As all International School Community members know, each of the 2147+ school profile pages on our website has four comments sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information. Our members are encouraged to submit comments 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 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 will automatically get one free month of premium membership added on to your account! The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!
So, what are the recent statistics about the School Information sections on all the school profile pages? The current total number of submitted comments in the School Information section is 16907 (out of a total of 36283+ comments).
There are 24 subtopics in the School Information section on each school profile page. Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out the total number of comments in that specific sub topic and an example comment that has been submitted there.
• Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus. (1594 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is set in 3 separate building, one being a 5 minute walk and the other across the road. Crossing the road is quite a safety hazard with the kindergarten class due to taxis over taking them whilst they are on the crossing and the local police not doing anything to monitor this. There is no proper play area and students are taken to local parks for lunch breaks, which is difficult when having to share with babies. No proper gym areas make p.e quite difficult.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan) – 93 Comments
• What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations? (1193 Total Comments)
Example comment: “It is a non-religiously affiliated school owned by a Christian affiliated college and operated on that campus. It is WASC accredited, but is not accredited by the Korean authorities and seems to be a limbo in regards to its local status.” –Global Prodigy Academy (Jeonju, South Korea) – 48 Comments
• Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.). (781 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is discussing becoming IB and has implemented Teacher’s College Readers and Writer’s Workshop as well as whole language learning in the primary schools. Secondary schools do MAPS-based action plans to show and monitor student improvement and compare them to US students.” – American School of Torreon (Torreon, Mexico) – 64 Comments
• Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country? (1543 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Last year they were NOT hiring people with non-EU passports. Some positions that they had last year were local hires, even if the candidates weren’t the strongest of the CVs that they received. Most of this though is out of the school’s control and more the new/changing laws regarding hiring foreigners into the country.” – Southbank International School (London, United Kingdom) – 15 Comments
• 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? (1462 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is located near one of the hub stations in Tokyo, with easy access by several trains and subways. The school also has two school bus routes. The school will help the teachers find housing if necessary, but it does not itself provide housing. A transportation allowance is provided to cover the transportation cost from home to school and back.” – New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – 30 Comments
• Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extra curricular responsibilities? Describe workload details. (828 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Expectations are high but the atmosphere is supportive. Staff are expected to undertake duties on a rota bais before and after school, at break times and lunch times. Staff are expected to run one extra curricular activity for one term per year. There is a decent amount of non-contact time at around 20% of timetable.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 75 Comments
• Average class size for primary and secondary. Describe any aide support. (848 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Class sizes are very small. In primary, they are normally a combination of two grade levels (i.e. Grades 1 and 2 together) and about 16 kids with a teaching assistant. In secondary class size is smaller and can range from four to twelve per grade level.” – Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Comments
• Describe language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominate culture group? (1229 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The Thao Dien (Primary) campus in the expat area has students from about 20 countries. The TT Campus, Primary, Middle School and Secondary is mainly Vietnamese. Korean is the next largest student group. Very few students from Western Countries. Has a large EAL population.” – Australian International School HCMC (Vietnam) (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 19 Comments
• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate. (1268 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Primarily expat teachers, without any one nationality dominating things. When I left in 2011 there were teachers from Australia, Canada, US, UK, South Africa, Belgium, and Tanzania just within my department. Some teachers stay 7 to 10 years or more, while others just 2 to 4 years, as in most international schools.” – International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments
• What types of budgets to classroom teachers/departments get? (518 Total Comments)
Example comment: “budgets have been steadily dropping. Ownership slyly changed the school from a not for profit school to a for profit school, without notifying parents of the change.” – Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 22 Comments
• PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school (181 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The mastery system is open to the interpretation of each teacher, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” – QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China) – 64 Comments
• What types of sports programs and activities does the school offer? (701 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school offers a wide variety of after school activities which are run by teachers. There is no extra pay for this. Teachers can choose which activity they would like to lead.” – International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 47 Comments
• Name some special things about this school that makes it unique. (689 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school has an excellent music program that frequently presents music and drama to the local community and other schools. Students in the diploma program seek out ways to serve the community needs.” – Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 183 Comments
• In general, describe the demeanor of the students. (617 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The students are generally great, however there are no entrance exams or behavior requirements. The owners Tehmine and Stephan want to make as much money as possible. There definitely are no requirements to enter this school.” – Surabaya European School (Surabaya, Indonesia) – 20 Comments
• Has the school met your expectations once you started working there? (342 Total Comments)
Example comment: “I’ve really enjoyed working at the school. I have always been able to approach admin if I needed to.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (St. John, Barbados) – 70 Comments
• What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff? (400 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school has a health and wellness program where a lot of teachers connect and exercise together. Also, the PTO regularly hosts cocktail events after school. Plus there are scheduled tours and cultural events.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 69 Comments
• Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them. (485 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Each teacher has a PC (windows only. The printer server won’t talk to macs) and a smart board. However, the smart boards are not all hooked up or working so it’s a very expensive video screen. Slow internet. Nothing Google, youtube, or Facebook works in China.” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 158 Comments
• Details about the current teacher appraisal process. (306 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Get on your principal’s good side and you are fine. If they do not like you you will immediately get put on a corrective plan and ushered out. Just flatter the admin and you will be fine.” – Abu Dhabi International Private School (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 43 Comments
• Is the student population declining, staying the same or increasing? Give details why. (460 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The number of students has increased. There is a waitlist for Year 6 now.” – UCSI International School Subang Jaya (Subang Jaya, Malaysia) – 11 Comments
• How have certain things improved since you started working there? (242 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The one more important thing that changed for the positive, in around 2011-12, was the school initiated an 8000 RMB per year, per teacher, PD allowance. Before that there wasn’t an allowance. There was though PD for the DP teachers before that.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 30 Comments
• How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country? (178 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Well one thing that my school had in the United States was a coordinator for reading in the Primary school. I feel that CIS would benefit from having one of those. We need somebody to coordinate how the primary school teaches reading and someone to coordinate resources. Also, someone to help us have a clearer stop and sequence across the grade levels.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 375 Comments
• What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective. (306 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school hires foreign teachers but sometimes it is difficult for the teachers to integrate into the school. It is really a combination of moving to Chile and assimilating as a foreigner as well as the schools lack of support to receive foreign teachers. The administration has recognized this problem and is working to help future hires.” – Santiago College (Santiago, Chile) – 24 Comments
• What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school? (456 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Remember state school teachers are paid twice as much for half the work. All the locals are on waiting lists for Govt. schools but they are years (centuries) long.” – International School of Paphos (Paphos, Cyprus) – 123 Comments
• How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.) (280 Total Comments)
Example comment: “A curriculum coordinator offers huge levels of support for this. During the current year, this load is heavy because of where we are in the accreditation cycle. High School has used Rubicon for a while. Lower School is just starting to use Rubicon.” – American School of Marrakesh (Marrakesh, Morocco) – 29 Commentscontinue reading
Schools thrive when there are enthusiastic teachers and students in them. But, do all international schools have this?
With around 10000 international schools currently, there are bound to be differences between them. However, it is certain that all international schools strive to students that are excited to come to school and do their best to learn in the lessons and engagements in their classes.
But do students just come to schools already engaged or is it the environment and staff that helps with that?
Some could argue that hiring engaged and excited teachers plays a huge factor in the enthusiasm of students. If the teachers are interested and excited in their lessons, typically the students will follow suit.
If the teachers are jaded, overworked, and caught in a low staff morale spiral, then this feeling is sure to be reflected in the students.
But even if the students and teachers are not so engaged at the moment, what can be done? International schools need to make drastic and carefully planned changes to achieve this change to more enthusiastic stake holders!
So which international schools then have enthusiastic teachers and/or students?
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 17 comments that had the keyword “Enthusiastic” in them. Here are 11 of them:
“Students in primary are overwhelmingly kind, caring, and enthusiastic learners. The middle and high school will benefit from having a full-time secondary principal next year.” – Esbjerg International School (50 total comments)
“You need to be enthusiastic, open-minded and flexible. There is a strong community at school that is very involved in every aspect of the school’s life. School is looking for teachers who are passionate about their job and willing to differentiate for every student.” – Bishkek International School (57 total comments)
“The students are mostly respectful, enthusiastic, and hardworking. You might not be that impressed if you’re coming from Korea or another academically-driven Asian country, but compared to Latin America or any Western public institution it’ll be a big step up.” – Oberoi International School (36 total comments)
“The pupils are very affectionate, and the school has a very family-like feel. They are eager to please and enthusiastic about topics etc.” – The British School of Marbella (36 total comments)
“Students are very well behaved. Behavioural issues are very minimal, and most students are enthusiastic to learn and prove themselves to teachers and their classmates.” – Tokyo International School (104 total comments)
“The students are extremely polite and respectful. They are positive and enthusiastic though somewhat reserved.” – Global Jaya School (60 total comments)
United Arab Emirates
“While I have not myself worked elsewhere in the Emirates, I get a sense that our students are relatively well behaved. Understand that, while kids are kids, well behaved in the Emirates is not the same as say, well behaved in South Korea. That said, Liwa does not generally find itself subject to the kinds of behavior found in the government schools of the area. The kids are generally quite enthusiastic about Liwa and as capable as any children anywhere.” – Liwa International School (23 total comments)
“Very curious and enthusiastic learners. PYP and IB encourages this and students are excited to be at school every day!” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (69 total comments)
“The students are respectful, creative and enthusiastic. They love to chat and socialize!” – Santiago College (24 total comments)
“Students are enthusiastic about being at school, in general. Almost 100% of our students are involved in activities or athletics after school and on weekends.” – International Community School Addis Ababa (80 total comments)
“The students are amazing. So welcoming, so enthusiastic to learn.” – The British School of Brussels (36 total comments)
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.
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.
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 Commentscontinue reading
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.
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.
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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
Learning Support, or teaching students with Special Education Needs is consistently referred to as one of the most difficult jobs in teaching. And with good reason. Typically, we work with the most challenged students. This can mean anything from a simple learning disability to severe mental health disorders or life-threatening issues. Often it includes complicated family situations with parents who are struggling to accept their child’s challenges. I have even worked with students who were recovering from traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. Parents have broken down into tears at meetings, and students have flung chairs across the room in frustration.
But working with students is not the hardest part of my job. It’s the best.
No matter what challenges they face, they always rise to the occasion. Even when they fail to reach their own expectations, they often surpass mine. I am continually awed, inspired, and warmed by their perseverance and grit.
Ironically, the hardest part is working with the non-challenged. Teachers, by nature, tend to be highly intelligent people. For many of them, learning was easy and pleasurable. This makes it harder for them to empathize with students who don’t like school. For the most challenged students to be successful, they need everyone on their team. On the same page, in most cases, it’s easy to get everyone to agree that a child needs support. However, rarely will everyone agree on the best way to do it. This part is the most challenging. For a slightly hyperbolic metaphor, think of America’s response to mass shootings. Everyone agrees something needs to be done. Nobody agrees on how to do it.
The truth is, many international schools lag behind most public schools in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia when it comes to dealing with students with special needs. There are many reasons for this; the most obvious being the strict laws governing rights of the disabled in those countries. Most international schools exist in gray areas when it comes to disability rights and education, thereby allowing them to bypass laws protecting people with learning disabilities.
My current school, for example, has a special education department with a staff of five trained educators. However, for a public school of our size, our department would be woefully insufficient. We lack therapists, specialized counselors, psychologists, and other professionals that would otherwise be provided by a public school district. We do have IEPs and 504 plans, but as recent as five years ago we did not. Still, we are generally considered a well-equipped school.
Sadly, this is not the case in most international schools. Many do not have special education departments at all, and teachers are not equipped with the right kinds of training or support to deal with special needs. You might be lucky to find a school that acknowledges the existence of learning disabilities and has basic protocols in place.
When looking to work as an international school special education teacher it’s important that you talk to people other than the administrator. Ideally, you should talk to other teachers and ask how they support students with learning disabilities. Be sure to ask your prospective school about local rules and regulations governing learning disabilities. Also be cautious of administrators that want to grow their programs, as you may be signing on for more than you bargained for. Unless you have a burning desire to single-handedly create and manage a special education department, you should also be careful around these kinds of offers.
Special education is experiencing tremendous growth in international schools now, offering many unique opportunities. But with it, comes heavy responsibility. If you’re a special education teacher looking to work abroad, preparing yourself for a rewarding, yet challenging time.
This article was submitted to us by an International School Community member.
Using our unique Comment Search feature on our website (premium membership access needed), we found 29 comments that have the keyword “Learning Support” in them, and 20 comments that had the word “Special Needs” in them.
