Highlighted Articles

11 International Schools that are Close to Nature

October 25, 2021


Many of us international school educators would ideally like to teach abroad and also have close access to nature.

Escaping into a forest or a big green park can often reset our minds and bring our stress levels down to manageable levels.

Some international schools are already directly in nature. Maybe they are in a forest or right next to a water source, or maybe they are just in a city center that has a number of very green parks.

But not all international schools are in cities that have easy and quick access to nature.

Some cities do have a few trees lining the streets and also a few small parks scattered around, but often the number of buildings outnumber these two things. And if you look closely, there can even be a layer of dust/dirt on the leaves making the green look more like a brownish color!

Even if there is not a lot of nature in the city center itself, it is still important to note that it can be worth it if you can find some nature close by via public transport or car.

Having access to a number of day trip options that go into nature can really be a selling point to working in a certain city and country.

Nature is important to many of us international educators, so it is necessary to ask around and do your research before making a decision to relocate.

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 235 comments that had the keyword “Nature” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Thailand

“The school is quite far from the center of Chiang Mai but it is possible to find nice places to eat and plenty of local shops and markets a short car or scooter ride away. The plus side is that you have total peace and are surrounded by lush green making it a wonderfully relaxed place to live and explore. Staff are given apartments on the school grounds with the option to live off-campus for those who wish it.” – Prem Tinsulanonda International School (55 total comments)

United Arab Emirates

“Single people enjoy their lives here. There are many other expats to date. There are a lot of things to do during the day and night here. There is a good coupon book that some people use. The book is huge so that means there is much to do. With regards to nature, there is actually a lot of living things in the desert. In our garden, there are many kinds of critters!” – American Community School of Abu Dhabi (30 total comments)

Malaysia

“There isn’t much to do in Putrajaya apart from nature walks and the lake activities. KL has lots to offer but lacks the excitement of other SE Asian destinations. It’s great for families though and has a charm of its own.” – Nexus International School – Malaysia (94 total comments)

Germany

“I would say there is a lot of nature here in Hamburg. There is water everywhere basically. There are many parks in the city as well. Just no mountains.” – International School of Hamburg (55 total comments)

Costa Rica

“Anywhere you around in the city, you will be able to see beautiful mountains. The sun is typically shining as well making all the views of the trees and flowers so lovely. And if the nature in the city isn’t enough, then you are not too far away from more nature in other cities around the country.” – American International School of Costa Rica (12 total comments)

France

“There is so much night life here, if that is your scene. There is also a lot of nature here too with so many parks around the city. On a sunny, warm day, Paris just looks sooooo beautiful! Last night I saw two gay men holding hands while walk down the sidewalk, and then around the Seine, I saw a group of gay bears meeting up for a mini party/gathering. Seems like Paris is really gay friendly.” – International School of Paris (24 total comments)

Norway

“However it’s the best place for nature and getting out of the city in no time.” – Norlights International School Oslo (122 total comments)

Ukraine

“It is possible to find any kind of activities you want here. There is a lot of nightlife, but also easy access to large parks and nature. Buying or renting a car will allow opportunities to get out into the country and really experience nature, if desired.” – Qsi – Kyiv International School (36 total comments)

Japan

“There are so many temples/shrines to see here. Many of them are going up the nearby mountainside. There is such beautiful nature there with amazing trees everywhere. In the spring, it is awesome and in the fall it can be very gorgeous.” – Kyoto International School (65 total comments)

Oman

“There isn’t that much nature in the city of Muscat itself, but you don’t have to do too far to see some green. There are palm trees that are dotted around the area, like near to the Grand Mosque. There are even areas of beautiful green grass and flowers like near to the Corniche Mutrah. But most of Muscat is desert-like. Just flat and sandy!” – American International School of Muscat (34 total comments)

Colombia

“School is built on a large hillside with beautiful views of the city. It is surrounded by a sort of nature preserve so it’s very green all around. The buildings are old and cannot be rebuilt due to building restrictions but they do their best to keep them repaired best they can.” – Colegio Nueva Granada (60 total comments)

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Top 10 Lists

10 Consequences of Covid-19 on International Schools around the World

May 8, 2020


The vast number of international schools around the world are still closed and doing some kind of remote learning. It has truly been a challenge for these schools to adapt and adjust to this new way of teaching.

