Highlighted Articles

Gay International School Teachers: Can You Feel Comfortable Everywhere?

August 23, 2015


For all international school teachers, it is hard to adapt to your new host country.  For gay international school teachers, it can be even more of a challenge.  In recent months, it made world news that the USA’s government legalized gay marriage.  Not all countries have gone down a similar path though. As a result, there are varying gay rights (or lack there of) across the globe.

2011 Capital Pride Parade - Dupont Circle - Washington, DC

Regardless of the kinds of gay rights the country has, there are definitely gay international school teachers and couples that work at international schools all over the world. But like we all know, not all countries (and schools for that matter) are all that welcoming to gay teachers. On the other hand, some schools (and the countries they are in) are very welcoming.

Maybe a good strategy for gay teachers is to just ask the administration during their interview, to ask them how things are at their school and in their country.  Better to know more information before you decide to sign a contract with a school.  Some schools might respond by telling you that they currently have gay teachers working there and that they don’t experience any discrimination both at work and in the community. Other international schools will stare back at you blankly, not knowing how to respond to your direct question about being gay at their school.  If a school shows hesitation, it might be a good indicator that they are indeed not the best fit for you at that time.

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You might say though, that regardless of what the administration says, it is important to do your research about each city and country. Even if the gay rights are not so progressive in a certain country, it does not mean that you should give up an opportunity to work there.  There are always other gay people to connect with once you arrive, both in the community and hopefully also at your school.

A great website to stay up-to-date with the current events (all things gay related) of each country is globalgayz.com.

Another great resource is the International School Community website. Using our Comments Search feature, we found 33 comments (a premium membership feature) that talked about what life is like for gay people in that city. Here are just a few that we would like to highlight:

“The city is huge and very diverse. City center is inhabited by lower-income citizens, as it’s very loud and dirty. The city is muslim and definitely not gay-friendly, though you could see a gay bar here and there and there was a transsexual pride going on this year. The city itself is very lively, with nice bars and cafes in a walking street Yeni Carsi near Taksim square.” – MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)50 Comments

“Berlin has a long history as being gay friendly. Schöneberg is considered the gaypart of the city, and if you walk anywhere southern form Lietzenburger Straße you will see a lot of rainbow flags on balconies as well as in bars and shops. If you want to avoid nightlife, don’t live in Kreuzberg: this is the party/hipster area. Friedrichshein and Prenzauler Berg are emerging as a very popular places to live, and the prices in these neighbourhoods are rising. Charlottenburg is a very nice and quiet neighbourhood especially for the ones for kids and it’s not far from anything (check out Goethestraße area).” – Berlin International School (Berlin, Germany)12 Comments

“I’ve heard from my gay friend here that dating can be a bit difficult. If you’ve seen the new show last year called Looking, then that pretty much is accurate in our dating is here for gay men. There are definitely endless bars to go to at night. Just be careful of the location of the bar and how safe is it there at night. Good to use Uber to get yourself home after you dance the night away!” –International High School of San Francisco (San Francisco, United States)37 Comments

“Do not go to a night club unless you know they are foreigner friendly. Fights occur at the other ones. There is a gay club in town, but homosexuality “does not exist” in their way of thinking/culture. Ulaanbaatar (UB) is the ugliest city in the world in the world’s most beautiful country. UB is quiet, as their aren’t that many people. A great place for a single male, but couples may find it boring. Many foreign women marry Mongolian men, too, so it’s okay on that front.” – Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)68 Comments

“I had friends who were gay that had no troubles while living here, they just maintain a low profile…not all over one another in public. I made sure to avoid public displays of affection while out with my husband too though. I mean, it is an ultra-conservative society and one should behave accordingly. We also wore clothing that covered our shoulders and our knees because of respect for the locals which are uncomfortable with all the skin that Westerners like to show off. My husband and I are a mixed race couple and we had no issue with that at all. We did not know what to expect when we came to Cairo but for two years we were treated very well and never experienced any racism that we noticed.” – Misr American College (Cairo, Egypt)37 Comments

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School Profile Searches

Using the School Profile Search feature #15: Check out which schools met the criteria!