Here are some comments that shown a positive light on Learning Support programs at international schools:
“The St. Petersburg campus has recently added a learning support component to support teachers, parents and students.” – Anglo-American School of St. Petersburg (38 Total Comments)
“There are also student assistants. Student assistants are assigned to certain students or groups of students to offer them learning support. They move with these learning support students as they move classes and/or grade. Currently there are three student assistants at TIS one in Primary School and two in Middle School.” – Tokyo International School (63 Total Comments)
“The students are very delightful and respectful. It is a mixed ability school and there is a good number of students who need some support. Learning support has improved over the last few years, but it is still not adequate for all those who need it. The students are truly delightful and polite.” – Somersfield Academy (44 Total Comments)
“There are co-teachers in primary and learning support teachers throughout the school (in most subjects), depending on the specific needs of students in the group. This is an inclusive school that requires quite a high teacher/student ratio.” – Hong Kong Academy (67 Total Comments)
“We are in our sixth year of becoming an inclusive school, with about 2.5% of our population being special needs children–including Down Syndrome and Autistic students. There are three RTI teams and a “transitions” classroom to support learners with challenges (and our classroom teachers).” – International Community School Addis Ababa (80 Total Comments)
“The school offers a bilingual program for students in grades K to 12. DMS has a fully self-contained special needs Division within the main school.” – Dasman Model School (24 Total Comments)continue reading
Let’s daydream for moment, shall we?
A successful international school library is the center of the school, both physically and metaphorically. It is the hub of student learning, active and buzzing with the newest technologies, inquiry-driven investigations, maker space or STEM stations, and thousands of books available on any and all topics that could occur to members of the school community. The Teacher Librarian is an active part of the teaching community, integrating information literacy skills into the curriculum and supporting the teachers and staff in using best practices. He or she is passionate about all things literary and encourages a love of reading in students, matching reluctant readers with the perfect book to awaken their inner bookworm.
Hey – a girl can dream, can’t she?
Because sometimes the library isn’t at the center of the school, and instead it’s in the basement. (Albeit the basement of an old mansion house.) And sometimes it’s a ‘Learning Commons’ or a “Media Center’ or it’s called-something-else-other-than-a-library. As is the case with most international schools, all international school libraries are not created equal.
I’ve been working as an International School Teacher Librarian for nine years now, and the more colleagues I meet and Facebook groups I join and listservs I read, that idea is drilled home. All libraries are not created equal. Some librarians have multiple assistants, healthy budgets, abundant resources and administrative support. A lot of librarians don’t have any or all of those things. Some libraries are full of amazing resources for their school community, and some are full of dusty old books that are older than I am.
Every library seems to have its issues. Here are a few examples from my own international career:
But – each of these libraries has given me opportunities that I didn’t have as a librarian in the USA. I have always had the autonomy and support to make the library a central part of the school and of student learning. I’ve been able to collaborate with amazing teachers, had opportunities to win over reluctant teachers, and been involved with planning exciting interdisciplinary units. The Teacher Librarian role has been a leadership role, seated at the table with other leaders making decisions about what’s best for our students. And I’ve been supported to take leadership roles in the librarian community – to attend great PD, present at international conferences, join professional organizations, and to serve on the ECIS Librarian Special Interest Committee.
When schools in the US are getting rid of librarians, closing libraries, moving away from the written word – these have been blessings that make the rest of the issues worth it.
If you’re thinking about working in an International School library, do your homework. We are research specialists, after all! Find out about staffing, budgets, PD opportunities, leadership roles, curriculum, attitudes toward the library and the challenges the current librarian faces. You know which of things these are most important to you, what you can handle and what’s a deal breaker. Automating an entire collection was not how I wanted to spend my time as a Teacher Librarian, but perhaps the thought excites you. Find the right fit for what you are looking for in your international experience, where you are in your career, and what fits your strengths.
The International School Community website has great resources to help you do this! See below for specifics on how to use the comment search to find information about libraries.
My last bit of advice – find a network! Librarians are often the lone librarian in a school or part of a small team. It’s important to find the connections and support of other librarians. Because most international schools are in big cities, there are often other international school librarians nearby to connect with. There are also regional associations – your school should be able to point you towards the ones they participate in.
There are always other librarians who have dealt with the same issues, solved the same problems, created the same resources, etc. And I’ve found the librarian community to be great at sharing, commiserating with and supporting one another. Some personal favorites are the Int’l School Library Connection Facebook group and the ECIS iSkoodle listserv. AND – most excitingly – the ECIS Triennial Librarian Conference is in February 2018 in Chennai, India. International school librarians from all over the world will come together to learn from each other, get inspired by each other, and learn how we can continue to be Leaders in our school communities. Please join us!
This article was submitted to us by an International School Community member.
Using our unique Comment Search feature on our website (premium membership access needed), we found 61 comments that have the keyword “library” in them, and 20 comments that had the word “libraries” in them.
Here are some comments that shown a positive light on the library and their international schools:
“The library department recently got a lot of money to do some renovations which were done this past summer. It is almost complete and looks very nice.” International School of Tanganyika
“The SIS library supports the school curriculum, promotes the appreciation of literature, and guides all its patrons in information problem-solving with over 28,000 print and electronic resources.” – Surabaya Intercultural School
“The library also is great because we have 25,000 books for such a small sized school, in English and Italian.” – The Bilingual School of Monza
“The library has a new video viewing room that is useful for a small class of IB Film Making, or webinars, or our face to faith programme.” – Sekolah Victory Plus
and here are a few comments that stated their school library was in need of updating or some tender-loving care:
“The school’s library was very small and I was given no materials to use to teach language arts and social studies. Picture books were essential for my young learners and if you can, bring them from the states.” – Antigua International School Guatemala
“There are text books for main subjects but the media library resources are next to nil and specialists have zero to bare basics.” – Jeddah Knowledge International School
“No library for middle of high school!” – Canadian International School (Tokyo)
“There are more computers in the library but some are so old they still run Windows XP!” – EtonHouse International Schools, Wuxicontinue reading
Even when the administrators divide and conquer (to appraise all the many staff members), it still often times doesn’t get done. Sometimes they start off in August-October with a few goal making meetings, but often that is as far as it goes for that school year.
This begs the question, are appraisals really necessary? I guess there are pros and cons to doing appraisals, maybe all pros. But if the appraisal is not done so in an effective manner or is perceived as an unauthentic experience, it seems like it will not be so meaningful for both parties.
It is possible to just go on with your jobs and through casual drop-ins make informal appraisals. It’s possible that if you are not really doing your job very well, most staff members know…including the administration.
It is also nice when staff members just organically make their own professional goals though and work towards achieving them for that school year; inviting their administration and other staff to observe certain lessons or to even get involved.
It’s certain that some international schools have indeed figured it out, doing appraisals from start to completion every year. But for many, maybe those with a high administration turn over, it is still a long-term goal to get a formal appraisal system underway and working effectively for everyone involved.
This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of appraisals, so you can stay the most informed as possible. “There are 51 comments (premium access only) that have the word appraisal in them, and a total of 144 comments in our comment topic called – “Details about the current teacher appraisal process.” Here are a few of those 144 comments related to appraisals about various schools from around the world:”
Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 144 comments in this comment topic (May 2017). Here are a few that have been submitted:
“Primary teachers are observed by newly-appointed Heads of Department that have little to no experience” – Wycombe Abbey International School (Changzhou, China) – 78 Total Comments
“The school has worked with Pam Harper over the last year to define student learning and align teaching to it. The model that has been adopted, the Teaching for Learning Index, serves as the framework for professional learning and appraisal.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 176 Comments
“Teachers are observed, given a print of the evaluation and a brief feedback meeting. No data is formally collected/recorded.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan) – 93 Total Comments
“In a year and a half of teaching here, I have only had one formal classroom observation. The principal gave me an excellent evaluation and apparently hasn’t felt the need to return!” – Misr American College (Cairo, Egypt) – 53 Comments
“They have a system called Responsibility for Learning which is tailored to the situation. New teachers go through a pre-determined portfolio process supporting professional standards. Returning teachers are given options as to how to best support their own growth. Administrative visitations are ongoing and both formal and informal.” – American School of Dubai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 84 Comments
“Teachers are observed twice in an academic year. At the end of the year, the results of these observations are then combined with evaluations from the senior Thai admin (who never see you teach). The score is then tabulated and you are given a bonus based on this score. Teachers can see the results of the observations but are not allowed to see the evaluations from the Thai admin.” – Assumption College (Bangkok, Thailand) – 21 Commentscontinue reading
It is on all international school teachers’ minds. How am I helping to contribute to my future now (for after I retire) as a current teacher in the international school community?
Not that everything is all worry-free if you just stayed teaching and earning money in your home country, but living and teaching abroad can sound pretty risky to some people (maybe even many people).
If you are working at an international school that has an amazingly high salary with equally amazing benefits, then that is one story. Even if this type of school doesn’t actually offer a nice retirement plan benefit, you still have the opportunity to save a lot of money.
But if you are working at an international school and receiving a salary that helps you ‘just get by’ along with very average benefits (for example, there is not a retirement plan benefit that is on offer to you), then international school educators need to consider if the experience working at this type of international school is a good fit for their future plans.
Does an international school that doesn’t offer a retirement or pension plan benefit immediately equate to being a bad decision for your future? Not necessarily. If you are only planning on staying there for one to two years, then it shouldn’t make that big of a difference. If you receiving a high salary along with paid housing, not having an established pension plan benefit shouldn’t make that big of a difference because your savings potential is high.
But for those of us that are not so smart with money and don’t have the expertise to manage our own savings/retirement plan, it can definitely not bit a good fit to accept a teaching job at school that doesn’t offer retirement plan benefits.
We did a keyword search on our Comment Search feature and found a number of comments related to international schools that don’t offer a retirement or pension plan benefit.
Amman Baccalaureate School (16) Total comments
“No retirement plan right now is on offer as a benefit.”
Canadian International School (Tokyo) (50) Total comments
“No retirement plan for teachers.”
Zhuhai International School (81) Total comments
“There are no pension plans from the school (included in the contract) although if you wished to establish one the office staff would be able to assist you in establishing one.”
Varee Chiang Mai International School (27) Total comments
There is no pension provision, but an end of contract gratuity is awarded in lieu.
On the more positive side, we had a quick search for this key phrase “matching” hoping to find comments related to international school that match the pension plan contribution of the teachers. Here are a few of those comments:
American International School Vienna (38) Total comments
“Under the newest contract, teachers now have 10% matching for retirement fund commencing at first year. Certainly better if you’re there short-term, though perhaps not if you’d plan to stay 30 years.”
Hong Kong International School (110) Total comments
“I spend a lot of money here because I love to do eat out a lot, travel, and there are many things to do in the city. With that being said, I save about 1,300 USD a month, not counting the school severance/matching scheme which is another 1,300 USD.”
It’s never to early to think about your retirement plan. As many of you know, we have a wealth of information on the International School Community website. There are now over 17500 reviews and comments submitted on over 900+ international school across the globe. We’re certain to reach 20000 by the end of this year! A number of schools have reached the 100 comments milestone (with a few even going over 200 comments!). Check out this blog article regarding the most-commented schools on our website from July 2016.
A number of our members are curious about their future, especially if their future is to become a “seasoned international school teacher“. Part of our future is planning for retirement. Many of us have unfortunately stopped contributing to the retirement plans we were paying into before we moved abroad.
In turn, we now are hoping that international schools will help us do the saving. But not all international schools are a great help in this area; the truth is that some have non-existent retirement plan options for their teachers.
There are a few though that are leading the way in terms of helping you save something for when retire. Using our unique Comment Search feature (premium membership access only), we found 203 comments that have the keyword “retirement”. After scouring through these comments, we would like to share nine of them that highlight some schools that appear to have some excellent retirement benefits.
1. Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea)
“SFS is a treasure amongst international schools. It is not spoken of as much as other “top” Asian international schools–this is what keeps it special. This school has allowed me to grow professionally and in my faith, has set me up with a hefty retirement for my future and plush savings for the present. The amount of on site training, college certificates, and international conferences I have been allotted to participate in haa been fully funded by the school. The package retains teachers and the demand of hard work keeps the professional teachers here for the long haul. It is a living, learning, and growing community with lots of busyness and potential to never become stagnate.”
2. American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico)
“There are 2 things:
1. Mexico has a “social security” plan and you pay into that so you pay in for your years, leave, and you can come back when you are 65 to collect.
2. The school has a 13% matching program that you can collect 1 or 2 times a year based on your choosing. This is the retirement plan but it is up to you to do move the money somewhere.”