The pressure has been on the school’s administration to organize a clear plan that will follow the local government’s rules and guidelines. These administrators strive to clearly communicate to all stakeholders given the very short amount of reaction time to put the new ways of working in place.

When using ISC’s unique Comment Search feature (Premium Membership is needed), we found a number of comments that had the keyword Covid in them. Here are 10 comments that show some implications of Covid-19 on these international schools:

1. Peking University Experimental School (Jiaxing) (51 total comments)

“School communication has always been a struggle for the school, particularly for the foreign hires who generally hear things last. During the distance learning program due to Covid-19, this had huge repercussions in the trust of the school. Ultimately however the school eventually came to good decisions that people were happy with….”

2. American International School Dhaka (110 total comments)

“The school is currently going through the accreditation for NEASC and IB/PYP. This process may be delayed due to Covid-19…”

3. Doshisha International School Kyoto (134 total comments)

“DISK is working on accreditation with WASC, They were to do the initial visit before the end of this year, then Covid-19 messed it up. We expect them in September. Due to Covid-19, we extended the closure of campus to May 11. Learning is still taking place online…”

4. Copenhagen International School (375 total comments)

“Because of Covid 19, our school has been doing remote teaching for many weeks now. But after only 4 weeks, the Danish government has ordered that kids aged 0-10 should go to school (MS and HS still have remote learning, probably until the end of the year). The Early Years and Primary School sections are now teaching in person again on campus, but we have so many new rules and guidelines that we must follow. We are calling it “emergency learning”. One rule is that there can only be 10 kids per classroom because we need to have kids sit two meters apart and to limit the number of adults the students interact with. That in turn requires more teachers to teach a grade level, so the drama, art, music, etc teachers are now all classroom teachers teaching. It is very full on!”

5. Zurich International School (49 total comments)

“Students in EC-Grade 5 are using Seesaw as the primary platform for learning while students in 6-12 are using Google Classroom. This has been very helpful in transitioning to online learning due to the Covid-19 situation…”

6. Western International School of Shanghai (466 total comments)

“Pretty much all PD cancelled when Covid 19 hit. Even those that could have been rescheduled…”

7. American International School (Vietnam) (153 total comments)

Covid-19 has put teaching online. Added costs of increased electricity use and wifi upgrades (if required) must be born by teacher. One school in the vicinity has provided a bonus to its faculty for this increase in costs…”

8. Albanian College Tirana (20 total comments)

“New principal is hardly at school and doesn’t know teachers. In every critical situation (earthquake, Covid-19 closure) director was the first one to leave the country and ‘manage from distance’…”

9. Khartoum International Community School (142 total comments)

“As of March, 2020, KICS has switched to online learning/teaching as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a bumpy transition, especially as it happened right at the start of the spring break, which is why some teachers and families are out of Sudan…”

10. Hoi An International School (41 total comments)

“Salaries for primary and secondary teachers have been cut to 80% during the Covid-19 shutdown even though teachers are expected to teach their full course load. IB PYP candidacy was abandoned…”

ISC would like to hear from you! Log on to ISC today and submit a comment about the consequences of Covid-19 on your international school. You can submit your comment in the School Information section under the comment topic “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”

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Information for Members

12 Submitted Comments About the “Awesome” Parts of Working at International Schools

March 17, 2019


International School Community is full of tens of thousands of useful, informative comments…31058 comments (17 March 2019) to be exact.

Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website and share what they know about what it is like working at a specific international school.

We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as being some of the most interesting and useful ones related to the “awesome” parts of working at international schools from across the globe.

12. PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school. How was your child’s education and socialisation at the school?

“The preschool is fantastic. Teachers and assistants were excellent and our child learned a huge amount! One memorable field trip was to the local international airport where students visited the traffic control tower and got to role play…pretty awesome.” – MC School (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – 49 Comments

11. Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus.

