School (Singapore)184 Comments

“Foreign staff usually are offered accommodation in an apartment complex that is next to the school. The complex features a small pool, gym and party area. Parties are held by neighbours regularly so it can be noisy at times, but it dies down after a certain time. Also, the size of the bedrooms are a bit small but you get used to that….” – American School of Belo Horizonte (Belo Horizonte, Brazil)72 Total Comments

Teach Abroad

“New staff start a day earlier and are invited to a welcome breakfast, where we met all the academic coordinators and people in key roles, such as the nurse and admin staff. Christmas is a special time, where we had a special staff breakfast on top of a glamorous Christmas party! The principal is also very friendly and arranges social gatherings…” – SEK Catalunya International School (La Garriga, Spain)29 Comments

“They’ve started having an annual New Year’s party after the winter break where parents, faculty, and alumni have a very relaxed evening, catching up after their holiday adventures…” – Canadian Academy (Kobe) (Kobe, Japan)68 Comments

“You can find anything for any taste. You can opt for some quiet activities or team sports, quiet walks or a wild party in the city. There are excellent clubs and bars, and some quiet places. Ask the locals or more “experienced” expats and they will guide you…” – Knightsbridge Schools International Panama (Panama City, Panama)39 Comments

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Traveling Around

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

October 20, 2017


Traveling Around: Tirana, Albania

Can you relate?

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  • Driving through Albania gorges and valleys with beautiful nature to get to Tirana.
  • Visiting a local olive oil factory “Shkalla” and buying some extra virgin olive oil directly from them.
  • Passing by Albanian International School at the Southern entrance to the city.
  • Practising one’s patience navigating through Tirana’s traffic and the narrow streets.
  • Walking down the marble-paved boulevard towards BLLOKU, the place to be in Tirana.
  • Staying at a private, secluded hotel isolated from the traffic noise – Hotel Panorama.

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  • Experiencing the variety of cuisines available locally, mostly Italian, but also Spanish, French and the local Albanian.
  • Taking taxis to get around the city and only paying 2-3 EUR for each ride. Though it is important to note that the city is a very walkable city.
  • Being treated with great service at one of the best rated restaurants in the city of Tirana – Era. They have a strict no-wifi policy. They say that the best unlimited internet connection is friendship!
  • Checking out the main market and realizing immediately that the locals don’t shop there. Though the market has had a makeover recently, it appears as if there aren’t enough buyers that want to go there. Maybe the prices are too high?
  • Having a decadent ice-cream cup in an upscale Italian chocolaterie and finding that the menu, though very beautiful with pictures, was all in Albanian. It is really difficult to try and understand most Albanian words, even if you know a number of languages. Luckily, the servers were more than willing to help us out.

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  • Meeting up with the sister of one of our friends from our host country. Not knowing her beforehand or her boyfriend, it was a risk. But a good evening was had as we actually had a lot to talk about from politics to languages to history to food, etc.
  • We had rented a car here, but quickly decided that we were not going to drive to different places around the city because of the “crazy-like” driving from the locals. It really seems like if you don’t know the local “rules” of the road, it will be very tricky and potentially dangerous for you!
  • Enjoying the perfect weather every day. I mean it was a sunny and the just right temperature every day here. How lucky the people are that live here! Living on the Mediterranean definitely has it’s perks!

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  • Looking at the buildings here are so interesting. Though it is true some of the buildings look a bit run down and falling apart, the local artists have made these buildings into works of art. They draw really clever patterns or drawings on the facades of the buildings that make them look very beautiful and interesting to look at.
  • Being amazed by the streetlights here. The whole pole holding up the traffic light was actually a light itself! So when the light turned red, the whole pole turned red and the same for the other colors.
  • Walking around the recently rebuilt park with the artificial lake and seeing many people, young and old enjoying the beautiful weather in October.

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Currently, we have 107 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 57 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania)19 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments
QSI International School of Sarajevo (Sarajevo, Bosnia)18 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)49 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
International School of Brno (Brno, Czech Republic)25 Comments
International School of Estonia (Tallinn, Estonia)22 Comments
Britannica International School Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)19 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)89 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)68 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)59 Comments
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com 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 you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Traveling Around

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

July 20, 2017


Traveling Around: Sofia, Bulgaria

Can you relate?