3. International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
“We get paid monthly but receive July’s salary in June also. Salary is paid in RM with up to 40% at a fixed USD rate. Tax is around 21-23 % depending on salary. Average for 8 yrs experience (max entry point) and an advanced degree would be appx 5000 USD after tax and deductions (this includes travel and housing allowance) Additionally 11% is previously deducted for retirement fund with an extra 17% added by the employer. On same criteria this would be 1500 USD per month into a retirement plan.”
4. American School in Japan (Tokyo, Japan)
“The school provides a retirement plan and contributes 5.27% of base salary in each of the first two years, 11.57% in year three, and increasing each year up to a maximum of 16.82%. The school does not participate in US or Japanese social security. The retirement age at ASIJ is 65 years old.”
5. Escola Americana do Campinas (Campinas, Brazil)
“Retirement plan is 8% school contribution a month. School pays 8% of salary to local savings plan for employee.”
6. United Nations International School (Vietnam) (Hanoi, Vietnam)
“In lieu of a school-established retirement plan, the school currently reserves an annual salary supplement of fifteen percent (15%) of the annual base salary and disburses the total amount of this annual salary supplement to the expatriate professional staff member upon termination of employment with UNIS. Alternatively, this supplement may be paid to the employee on an annual basis.”
7. Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong)
“With a reasonable mix of some travel and eating out it is possible for a single teacher to comfortably save anywhere from 8,000-12,000 US$ per year not including the 10% +10% of base salary matching retirement plan.”
8. American School of the Hague (The Hague, The Netherlands)
“The school offers a retirement plan which is open to all employees on a voluntary basis. ASH offers two different plans: Nationale Nederlanden (pre-tax) and ECIS. ASH contributes 8% of the pensionable salary to the plan. Participation in the ECIS scheme on a pre-tax basis is only possible if one has vested and contributed regularly at another school before coming to the Netherlands. The teacher may make additional pre-tax pension contributions based on his/her age, ranging between 0.2% and 26% of the pensionable salary for employees. The pensionable salary is the gross annual salary minus about â‚¬ 12,500 (on a full-time basis).”
9. Seoul International School (Seoul, South Korea)
“I have 14 years experience and my Masters. I earn about $1,500 per month in Won (about $400 of that is taken out of my paycheck for a retirement plan which is matched by school which I have access to at the end of the school year), and then another $2,000 in US dollars which is sent to my US account every month. I pay no taxes. The school takes care of it. I am paid 12 times a year although we get the summer pay all at once, in May.”
Of course there are many more schools that have attractive retirement plans for their teachers, but the nine schools we’ve highlighted here sure do seem nice! It all depends on what stage you are at in your career and how old you are, regarding how attractive a retirement plan would be to you. But we suppose that any retirement plan option is better then none at all!
Please share what you know about the retirement plans of the international schools you’ve worked at. Login to our website today and submit some comments here!continue reading
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?
How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #7 – Earn a Salary in a Currency Which is Losing Value
Five years ago many international school teachers (those earning their salaries in their host country’s currency) were doing quite well with their monthly paychecks. But because of the rising value of the USD in the last year, these teachers’ salaries are in despair.
Month after month, teachers earning in a currency that is losing its strength (when compared to USD for example) have been seeing their once really nice monthly paycheck go south. Each time these teachers have to transfer some of their money earned back to their home country (maybe 3-4 times a year for some teachers), the actual amount received gets lower and lower; even though it was the same amount transferred each time. These international school teachers need to figure out another way to pay off their mortgage, student loans, etc. and fast! The other choice is to make it your last year at your current school and plan to find a job at another international school in a different country; earning in a different currency.
But some of us are doing alright in this recent “rise of the USD.” There are a number of international school teachers that pay their staff in USD. A number of countries have a local currency that is just not stable enough for foreign hires, and the school prefers to just pay their staff in a currency that is more stable and secure. Additionally, many currencies are tied to the USD. For example, Hong Kong Dollars are connected to the USD. Click here for a list of currencies around the world and which specific currency they are tied to.
So, for international school teachers working in Hong Kong, making HKD, they are still on the right track to achieve their savings goal this year.
There are also some international school teachers earning multiple currencies, at one school. The British School Caracas and Seoul International School do just that (as well as a number of other international schools around the world). Part of your salary is paid in your home country currency and automatically transferred/deposited into your home country bank account, while the other part of your monthly salary is directly deposited into your host country bank account. Teachers in this situation seem to have all their based covered then. Unless, of course, both your home currency and host-country currency plummet!
We do have a comment topic on our website related to the theme of how international school teachers get paid at their school (and in what currency). It is in the benefits section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?
“It is important to note that you are getting paid 100% in local currency. Because the USD is gaining strength and continuing to do so, the salaries here are getting considerably less attractive (meaning you are not making USD 100K a year anymore as the previous comment states). Some teachers have a part in their contract that helps to alleviate some of this difference in exchange rate, but others don’t. The ones that do are getting like 25% of their salary paid at a better exchange rate. It is kind of random, but the board thinks that American teachers here might be spending around 25% of their salary in the USA or in USD. Of course, this is creating a bit of controversy.” – Graded School Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo, Brazil) – 39 Comments
“The previous comment is off on the current tax rates. It is now up to 23%, and slated to rise further in the coming year. Japan is no longer a place to work and make enough to save significant amounts. This is especially true for couples and doubly so if you have children. It’s a shame as raising children here leaves wonderful impressions on them, and it is amazingly safe.” – Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 51 Comments
“10 years of teaching with a masters plus 30 units will get you about 55,000 USD. No tax. Upon departure, the Korean government pays you about 4,000 dollars for each year of occupancy for US citizens, it is some tax exemption agreement between countries. There is also an 8.5% bonus for each year of teaching that accrues interest and is relinquished upon departure.” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 73 Comments
“We get paid every month, around the middle of the month. June and July pay are both given before the end of the school year. We can choose how much of our pay we would like to receive locally and how much we would like to have transferred to our home country. We get paid in dollars, and are guaranteed salaries after taxes. For 2015-16 the maximum salary is $54,111 (Masters with 24 years experience, an extra $1500 for PhD), minimum is $35,390 (Bachelors 1 year experience). In addition to this is a 13% pension. There is also a possible longevity bonus and re-signing bonus.” – International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 141 Commentscontinue reading
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
Our 42nd blog that we would like to highlight is called “Wandering Whirligig” (A teacher who worked at Copenhagen International School). Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who recently worked at Copenhagen International School in Denmark.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“I moved to Copenhagen in January 2011. Next week, I will leave. After four and a half years, I will leave this fabulous city for new adventures. There are so many mixed emotions pulsing through my body.
The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, the memories I’ve made… Do I feel happy? Or sad? Right now it’s a rollercoaster. A rollercoaster I know so many people have ridden. It’s the rollercoaster ride that takes you from one place to the next, that carries you and all of your belongings from one exciting adventure to another, hopefully bringing all the wonderful memories you’ve made trailing along in the wind: there’s a seat for every friend you’ve ever made during your adventure on this rollercoaster, but you know you’re now in different carriages.
I feel about Copenhagen what I have never yet felt about any other place I’ve moved to: I feel at HOME here…”
Leaving a school is tough, especially when you have been there for many years. You go through so many emotions. Change is good, but change is hard.
Want to read more about teachers leaving a school (and how many are leaving this school year)? Check out this survey we had back in March 2015 called “New Survey: How many people are leaving your international school at the end of this school year?“
“I’ve written before about how refreshing a daily commute by bike can be and how I’ll never ever take for granted the opportunity I’ve had to do that every day since moving to Copenhagen in January 2011. By the time I arrive at work, I feel completely revitalised and thoroughly refreshed – I feel as though I’ve already done something for ME before the day has even begun. It’s free excercise that I don’t even realise I’m doing since I just consider biking my mode of transport. Anyhow… recently, I received a GoPro from my family for my (ahem, 30th) birthday and the first thing I (ahem, very VERY geekily) did with it was… film my daily commute to work.
My first attempt was to shorten my 8.5km, half hour commute…”
What a great idea to GoPro your journey to work! Riding your bike to work can be invigorating and get you starting on the right foot for your day at work.
Want to learn more about how international school teachers get to their international school each day? Luckily, we have a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this theme called “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?” Here are a few examples of the 761 comments (July 2015) from this topic:
‘I would disagree that it is close to downtown; that is American Community School. The school is about 20 minutes south of the downtown, which is still quite accessible by bus and taxi. The school does provide a van to work if you live in school apartments. Those not in school apartments can pay to ride the van or about half the staff buy used cars.’ – New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – 16 Comments
‘The school is around a 10 minute drive from the city center. Al Ain is a fairly compact city, so nothing is more than 20 minutes or so away. Teachers are mainly housed around 10 to 15 minutes away in the northern part of the Jimi district. The housing seems tolerable, but being situated across the street from a sewage treatment plant, I’m told that there are serious odor issues there. Most staff either drive themselves or carpool to work.’ – Liwa International School (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 23 Comments
‘The school is in an industrial park area of SIP about 20 minutes from most housing. School coaches pick staff up at compounds at a set time in the a.m. You can catch the coach home at 4.30 or 5 pm. Alternatively catch a taxi ( about 20 RMB) or get an ebike ( about ) 2,000 RMB and have fun riding to/from school in the separate bike lanes.’ – Dulwich College Suzhou (Suzhou, China) – 17 Comments
Want to work for an international school in Denmark like this blogger? Currently, we have 15 international schools listed in this country. Here are a few that have had comments submitted on them:
• Aarhus Academy for Global Education (9 comments)
• Copenhagen International School (244 comments)
• Osterbro International School (17 comments)
• Esbjerg International School (12 comments)
• Odense International School (10 comments)
Additionally, there are 21 International School Community members who currently live in Denmark. Check out which ones and where they work here. Feel free to go ahead and contact them with any questions that you might have as well; nice to get first hand information about what it is like to live and work there!continue reading
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.
Currently, we have 23 schools listed in Tokyo on International School Community.
Schools with the most submitted comments:
American School in Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – 20 Comments
Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan) – 41 Comments
Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 23 Comments
Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 51 Comments
New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – 16 Comments
St. Mary’s International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 15 Comments
Average amount of money left to be saved?
“Most teachers can save around 20% here.” – St. Mary’s International School
“Maybe around 16000 USD a year for single teachers.” – Seisen International School
“Single teachers should be able to save around 12000 USD a year.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo)
“Some single teachers and teaching couples can save over 25000 USD a year. – American School in Japan
“The school has zero proper sports programs and has no interest in implementing one. No specialist p.e. teachers” – Makuhari International School
“The school has a complete PE programme in all grades, as well as an active sports programme (basketball, volleyball, soccer, futsal).Two full-time PE teachers are an integral part of the faculty.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo)
“Many activities of ASIJ’s close-knit faculty center around the school, including musical and theatrical performances, ikebana, martial arts, cycling, aerobics, tennis, swimming, basketball and volleyball.” – American School in Japan
“The school offers a wide variety of extra curricular activities for all levels. These include such team sports as cross-country, tennis, wrestling, swimming, basketball, soccer, track and field, and baseball. Fine arts and activities offered include vocal and instrumental music, speech, debate, drama, musical, student government and publications.” – St. Mary’s International School
“ASIJ has two campuses offering outstanding facilities. The Early Learning Center is located in the Roppongi area of Tokyo serving ages 3-5 with an exciting educational program. The Chofu campus houses three divisions in separate buildings on a 14-acre site located in Tokyo’s western suburbs. This campus includes three gyms, an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts, two athletic fields, three libraries with over 70,000 titles and a new 570-seat, state-of-the-art theater incorporating a flexible main auditorium, black box theater, choir and practice rooms and a digital video studio. All classrooms are air-conditioned.” – American School in Japan
“The school is set in 3 separate building, one being a 5 minute walk and the other across the road. Crossing the road is quite a safety hazard with the kindergarten class due to taxis over taking them whilst they are on the crossing and the local police not doing anything to monitor this. There is no proper play area and students are taken to local parks for lunch breaks, which is difficult when having to share with babies. No proper gym areas make p.e quite difficult.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo)
“The school occupies two complete buildings and parts of two others in Minami-Ikebukuro, right next to Zoshigaya. It is convenient to several trains and subways, including Ikebukuro Station, which is one of the hubs around the city center.” – New International School of Japan
“The school is in an older building. However, the furniture and classroom supplies are all up-to-date for collaborative teaching and learning.” – Seisen International School
“Housing allowance is USD1,200/month. Teacher pays for utilities.” – St. Mary’s International School
“Landlords in Japan have a lot of rights. For example, the apartment needs to be returned to it original condition or a lot of money will be coming out of your deposit. Many apartment require a ‘gift fee’ for the landlord. For example, giving 1 or 2 months rent as a gift to the landlord. Most apartments you forfeit your cleaning deposit when you leave.” – Seisen International School
“Accommodation allowance is very poor compared to rental cost. The school pushes expensive housing on new teachers which are 120000yen ($1200) a month. housing around the school is quite expensive.” – Makuhari International School ”
“Housing allowance is 600$ in cash.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo)
(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)
If you work at an international school in Tokyo, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!continue reading
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
Our 41st blog that we would like to highlight is called “Travelling Teacher: Working in an International School Overseas” Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at Chatsworth International School in Singapore.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“The next morning bright and early at 8.30 am a fancy Dulwich College Suzhou.