“The new Middle School is up and running! It’s pretty awesome. Lots of open spaces, a rooftop terrace, an auditorium, big classrooms with whiteboard walls that you can write all over. Amphitheater is also very nice, great during the spring and fall for reading outside.” – American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) – 165 Comments

10. What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff?

“We just had three weeks of mindfulness, with lots of different classes offered, including free massage at school. It was awesome! School year begins with a Karaoke night, where everyone joins in, local expat, support staff, everyone, it is fun. There are staff spirit days, we just had an amazing Christmas party and THEN a Christmas lunch. There is a system for nominating who did a great job and the names are put into the hats for prizes. At the end of this term we all received a blue tooth travel speaker and a portable drink cup, everyone not just teachers, I like that. Plus everyone is just nice to each other at work, its is happy place” – KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 296 Comments

9. Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city.

“If you want to have some tasty dumplings, I suggest to go to Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi. It is a small restaurant and full of tourists, but still the food is fast and good. There are so many temples/shrines to see here. Many of them are going up the nearby mountain side. There is such beautiful nature there with amazing trees everywhere. In the spring, it is awesome and in the fall it can be very gorgeous.” – Kyoto International School (Kyoto, Japan) – 55 Comments

8.Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.

“It is the beginning of June at the moment and the weather can’t be any better. It is sunny and warm basically every day. It is awesome. You can go out and enjoy the outdoor areas of the city. The high is in the upper 20s during the day with minimal breeze in the air. You can definitely walk around in sandals and shorts/t-shirt. Though once the sun finally goes down (like around 10pm), then it is good to have a light jacket to wear or a long sleeved shirt if you are walking around the city.” – International School of the Gothenburg Region (Gothenburg, Sweden) – 6 Comments

7. In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school?

“Staying because some people find an awesome niche in Berlin’s counterculture, or because they’ve had kids here and they’ve set up a nice suburban life near school. Leaving because some departments have disorganized, antiquated approaches, or because the school can ask for too much at times (learning to set limits is important as an employee here.)” – Berlin Brandenburg International School (Berlin, Germany) – 80 Comments

6. Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them.

“Each classroom in grades 4-5 has their own classroom set of ipads and own classroom set of Chromebooks. It is awesome!” – Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria) – 49 Comments

5. Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus.

“We have moved into our new building/campus. It is truly unbelievable. It is so huge! It can take like 20 minutes or more to walk from one tower to the other tower at the other end of the building. Being on the water is so beautiful. The sunrises and sunsets are just so awesome. With the big windows in every room, there is always a good view to look at. The kids are getting distracted by the huge ships docking and going past, so we’ll see how that continues or stops in the near future.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 345 Comments

4. Describe school’s location in relation to the city center and to the teacher’s housing. How do staff get to school before and after school?

“The school has an awesome location in Seoul — 20 minutes from downtown, but there is tons to do in our own neighborhood too. Most teachers live in on-campus housing which is maintained by the school and quite nice. Walking to school from on campus housing takes about 5 minutes or less depending on which building you live in. One of the largest faculty housing units had to be demolished for the construction of the new high school (scheduled to be completed in 2018). Those faculty members have been displaced to the nearby Grand Hilton. The apartment units over there are quite nice and the school runs two shuttles from the hotel to school in the morning and in the afternoon (at different times). The hotel is about a 20-30 minute walk from school and a 5 -10 minute taxi ride. Many teachers also ride bikes or scooters from Hilton to school.” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 147 Comments

3. Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city.

“I haven’t been to many restaurants, but I like Rolly’s stake house. The atmosphere is awesome, food is great (they also have salads if you are vegetarian, but meet is main meal there 🙂 Also there is a really nice restaurant on Uetliberg, with the great city view, that is one of my favorite spots in Zurich. Also ride on the lake is really beautiful.” – Inter-community School Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) – 69 Comments

2. Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus.