• Passing by a house that had a whole car in its front yard as a lawn decorative item!
• Going through a city market, not a big touristy one, and enjoying all the little shops there; had a great “conversation” (many language barriers) with one store owner/worker about her honey, jams and nuts.
• Checking out the biggest city park in Sofia and realizing how amazingly big it was. There were also some martenitsas tied to a number of the park’s trees. Didn’t know what those were, but now I know; interesting tradition.
• Having a nice walk through the downtown area of Sofia and running into some of the most beautiful buildings on a nice sunny day!


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• Walking through the city neighborhoods and spotting a really cool local bird that was grey but with fluorescent blue markings on its wings.
• Seeing a bunch a stray dogs and cats lounging around all the streets and sidewalks.
• Watching a local group of little school kids and their teachers walk in line together as they go along their field trip for the day.
• Smelling the amazing smells of a local bakery. Geez, how could you not stop and check out their goods?!

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• Choosing one of the many day trips that I could have taken and doing it with 4 strangers and having a great time.
• Checking out the nearby mountains, thinking that there would be some green nature and then finding out that it was all snow still there.
• Being immersed in a completely silent place surrounded by beautiful trees and nature.
• Challenging myself to walk up a steep mountain incline, getting to the top and enjoying the view!

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• Finding a really little Mexican restaurant on one of the streets in Sofia (didn’t eat at it), a kind of restaurant that looks like a food truck but was actually part of the nearby buildings. You could only order through a window.
• Checking out the main market in Sofia and deciding what I wanted to buy. I ended up going to a local lavender farmer and buying two jars of their lavender honey.
• Shopping in Sofia is great because the price of certain produce and products is so cheap!
• Enjoying the fact that I can read most Cyrillic letters and some basic Russian, so I wasn’t so in the dark when confronted with an important street sign or store sign for example.

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• Seeing certain produce items (omg, the tomatoes) that I can get in my host country, but not as tasty as these ones looked! Feeling very jealous of the expats living here.
• Noticing that some of market stands had a really long line of people wanting to buy their specific produce. The locals know who to buy from I guess!

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• Going to an out-of-the-way restaurant, walking in and realizing nobody else was there. Started talking to the owner and worker and learning about their lives and the life of the restaurant. Great, unexpected cultural exchange.
• Deciding to take a short cut to get to a certain place while using Google Maps, but only to realize I was getting myself into a bit of a dangerous area for walking pedestrians (really close to a fast highway).  Making it out safe, and happy because I found a really cool spot to take a picture of some graffiti.

Currently we have 106 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 55 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania)19 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments
QSI International School of Sarajevo (Sarajevo, Bosnia)18 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)49 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
International School of Brno (Brno, Czech Republic)25 Comments
International School of Estonia (Tallinn, Estonia)22 Comments
Britannica International School Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)19 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)89 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)59 Comments
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com 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 you 6 free months of premium membership!

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Anglo American School of Sofia

May 28, 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 Anglo American School of Sofia (Bulgaria), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to Anglo American School of Sofia…

Some teachers drive to work. It is not that far from the center of the city. The school is location in a more residential, countryside area. These pictures of from a spring day with lots of sun!

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The best part of the school’s location is of course the amazing view of the nearby mountains. The school grounds are also pretty to look at and walk around in as they are well-landscaped. In the spring a number of the plants are flowering.

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Walking towards the school’s main entrance.

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There are huge sports fields for students to play in.

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There is a sense of community as you walk around the campus. There is even an outdoor amphitheater. This day the school was using it during their Bulgarian cultural week.

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Here is the road leading out of the school campus.

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Here is that same road looking back towards the school.


You do need to pass through some security. Even taxis are not allowed through when you get visitors. This day I was actually leaving via an arranged taxi going to the airport. It was very cheap and quick. I think I was there in 15-20 minutes that day.

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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 Eastern Europe?  Out of a total of 105 international schools we have listed in Eastern Europe, 55 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Pechersk School International Ukraine, Kyiv 122 Comments
International School of Belgrade Serbia, Belgrade 34 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow Russia, Moscow 66 Comments
American International School Bucharest Romania, Bucharest 20 Comments
Wroclaw International School Poland, Wroclaw 46 Comments
American School of Warsaw Poland, Warsaw 89 Comments
International School of Latvia Latvia, Riga 33 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia Bulgaria, Sofia 49 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan Azerbaijan, Baku 39 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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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Ukraine (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

January 26, 2017


Traveling Around: Ukraine

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Can you relate?