The coach pulls up at my compound (you can see some of the fleet more than 30 school coaches in the background of the school grounds here). I was sooo tired after my journey the previous day encompassing three airports, two flights and over 24 hours travelling. At least I wasn’t the only one-there were 35 new hires on board equally bleary-eyed. Off we went to get our SIM cards for China.
Then it was off for lunch with the Headmaster and some of the rest of the staff, followed by a shopping trip to WalMart for housewares and food! I sure wasn’t expecting to go shopping in a store that is so familiar to me.
The following day the coach took us to an Ikea store (another big surprise for me that this store was in China) for anything else we wanted for our apartments. What a hoot seeing sleeping babies in the show-rooms with equally exhausted adults! I’m impressed with the care the school is taking to settle us new staff-members in.…”
New teacher orientation is super important! All international school aim for a smooth transition for their new hires.
Want to read more about some new teacher orientation must-haves at international schools? Check out our popular blog category called “New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves.”
“I got my current job as an English B teacher at Chatsworth International School in Singapore through an agency called True Teaching. This was a very different experience than the ‘meat market’ feeling of the large recruiting fair I went to in London for my job in China. Instead I registered with True Teaching for their Flying Squad for International Substitute/Supply teaching. After a personal interview with Skype online I was offered several overseas placements and accepted my job in Singapore.
It is good to know how an international school does to hire new teachers. It gives you great insight on how YOU can get a job there!
Want to learn more about how international school teachers get hired at international schools around the world? Luckily, we have a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this theme called “Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?” Here are a few examples of comments from this topic:
‘The school has a low turnover of teachers and does not participate in recruiting fairs. The Director responds to cv’s received from whatever source. Teacher qualification is required. Experience with Scottish curriculum ideal.’ – New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – 16 Comments
‘There are many internal hires (e.g. local hires) that happen at CIS. These are candidates that have been substitute teachers here for a year or so. Vacancies pop up here all the time, so the local candidates are very eager to secure full time positions (e.g. continuing contracts).’ – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 231 Comments
‘The previous school director attended the Search Associates recruiting fair in London. The new director has used the CIS website, Search Associates website, and the school’s website to post the new vacancies at the school.’ –American School of Bilbao (Bilbao, Spain) – 10 Comments
Want to work for an international school in Singapore like this blogger? Currently, we have 21 international schools listed in this country. Here are a few that have had comments submitted on them:
• ACS (International) Singapore (Singapore, Singapore) – 10 Comments
• Australian International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore) – 4 Comments
• Canadian International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore) – 9 Comments
• Chatsworth International School (Singapore, Singapore) – 6 Comments
• EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore) – 30 Comments
• International School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore) – 17 Comments
• One World International School (Singapore, Singapore) – 16 Comments
• Overseas Family School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore) – 16 Comments
• Singapore American School (Singapore, Singapore) – 11 Comments
• St. Joseph’s Institution International (Singapore, Singapore) – 7 Comments
Additionally, there are 41 International School Community members who currently live in South Korea. Check out which ones and where they work here. Feel free to go ahead and contact them with any questions that you might have as well; nice to get first hand information about what it is like to live and work there!continue reading
In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school. A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to the start at your new school, in your new host country. What are all the must-haves then? Check out our blog series here to read all about the ones that we have discussed so far.
Must-have #14: A sit-down with an admin to go over each part of your contract
Contract details can be easily overlooked. They are not overlooked because you are not interested in them (because of course you want to know ALL the details when you are in the initial stages after being offered a contract), but because there are too many fine details to fully understand everything you see.
Contracts can also be easily misunderstood. Maybe you already “read” the contract, but it would be safe to say that you would not completely understand everything you “read”. International school teaching contracts definitely contain parts that are using language you may not be familiar with. If it contains parts that are specific to the rules/laws of the host country, then it is very possible that you might not be so familiar with that jargon in terms of what a certain part is really trying to say.
Another reason that contract details could be easily overlooked is that you also might be looking at the contract with rose-colored glasses; meaning you are just focused on the more positive aspects of the contract instead of the parts that might actually give you cause for concern.
There might even be additional things that are NOT on your contract that you are entitled to. For example, in Denmark you are entitled to take off a certain number of days to be with your children, but it might not necessarily be spelled-out for you in the contract. Good idea to ask around or have an admin tell you about these entitlements straight away during new teacher orientation.
So, if an admin did sit you down and went through your contract sometime during the new-teacher orientation, it would be nice if they went over the follow parts:
Duties and responsibilities – Making it clear what you need to do is exactly what all new teachers want to know. Sounds simple, but they can be easily forgotten to be explicitly explained to you. Admin might think the duties and responsibilities that you will have will be implied or learned about by talking with your colleagues. Of course, if that is the case, new teachers often find themselves just learning about these things last-minute! Also, it is good to know up front what is required of you so that you don’t feel obligated to do the extra things an admin might ask of you.
School year and work day – It is important to know how many work days that you in the year; well you can look at the school calendar for that. But what about what is required of you for each day of the week? Maybe you need to arrive 30 minutes before school starts and 30 minutes after school ends. Some days you might be required to stay longer for meetings, which days are those? Are the meetings optional? Some international schools are doing that now. All important details to know before you get caught not following those rules.
Workload – How nice to sit down with somebody who can give you an honest picture about how much you will be expected to work. How many reports will you need to write each year and how often will they be sent out to parents? Even more important is how do the reports look like? Writing multiple reports in a year definitely increases your workload. The admin could also give you an honest picture of how much the other teachers are putting in extra hours.
Other parts of the contract you would most likely want to discuss with your admin are salary, retirement, housing benefits, settling-in allowance, insurance, curriculum duties, etc.
So, does your international school set up a time for your to thoroughly discuss each part of your contract? Please share your experiences!
Luckily on International School Community we have a new comment topic that specifically addresses this issue of getting reimbursed. It is called: Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about?
We have 23 comments so far in this topic on our website since it is so new. Here are just a couple of those comments:
“Read your contract carefully. do not sign an unsigned contract. contracts signed by the teachers have been changed and then signed by the owner. If you have issues with the owner his first and only reaction is to tell you to take him to court where he will happily drag the case out to cost you a lot of money.” – Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 23 Comments
“They reserve the right to interpret, change, manipulate dates, avoid transparency when dealing with staff regarding their contracts. A teacher that recently left at the start of the year discovered there were several things in the contract that actually conflicted with Japanese labor law. Fortunately for them, they consulted with an attorney and were able to avoid paying a one month penalty for leaving on short notice. By the way they left because they lost several thousands of dollars due to mistakes the school made regarding visas that they were unwilling to rectify.” – Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 51 Comments
If you currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the recent past, share the information and details about the contract that you have at your school. You can find easy access to all international schools on our Schools List page.
“This has changed a LOT. Flight in and out at the end of contract. No mid-contract flights. No settling-in allowance; it is a repayable loan. Lunch is free.” – Phuket International Academy (Phuket, Thailand) – 43 Comments
“The school will help with negotiating a contract if you don’t read Spanish. Your apartment will either come with a phone or you’ll use your cell phone. Cell service is cheap, usually less than $15 US a month, data plans cost more. Be careful with smart phones because they are easily stolen.” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (Guatemala City, Guatemala) – 40 Comments
“Airfare for initial contract to Panama and departing flight for end of contract(typical initial contract 2 years). When renewing contract “home leave” flight per yearly renewal as well as renewal bonus. You can also ask for the funds from your annual ticket so you can use towards the “summer” travel you wish. Settling in money of $1000 (all), moving allowance between $500 (single) and $750 (dependents/family). When leaving said to also get some “departing” relocation money, your “retirement fund” of 1.5% annual salary school sets aside for you per Panama Law, and money for your airfare if wishing to buy your own ticket.” – International School Panama (Panama City, Panama) – 38 Commentscontinue reading
Random year for international schools around the world: 1949
There is much history in the international teaching community. We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1850 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century. The numbers of new international schools are increasing for sure.
Utilizing the database of the 1611 (25 February, 2014) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 7 international schools that were founded in 1949. Here are a few of those schools that also have had comments and information submitted on them on our website (excerpts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites)
Taipei American School (Taiwan, China) – 11 Comments
“Our school has a rich history. Taipei American School first opened its doors to eight students on September 26, 1949 in the basement of a seminary. The civil war between Chinese Communists and Nationalists caused many missionaries and business people to flee mainland China for Taiwan. This influx caused the school to grow rapidly and forced it to move to a new facility as enrollment reached 120 by 1951.”
American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Comments
“Asa did not have school buildings when it started, instead, teachers went to students’ homes to teach them. In 1949, most U.S. children were doing the us Calvert correspondance courses supervised by their parents. Later on, students started to meet at the YMCA.”
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 18 Comments
“The Anglo-American School of Moscow, founded in 1949, is an independent, coeducational day school in northwest Moscow that offers an international educational program from Pre-Kindergarten (4-year-olds) through Grade 12. The Anglo-American School is chartered by the American, British, and Canadian Embassies in Moscow through the aegis of a School Board.”
Nishimachi International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 7 Comments
“Nishimachi International School was established in 1949 by the late Tane Matsukata on the family property in the Azabu area of Tokyo. She had recently returned to Japan after seventeen years in the U.S., where she received her education and spent the war years.”
Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well! We have over 1610 international schools that have profile pages on our website.continue reading
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!continue reading
In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school. A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to your start at your new school, in your new host country. What are all the must-haves then? Check out our blog series here to read about the ones we have discussed so far.
Must-have #7: A dinner outing with the director and administration
In some cultures it is very much of a bonding moment between people when they share a meal together. It is a time when you can really relax and have some nice conversations with each other. Getting to know your director and other new teachers in this kind of setting will help you with future encounters with the director and also with your potential new good friends. Having a meal with your bosses can really start your relationship with them on the right track.
How nice is it when the administration treats you to a nice dinner out somewhere in your new town? It really just sets the stage right to have a great start to your first year. Sure it is not that important and of course it does not have anything to do with your job specifically, but it is nice to get some bonding time with the other new teachers as well as your new bosses. Also, there is the fact that you probably don’t have so much money when you first arrive to be going out to eat at a nice restaurant. Plus, you probably do not even know where the good restaurants are just yet anyway.
If there is not a dinner planned though for all the new teachers, it definitely feels like something is missing. If there is a dinner planned, then there are a few scenarios that might happen. Most often the admin plans a dinner out in the center of the city at a nice restaurant. You can really take in your new “expat lifestyle” in this scenario! If you have a director that is a little bit more personable, he/she might invite you over to have dinner at their house. In this scenario, the director is really making an effort to show the new teachers that they are now “one of the family” on the staff at the school.
A less desirable scenario is when the dinner is just held at the school itself. Maybe the admin staff will get the cooking staff to make something special for everyone. Having the “dinner out” at the school is probably not making a very good impression on the new teachers, but depending on cooks, it could actually be quite nice. Another way to not make the best impression is to have the dinner at some cheap restaurant (just across the street from the compound where all the teachers are living) with little planning involved on making the outing special in any way.
In either scenario, the conversations and experience had at the “dinner out” with the new staff will surely be ones that you remember. A fun time is usually in store with a lot of laughter. Take it all in because this dinner-out evening is just the beginning of your new and exciting expat life in your new host city.
Some members on our Facebook page have shared about eating out with their administration during the new teacher orientation week they experienced at their international school:
International School Geneva – Campus des Nations – “At IS Geneva there was barely an orientation week (just 2 half days) let alone any sort of dinner.”
International School Singapore (10 Comments) – “The head of school throws a BBQ dinner for the new teachers and one later for all staff to mingle with the new staff.”
Discovery College (Hong Kong) (5 Comments) – “We had a dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Also a drinks/appetizers with the larger ESF organization.”
Not that you would ask about this topic at your interview or anything, but it might be important to ask the administrator who’s interviewing you the details of the new teachers orientation week. You do want to know how they support new teachers to make a smooth transition.