“The school building location is awesome. The surrounding area is amidst a row of other like buildings, some residential and some other businesses. The whole area is quite nicely manicured in terms of gardens and the upkeep on the other buildings. It doesn’t necessarily look like an entrance to a school (the door to ICS), and there is just a small sign on the door letting people know.” – International Community School London (London, England) – 49 Comments

1. How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country?

“The teachers at the American School of Asuncion are great and work really hard. In general, it appears that the foreign staff work harder and put in longer hours than local teachers, but this is one perception. There are lots of extracurricular activities offered after school for students: chess, sports, photography, newspaper, student council, etc. In the elementary, the workload is awesome! Primary teachers only have about 4 hours of contact teaching time with the students each day. The rest of the time for students is spent in Specials and Spanish class. Middle and high school also have apple time to plan lessons and take a break between classes.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 145 Comments

If you have an interesting and useful comment to add related to the awesome parts at your school that you would like to share, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

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Comment Topic Highlight

Why Are People Staying at or Leaving Your International School?

November 15, 2017


If you work at an international school, you know that this is already the time to be thinking about whether you will stay for another year or two at your current school or move on back home or to another international school.
International School

At some international schools, 1/4 or 1/3 of their current teachers decide to let their school know that they will be moving on at the end of the school year. Though it is not the case necessarily at other international schools that have a lot of local hires. Those with lots of local hires generally tend to have teachers that want to stay there for longer periods of time because they have more ties to the local country (e.g. they are married to a local, etc.).

Regardless of the personal situation of the teacher, another big factor that guides a teacher’s decision to stay or leave is the school itself. For example, the school might be losing student numbers as of late. Fewer students mean less demand for all the teachers on the current staff roster, meaning some need to go whether they like it or not. Maybe even the school has decided to alter or eliminate the staff children benefit (to have them attend the school for free). And the list goes on…

There are of course even other factors that come into play that affect this big decision that a number of teachers need to make around this time of the year. One of these factors is that the school has decided to move in a direction that doesn’t match your teaching philosophy any more. Staying at a school that doesn’t match you and your teaching style can be a serious concern leading you to search for other positions in school that better suit you.

International School

The biggest factor to stay or leave might just boil down to money plain and simple. If the school isn’t meeting your needs financially any more, there are many more that probably will.

So that questions is for you is why are YOU going to stay or leave your current school? It might be one of these reasons listed above or a combination of these and other even other reasons.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of staying or leaving, so you can stay the most informed as possible. There are a total of 145 comments (November 2017) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of 65 comment topics called – “In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school?”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“People are staying because they are mostly not getting better job anywhere else and peoples are leaving because of the rude behavior, Less salary, false promises, promotion of wrong candidate, lack of resources and overloaded routine.” – Indus International School (Pune) (Pune, India)43 Total Comments

“Staying because the campus is nice, supply and PD budgets are generous, students are overall courteous and engaged, and because Berlin rocks. Leaving because salaries are too low, and some departments are more disorganized than others.” – Berlin Brandenburg International School (Berlin, Germany)52 Comments

“Staying: Turnover is low. In my opinion people are staying because the school climate is generally very positive – it is a happy place to work. The school has generally got its act together (curriculum, policies etc) very well so there are structures in place to make teaching positive. It is a vibrant, stimulating place to work. Japan is a lovely place to live. Leaving: The cliche is single females find it harder to date in Tokyo and that could be a reason to leave. The school’s pay is OK and the school’s reputation is good and growing but the pay is not as great as some other big name schools. People leave as they get the experience and then are drawn to the lure of $$. This is especially the case of teachers in their late 40’s looking for a pension.” – Tokyo International School (Tokyo, Japan)69 Total Comments

“People stay a long time because the pay and benefits are great, the city is very livable, the cost of living is low and the classes are not too large.” – Anglo-American School of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg, Russia)38 Comments

“The overall package is hard to beat and the staff are not overworked. Combined with minimal classroom management requirements due to small class sizes, DISK really is a great place to work.” – Doshisha International School Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan)92 Comments

“If you survive your first year most teachers stay on. The first year is a challenge, especially if you are late arriving (a common issue because of how long it takes to get a visa).” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China)121 Comments

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Top 10 Lists

11 Member-Submitted Comments Related to Single International School Teachers

November 5, 2017


With the hiring season upon us, there is a divide amongst us international school teachers. Will the international school you are interviewing with prefer to hire a teaching couple or a single teacher?