• Listening to the local radio stations in our rental car and laughing at the unbelievably rapid speed of the disclaimers at the end of each advertisement.
• Getting a Thai massage in the best rated massage place in Kiev, good price too!
• Eating at a Georgian restaurant (delicious food!) and enjoying watching the Ukrainian tables next to us and how they (very often) toast to each other so that they can drink for alcohol.
• Staying at probably one of the nicer hotels in the city. The pool/spa was in the basement of the hotel and was decorated like a tropical tiki-style holiday.

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• Visiting one of the main markets in Kiev and getting crazy high prices from the stall workers, tourist prices, though in the end scoring a huge jar of local honey for only like five Euros.
• Spending the night eating at a really posh restaurant in Kiev and trying out some very unusual teas and very unique appetizers and entrees; very good quality food in Ukraine!
• Driving around the city center in our rental car and actually doing it without any issues, so many people (even locals) warned us that the driving in Kiev was dreadful and dangerous. Not the case for us.
• Trying to talk in English with the locals and encountering many confusing conversations and misunderstandings. Though both parties kept a positive and friendly, fun-loving attitude in the process.
• Going from eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church, well those are the most ornate and beautiful buildings here. Though to be honest the other buildings have pretty amazing architecture and design as well.
• Scoring some really cool local beauty products for really cheap prices at a very nice organic grocery store in the city.
• Making an outing to find the statue of the motherland. Man, this HUGE statue is so cool. I think all cities should have something like this. I was in awe of it.
• Watching the local Ukrainians take groups pictures of their family and friends and finding it hard to find one where even one person was smiling in the picture.

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• Loving our tour of the city and then on the last day finding a really cool part of the city where there was a new development of houses, but the houses were style to look like how they looked long ago. Very cool, want to go back and see more of that part of the city.
• Making it a point to visit the local, famous chocolate shop in the center of the city. The locals loved this place! Roshen. But I actually also loved another chocolate shop called Lviv Handmade Chocolate. Now that stuff was delicious!

Currently we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 54 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania)19 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments
QSI International School of Sarajevo (Sarajevo, Bosnia)18 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
International School of Brno (Brno, Czech Republic)25 Comments
International School of Estonia (Tallinn, Estonia)22 Comments
Britannica International School Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)19 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)82 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)34 Comments
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com 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 you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight #35: Anita Sutton (A teacher at the British International of Moscow)

January 21, 2017


Every so often International School Community is looking to highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight blog category.  This month we interviewed Anita Sutton:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I’m originally from a very small country town called Warwick, about 2 hrs south-east of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  My family is from all over, NZ, Australia and Croatia. 

I graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelors of Education specialising in Early Childhood Education. I am a passionate Early Years advocate and am inspired by the Reggio Emilio approach. 

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

When I graduated from university I wanted to explore working in the UK. I lived in Bristol, UK for 2 years working in primary schools all over the district, which helped me gather lots of ideas, experiences and helped me build a bank of knowledge from more experienced teachers. 

After 2 years, a colleague recommended I look to the Middle East for more adventure, which lead me into taking a position as an EYFS teacher in a British International School in Dubai. I worked there for 3 years before taking up my current post in Moscow, Russia.

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.

I worked at Jumeriah Baccalaureate School in Dubai and currently working at the British International of Moscow. 

Dubai was a great opportunity to learn about the melting pot of cultures, I had over 15 different cultures and heritages in my class of 20.

Because Dubai has such a range of expats your class list reads like a meeting of the United Nations. I got to work with a range of teachers from all over which was a great opportunity to learn new things and approaches.

Dubai has so much to do but I didn’t save very much money, but the experience was invaluable and had definitely given me the skills to be flexible and keen for a new adventure which led me to Russia.

In Moscow, the language is the biggest barrier but I am determined to speak a basic level of Russian. I am enjoying the change in climate, from 50+ for 8 months of the year to -3 to -18 for 8 months of the year. I also loved experiencing my first ever Autumn. We don’t really have Autumn in the area I’m from in Australia, it’s just scorching hot or warm. Moscow was so colourful, the red, the yellow, orange and the green, I had forgotten how beautiful nature was after the desert! Snow has been interesting but the architecture in Moscow is stunning!

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

Coming from the Middle East, when you greet someone it’s always 3 kisses to the cheek, back and forth. I arrived in Russia and kept going for the third kiss when greeting people, which, in Europe is one on each side, so it seemed like I was trying to be a little more than friendly when I first arrived in Russia. 

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

I found it has been really helpful to make sure that any school I am considering working at is supportive of their staff, and has a clear vision of where SLT see the school going. 