January 28, 2015


Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you.  You get the possibility to search (using our unique search engine) for international schools based on the type of school that best fits your criteria.  There are many different kinds of international schools: ones that are small in student numbers to ones that have more than 1200 students, ones that are for-profit to ones that are non-profit, ones that are in very large cities to ones that are in towns of only 1000 people, etc.  Each international school teacher has their own type of school that best fits their needs as a teacher and as a professional.  Your personal life is also very important when you are trying to find the right match.  Most of us know what it is like to be working at an international school that doesn’t fit your needs, so it’s best to find one that does!

Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search our 1773 schools (updated from 1606 on 20 February 2014) for the perfect school using up to 9 different criteria.  The 9 criteria are: Region of the world, Country, City, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Age of School, Kinds of Students and Metro Population.  You can do a school profile search in two different locations on our website: the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page. Check out our past school profile search results here.

Search Result #15

Criteria selected:

  1. Region of the world (East Asia)
  2. Country (All)
  3. City (All)
  4. Curriculum (UK)
  5. School Nature (All)
  6. No. of students (All)
  7. Year founded (All)
  8. Kinds of student (Mostly Local)
  9. Metro Population (All)

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Schools Found: 15

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The 15 international schools that met the criteria were found in 4 countries. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on them:

• Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus) (Harbin, China) – 45 Comments
• Shanghai Rego International School (Shanghai, China) – 74 Comments
• Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) – 68 Comments
• International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 48 Comments
• North London Collegiate School (Jeju) (Jeju-do, South Korea) – 19 Comments

Why not start your own searches now and then start finding information about the schools that best fit your needs?  Additionally, all premium members are able to access the 12936 comments and information (updated from 10304 on 20 February 2014) that have been submitted on 812 international school profiles on our website.

Join International School Community today and you will automatically get the ability to make unlimited searches to find the international schools that fit your criteria with a free 2-day trail of premium membership coupon code sent to you in your welcome email after joining.

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #6: Spend tons of money during your trip back home

December 21, 2014


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

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How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #6 – Spend tons of money during your trip back home

Of course you go back to your home country to spend time with your friends and family. It is important to go back at least once a year to see them in person and hang out like before you moved abroad. Even if you are able to Skype a lot with these people throughout the year, you can’t beat getting a hug from them in person!

boots2We all know though that there is something else on our minds when we go back home…and that is shopping!  We all have those go-to-stores that we must visit.  If you are from the United States, then it might be Target. If you are from England, then it might be Boots. Finding time to do a bit of shopping in these stores is a must!

Maybe clothes are cheaper in your home country. Buy them!

Are some toiletries cheaper and are there brands that you can’t get in your host country? Buy them!

Did you bring an extra suitcase in your other suitcase just for putting the stuff you bought from your trip back home? Buy even more!

Now to food.

Food is extremely important when living abroad. One of the best parts of living abroad is trying the local products and food delicacies, but having a bit of the food from your home country around can be quite comforting.

Img00003Everyone has their own food that they want to buy and bring back to their host country. What one teacher might bring back, another teacher might say why. To each their own really.  We all have those things that we want and that is how life goes as an expat.

But, the key is not to let your home country purchases get outta hand!  “Oh, I’ll just buy one of these and two of those” one day. The next day you find yourself saying, “Oh, I better buy one more of each!”  Purchase after purchase, the amount you spend goes up and up.

It is easy to get caught up in the mainframe of “well, I am only here one time a year, so I better stock up.”  Though that is true, saying it over and over in your head can increase your purchases even more than you were expecting (not allowing your save your money as it were!).

How can you then keep your purchases under control? One key rule to keep in mind: only buy things that you for sure can’t already buy in your host country.