I guess it could seem like the international school is being a bit discriminatory when they state their preference (sometimes in the job description vacancy itself), but there might be a number of factors that come into play in their decision to be so explicit in what they are looking for.

Single

Sometimes hiring a single teacher can be more expensive than hiring a teaching couple. We all know schools love saving money! Money aside though, the administration at international schools also know the lifestyle that prospective teachers are signing up for. The set up could be good for both singles and teaching couples, but the city and country where the school is located could also lend itself better to a single person OR to a teaching couple.

It is hard to guess which type of teacher would be better for which set up, but the administration can see patterns developing amongst their staff. For example, are the single teachers or the teaching couples staying longer (or shorter) at the school? Are single teachers finding it difficult to save money there?  Are single teachers able to easily meet up with other expats or locals in the city for a date?

The fact is, though, that single teachers get hired all the time during each recruitment season. If you are a quality teacher with a good resume and references (+luck and timing), the school will definitely consider hiring you. However, it might be good to know which international schools have a good record of hiring single teachers.

Single

Additionally, if a school gives an offer of employment to a teacher who is single, what are the exact details about the benefits the school is offering you specifically?  What is the lifestyle like for single teachers that live in different cities around the world?

So many factors and things to consider!

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teaching couples and single teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 92 comments that had the keyword “Singles” in them. Here are 11 of them:

United Arab Emirates
“Dubai is a big city in most ways with very modern nightlife etc. singles should have no trouble meeting other singles, and couples will find the city enjoyable as well. Sex between people who are not married is illegal and people DO go to jail for it/get deported for it, but usually only when it is something very blatant (like having sex on a public beach). Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE and is still prosecuted. UAE is trying very hard to balance between a modern, cosmopolitan city while at the same time being respectful of traditional Arab culture.” – Raffles International School (South) (59 total comments)

Japan
“Kyoto has a pretty balance for all interests. singles may find it difficult here, however, as there isn’t much nightlife in Kyoto (a lot of things close around 8 or 9) and it can be hard to meet people. Osaka is 30 minutes to an hour away, however, and has a lot of options in that department. There are plenty of parks and outdoor spaces in Kyoto, unlike Tokyo or other metropolitan regions of Japan.” – Doshisha International School Kyoto (92 total comments)

Hong Kong
“The housing allowance for singles was increased to 23,000HKD (2900USD) which allows for a bit more choice. Because of the price discrepancy among singles, teaching couples and a teacher with dependent(s), singles were the only ones who received an increase.” – Hong Kong International School (118 total comments)

El Salvador
“The school itself is a very family orientated place, though there are lots of singles in the school. Often group trips are organised renting beach houses and lake houses.” – Academia Britanica Cuscatleca (30 total comments)

Thailand
“Chiang Mai is a great place to live for couples and families. Singles who like the Great Outdoors will also be satisfied. Those seeking a full on nightlife need to save their Bahts for a weekend in Bangkok or Pattaya. Chiang Mai has some great pubs and restaurants, but currently all are forced to close at midnight.” – Varee Chiang Mai International School (62 total comments)

Qatar
“Staff housing is provided. 2 bedroom apartments for singles, just in and around Doha (Al Saad, Al Marqab) or in Education City (mostly families because of the parks and facilities that in and around the compound). You can ask for rent allowance but once you forfeit housing you can’t get back in! QF policy. Think it’s around 8,000 qar a month plus 500 for utilities.You’ll never find anything as nice as the housing provided for that money, without getting a roommate (then you can save money)” – Qatar Academy (Sidra) (65 total comments)

Single

Tanzania
“The school generally recruits at the Search fairs, in Johannesburg, Bangkok and London. There are some long-term local hire teachers. Many local hires are expats who are here with their partners. I believe they also hire through Skype interviews. There is a good mix of people – couples, families and singles. Recently there have been a lot of singles hired which has put a bit of a crunch on housing.” – International School of Tanganyika (171 total comments)