I also like to get a clear idea of how much importance Heads of school place the Early Years. Good Heads of School/Primary keep up to date with current research and know that when children have access to a strong foundational beginning in school, it is beneficial to building an exceptional student as they progress through school, which leads to a strong school and a happy student base.

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

Enriching, adventurous, challenging, rewarding, limitless.

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Thanks Anita!

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 one year free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the Eastern Europe like Anita?  Currently, we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 54 of them have had comments submitted on their profiles. Here are just a few of them:

Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)34 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)82 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Slovenia (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

August 14, 2016


Traveling Around: Slovenia

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Can you relate?

• Enjoying a nice walk along the river that runs through the city of Ljubiana. I definitely had thoughts that it would be nice to live here in this city.
• Loving that the symbol of Ljubiana is the dragon. I quite enjoyed the cool sculptures of dragons on one of the bridges going over the main river, Ljubljanica.
• Walking across the whole city, from our airbnb, to go to a restaurant that we had planned to check out only to find out that they had run out of food already. We never went back there!
• Running into a food fair in the center of the city. The food fair was very unique and had stands that sold so many different, delicious cuisines. We found out that the next day had another, different food fair in the same spot. We went back again the following day to check it out. 🙂

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• Renting a car and doing day trips in and out of Ljubiana. Enjoying the freedom of having a car, but as I was the driver, I couldn’t fully enjoy the beautiful views of all the mountains and landscapes.  It is dangerous trying to take pictures and drive at the same time!
• The level of English of Slovenian people is quite high. Everywhere we traveled to in the country had locals that could speak in at least a conversational level of English.
• Going up at just the right time to enjoy the views of the Ljubljana Castle, which you can see from basically every part of the city. We went during the sunset.
• Appreciating the older buildings throughout the city, with their colorful facades and intricate designs. I wonder why we don’t make such cool buildings any more for our cities. They really make a city special and unique. Plus, they are great to look at and I would imagine they would make the locals very proud to live there.
• Checking out all the graffiti around the city. I wonder who are the people who actually do this graffiti. I would feel so bad defacing city property. Well some people don’t see it that way, but some day I would guess. I suppose the graffiti artists think they are making boring buildings more beautiful to look at.
• Loving the beautiful weather that we luckily got during our trip here. The view from our top floor airbnb was great!  The fresh, clean air too was very nice.
• It’s true that Slovenia really has everything. It has a seaside on the Mediterranean, which isn’t too far away (Piran is a super cool city). It also has mountains (the ALPS) which are awesome to look at. Plus their climate isn’t that bad either.  The nature on offer is just unbelievable. We found a number of amazing spots with great landscape views, and there weren’t hardly any other people around. Very serene!
• If there is one place that you should definitely go on your trip here, it is Lake Bled. This place and area is just so beautiful. It is truly like a storybook fairytale there. Loved it!

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Currently we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 52 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

• American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
• International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
• 
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
• 
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)51 Comments
• 
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)34 Comments
• 
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
• 
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)74 Comments
• 
QSI International School of Ljubljana (Ljubljana, Slovenia)9 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com 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 you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight #34: Ms. Barbara Meinel Jacobs (A teacher at the Albanian International School)

December 15, 2015


Every so often International School Community is looking to highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight blog category.  This month we interviewed Ms. Barbara Meinel Jacobs:

RRona and meTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I’m from the USA, but I  have been involved in humanitarian work and teaching around the world since 1973. A close friend of mine was a Montessori teacher from Ireland and she had invited me to come to the UK to work with her. After 3 months I moved to Essen, Germany to set up a Montessori center for very small children. I had 3 little students: my 5 month old daughter and 2 boys, both 4 yrs old. One was German and the other was Finnish. Neither of them spoke English or each other’s languages, so I taught them in English 5 hours a day. They learned fluent English by the time my daughter was 11 months old.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

In March I moved on to Italy and from there got married, lived on a farm, and we traveled around Europe working with youth groups and setting up little Montessori/Preschools in Italy, France, and Portugal. This was just the beginning of our travels with our little growing family of six.

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.

Currently, I am teaching Preschool (EYFS) Albanian International School in Tirana, Albania. I’ve been teaching at this school since it’s conception in 2011. I started as Librarian sorting through 12,000 books and documenting their titles and authors. Then I taught English to the students that first year. The next year I started with the Preschool kids and have been involved in these ages ever since. I really enjoy teaching the littlest students of our school! It’s so much fun and exciting when they learn a concept, begin to speak English, make friends and discover something new about the world we live in.