Is it true that the longer you live abroad, the less things that you buy when you go back home? Or maybe it is that you get smarter about the things you let yourself purchase. Some might say both of those statements are not true at all and that we are all subject to the temptation of buying products from our homeland when we go back for a visit and putting our savings plan on hold for a bit.

Happy shopping back home and bringing those items back to your home abroad!

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We do have a comment topic on our website related to the theme of what food items you might want/need to bring to your new host country (don’t go overboard though!).  It is in the city section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Tell about your experiences in the local grocery stores. What can you get or cannot get? Which ones are your favorites.

“There are almost no British/Australian/NZ/Canadian/American food items that can’t be found in Bangkok nowadays. Items from home tend to be expensive though, so you you may wish to pack a couple of jars of Marmite/Vegemite and your favourite tea bags.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 11 Comments

“Sometimes, items are in abundance, and other times they are scarce, such as peanut butter.” – Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) – 68 Comments

“We can get nearly everything. Rooibos tea is hard to find, but everything basic is easy to get.” – Qatar Academy (Doha) (Doha, Qatar) – 56 Comments

“There is a very large supermarket 5 minutes walk from the school. It has a wide variety of products. (Greater variety than Danish supermarkets)” – International School of Helsinki (Helsinki, Finland) – 30 Comments

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Information for Members

The Total Comments in All the City Information Sections: 5518!

January 14, 2020


As all International School Community members know, each of the 2120+ school profile pages on our website has four comments and information sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information.  Our members are encouraged to submit comments and information on one or all of these sections if they currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the past.  It is important that we all share what we know so that we can in turn help other new teachers make a more informed decision before they sign any contract! *Additionally, for every 10 comments you submit (which are anonymous by the way), you automatically get one free month of premium membership added on to your account!  The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!

FOR UNLIMITED FREE MEMBERSHIP, BECOME A MAYOR OF A SCHOOL TODAY!

So, what are the recent statistics about the City Information sections on all the school profile pages?  The current total number of submitted comments in the City Information sections is 5518 (out of a total of 35256+ comments); up 1134 comments since February 2019.

There are 17 subtopics in the City Information section on each school profile page.  Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out out the total number of comments in that specific subtopic and also an example comment that has been submitted there.

• Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city. (599 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Going to check out and relax in the church that was made in rock (Temppeliaukio) is a great things to do on a rainy (or sunny) day. They play relaxing music as you just sit in one of the pews and looks up to see the copper designed ceiling. So beautiful!” – Helsinki International School (Helsinki, Finland) – 41 Comments

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• Locations in the city geared towards the expat lifestyle (grocery stores, bars, etc.). (516 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Taipa has a lot geared towards expat. The local Park’n’Shop grocery store is full of imported things.” – The School of the Nations (Macao, China) – 20 Comments

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• Sample prices for food, transportation, average hourly rates for a housekeeper, etc. (525 Total Comments)

Example comment: “You could definitely get a good main dish at a nice restaurant for 6-8 EUR. The public transportation is free for the locals, but for tourists, it is .80 to 1.60 EUR a ride. Of course there are cheaper tickets, like days passes, etc.” – International School of Estonia (Tallinn, Estonia) – 22 Comments

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• Detailed info about lifestyles: singles vs. couples, gay vs. straight, nightlife vs. quiet and big city vs nature. (423 Total Comments)

Example comment: “If you like riding your bike around everywhere, there aren’t always the best bike paths in the city. In turn, you need to be alert at all times! With regards to nature, there are super green parks spotted all around the city center. There is also the Wisla river has some “beach” areas where people hang out on a warm day. It is a bit smelly there, but still nice.” – American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland) – 143 Comments

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• Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there. (533 Total Comments)

Example comment: “On a scale from 1 to 5, English level is somewhere around 3+. Not everyone speaks English, so knowing German is a big advantage.” – Zurich International School (Zurich, Switzerland) – 46 Comments

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• Sample activities that you can do around the city? Including ones that you can do with a family (children)? (373 Total Comments)

