The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

January 31, 2016


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 Ruamrudee International School Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand), described her way to work there as follows:

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When you think of Bangkok you automatically think of bustling and busy streets which are lined with vendors with their food carts hawking their wares.  Well, when I travelled to Thailand as a tourist, that was the image that I had of living here.  So in January 2015 when I signed a contract to move to Bangkok from Dubai I thought I knew what I was moving into to.  How wrong could I have been….

Ruamrudee International School is not in downtown Bangkok, it is out towards the airport in an area known as Minburi.  A taxi to the airport might take about 20 minutes if the traffic is in your favour – a godsend when you are doing boarding pick ups the weekend before school starts and you have to go back and forth as the flights never seem to align where you can pick up more than one airline’s arrival…On the other hand, to get downtown in a taxi could take up to two hours.  The main road through Minburi is Ramkhamhaeng and it is a really busy road.  A couple of Friday nights ago it took us 70 minutes to travel about 6km – the traffic was insane – on the way back the same trip took 10 minutes.  But traffic flows eventually – there is no beeping like in Ho Chi Min or Beijing and the drivers are nowhere near as crazy as what we encountered in Dubai… these drivers just take it in their stride and no one gets upset – everyone lets everyone else merge without any problems…

Some teachers chose to live downtown, they have regular drivers who pick them up and drop them off each day.  They have to leave as soon as they are able as any delay could mean hours added to their drive home time. 

I chose to live in the community near the school – Perfect Place 2.  Perfect Place is a large secure community with wide leafy streets.  Within the community there are plenty of parks and lakes to walk around and most parks have exercise equipment available to use.  I have seen groups doing some kind of tai chi style exercise at sunset by the lake and it looks so peaceful and calming to the spirit.

imageLots of teachers use scooters to get around although some, like me, have hired electric golf carts – they can be driven around the community, as long as you don’t go out onto Ramkhamhaeng Road, they are perfectly acceptable. Plus, there isn’t that much road traffic in the community.  Once you get into the Pak Soi (where all the shops, restaurants and food carts are), traffic starts to build up as it waits to get onto Ramkhamhaeng Road.

I work in Boarding so I do crazy hours – no day is the same as the one before.  I work weekends and have other days off to compensate.  I might go in at noon but either not come home til noon the next day or if someone else is covering the overnight, I might leave at 10.30pm.  The journey is still the same regardless what time it is.  Traffic in the community isn’t an issue so I know I can leave any time and it will only take 7 minutes to get to school.

So, when I leave my house, I find myself in a quiet street (except for the dogs… not soi dogs – they all have homes, but they all bark).

A couple of turns and I say goodbye to the guards at the entrance to Perfect Place 2 – they click their heels and salute every entry and departure.

A left turn onto Ramkhamhaeng Soi 174 and I’m off….

The wide streets are incredibly clean – maybe something to do with the fact that every 500m there is a cleaner assigned to keeping her part of the street clean.

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We have a lady who walks up and down our streets in PP2 and sweeps up all the leaves and dirt off the street.

Through another security gate (it only takes about 3 mins to get to this point) and you are at the Clubhouse, overlooking the lake, it is a private gym and infinity pool but the space also houses a restaurant, coffee shop, hair salon (150 baht to wash and blow dry your hair) and the local 7-11 (they are everywhere….).

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Round the corner and its a lovely drive along the lake.

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Some days the fountain is working and it is really pretty.  There is another smaller lake on the opposite side of the road when you get to the end

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and at that point it’s a left turn into the road that finally takes you to the school’s entrance,

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albeit the one at the rear of the school, but that’s where the staff parking is located.

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The car park is full of bikes and scooters but very few cars.  Who needs a car when you can fit 5 on a bike… I wish I had a photo to share but it does happen all the time – 3 and 4 people on a scooter is a very common sight.

So, you’re now at school, ready to engage with whatever new challenges come your way.

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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 about the many international schools in Bangkok?  Check out our blog article called – Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Bangkok, Thailand.

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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Comment Topic Highlight

Surprise Purchases You Need to Buy/Pay For When You First Arrive at Your New School

January 12, 2016


When you first arrive at your new international school, you don’t necessarily want to be scrambling around your new city looking for many things to buy.  We all know that without the helpful guidance of a veteran international school teacher at your new school, it is very easy to end up making huge financial mistakes buying things left and right for prices a little too high than you should have paid (e.g. not knowing where to go to get the best price or get the “local price”).

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In an ideal scenario: you arrive at the airport, get picked up promptly by someone who works at your new school, and they quickly and politely drop you off at your new home. After you open the door to your new place, there is a fully-furnished house with a recently purchased bag of groceries waiting for you to help you get through the day with minimal hassle and without having to leave your apartment/house too much.

But we all know that it doesn’t always turn out that way. There are always things that you will need to buy, sooner than later. Some things more important than others, of course. If they are small things (like an iron, maybe), then it shouldn’t be such a big deal to take a short walk down the road (to the Carrefour, maybe) and pick up a few things. It is good/fun to take the first plunge into your new neighborhood.

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But if there are a number of small items (plus a few big ones) that you need to buy, then things could get a bit stressful; especially if you need to go somewhere more than just a short walk down the street.