My day begins at 4am. I wake up early so that I can think through the day, change any plans that may need to be changed and listen to calm music before I have to really get up at 6am. Then I leave the house at 7:30 and take a short walk to school.  

One of our favorite things to do during rainy season is to dance for our exercise/play time. Albania has a long rainy season of December through middle of June! It rains every day and it is cold. We keep the little ones inside so discovering “Just Dance Kids” on YouTube has been a life saver! The kids love dancing along with the figures on the screen and are now proficient dancers.

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

A really funny thing happened to me last week. We had been preparing for the Albanian independence days celebrations at school. My kids were dancing and singing in Albanian for weeks in preparation for their show. On Saturday after the show I was walking down the street to the supermarket playing music in my head. Halfway home I realized that I was singing Albanian folk music instead of the usual music I play in my head. I’ve finally become Albanian! I’ve been here since 2010.

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

One of the important things I look for when searching for an international school is whether there is much pollution (I have asthma), a safe environment, and they won’t mind my age or nationality.

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

Exciting, fun, new friends, challenges!

Thanks Barbara!

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 Eastern Europe like Barbara?  Currently, we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 54 of them have had comments submitted on their profiles. Here are just a few of them:

Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)34 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)82 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1951 (Mexico City, Brussels, Jakarta & more)

February 11, 2013


Random year for international schools around the world: 1951

There is much history in the international teaching community.  We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1854 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century.  The numbers are increasing for sure.

Utilizing the database of the 1351 (11 February, 2013) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 11 international schools that were founded in 1951.  Here are a few of those schools that also have had comments and information submitted on them on our website (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites)

Greengates School (British International School) (5 Comments) (Mexico City, Mexico)

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“Greengates School is a privately owned, co-educational day school set in the northern part of Mexico City, in an area of over 20,000 sq. meters. For over 60 years the school has been preparing students for university study worldwide and developing caring global citizens.”

International School of Brussels (7 Comments) (Brussels, Belgium)

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“The International School of Brussels first opened its doors in October 1951, with four teachers on hand to welcome twenty-seven students between the ages of 5 and 11.

In the spring of 1953, with a population of more than one hundred students, the school moved to its current home at the Château des Fougères, in the Brussels commune of Watermael-Boitsfort, and became known as the International School of Brussels.

In its early years, the entire school was housed in the Château: a far cry from the 40 acre campus with four school divisions and a lifelong learning centre that make up the ISB of today!”

Lycee International de Saint Germain-en-Laye (9 Comments)  (Saint Germain-en-Laye, France)

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“The American Section program starts in Pre-Kindergarten and goes through 12th grade. There are approximately 700 students enrolled, evenly divided between boys and girls and ranging in age from 4 to19. Approximately 60 percent of our students are U.S. citizens, and many hold both French and American citizenship. Most of the remaining 40 percent are French citizens who have spent a considerable amount of time in the United States or have had American schooling.”

Jakarta International School (9 Comments)  (Jakarta, Indonesia)

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“With five original students, Jakarta International School was founded by UN workers in 1951. These pioneers introduced relevant schooling in English for children of expats in the newfound Republic of Indonesia. From early days the school’s international identity was clear. It was originally named the Joint Embassy School (J.E.S.) after its British, American, Australian and (then) Yugoslavian embassy partners. Just over a decade later, in 1978, J.E.S. became J.I.S.”

Garden International School (19 Comments) (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

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“Garden School was established by Mrs Sally Watkins, the wife of the then Fire Brigade Chief. Lt. Col. F.F.C. Watkins, in the Lake Gardens of Kuala Lumpur in 1951.”

International School Bangkok (16 Comments) (Bangkok, Thailand)

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“Widely recognized as one of the premier international schools in the world, International School Bangkok (ISB) has been providing quality education since 1951 to expatriates representing more than 60 countries.”

Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well!  We have over 1351 international schools that have profile pages on our website.

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1955 (Accra, Carabobo, La Paz & Surrey)

June 5, 2012


Random year for international schools around the world: 1955

There is much history in the international teaching community.  We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1854 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century.  The numbers are increasing for sure.