Example comment: “During the summer don’t miss out on Treptower park with Badeschiff (not good for those with children). There is an artificial tropical island not far away from Berlin and many people take their kids there during winter, or to Wannsee during summer. Should you want to go and do the recreational swimming, Berlin Bade Betrieb is there for you on numerous locations.” – Berlin International School (Berlin, Germany) – 12 Comments

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• Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year. (578 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Nov. 15 – March 15 is when the government heat is on in the apartments. That’s pretty much when temperatures are below freezing all the time. Over the weekend the weather changed to 5 – 10 degrees above freezing. Spring is about six weeks long. Then summer is hot.” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 158 Comments

• Places, markets and stores where you can find really good deals. (266 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Walmart and Kalea (like Ikea) has just about everything you’ll need to set up house. El Martially in zona 14 sells used furniture but bring a Guatemalan friend to negotiate for you. You can also by hand-made furniture off the street very cheaply.” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (Guatemala City, Guatemala) – 75 Comments

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• Describe a funny culture shock moment that you’ve had recently in this city. (122 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Babies and toddlers with open butt pants and shorts are always fun to see pee all over the place. Trying to cross the street without getting killed is fun as well.” – QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China) – 64 Comments

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• Where did the school take you in the city when you first arrived? What were some staff outings/party locations? (170 Total Comments)

Example comment: “When you first arrive, the school sets up a week-long itinerary. . .shopping at many shops, eating at a variety of restaurants. It’s one of the highlights of coming here. Many of the places seen during orientation are too expensive for people to return to often.” – The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC)) – 59 Comments

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What is the best part of living in this city for you? (268 Total Comments)

Example comment: “I love the ease of getting what you want, when you want.” – Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 145 Comments

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What advice can you give on how to set things up like internet, phone, experience dealing with landlord, etc.? (224 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Internet’s been funky lately but that’s just the new reality in China at the moment. Nobody can do anything about it.” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 436 Comments

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• Tell your experience moving your items to this city. What company, insurance policy, etc. did you use? (89 Total Comments)

Example comment: “SOS International is a popular choice and you can use it at their clinics here. It’s pricey, though.” – Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) – 76 Comments

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• Tell about your experience with the local banks and dealing with multiple currencies. (228 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Most local banks charge $10-$20 for an account. The government now also charges 10% of any fees charged by the bank. Most banks then charge you 1% to withdraw dollars, even if you have a dollar account. This is because their exchange rate is horrible, so people take out the money in dollars then walk to an exchange bureau and get a much better rate. IST has a few agreements in place so that the first $1000 a month does not get charged the fee. Other than that, the banks are okay. Nothing to write home about and you have to watch for random fees, but you can usually get it sorted. Some people just use overseas accounts and you can get money from the ATM, but people often find thousands of dollars missing from accounts when they do that.” – International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments

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• What are some locals customs (regarding eating, drinking and going out, family, socializing, etc.) that you find interesting for expats to know about? (157 Total Comments)

Example comment: “When you receive something in person, from somebody else, it is best to take it using both hands, not just one. Do it with two hands to show respect and appreciation.” – Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong, China) – 67 Comments

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• Tell about your experiences in the local grocery stores. What can you get or cannot get? Which ones are your favorites. (192 Total Comments)

Example comment: “If you are from an Asian country I would suggest finding an H Mart. The Buford Highway farmers market has country specific named aisles with all of the countries. The Dekalb farmers market has a lot of unique fruits (think durian) and vegetables that you won’t find in a typical grocery store as well. All of these markets are worth a visit, especially the Dekalb Farmers Market (don’t go on a weekend!) and are huge.” – Atlanta International School (Atlanta, United States) – 31 Comments

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• What is the most challenging/difficult part of living in the city? (255 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The Spanish spoken here is very difficult to understand. There is a lot of slang and people speak very fast.” –Santiago College (Santiago, Chile) – 24 Comments

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