Zambia
“Lots of activities for singles, but people generally agree Lusaka is great for families, less so for singles wanting to find love. There is a small gay culture, but not vibrant due to the country’s general conservatism.” – American International School of Lusaka (45 total comments)

Colombia
“I am a single parent with a 5-year-old so life is very quiet for us. singles seem to have a very active social life as there are a lot of bars and Manizales is very safe. In terms of gay life, I know there are gay bars here and gay couples but I they feel they need to be discreet in public.” – Colegio Granadino Manizales (44 total comments)

South Korea
“Staff housing differs for singles and married couples. They are both located near the school and are in an area which has plenty to do. Major bills include gas, electricity, internet, etc. The most expensive is the gas in the winter. Teachers are responsible for their utilities.” – Busan Foreign School (5 total comments)

France
“There is a mix of local and expat teachers. The majority of expat teachers come from the UK, but others come from other English-speaking countries as well. There is very low turnover rate at the school- maybe one or two positions open up each year. The staff are mostly married couples- very few singles.” – International School of Lyon (12 total comments)

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Traveling Around

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

May 21, 2013


Traveling Around: Japan

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Can you relate?

• Traveling around on trains using the Japanese Rail Pass, and having unlimited access for the entire trip.
• Enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms, called ‘sakura’ in Japanese.
• Paying good money for a few pieces of delicious fatty tuna sushi. Worth every penny!
• Being offered dessert from a kind group of Japanese young people, after they catch us checking out their food.
• Having a group photo, soon after, with this same group of young people.
• Seeing Hello Kitty everywhere!
• Noticing that everything is so darn cute in Japan.
• Walking for miles in search for the perfect bowl of tempura.
• Wondering what is going on when every few people you see are wearing medical masks, and discovering that though some people wear them when they are sick, others wear them to hide a blemish or their emotions!
• Entering a store dedicated entirely to chopsticks, some running in the hundreds of dollars.
• Visiting Kyoto in hopes of seeing at least one, elusive geisha, and being lucky enough to see one after another, after another.
• Walking around to look at all of the beautiful temples, and constantly being passed by fast walking, little old ladies, who may even be in their 90’s! There’s longevity in this country.
• Watching some very strange TV programs while in the hotel room. Was it a game show, a reality show, a talk show?  It was all in Japanese, so who knows!
• Walking around the bottom floor a fancy department store, which was devoted all to food, including perfectly wrapped strawberries which cost about $50, and a watermelon which cost $100.
• Taking the train to Osaka just for dinner.
• Spending the last night in the Tokyo neighborhood of Shibuya, and trying to cross the busiest intersection in the world.
• Asking myself, since I live in Korea, why it has taken me three years before visiting Japan?

Currently we have 39 international schools listed in Japan on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profile pages:

Hiroshima International School (23 Comments)
Canadian Academy (Kobe) (10 Comments)
Kyoto International School (14 Comments)
• Nagoya International School (12 Comments)
American School in Japan (20 Comments)
Seisen International School (33 Comments)
Horizon Japan International School (9 Comments)
St. Mary’s International School (14 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 6 free months of premium membership!

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “A Leaf Around the World”

December 5, 2012


Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 26th blog that we would like to highlight is called “A Leaf Around The World”  Check out the wealth of information in the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at Yokohama International School in Japan.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How to be an explorer – Day 1

“I have been reading this book called ‘How to Be an Explorer of the World’. It’s basically a guidebook/ reminder of my creative thinking, whenever I feel like, I turn the pages and roll in. Last night, I came across the exploration #4 which is a very simple practice. During your walk to your work/school,etc. you pick up 30 things. A collection of 30 random things… I decided that I will pick one object everyday and will record my findings and thoughts here. It will take a month and in the end I will try to create an artwork with my findings. It is a challenge for me to break away from my daily routine of speed walking to the train station while I am nibbling over  my so called breakfast consisting a piece of  toasted bread with cheese, paying attention to nothing but the road that leads me to my destination. A nice challenge though, one that will make me look at things rather than seeing them passing by…”

What a great idea!  I think every one should have a go at this if they are living in a foreign country.  Sometimes we can walk down a street many times in a foreign city and not notice certain things, even things such as a store.  If we can remember to take a look around ourselves while living abroad, it could only help us to better understand our current situation and aide you in making new connections with regards to your life living in your host country.