On International School Community we have a number of principals and directors of international schools that are members. Currently, we have 20 Directors/Heads of School that have joined. Some of the international schools they work at are:
• The Bilingual School of Monza
• International Community School Addis Ababa
• Olive Green International School
• International School of Dusseldorf
• ABC International School (Tokyo)
• International School Groningen
• Garden International School
Log-on today to check out the many comments and information submitted in this section topic! Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding out the benefits an international school offers to its new teachers.
So, does your international school include a dinner out with the director and administration as part of their new teacher orientation? Please share your experiences!continue reading
v2012.05 – 5 May, 2012:
“Having left your own safe environment suddenly you no longer have control (which as teachers we typically enjoy in our classroom) over your world. As soon as you step out into the outside world in whatever country, you can be faced with:
It is similar to a new born chick who has just left the nest – since you lack confidence in your new surroundings you start out by going on small excursions, but then as you get more confident you go on further trips away from ‘the nest’.”
It is true I suppose that teachers prefer to have “control” in their classrooms. How ironic then that international school teachers put themselves in a situation where they for sure don’t have control. Living in another country is certainly you letting go of the control and safety of your home country and culture, or at least a familiar place to you. But that is what makes this career choice really exciting; you never know what to expect and what you will experience next. How frustrating though to not be able to read street and road signs, we can all relate to that. Additionally, not being able to understand the local language really makes you use all your other senses more in how to interpret body language and to gather meaning from body positioning, gestures and context. At this point native-English international school teachers are so used to being on a train or plane where everyone around them is speaking a different language than themselves that it is strange now (and quite over-stimulating) to be on a plane in the United States (for example) where they understand all the many conversations going on around their seat. We get very used to “tuning” out what is going on around us while living abroad, mostly because we just don’t understand what is being said.
This past month International School Community we had over 100 new members sign up! If this rate keeps up, we might have over 1000 members by the end of October! More members means more people that you can network with when you are job hunting or that you can ask questions to about a specific international school in which you are interested in working. Now, ISCommunity members currently work at or have worked at over 160 different international schools in over 53 countries!
From the staff at International School Community.
· Traveling Around: Tbilisi, Georgia (The life of an international school teacher is good!)
“Can you relate: Putting an update on Facebook on where I am and everyone not knowing where Tbilisi is…”
· International schools that were founded in 1932 (Hong Kong, Henderson, Masero & Lisbon)
“Founded in 1932 by Madam Tsang Chor-hang, Yew Chung has been providing quality bilingual education to the learners of Hong Kong for almost 80 years…”
· Overview of an int’l school #5 – Rainbow international School in Seoul
“Rainbow school is an international school established by Mr. Eshraf Saglam, a Turkish educationist in Seoul promoting multiculturalism and international diversity. With 260 students from 29 countries and 42 teachers from 6 countries…”
· Schools around the world get chance to sing in global recording
“An exciting global singing project has been announced. The project is called Voices around the World and the aim is for young people all over the world to learn and participate in a global recording…”
· International Teaching Predictions for 2012 #5: SE Asia
“We expect continued growth in Indonesia, Malaysia and even Vietnam as those emerging economies steadily prosper. Salaries may seem very low in these countries but…”
· The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #8 – “Benefits, preps, class sizes, and student mix.”
“If all these benefits and other factors don’t seem to match up for you at this point in your international school career, then the answer you will most likely give…”
Kazakhstan Attracts Teachers Looking for Career Development“Kazakhstan may not be the obvious destination for teachers wanting to work abroad. But the Nazarbayev Intellectual School Networkis offering experienced, English-speaking middle and secondary teachers a one-year contract that is proving very tempting for some.”“There are NIS schools in cities throughout Kazakhstan, all of which are leading a programme of educational reform in the country led by the President of the Republic. The aim is to develop a new way of educating the future elite of Kazakhstan and the NIS Network is enlisting the skills of experienced English-speaking teachers to spearhead the progress….”
Check out this blog entry to read more about what your life might look like as an international school teacher in Kazakhstan.
Highlighted blog of an international teacher:
This international school teacher’sblog is about teaching and living in Dubai, Almaty, etc.One of their blog entries (International Schools: The circuit)is describing how small the international school community is and how many of us “hop” around from school to school:“It is in fact a very small community and the chances are that you will know someone who has been to a specific school, once you have been in one or two schools overseas. Don’t be surprised after some years if you walk into a staffroom in a different school, and country, and you meet someone you worked with in another school…”Another one of their entries (What to expect at a job fair) is about what candidates might experience at the international school recruitment fairs:
“During the afternoon, the school will have interviews in their hotel rooms – it is all a bit surreal, but the recruiters carry out the interviews in their rooms (this is normal procedure!) At the end of this day the schools will then look at the candidates they have interviewed (and if you are one of them) then they will either invite you for a second interview…”
The campus looked quite purpose-built and new. Most likely not the same building as they originally had in 1931.
How interesting that it has the highest number of students of all international schools in Europe; using the school search feature on our website, the other top international schools in Europe only have around 1400 total students.
Did you see that huge soccer pitch? Usually, you only see such large playing fields in international schools in other regions of the world, not Europe.
Looks like all international schools like to have an international day. It is nice when a school specifically states that they welcome EAL students and are there to support them during their schooling.
Check out their school profile page on International School Community here.
There are 2 other international schools in Kobe, Japan. They are:
Overall there are 34 international schools in Japan, with 20 of those being in Tokyo.continue reading
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“One week ago, we were at school. A normal Friday. Ceci was dressed in her yellow PE uniform because it’s PE day. On Friday afternoon, we had our usual get together with all of the 5th graders. We’re on the road to Exhibition, a culminating project of the PYP where students intensely study something of interest. This year, the kids have chosen their passion and are exploring an issue related to that passion. It’s been really fun, but we’re on a tight schedule. On Friday, we were reflecting on the week’s work and stressing the schedule we need to keep to finish this on time.
The students broke into groups in all 3 of our classrooms. I wandered around, listening to their conversations. The students were animated, hanging out with friends, sharing their passions and their proud moments from the week. And then 2:47. The classroom started shaking. I was standing near a group of girls who immediately got under a table. Usually, earthquakes stop within seconds, but this didn’t. It was rocking us like babies in a rocker, and it wasn’t stopping.
I squished under the table with the girls. My co-teacher continued to stand up. I’m not sure how he did it. I couldn’t move. I put my arm over one of the girls and tried to comfort them all. A few were hysterical. It kept shaking. Over the loudspeaker, the high school principal in his dry, calming voice told us what was happening (earthquake). A few times he said, “it’s now safe to get out,” and then 1/2 second later, “No, back under the desks, the ground is still shaking.” During a time like that, you needed someone to speak your thoughts, and hats off to Mr. Stanworth who did.”
I can’t imagine how I would frightening this experience would have been. I do know that I would have done the same as this international school teacher and just try to comfort as many students as I could. I guess it is something that maybe one forgets about when deciding which international schools to interview with and where you would most like to live next in the world; the natural disasters that typically occur in that area. I guess you can’t predict those though, whether they would happen when you are living there or not. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
“It’s been a while, but time for a blog. We’re back to school again, and it’s almost as if we never left. Great group of kids again. The students always amaze me with their energy and joie de vivre. It would be hard to go back to students who don’t find school so amusing.”
Going back to an international school after a summer off is always an interesting experience. If you are starting your second year, you might be surprised about the feeling of “home” as you leave the host country airport back to your apartment. It is interesting how quickly your host country and school become familiar and give you that sense of belonging.
“Ceci is now in 4th grade. Hard to believe. After a difficult year last year–clashes with the teaching style–she seems relaxed. She says they haven’t been doing much and feels relieved. However, then she’ll mention the things they have done in class, and it’s like secret learning. I like that. For example, they’ve been working on estimating in measurement. They were talking about how far it might be to the train station, and everyone was making guesses. Then, the teacher said, well, let’s find out, and he took off. Ceci said she didn’t know where he went, and they all looked out the window, and he was heading to the train station. So, like little ducks, they followed him. Learning through doing… I like that.
I’m trying to do more of that in my class. My students have been building things lately. After giving them the chance to play with plastic tiles for Math, they now want to make elaborate domino structures and buildings any chance they get. We also played around with the concept of displacement the other day, and they built boats made from aluminum foil. On their own, they came up with the idea of surface area and reinforcing sides and balancing weight. Really amazing.”
I like getting inspired by other international school teachers. How great for international school teachers too that have their children attending the school. Sometimes you get an insight into another teacher’s classroom that you wouldn’t have necessarily; and then you get to learn about or be reminded of some great teaching techniques that you can then use in your own classroom!
Check out the Yokohama international School profile page on International School Community. Currently, there are 22 international schools listed in Tokyo area on our website, with all 4 of them being schools that teach the PYP curriculum.continue reading
How great that each international school is unique!
“Being the newest addition to the international schools in the community, TF asked its principal Paul Rogers to explain what MIS offers to children.
1. What is the Makuhari International School?
Makuhari International School is the only recognised international school in Chiba prefecture. We are a new international school, having opened in April, 2009. We educate Japanese children who have returned to Japan from overseas or dual-nationality, and foreign children already residing here.
2. What qualities make MIS unique?
We are unique because we are the only Article One international school in the whole of Japan. As such, we have unique benefits as an international school. We are also the newest such school operating in Japan at this time. As such, we have no history to fall back on but make our own history as time goes on.
3. What is the curriculum like?
At Makuhari International School, our curriculum is Japan-based. This means we teach the same subjects and at least the same amounts of time for each. In actual fact, we teach longer hours than in most Japanese schools and certainly in English and maths. We add on to this Japanese curriculum base, content and objectives from other curricula, mainly that of the UK. This makes our program of study not only extremely full but also suitable for children going into a Japanese school system after leaving us or back to another international school.
4. How does the school’s ‘Article One’ status affect it?
Financially, we can offer lower tuition fees than many other international schools because of tax benefits that Article One schools have. Educationally, children who leave MIS at the end of Grade 6 have legally completed their elementary education and cannot be refused access to taking any entrance tests to Japanese junior high schools.
5. Are there any extra-curricular activities or clubs?
We offer at present over 20 after-school clubs (as well as after school care) ranging from such clubs as chess, frisbee club, homework, rugby, art and yoga club.
6. What facilities are available to students?
At MIS, we not only have excellently resourced classrooms (with the most up to date technology such as interactive SmartBoards) but also specialist rooms. We have a large media centre (including a library, museum and ICT study area), art room, science lab, music room, media areas for all elementary grades, a multipurpose hall, ESL class and cookery room.
7. What kind of children comprise the student body?
At MIS, at present, around 60% of our children are Japanese returnee children, the other 40% are either dual nationality or foreign children.
8. What nationalities are the teaching staff?
We have teachers representing the following countries: UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America and Japan.
9. Are there services offered to students and parents?
We offer ESOL (English for Speakers of other Languages) as a support for those children whose English needs assistance.
10. What opportunities can MIS provide?
MIS offers an excellent rounded educational experience for all children in our care. This experience is based around the Mission Statement at our school – ‘all children are unique and special’. Our class teachers are at the core of this process and we believe that we have employed the very best teachers we can. Ultimately it is our aim for all children to make as much progress educationally, socially, physically and emotionally as is possible during their time at our school.”
Currently there are 20 international schools listed in Tokyo on International School Community. Some schools that have some comments and information submitted on them are:
• American School in Japan (19 Comments)
• Canadian International School (Tokyo) (9 Comments)
• International School of the Sacred Heart (5 Comments)
• Nishimachi International School (7 Comments)
• Makuhari International School (7 Comments)
Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
Auckland, New Zealand
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
My husband died and I decided to register with Search Associates with another couple who I taught with in Auckland – we decided we wanted to teach abroad in an internationals school, so we registered with Search Associates. We attended a fair in Sydney – initially on registration we had all been approached by a Principal from a school in the Middle East but decided to attend the Fair before making a decision. At the Fair, they were offered (and accepted) jobs in the Middle East, and I returned to NZ . I declined the job in the Middle East and was later offered a position in Tokyo, which I accepted, to start in August 2008.
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 have only worked at the one international school – Seisen International School from 2008. I am in my 4th year of teaching at Seisen. Seisen was my first experience in a PYP school. It was a new learning curve, but one which I was happy to engage in and has been a great experience. I love teaching the PYP programme and consider my years have been both personally enriching and intellectually and professionally very exciting. I love my profession and delight in seeing and sharing in my students learning. I see teaching as a holistic profession and never cease to be amazed with my students.
Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
I recently traveled to Yudanaka, up north, to see the snow monkeys. The town was a winter wonderland: gigantic icicles that sparkled like jewels, snow drifts as pristine as one would imagine, powder snow that wafted into space when one took a handful and blew on it, and monkeys that romped in the snow, rolled up snow balls and threw them at each other and dive bombed their elders in the hot pool. Those in the pool wore faces of absolute contentment and relaxation, as the hot water warmed their bodies, and all this midst a constant fall of gentle snow flakes. From there to Zao, to freezing temperatures and white out. Huge trees covered in snow that had frozen to give them the look of ‘snow monsters’ – and all this in sub zero temperatures at the top of the mountain where one couldn’t stay up there for too long coz of the sheer rawness and frigid temperatures. Nature in the raw! Magic!! and such a contrast from the concrete and human jungle of Tokyo! Japan – a country of contrasts – from ancient tradition and human culture, to the raw beauty of nature.
Solemn contrast to our school trip to Ichniomake – where we saw the negative power of nature – the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and the Tsunami, as we worked throughout the days to support those clearing up the aftermath. The sheer magnitude of the destruction was almost beyond comprehension, and has left memories that quell the heart and leave one reminded that we are at the mercy of nature, despite our human progress! Left me feeling so humbled by the courage and fortitude of those who survived the disaster. Their tenacity, courage was living testimony to the frailty and yet strength of the human will to survive!
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
Personal health and well being – the social support system, the medical system and insurance, the political stability, an income that allows one to live and travel to see the culture and history of the country, and personal freedom.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Challenging, invigorating, demanding, breathtaking , fun!
Thanks Beverley! 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 teach at an international school in Japan like Beverley? Currently, we have 34 international schools list in Japan on International School Community. Some of our members have left comments and information on the following schools in Japan:
• International School of the Sacred Heart (5 Comments)
• American School in Japan (19 Comments)
• Canadian International School (Tokyo) (9 Comments)
• Kais International School (2 Comments)
• Makuhari International School (7 Comments)
• Nishimachi International School (7 Comments)
• Fukuoka International School (5 Comments)
• Osaka International School (6 Comments)
• Yokohama International School (4 Comments)
• St Michael’s International School (7 Comments)
• Hokkaido International School (7 Comments)
• Hiroshima International School (16 Comments)
v2011.06 – 9 October, 2011:
Are you ready for your midterm break yet? If you live in China (or Asia in general), most likely you have already gone on your midterm trip. Some have gone to Bali, others to Vietnam. If you live in Europe, then your midterm break is probably in just 1-2 weeks time, or week 42 as it is known amongst the locals. Some will go to Malta, others to Greece. If you live in the United States and work for a public school, then you most likely will not get any week off of work until Christmas. Another one of the many perks teaching abroad at international schools!
We all need a break at this point in the year. Ironically though, some trips take time to plan…a lot of time! Hours and hours of searching on various search websites for flights. More hours searching and searching for the right hostal or hotel to stay at or what tour to join. The frustrating part sometimes is that the cheapest flight prices in certain countries are actually found on websites that are only in the host country’s language. Great if you can read that langauge, but a bit challenging if you don’t. It is good to have a native speaker help you out with checking out the airfares on those websites, just to double check you are getting the best deal.
The midterm break is a good chance to go visit some of your friends around the world. Got a friend now in Egypt? Now is your chance to go visit him/her! At International School Community, networking and gathering information is very easy. Get answers about schools that you are interested in by clicking on the school profile page link and sending a message to one of the members of that school on our website. It’s a great way to get firsthand information! Also, it is a great way to start making some new friends across the world that you can go visit. Currently, International School Community members work at or have worked at 72 international schools! Check out which schools here.
Photo by Duncan P Walker
· Featured article: Moving Overseas with Children by Teachers International Consultancy (part 2)
“If your child is joining an international school where many expatriate children attend, then expect the school to be the social as well as the learning centre for the community…”
· The Wonderful World of Int’l School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #2 – “Energy is eternal delight”
“We have all had interviews in one of those hotel rooms where the interviewers seem disorganized, unaware really of who is sitting in front of them at the moment. Some interviewers due indeed look rather confused and out-of-sorts…”
· Educating children abroad can be an expensive business, so it’s important to start planning early
“One good benefit that international schools provide for their teachers is free tuition for their children to attend the school. That is worth around £20,000! Too bad teachers without children can’t pocket that money if they were offered the same benefit…”
· Comments and information about salaries on International School Community #1 (Hong Kong, Shanghai & Seoul)
“I have 14 years experience and my Masters. I earn about $1,500 per month in Won (about $400 of that is taken out of my paycheck for a retirement plan which is matched by school which I have access to at the end of the school year), and then another $2,000 in US dollars which is sent to my US account every month. I pay no taxes….”
· Great link – U.S. Dept. of State’s information on Teaching Overseas
“There is a list of 197 international schools that the U.S. Department provides assistance to. These school support an American-style education…”
1000 comments and information celebration:
International School Community is celebrating over 1000 comments and information which have been posted now on our website! Currently, we are at 1079. For a limited time, all members can use the coupon code (1000COMMENTS) to get 50% off of their next premium membership subscription. With the coupon code: 1 month is only 5 USD, 6 months is now only 10 USD and 1 year is only 15 USD!
Take advantage of this special deal now as this coupon code is valid only until 8 November, 2011. International School Community is the website to go to for international school teachers!
·Slc Chu (International School Singapore)
Current Survey Topic:
“I was recommended a job by an old swimming friend who was already working in an international school. The job was in Shanghai, China so without hestiation, I packed my bags and made the beiggest decision of my life (or so I thought at that point)…
If you’d like to be one of our next member spotlights send us a message here. Highlighted members will receive a coupon code for 6 free months of premium access!
An international school’s encounter with internet pirates“Over the past several months, the International School of Stavanger has been challenged with a new and unpleasant phenomenon – being taken ‘virtual hostage’ by internet pirates.In February, 2011 we started getting some emails from candidates applying for non-existent ESL and English teaching jobs. They referred to having seeing ads on various ESL employment websites.When I went onto one of these websites, sure enough there was a posting for an ESL job at our school starting in May 2011. The job would pay benefits including 1800 Euro per month and the advert suggested applicants write to an individual (who really does work here), referring to her as the ‘Recruitment Manager.’
Of course, the job was pure fiction. Probably the silliest part is the idea that we would be paying a Euro-based salary. The Norwegian Kroner is the only currency we use for salary payments. (However, that last piece of information is also what has led the police to believe that this mischief had been accomplished not by a disgruntled individual with a possible connection to the school, but was probably was a ‘phishing’ expedition.)”
Highlighted blog of an international teacher:
The Night Before
“Once I get there I am sure the excitement will set in again. I am sure I will still have periods where I am homesick. I am so glad that the internet, cell phones and skype have all been invented, and I have access to them.”
Getting to know the school
“The schedule here is quite interesting and confusing right now. They have an 8 period day, but periods 1 &2, 3 & 4, and 6 & 7 are block periods. Periods 5 and 8 are single periods. They also do not have the classes the same time everyday.”*If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.
v2011.05 – 10 September, 2011:
School is back now in session. Many teachers have been at work and teaching students for a few weeks already. A teacher just wrote to us talk to share what life was like starting year #2 at their “relatively new” international school. Things on the teacher’s mind during the first few weeks so far were related to the following topics:
Getting to know the new director starting this year, knowing the school’s curriculum better now, knowing where things are located in their city and not being new to everything like in year #1, feeling more at home now that their apartment is already decorated, getting used to all of the school’s new equipment and materials, working with new teams of teachers at school and also getting to know the new teachers, making a bit more money now that they are moving up the pay schedule a bit, planning new holidays and vacations to explore more of their region of the world, going to the new shops and stores that have opened up in their city which is making shopping for certain things a lot easier and lastly, getting to inherit the old things of departing teachers from the previous school year!
· Featured article: Moving Overseas with Children by Teachers International Consultancy (part 1)
“Moving abroad with children requires a lot of planning in advance to make the transition as easy as possible for everyone. There’s no doubt that you’ll be faced with hitches along the way, but everything…”
· The Wonderful World of Int’l School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #1 – Bad interviews are good things
“No matter the reputation of the school, the people sitting across from you in the hotel room asking you questions in that school’s name are a stronger indicator of how it would feel to work at that school …”
· Member Search Feature: What positions do International School Community members have?
“After using the member profile search feature on the main homepage of International School Community, we found the following results…”
· Great link: Want to work at an international school in Thailand?
“We are often asked for ‘foreign schools’ in Bangkok and Thailand. None of the international schools in Bangkok and Thailand is really a ‘foreign school’ since they are all accredited by the Ministry of Education in Thailand…”
· How to Break into International School Teaching
“Some of the applications for recruitment fairs like Search and ISS can take months to complete. Especially the confidential references that you need to get your references to submit….”
TIC website. Highlights from this page: TIC provides a personalised, reliable and responsive recruitment and training service tailored specifically to international schools and teachers worldwide. TIC are experts in international schools having over 25 years experience in international education. They have a huge network of contacts in great international schools all over the world; this enables them to help you find your perfect overseas teaching job. They offer a tailored recruitment service whether you are a teacher looking for a job overseas or a school looking to recruit.
A great facebook group page for international school teachers. Check it out here. It is a community of educators working in international schools across the globe. TIST is a site dedicated to a number of interests:
– Sharing instructional strategies
– Integrating instructional technology
– Insights on international teaching
– Questions and concerns about IB
– Cross-curricular and cross-continental collaborative projects
– Job fairs and the recruitment process
– Advice about future teaching destinations and cultural adjustment
– Keeping up with old colleagues and making new contacts
v2011.04 – 9 August, 2011:
Back to school! If you are new teacher at an international school this year, right now is the most exciting time. You are now officially in the honeymoon phase of your culture shock. Enjoy it. Many times for new teachers there is a nice BBQ at the director’s house, catered lunches during workshop days, a nice tour around the city, etc. If you are lucky, there is a nice group of new teachers at your school this year. Why, you ask? The other new teachers that start at your new school at the same time as you will typically become some of your best friends that you will make there. It is because you guys will be sharing the same experiences as you explore your new city, new country and new school together at the same time. So, new teachers enjoy your first few months! Take everything in stride and appreciate every minute. Try and say “yes” to all the invitations you will receive from other teachers in their attempt to make new friends with you.
· International schools that were founded in 1978 (Mauritania, Egypt, Kuwait, etc.)
“The Vienna International School was founded in September 1978 to serve the children of the United Nations and diplomatic community in Vienna. It is also open to children of the…”
· Blogs of international school teachers: “Ichi, Ni, San…Go.”
“It has some great insight into how important the first few weeks are for new teachers during their orientation days to their new city and new school. There is also much information to be …”
· School profile highlights #6: Luanda Int’l School, Amer. School of Tokyo and Int’l School of Iceland
“Candidates should note that most foreign-hire teachers live near the main campus in Chofu, a suburban environment one hour west of downtown Tokyo by train…”
· TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS: #2 – Anticipate a challenging adjustment period of six months
“Some international school teachers tend to experience different levels of culture shock and can pass though the stages quite quickly, but I still think for those people that you need to give yourself six full months to decide…”
· Stafford International School (3 new comments)
(Colombo, Sri Lanka)
“Religious activities are promoted with weekly assemblies by each group and the celebration of festivals in which all participate…”
· Copenhagen International School (10 new comments)
“The apartment that I got was complete unfurnished. I had to buy everything for it. Luckily, you can use the relocation allowance to help you buy furniture and what not (which is around USD 2000)…”
· Greengates School (British Int’l School) (5 new comments)
(Mexico City, Mexico)
“The PTA is very strong. International Day Fair is the most interesting event that you will see. High School graduation is very respected with Ambassadors as guest speakers …”
· Robert Muller Life School (3 new comments)
“The school has around 11 teachers and they are from Guatemalan and the United States…”
· International School Dhaka (3 new comments)
“This well-resourced school has a purpose-built centrally air- conditioned buildings and classrooms, specialist teaching rooms including…”
Back in July we celebrated our 100th member on International School Community! We are definitely on our way to our goal of having 200 members by the end of the year. Please refer your international school teacher friends to join our community.
Officially, we also have 66 likes on Facebook and on Twitter we have 119 followers. How exciting!
Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments on the following schools:
New Comment: ” Housing is included in the benefits as well as the utilities (not including phone though).”
New Comment: “Candidates should note that most foreign-hire teachers live near the main campus in Chofu, a suburban environment one hour west of downtown Tokyo by train.”