Depending on your chosen living situation, you might end up needing to do some emergency purchases ASAP. A trip to a store like IKEA will definitely be in order for you on your first day. Some schools even will take you there in the school van, if you’re lucky!

And now, let’s not forget our new schools themselves. They might also have some things that you will need to bring or buy for the greater good of the school. If they gave you a head’s up on these items, you can make sure to pack them into your shipping container.  But if you weren’t set up with a great contact at the school beforehand, you might not get the head’s up in time. Then you are left with possibly buying things for your classroom in the local shops. Hopefully, your school will give you a budget for those things, but that is not always the case!

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Living abroad is not like our home countries. International school teachers do need to be open minded and adaptable. It is definitely tempting to want everything to be as perfect as it can be once you arrive, but we must be ready for a few surprises (i.e. surprise purchases) that will come our way the first few months.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to figuring out which things you might need to buy once you arrive in your new host country, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What are some things that you need to buy/pay for when you first arrive at the school that you didn’t know about beforehand?

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 111 comments in this comment topic (Jan. 2016).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Beds are HARD in Thailand – if you rent a furnished place you might need a mattress topper or take the plunge and buy your own mattress/bed (or bring your comfy one with you – cost is irrelevant as it is important to be able to sleep comfortably at night). If you like a hard mattress you will be very happy here…” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)75 Comments

“You will need deposit and first/last months rent to get your condo. No one told me this and I was not prepared with enough cash. When you arrive you don’t have a bank account yet and ATM’s limit how much cash you can withdraw. If you arrive early before new staff orientation, no one may tell you that NIST will loan you the money until your first paycheck. You just need to ask HR for the loan and it won’t be a problem. Or come with lots of cash that you can change to baht.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)109 Comments

“Your kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies, dishes, and small appliance needs in the school apartment will vary widely depending on what the last tenant left. You will not receive a TV, iron, ironing board, etc., just furniture and one set of light bedding.” –American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)39 Comments

“Don’t worry if you forgot something here because the school has a relationship with the local embassy and teachers can use the commissary there. Teachers can order things even on amazon.com and have it shipped to Moscow through them, as you can use their “American address.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)61 Comments

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Bangkok, Thailand

April 16, 2015


Around the world, there are cities that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

Some cities, though, have MANY international schools!  When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city.

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Bangkok, Thailand

Currently, we have 49 schools listed in Bangkok on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
Bangkok Patana School (Bangkok, Thailand)17 Comments
Concordian International School (Bangkok, Thailand)23 Comments
KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand)61 Comments
NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)65 Comments
Ruamrudee International School Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)21 Comments
Wells International School (Thailand) (Bangkok, Thailand)18 Comments

Recent things they have taken on
“In 2012 the school implemented the Literacy by Design program for K3 – Grade 4, and the IB Diploma Programme in 2013. It also began scheduling more consistent weekly professional development meetings in 2013, including WASC focus and home group sessions, and grade-level meetings. As of 2012, it joined EARCOS and now regularly sends its staff to the annual conferences.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“The ELD team just attended the ELLSA conference in Bangkok.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“In 2014 the school will be launching the Professional Development Hub, which is intended to be a central location for teachers in the Southeast Asian region to receive professional development.” – NIST International School

“The school is well-known for IB standards as quite a few of the teachers are IB Examiners and moderators. The Head of School is also on the Board of the IBO worldwide. Currently they are participating in a pilot study for the MYP.” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

Expectations of staff
“Teachers are assigned a maximum of 25 contact periods (45 minutes each) per week, while department heads have a maximum of 20. Minimum expectations include curriculum mapping on Atlas, and personal daily or weekly lesson plans that are attached to the maps. Weekly professional development is mandatory. Staff are encouraged, though not required, to take on extra-curricular classes or activities.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“Expectations are high but lots of support.” – Concordian International School

“(Sorry, as admin it’s hard for me to comment, but teachers seem to work hard, but get non-contact time).” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

“High expectations, but with exceptional support and resources. Teachers are expected to participate in 2 extra curricular activities each year, which is quite manageable.” – NIST International School

Kinds of teachers that work there
“Approximately 30% of staff are from the United States, while the rest are a mix of over a dozen nationalities. While the school will hire inexperienced teachers in special circumstances, prospective hires should expect to be turned away if they don’t have a degree in education (or their subject areas at the secondary level) and a few years of experience. Nearly 70% of the teaching staff has master’s degrees.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“Most teachers are from USA (there around 180 in total). A few are from the UK and Thailand.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“All teaching staff are fully qualified. Most are British, with some Australians, South Africans and Filipina. turnover is high. Last year 40% left. Most leave due to the lowish salary rather than because they are unhappy with the school.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School

Housing
“Ruamrudee does have a housing allowance – B20,000, but it is part of the actual salary, so it’s taxed at 30%. So, effectively, the allowance is B14,000 – enough for a small local house/apartment.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“There is a housing allowance which is sufficient to rent a small studio. There is no extra for married teachers.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School

“Around 40000 Baht a month for singles and 60000 Baht for teaching couples.” – NIST International School

“Small housing allowance.” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)

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