Utilizing the database of the 1224 (05 June, 2012) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 7 international schools that were founded in 1955 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):

Ghana (British) International School (0 Comments) (Accra, Ghana)

“This is a far cry from the humble beginnings of the school when it first opened its doors on 1st September 1955. Back then, the school was known as the Gold Coast International School and was the brainchild of eight founding members. These were: Sir Kobena Arku Korsah and Justice Edward Akuffo Addo, both Justices of the Supreme Court of the Gold Coast, Dr Lusty of the University College of Gold Coast (now the University of Ghana, Legon), Mr Kenneth Humphreys, first registrar of the West Africa Examinations Council, Dr Ruby Quartey-Papafio, an educationist, Dr Kofi George Konuah, also an educationist and Mr Edward James Bailey of the United Africa Company and his wife, Mrs Valerie Bailey. The membership of the committee was later expanded to include the Indian High Commissioner as well as the American and French Vice-Consuls.

The vision for the school was a school that would provide quality international education to children of different races and creeds and a school that would serve both the international and local communities.

The first task for the committee was finding a suitable location. Looking at the school now, it’s hard to believe that the original school was a small bungalow originally allocated to the Director of Surveys. Yet that small bungalow was the setting for a school that became so popular that it had an enormous waiting list within its first three months of opening. By January 1956, the school committee had no option but to relocate to bigger premises.”

American Cooperative School La Paz (9 Comments)  (La Paz, Bolivia)

“Founded in 1955, the American Cooperative School of La Paz, Bolivia, is a private, co-educational school with a current enrollment of about 400 students. We offer an American based educational program, taught in English, from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 for students of all nationalities. The high school curriculum is designed to prepare students for the college experience.”

Colegio International de Carabobo (5 Comments)  (Carabobo, Venezuela)

“Colegio Internacional de Carabobo in Valencia, State of Carabobo, Venezuela, was organized in 1955 with four companies: Celanese, Firestone, Goodyear, and U.S. Rubber. These provided the initial capital.

In 1958, a ten-classroom school was constructed in El Trigal, a residential sector of Valencia. During the 1962-63 school year, a library, four classrooms, showers and dressing rooms, and a photographic darkroom were added. In 1968, the High School building was constructed and was opened for classes on September 2, 1968. The building consisted of two science laboratories, a computer laboratory, and classrooms, a lounge, and offices. The High School library, constructed in 1968 and renovated in 2006, today houses 8,000 volumes. A “comedor” and Middle School were added during the early 1980’s. A multi-purpose recreational building was completed in August of 1988. Most recently, two annexes, a lower primary building, a second Middle School level, and a maintenance complex were added in the mid 1990’s.”

Marymount International School (0 Comments)  (Surrey, United Kingdom)

“Established in 1955 to meet the educational needs of families in the international business and diplomatic community, Marymount London is part of a worldwide system of schools and colleges directed by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, a Roman Catholic Congregation founded in Béziers, France, in 1849.”

International School of Penang (Uplands) (9 Comments)  (Penang, Malaysia)

“The International School Of Penang (Uplands) is a non-profit, co-educational primary and secondary School with boarding facilities, open to children aged 5 – 18 years old.

Since being established in 1955 at the top of Penang Hill and now established in a modern campus in Batu Feringgi, Uplands has strived to embody a caring community; a School where both international and Malaysian students are happy to learn.”

International School of Yangon (6 Comments)  (Yangon, Myanmar)

“The International School Yangon, founded in 1952, is a private co-educational day school, providing an American curriculum from pre-school through grade 12. The school is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). ISY is also a member of the East Asian Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS). ISY is committed to ensuring that its students achieve a high level of accomplishment using English as the medium of instruction. French, Spanish (high school) and Mandarin are taught as foreign languages. Standardized tests such as the International Schools Assessment (ISA), and the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) are conducted at ISY to evaluate student performance and school wide programs. In high school, ISY offers a college preparatory program, leading to a U.S. diploma and an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. There are currently 252 students in elementary school, 115 students in middle school and 144 students in the high school. ”

Woodford International School (0 Comments)  (Honiara, Solomon Islands)

“ The school originally started in the mid 1950’s with about a dozen pupils. It was government run, and was housed in a succession of buildings in Central Honiara. By the early 1970’s the need for a new school was recognized, and in the later half of the 1970’s, a new Woodford School project was included in the Solomon Islands National Development Plan. This project recognized “That a primary educational system offering a curriculum meeting international standards is a critical infrastructure requirement necessary to support Solomon Islands objectives of attracting investment and technical expertise.”

Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well!  We have over 1224 international schools that have profile pages on our website.