New Comment: “In 2008 the Dual Language Immersion Program was launched. Students in grades 1-2 were given the option of being either in the bilingual (Icelandic-English) stream or the English stream.”continue reading
v2011.02 – 7 June, 2011:
Well, the school year is winding down for most of us. Some int’l schools are already out and some still have a month to go! Either way summer is upon us and travel awaits. Most of us go back to our home countries, some of us skip going “home” and explore new countries and then there are the few that stay in their host country to relax or because they have visitors coming. Finally, there are the international educators that are moving on. Lots of packing to do and shipping of boxes to their new destination. Many will be taking a chance on a new school and new country; and a lucky few finally got a job to go work at their dream school in their dream country/city.
If you are moving on to live in a new destination, don’t forgot to update your member profile to show your new “current location” and your new “current school.” Also, now that many of us have some more freetime on our hands, now is the time to share what you know by writing some new comments on the school profile page of the school you currently work at.
The offical launch promotion continues: All new members that sign up will automatically receive a free 1-month subscription of premium membership. Make sure to forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues so that they can also benefit from this promotion. Current members can still benefit from this promotion. Just sign-on and click on the My Account tab and then the renew your subscription link. Use the coupon code “MESGRATIS” on the payment page (coupon code expires on 30 June, 2011)
New incentive program: Now when you submit comments on the school profile pages, you can earn coupon codes to receive up to 1 year free of premium membership access! Putting-in 15-29 comments gets you 6 months free. Submitting over 30 or more comments will get you 1 YEAR FREE! Please remember that the comments you submit on the school profile pages are anonymous, but we can keep track of which members write how many comments in our system. Once we see you have submitted your comments, we will send you an email with a special coupon code to extend your current premium membership.
· Survey results are in – Which area of the world would you prefer to work in?
“it seems as if Western Europe is the top area of the world that internationals school educators want to live and work in….”
· Are students from one culture group “taking-over” certain international schools?
“Is it true that in most places in the world, where there are international schools, that there is many times a “dominant” culture group at each school…”
· Why do people leave international school teaching to go back to their own country?
“With regards to the single teachers, it seems that many of them move back to their home countries for reasons not necessarily related to money, but for love as well…”
· Highlighted article: Destinations and Dispositions (IKEA dependence)
“IKEA is indeed the best friend of international school teachers. What a great friend too because…”
· It’s all about luck and timing: Getting the international school job of your dreams
“If you really want to live and work in a specific city in the world and there are only 2-4 jobs available at the two international schools there…”
*If you’d like to be one of our next member spotlights send us a message here. If you are chosen to be highlighted, you will receive a coupon code to receive 6 months of premium access to our website for free!
How do you figure out the population of each city?
We use the latest numbers from Wikipedia. We also use the metro area population instead of just the city proper itself. We thought it would give a better indication of the actual number of people that live in and around the city.
As all International School Community members know, each of the 2098+ 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 Travel Information sections on all the school profile pages? The current total number of submitted comments in the Travel Information sections is 2137 (out of a total of 32776+ comments); up almost 458 comments since July 2018.
There are 6 subtopics in the Travel Information section on each school profile page. Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out the total number of comments in that specific subtopic and also an example comment that has been submitted there.
Example comment: “You can fly mostly anywhere in Europe from Berlin. Unfortunately there has been a new airport in construction for many years now with no real outlook on when it will be complete. You have to connect elsewhere to fly internationally (i.e Copenhagen, Paris, London, Reykjavik etc.)” – Berlin Cosmopolitan School (Berlin, Germany) – 72 Comments
Example comment: “Narita International Airport is the most convenient in terms of distance, parking, and bus connections. It is approximately 45-50 minutes by car on the highway (tolls are about $12 or $13 USD each way), 75 minutes by car by more local roads, and about an hour by bus ($25 USD). Haneda Airport in Tokyo is further away from Tsukuba and more conveniently reached by a combination of the Tsukuba Xpress and Tokyo subways (90 to 120 minutes and $18 to $25 USD, depending on the various options and combinations). There is also the more local Ibaraki Airport (which has free parking) about 45 minutes from town, but flights are very limited and only include a few destinations within Japan (such as Kobe, Fukuoka, Naha and Sapporo) and Shanghai and Seoul (and sometimes Taipei by charter flights) internationally.” – Tsukuba International School (Tsukuba, Japan) – 41 Comments
Example comment: “My Switzerland is a very comprehensive and informative website for locals and expats. which provides a wide breadth of information.
https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/home.html” – Zurich International School (Zurich, Switzerland) – 46 Comments
Example comment: “Expatriate teachers are recommended to not use public transit. The school recommends hiring a school driver to drive us to our desired destination using the car the school provides us. School drivers for a very reasonable rate. If there is a place you want to go, ask the head of security and he will check to ensure it is safe to travel to your desired destination.” – Lahore American School (Lahore, Pakistan) – 116 Comments
Example comment: “It truly depends on the teacher and their own personal situation. Many younger, single teachers will travel during breaks. Usual destinations are somewhere around east our southeast Asia. Teachers who are married with children will stay in Korea many times. During summer break, most teachers will go to their home country.” – Korea Kent Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 22 Comments
Example comment: “Queues at immigration can be very very very long. (between 15 min and 1.5 hours of waiting) Just make sure you have some battery left on that phone of yours! ;-)” – Dulwich College Beijing (Beijing, China) – 28 Commentscontinue reading
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!continue reading
For the past 9 years I have met more than 30,000 people. How? By traveling the world and handing out Dutch pancakes for free wherever I go!
My story started 9 years ago, when I was studying in Hong Kong for a university exchange program. My friends there cooked Asian food for me and in return I decided to serve them Dutch pancakes. This was a big success and people liked the pancakes and the atmosphere a lot. Back then I already thought that if this event was such a success in Hong Kong, why not anywhere else in the world?!
When back in the Netherlands I started hosting people at my apartment on Saturday nights, first for 10 or 20 people, but when encouraging my friends to invite more people, it soon grew out towards 100+ people every week. A few months into this, my landlord decided that he wanted to sell my apartment. At that moment I had to make a decision whether to rent a new apartment or to invest my salary in flight tickets and to travel the world in my free time. I decided on the second one and have since then been a nomad for the past 5+ years.
Initially I just approached my own friends who lived all over Europe and asked them whether they fancied to host an edition in their apartments. This worked, but the pace was low (only 1-2 editions per month). At one point I decided to approach strangers on Facebook, Couchsurfing, etc with the question whether they would know of suitable locations or to host the event in their own apartments. Luckily I was always able to find a location this way. However, nowadays the event has outgrown the capacity of regular apartments, so I decided to switch to bars, hostels and more professional venues.
Over the course of these 9 years I have organized the pancake events for around 460 times, in 78 countries and in around 200 different cities, literally all over the world, from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro and from Dar es Salaam to Boston. During these events we prepared more than 50,000 Dutch pancakes!
All the places I have visited are of course very different from each other, but the atmosphere at the events is surprisingly similar: people are generally very enthusiastic, easy-going and open to meet many more people. They are also often very willing to help and support, for example by finding locations for the events, helping with groceries, bringing along cooking material, preparing pancakes, or help with cleaning. Occasionally the location even looks cleaner than before the event!
I have always wondered what drove the success of these events. I think the following factors made the difference:
Even though I have organized these pancake events for 9 years already, I never looked further than 3 months. There were many moments that I thought about stopping, for example if I experienced disappointments or setbacks or if I did not feel like putting in the effort required to organize more editions. However, there were always many more moments that I felt so happy having completed editions successfully and getting a lot of positive feedback from participants. That has always kept me going!
As for the Dutch pancake nights, I keep on searching for ways to make the experiences for the participants more unique, for example by making them larger (I now think of creating an XXL edition for more than 1000 people), at more unique locations (in an embassy, on a yacht, etc), by creating social impact (e.g. community building, charity), or otherwise.
In case you are also curious to join a Dutch Pancake edition, feel free to visit the event in Hong Kong on Saturday 21 July: https://www.facebook.com/events/201543413811969/
If you cannot make it to the edition in Hong Kong, then here you can find the calendar with other editions: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Dutch-Pancake-events-1127435713963068/events
Here you can find two related videos about the Dutch Pancake Night:
– My TEDx speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPa7V5shQAs&t=250s
– An impression of the event: https://vimeo.com/256783761
Next to that, I do hope that people will be inspired by this journey, connecting people through 3 different ingredients: milk, flour and eggs. And I do hope that people will also start using their own ingredients to shape their own unconventional lifestyle!
Robin Vogelaar has a background in finance (at MIT Sloan School of Management) and management consulting (at The Boston Consulting Group and ING Bank in Amsterdam) and currently travels the world bringing people together through Dutch pancakes and supporting NGOs and social enterprises with volunteer consulting on any strategic topic.continue reading
What does Japan have to offer expats that other Asian countries don’t? It doesn’t offer much bang for your buck. Even a position at a major, affluent international school in Tokyo can’t offer a salary that compares to Singapore. Nor will your salary take you as far as it will in a place like Laos or Thailand.
So why choose Japan?
The depth and breadth of culture in Japan is unparalleled in Asia. China might be older, but thanks to the Cultural Revolution and the current penchant in China for tacky modernity, you’ll have a harder time finding it. But in Japan you can easily find it, at almost any street corner. Japanese are proud of being Japanese, and will bend over backwards to show off their culture to foreigners. There’s a surplus of Japanese TV shows that capitalize on this theme. “Why did you come to Japan?” follows Japan-obsessed foreigners on crazy odysseys throughout the country. It starts by following gaijin as soon as they land at the airport, often with the intention of backpacking to some remote area, studying some obscure Japanese art, or attending something unique. More often than not, the locals take great care of these vagabonds, inviting them into their homes, taking them great distances, and generally honoring these guests. Japan is very hospitable.
But not always.
You’ll probably have a few experiences like this at first. But once the honeymoon wears off, you’ll notice that in daily interactions, especially big cities, Japanese are actually avoiding you. They don’t want to sit next to you on the train. No small talk at the bus station. They aren’t interested in talking about politics. You’ll hear the dreaded, “Ah, nihongo joozu, desu ne!” This means you speak good Japanese. It sounds like a compliment, but when you’ve heard it for the tenth time in one day, you’ll realize it’s an insult. A micro-aggression. Yes, they are complimenting you the same way you would a trained dog. Congrats, you can badly pronounce several words of our language, now piss off. You’ll discover you have few Japanese friends, and feel isolated from society.
What do you do? How do you get past this hump and enjoy a long-term stay?
Make Japanese friends. This sounds odd, but many people have difficulty doing this. Many expats don’t have any close Japanese friends, or even a loose circle of Japanese acquaintances. These are the people that have the most difficult time in Japan and leave the soonest.
This is because most Japanese people generally won’t make friends on the street. Japan is a very group-oriented culture, and Japanese grow up learning to make friends within strict confines. From the moment a young Japanese child enters school, they are taught that the group membership is paramount, and individualism is not welcome. They spend all their school life dressing in uniforms and following tight regimes, only to graduate into the even more regimented world of work. Uniforms become unofficial dress codes, and the company they work for takes over their life. You strictly socialize within your company. You even vacation with them. Having worked at a Japanese company, I’ve had the weird experience of going on a company sponsored vacation with my co-workers. After many all-night bouts of drinking, we all literally took a bath together. (Google Japanese public bath etiquette after you read this.)
Herein lies your hope. Once you find a group to belong to, you’ll never lack for want of social contact. You will be invited to do everything with your group. The Japanese, familiar with this way of socially orienting themselves, open up like flowers. Indeed, you may find that some get too personal with you, too quickly.
So how do you maximize your life in Japan? How do you truly experience the beauty of Japanese culture? Join a club, organization, social circle, team sport, or group activity. Find a special interest group. Go to those late night drinking parties. Go flower blossom viewing together. Join the cheesy group vacations. Learn ikebana (flower arranging). Practice chado (tea ceremony.) Choose any Japanese art, join the classes, let the group take you in. Join and become Japanese. You will not be disappointed.
This article was submitted to us by an International School Community member guest author.continue reading
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.
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.
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?
The answer is, of course, culture. Part II coming soon…
This article was submitted to us by an International School Community member guest author.continue reading
Living and working in cities around the world can be very tiresome, confusing and stressful. On the other hand, it can also be wonderful, exciting and eventful.
When you first move to a city there are so many new places to visit and restaurants at which to eat. Even after a couple of years, there are still new places to check out and restaurants that you haven’t eaten at yet. If you are lucky, a new favorite place pops up every once and awhile.
Even after a short time of living in a city, there are certainly places that become your favorite. When your friends and family visit, you tend to take them on mini tours that go to these places. These places become a huge part of your ‘expat’ experience.