Recycling in Japan

“If you are living in Japan, you make a big commitment to recycle. The moment that you register with your neighbourhood ward, you are given an A4 paper of how to separate your rubbish. There are certain days for certain garbage and you need to tie them up as shown in the picture and moreover you need to wash your plastic garbage before you put it out in front of your door…”

I love the topic of recycling in other countries. Each one does it slightly different.  Sometimes it takes awhile to get into the swing of things when trying to recycle things from your home after you have just moved to a new country.  If you are living in Shanghai, there isn’t really a city recycling programme.  But that doesn’t mean people in Shanghai don’t recycle.  There are always people with big bags going to and looking inside of garbage cans in Shanghai.  They are the recyclers.  Actually, they look at their recycling other people’s garbage as their job, according to an article I read on the That’s Shanghai website.

My Morning Walk in Yutenji

“Every morning, I walk to the train station in Yutenji. On my way to the station I meet the same people everyday, the little old lady neighbour who sweeps her front door, the young woman on her fancy bike with a trendy green backpack, the father and daughter walking down to Nakameguro, the big old neighbourhood watchman sitting on a bench in Yutenji park which is the smallest park ever with its own rules and regulations written on a sign in both Japanese and English. The most interesting thing every morning for me, is the board that hangs on the wall of a very old house with weekly messages from a wise neighbour. Everyday when I walk down that road, I stop, read the message and think about it on my way to the station…”

Your journey to work is an important one. Going to work in a car is a bit different than going to work by bike or walking.  You can see and interact with more people when walking to work.  You can get some exercise biking to work.  It is important to research how teachers get to work at international schools you are intersted in working at; will it be a good match with the preferred way you like to get to work?

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1300+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.  We have over 6000+ submitted comments and information as of this blog entry!

Want to work for  an international school in the Japan like this blogger?  Currently, we have 37 international schools listed in the Japan on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

American School in Japan (19 Comments)
Seisen International School (22 Comments)
St. Mary’s International School (14 Comments)
Kyoto International School (9 Comments)
Horizon Japan International School (9 Comments)
Canadian Academy (Kobe) (10 Comments)
Hiroshima International School (17 Comments)
• Gunma Kokusai Academy (8 Comments)

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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Traveling Around

Top 10 Things to Do in Japan in 7 days

November 11, 2018


Japan is, due to its remoteness and quirkiness, a dream destination for many Westerners. Common opinion is that, to fully experience wonders of the land of the rising Sun, one should plan for at least a ten-day long vacation. However, I still think that a week-long trip to Japan is a great idea for a spring or autumn break.

I traveled to Japan in the fall of 2018 when the weather was just perfect with almost no rain and the temperatures between 20 and 25°C. Itinerary wise, I chose to do the best of (and ideal for the first trip to) Japan: Osaka – Kyoto – Tokyo tour, flying to Osaka and leaving from Tokyo, and I would like to present you the 10 highlights from my trip.

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  1. Visit the Osaka Castle

Depending on where you are located, it is good to go visit the Osaka Castle first, and during the day, as it is situated a bit separately from other tourists’ sights. This is a pre-Edo era fortress and a castle with a large moat, fortified with wonderfully executed stone wall. The castle itself is an architectural eye candy rising in the middle, that you can climb and get a view of Osaka skyline for as cheap as 600 JPY (5 USD).

  1. Osaka City Center in the night: Dotombori, Takoyaki

In the evening, I suggest you hit up the Dotombori area for a postcard worthy picture of the Moving Crab or the Swimmer neon poster. Take a stroll down the main shopping street that is so lit up with LEDs and neon lights in the night that you will lose every impression of the night sky above. This is a great place to try Takoyaki, the Japanese seafood balls that originate from this area. The big (moving) models of crabs, octopuses and squids are to indicate the kind of food that the restaurant is serving, so use them as a guide.