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Discussion Topics

The Taxi-Lives of International School Teachers

February 4, 2012


I imagine it’s raining. There are way too many substances in my blood, and I can’t separate my alterations. One moment I’m high as a kite flying on happy bliss, the next I’m weary and tetchy. Did I mention it’s raining? I’m just hardly on my feet – is it true that a giraffe’s offspring learns to walk just hours after it’s born? – If so, I haven’t advanced past my fetus state. It’s colder than yesterday when it was the coldest since the day before; I see where this is going. Then my savior is there. Just two steps away. And inside, relaxed on the backseat, the taxi drives away. The city and all its shining lights merge, as Amsterdam disappears in the background. There’s too much laughter, too many dogs barking, too much purple prose, women in barely nothing, and the men that haunt them. There’s the man selling Chinese proverbs, the woman selling flowers, selling madrigals, selling good time. I usually never take a taxi home, but sometimes nightlife just creeps under your skin, and you just need to get away, get somewhere, and get home. Shake off the cold, the night, the many impressions, the stale smell of balcony smokers, men in Nixon masks, and the women that admire them. And as the taxi stops right outside my door. I swear, next time I’ll take a bus. I won’t drink so much, and when I see the receipt from Taxi Company on my credit card statement, I won’t even remember the taxi ride home.

“I find the great thing in this world is, not so much where we stand, as in the direction we are moving.” Goethe.

I imagine it’s early morning. I’m in my newly ironed suit; my tie matches my polished shoes that match the brief case. There’s a taxi right in front of my compound. I get in, quietly give the driver my destination in English (though he doesn’t speak English very well at all), lean back, and start reading the newspaper. It’s mainly the financials, but I discretely smile at the candor of the comic strip. I never speak to the driver; he’s just here to get me from one destination to the next, smoothly with no major interruptions. It’s the easiest way to get around Shanghai. I sometimes take notion of the skylines, the people on the street, and the people in other taxis, but mostly I just read the paper. When I arrive at the international school that I work at, the driver opens my door, nods, and drives away. During the day there are several meetings around town, several of new taxi encounters, but the same customary every time.

“Life is like a taxi. The meter just keeps a-ticking whether you are getting somewhere or just standing still.” Lou Erickson.

I imagine I’m late again. I’ll just tell my friends, “I took a cab.” He’s Armenian; his mother’s mother was an immigrant, who used to live in the Bronx, where she opened a small bakery. His dad was a son of a gun. It’s right next to the Guggenheim. I order a martini and soup. Next stop: my publisher somewhere on Manhattan. Some gypsy cab tries to convince me he’s cheaper, but I know better. She’s from Kansas, not much of a talker, her sign says Ada Mae. She tries to hard to hide the fact she’s not a New Yorker, but I know better. There’s a party tonight at some loft in Soho, “it’s better than New Year, it’s close to the metro, but just take a cab, it’s safer.” It’s the pre-release-party, but some bookstore in Brooklyn has already started selling the book, so I take a cab there, just to see my book in the window. I ask the driver to hold, but he’s very impatient. I eat half a cupcake I buy in some small coffee shop, the décor is very vintage, and I get the address to this flea market in Greenwich Village. If I hail a cab quickly, I can make it before I go home and get dressed for the party. The driver driving me to Soho is from Iraq, I don’t remember his name, but he quoted Mahatma Ghandi, something about happiness and harmony. I only have a few drinks, small talk with an architect who’s designing a new super mall in New Jersey, the florist who did the decoration, my publisher’s ex-wife who just shared a cab with Meryl Streep (they were apparently going in the same direction) and a woman I think I’ve dated a couple years ago. We share a taxi home.

“And a big yellow taxi took away my old man. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Joni Mitchell.

Go ahead and send a private message regarding “transportation and the taxi-life” to one of our members that is currently living in one of the many different cities around the world represented on our website. International School Community’s current members work at or have worked at 100 international schools! Check out which schools here and start networking today!

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Great Link

The Peace Quilt of international schools: children’s message for peace

June 15, 2011


A teacher who is inspired can inspire students and other teachers!

According to the blog: This project began as an idea back in September 2008,the idea being to unite schools all around the world, in some way, potentially as a celebration of the London Olympics, 2012.  The people involved asked themselves to think of an idea of uniting schools all over the World.  The idea suggested was for all schools to do a collage of Peace, where children created their picture of what Peace meant to them, and to have it displayed at the Olympics.  That idea was then turned into another idea of creating a Peace Quilt.  They got in touch with the not-for-profit organization PEACE ONE DAY and Jeremy Gilley.  POD have gladly made their Global Education Resource available free to all schools.  This was perfect for them, as Peace is something they were very committed to, knowing that it is a wish all children have.  This was the beginnings of this exciting project.

http://peacequilt.wordpress.com/

Of course international schools around the world have already started to participate.  There have been numerous international schools that have already got involved.  Some of them are:

International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)

Colegio Experimental Alberto Einstein (Quito, Ecuador)

Dili International School (Dili, East Timor)


The International School of Seychelles (Seychelles)

There are more international schools that participated (check out their pictures here):

International School of Monaco (Monaco)

International School of Kabul (Kabul, Afganistan)

American International School of Niamey  (Niamey, Niger)

Marymount International School (Rome, Italy)

Mont Kiara International School (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Qsi International School Bratislava (Bratislava, Slovakia)

Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark)

and the list goes on….

I LOVE when teachers have a dream and then they make it become a reality.

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Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS: #10 – Do not allow negative comments and attitudes to darken your outlook.

April 3, 2012


TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS

10. Surround yourself with positive people. Do not allow negative comments and attitudes to darken your outlook.

It is hard to stay positive, but when culture shock is at its worst, it is very easy to slip.  Sure the other new teachers at your school (and the veteran ones) have a lot to say to you about the host country and culture, but you just might find yourself joining in with them. Commence the inevitable negative thought process!

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

It is hard to know exactly about the meaning behind those negative comments from your coworkers (or from yourself).  Are they saying those things because that is just what you do and say when you are an expat, even if it is said like it is only a joke?  On the other hand, people say things as a joke under stressful times and there is usually much truth behind their negative comment.

Some things are small and people are easily quick to be negative about it.

“Why do I have a pay this media tax? I never had to pay this in any of the other countries I’ve lived in.  I don’t even have a TV.  I refused to pay this stupid fee!”

“Seriously the internet in this country is so slow. You can’t even access Facebook and Youtube here.  Now I have to pay for a VPN service, which usually makes my internet connect even slower!”

“Nothing is open around here.  Good luck finding a store open after 18h here.”

“Arg! It is so dirty here.  I open the windows to my apartment and one hour later the floors are covered in a thin layer of dust.  I can’t want to move back to a country that is cleaner!”

There are many more things to talk negatively about when living in another country.  We forgot too, under the influence of culture shock, that there are many negative aspects to living in our home country as well (e.g. getting a cable service repair person to come to your home to fix your internet or cable).  People complain and obsess about negative aspects of their lives in their home countries too.  But some might say that is your country so maybe you are “allowed” to say negative things every once and awhile about your own culture and way of doing things.  Is it different or the same then when living abroad?  When you are in a host country, the country is your “host.”  Certainly, we all would agree that you should try and be gracious to your host.

Some things though are NOT small, and can be quite important in relation to your life abroad.

“Be ready to not get paid on time.  Last year, we didn’t get paid until three weeks after the salary payment date! Why don’t we get paid on time?  There is nothing we can do about too.”

“The building management in our apartment complex steals our money.  They are giving us bills that are way more expensive than the locals that are living in our building.”

“I have been waiting for six months to get reimbursed for things that I purchased for the school!  I am also waiting to get reimbursed for my flight allowance….for LAST YEAR!”

“My last schools didn’t have this much work to do.  It is unbelievable about much I have to work at this school.  I don’t know if I can handle working until 19:00 every day after school!”

When there is something negative related to your home, your salary or your money (in general), then it is very easy to be sensitive to these situations.  Maybe then you are allowed to voice your concerns (i.e. be a bit negative).  Hopefully though there is something that you can do about it; get your school administration involved, the local police, etc.  Also, it is important to remember that these things might be temporary as well, inconveniences that will pass after a few weeks or months.

“Don`t be trapped by Dogma – which is living the results of other people`s thinking.   Don`t let the noise of other`s drown out your own inner voice.   And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs.

So, knowing that there are going to be negative comments heard and negative comments coming out of your mouth at some point, the key is to try and stay positive as much as possible.  Don’t let the negative thoughts and comments take over and take control of your thinking.  Your life in your new country will be full of ups and downs, that is a given.  Realizing that simple thing, could dramatically keep your negative thoughts to a minimum.  Also, maybe think twice about sharing all of your negative thoughts with your friends and coworkers, some might be best to keep to yourself anyways.

How do you try and stay positive in your current placement?  Share your comments with the rest of the International School Community readers.

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