  1. Walk the Shinsekai in Osaka, The Tsutenkaku Tower, Kushikatsu

Shinsekai is an old, colorful, part of Osaka ironically called the New World. Well, once it was new, in 1920s that is, when it first emerged. The area was modelled by New York and Paris of that time, with the Tsutenkaku Tower dominating the neighborhood in the middle. It allows for another great view of Osaka skyline, but also to the Shinsekai from above. This area is famous for Kushikatsu –panko covered, deep-fried skewers made of vegetables, meat, eggs, cheese and the mixture of it. It is suitable for vegans as you can select only vegetables on your menu.

  1. Go to the Osaka Aquarium

The central tank of this aquarium features a couple of whale sharks and that alone is a big reason to visit the Osaka Aquarium located in the eastern part of the city and easily reachable by the subway. Apart from the sharks, which is the aquarium’s main attraction, this place showcases not only a huge variety of marine life from the world’s seven seas, but rivers, creeks and lakes as well such as otters, birds and even penguins!

  1. The Imperial Palace of Kyoto

Kyoto is Japan’s old capital and hosts the second active palace of the Emperor – The Imperial Palace of Kyoto. Enjoy the free tour of walking the vast courtyard with traditional Japanese architecture and gardens with lakes and bridges, posing for some fantastic photo opportunities. Located centrally, it is easily reachable from every part of the city.

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  1. Kyoto downtown: Nishiki Market, Gion district and The Yasaka Shrine

If you are in for some shopping, check out the center of Kyoto – The Nishiki shopping area with both high-end boutiques and Asian covered bazaar markets. On a walking distance from there stands Gion, the old, geisha district of Kyoto. Stroll down the romantic streets on of Gion heading east and you will reach the Yasaka Shrine, a popular tourist spot. Before you enter the Shrine, I advise you to try Pablo’s cheesecake tarts which stand just a couple hundreds of meters on the left side of the entrance.

  1. Kyoto – Kodaiji Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and climb the mountain for the views

For a more spiritual experience, walk south from the Yasaka shrine and experience the Kodaiji Temple, the ceremonial Japanese garden where traditional weddings happen and walk the mini bamboo forest that they have in the small hill behind the temple. The entrance fee is 600 JPY. Then you can take a train south from there to Fushimi Inari Shrine, (the main shrine of the god Inari) which is represented on most postcards from Kyoto: an array of orange arches called Torii leads towards the top of a hill where you may feel as a pilgrim, but the top promises you some great picture worthy openings.

  1. Tokyo – The Centers: Shinju-Ku and Shibuya

Take a bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo for a great traveling experience. Taking about 3 hours to reach it from Kyoto, Tokyo is a gigantic city, so one should not even dream of seeing it all in 3 days, but it is definitely enough to scratch the surface. After the traditional Kyoto, you may be hungry for some futuristic views. Head to Shinju-Ku in the evening and Shibuya in the night and experience the lights of Tokyo at their prime.

  1. Tokyo – Akihabara and the Kitchenware district

Akihabara is the electronic and gamer’s town of Tokyo – “Otaku district”. For all the geeks and anime lovers, this is the right area to browse vintage video game stores, comic and toy collector stores, maid cafes and other quirky stuff. Not far away from there is the Kitchenware district in a street of Kapabashi. Here you can find any kind of kitchenware, but most of the people come to purchase a Japanese knives, known for their quality, precision and durability.

Japan

  1. Tokyo – The Imperial Gardens, Roppongi and Akasaka

Scratch the surface of the cultural experience of Tokyo by walking the Imperial Palace garden. Only East garden is open for public admission, while you can preregister for an organized tour of the palace itself. You can have an afternoon tea in a bar of the Imperial Palace Hotel which is an attraction of Modernism architecture in itself, offering numerous restaurants and luxury shopping experience. Hit Roppongi and Akasaka for some excellent eats in the evening. Both of these neighborhoods are located close by and are in a walking distance from each other. They offer great bars, restaurants and cafes for you to enjoy and relax after this amazing and trip.

Bonus tip: Try to book a hotel with a Japanese spa in Tokyo. It will help you unwind at the end of every day full of experience, and the sauna and hot water of the spa will do miracles for your tired feet!

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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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