After moving away to a new city, you always think about the good times you had in your old city and the places you frequently visited. These favorite places truly become solidified in your memory of living in that city.
The best part of moving away from a city you’ve lived in, is going back to visit. When you make a trip to return to a place you’ve once lived, your old favorite places are on the top of your ‘sight-seeing list’ during your visit. And typically you don’t have as much time to see them all, so you truly find out which places were your really top ones. These really top ones are the must-go places that bring back old memories, and also help make new ones.
Most international school teachers can list off the best parts of living in their city. Some have longer lists than others (depending on their personality and the place in which they live), but there are always new and interesting things to check out and do…if you are getting yourself out to enjoy them. The more local friends you get too, the more you can check out and hear out the ‘best places’ in the city from the people that truly know it well.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to what life is like in various cities around the world, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What is the best part of living in this city for you?”
Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 69 comments in this comment topic (Sept. 2016). Here are a few that have been submitted:
“KK is a very multi-cultural city. There are many different religions and ethnicities represented here. Because of this there is nearly always a festival or celebration going on. It is wonderful to see everyone celebrating them all. Muslims openly welcome Chinese, Tamil and Expats to their homes during Hari Raya. Everyone is welcome to attend the temple during Deepavali. And of course everyone always enjoys Chinese New Year and Christmas celebrations.” – Kinabalu International School (Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia) – 10 Comments
“Outside of school, there is a very relaxed pace of life. You will see people in the coffee shops, on the beach or just strolling the avenues all hours of the day. The food is excellent, and the wines are cheap and second to none. Forget the expensive Italian and French wines. Stick with the huge variety of portuguese wines and you can’t go wrong.” – Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 98 Comments
“Seisen is located in Setagaya ward, which is one of the greenest parts of Tokyo. You are never more than a short bike ride or stroll from Kinuta Park, Komazawa Park, Todoroki Gorge or the expanse of green along the Tama River bank.” – Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 66 Comments
“It’s hard to put your finger on. Bangkok can be infuriating. Travel can be tough off the Skytrain finding products you need, a real challenge and yet the city has a pleasant, almost relaxed vibe for a place of its size. The Thais are a fun loving people, there are some great bars and restaurants and if you search off the beaten track some architectural and historical gems.” – Rasami British International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 75 Commentscontinue reading
International School Community is full of thousands of useful, informative comments…14691 comments (25 Oct. 2015) to be exact.
Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website, and sometimes they need to share how it really is working at their international school.
We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as being some of the most controversial.
12. In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school?
The management is largely ineffective and there is no clear goal for the school overall. There are no lines of communication between administrators and teachers, and not even within departments at the same school. There is very much of an “every man for himself” attitude. The pay is good enough to make some people stay for a while because of that. – Cambridge International School (Cambridge, United Kingdom) – 9 Comments
11. Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.
“Most of the third tier International Schools (which PAIS is one of) will just pay the bare minimum legal requirement, as a box-ticking exercise to be able to say their teachers are covered. In reality the insurance is little more than a joke, teachers have shared anecdotes of actually getting laughed at when showing their card at a hospital. This is endemic across many, many schools here. With that said, PAIS’s teacher insurance program is not the absolute lowest, there are worse ones, but not by far.” – Pan Asia International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 16 Comments
10. Pension plan details.
“There is something not at all right about the pension plan. No one understands it. Very little information is given. No other international schools in Germany use this dodgy system. The director used to be a banker and so he knows how to manipulate the system I guess. It’s a very insecure feeling.” – Metropolitan School Frankfurt (Frankfurt, Germany) – 36 Comments
9. Average amount of money that is left to be saved.
“Hong Kong is no longer the “Golden Goose”, with rent increases and the peg to the US eating away much of the previous savings potential. I worked at the Hong Kong YCIS when the accommodation packages were being negotiated with staff. Previously, the school provided small and basic accommodation but it was conveniently located (Wanchai, Sai Kung, Tai Po). They warned expats at the time about going to cash allowances, since the rents at the time were at a very low point (1999). Now they have almost tripled, and the cash allowance won’t even cover half the cost of the same flats the school used to provide.. Careful what you wish for, I guess.” – Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 17 Comments
8. Details about the staff housing or the housing allowance. If there is no housing allowance, how much are rent costs and utilities?
“Housing is a contentious issue. Most housing is either at elementary campus (older apartments, flood-prone), Twiga Apartments near the secondary (nice new apartments, but with a high population density and a LOT of children), Regents Estate (older apartments a bit of a way from both campuses. Used to be nice, but need better maintenance). There is a new building going up at elementary campus, consisting of fairly small 2 bedroom apartments. The school has committed to investing quite a bit of money to improve the older elementary housing and bring it up to standards and flood proof them. However, options are still limited and especially new teachers end up “at the bottom of the barrel”. Dar es Salaam in general has notoriously high rental prices.” – International School of Tanganyika (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) – 141 Comments
7. Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?
“There is no tax in the UAE so what you earn is yours. It is VERY expensive to enjoy the UAE however, so don’t get too excited about a salary which would be attractive in your own country’s equivalent money. The school pays you each month, but it is often paid late (could be up to a week late!) and there’s nothing you can do about it. The UAE law states that ALL teachers should be paid a minimum of 12,000 dirhams, however Wesgreen pays most teachers way less than this and instead pay the fine to the ministry of labour (which is considerably less than paying staff members the correct wage!). Take my advice and DO NOT ACCEPT LESS THAN 10,000 DIRHAMS! The school will try to pay you as least as they can and you will be upset when you speak to another teacher in the same department doing exactly the same job earning 2 or 3 thousand more dirhams than you! This happens a lot! Men seem to get paid more than the female staff (doing exactly the same job) and passport holders of certain countries seem to get paid more than other also. Even if you think you will be fine earning 8 or 9 thousand, wait until you see the price of a decent food shop, or a normal meal out or a few drinks in a bar etc. etc. it is VERY expensive to enjoy Dubai!!!” – Wesgreen International Private School (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates) – 23 Comments
6. Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extra curricular responsibilities? Describe workload details.
“The workload on paper looks amazing…but the lack of organization, the reactive nature, covering classes as a substitute, poor communication, confusing expectations all tend to destroy ones ability to focus on what’s best for the kids like planning and implementing really great lessons k-12.” – Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 51 Comments
5. What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff?
“Note: About the male principal–he was sleeping on the job!! While the rest of us teachers were putting in over 40 hrs a week–he would sleep every afternoon. He deserved to be fired! When he and the Head teacher would come into our classrooms to visit–they would yell at us in front of the students–very de-moralizing! I’m so glad those people don’t work at our school anymore! AND–the students and parents were happier after they were fired!! The female principal took too many “free days” and her husband who was teaching French, had failed to do a good job. They left after a professional French teacher from the University of Tirana came and did an assessment of the student’s learning abilities. The students had ALL failed the test!” – Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania) – 19 Comments
4. What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school?
“Do not join this school if you are expecting to be treated professionally by the upper management (above principal level) Feedback from the Director responsible for Quality Control is non-existent. Do not believe anything you are told as it can bechanged at the last moment on a whim.” – United Private Schools (Muscat, Oman) – 7 Comments
3. What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective.
“An endless list of controversies. All teachers on different pay scales and contracts (causing division amongst staff). A Managing Director who tried to cut staff holidays and pay, and then allegedly assaulted a staff member. The introduction of teaching some subjects in German, causing teachers to feel demotivated and concerned about their jobs, as well as a great deal of parent dissatisfaction” – Berlin British School (Berlin, Germany) – 31 Comments
2. Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).
“International schools must comply with new ministerial decree The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | May 23 2014 | 10:38 PM Share The Education and Culture Ministry says that international schools must make adjustments to their curriculum as stipulated by a new ministerial decree issued on April 23. Education and Culture Ministerial Decree No. 31/2014 on the cooperation and management of foreign education institutions with Indonesian education institutions stipulates that educators at international schools must be registered with the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry and the Education and Culture Ministry, Antara news agency reported. Furthermore, the Education and Culture Ministry’s director general of early childhood education programs, Lydia Freyani Hawadi, said that teachers at international schools must also be proficient in Indonesian, as stipulated by Manpower and Transmigration Ministry laws. She explained that they must be proficient in the language because Indonesian students studying at international schools must take four compulsory subjects: religious studies, Indonesian language, history and citizenship studies. “The teacher’s education must be suited to the subject they teach,” Lydia told reporters on Friday. A school’s curriculum must also be adjusted to national standards, and foreign students must be taught cultural studies, she said. Furthermore, Lydia emphasized that international schools could not be fully owned by foreign stakeholders, as the law stipulates that foreigners can only own 49 percent of a school. The school must also be able to prove that it has enough capital to run the school for the next six years. “Most importantly, there will no longer be ‘international schools’. They must change their names,” she explained. Lydia said that the ministry had held talks with 44 schools to discuss the new ministerial decree, adding that a majority of the schools did not have any accreditation. If a school does not comply with the ministry’s demands, the school management could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined Rp 1 billion (US$86,000) under Law No. 20/2003 on the national education system. (fss)” – Surabaya International School (Surabaya, Indonesia) – 54 Comments
1. Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about?
“Read your contract carefully. do not sign an unsigned contract. contracts signed by the teachers have been changed and then signed by the owner. If you have issues with the owner his first and only reaction is to tell you to take him to court where he will happily drag the case out to cost you a lot of money.” – Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 22 Comments
If you have an interesting story in 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!continue reading
I was just talking with an international school teacher friend of mine who is part of a teaching couple with 3 children. They are looking for another job right now; their next international school. I asked her where in the world that they would most like to move to. She told me that it would have to be in a city where the “living is cheap!”
I have actually lived in 2 of the cities currently on the list for 2010 of the most expensive cities in the world. One of them is in the top half of the list and the other is in the lower half. I’m not for sure that looking at this list is really helpful when deciding where to live internationally (if you get offered a job at an international school there, mind you). It seems like the salary and/or benefits are typically raised in accordance to the high cost of living in the city, but not always I suppose.
Housing allowance: the main factor at play?
Some schools on the list (Canadian International School Singapore, Shanghai Community International School, Hong Kong International School, Seoul International School, etc…) offer generous housing allowances; when the school pays for all of your rent (and sometimes even the utilities). However, I know other schools on the list (American School of Barcelona, Acs International Schools – Egham Campus, etc…) that don’t offer a housing allowance. Not having to pay for rent (which is sometimes 1/3 of your take home pay) plays an important factor in how expensive the city is for you. I was told by another friend who has worked at international schools for 4 years now that she plans to never pay for housing again! I guess once you get that benefit, it is hard to go back to paying for your own rent! There is always the money-saving option of having a roommate to help with high rent costs, but many teachers, as they get older, don’t want to consider that as an ideal option.
High-priced goods: paying 2-3 times what you would normally pay.
I know some teachers in the “most expensive cities in the world” sometimes think twice about paying 7 USD for a loaf of bread at a bakery geared towards the expat community. Surely, that is expensive. They would never do that if they lived in their home country. I can’t even think of a place that would sell a loaf of bread for that price in the United States. BUT, they actually have the money now in their budget to buy those types of things. For sure the stores know the secret; which is that many of the expats living there don’t have to pay for their housing and have extra money to pay high prices for things that remind them of home/western-type stuff. Especially when a new teacher first moves to a new city (when they don’t know exactly where to buy things yet and where the best prices are at different stores), there are always expats willing and able to pay high prices for western things.
There are always cheaper alternatives.
When you first move to a city, you don’t know where to get the good prices. Once you find those places and ask your colleagues where to go, then for sure you might think the city is much less expensive than you had originally thought. Especially if you are in a city that has a culture similar to the type of foods you like to eat. For example, if you want to buy Cranberry juice in the United States, it is going to be relatively cheap. However, cranberry juice is not a popular juice to drink in most other countries in the world, thus it is going to be much more expensive (if you are luckily to even find it). Buying the local version of the products you like will for sure be a cheaper alternative.
Taxis and transportation.
If you live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, you will most likely also be paying a lot of money for taxis and other transportation. It is especially true for cities on the list like London, Tokyo and Barcelona. However, it is not necessary true for other cities on the list like Shanghai and Beijing. Not being able to utilize taxis because of financial constraints can definitely play a factor in your decision to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
There are so many factors that come into play when you decide whether a city is going to be too expensive for you. It is difficult to get a good idea of how that will effect your decision to move there before you are actually living there. I interviewed with a school in Singapore and they were really adamant about getting me to realize beforehand how expensive it was to live there. It was difficult for me to fully understand their concerns (after looking at their salary and benefits) without actually having experienced the high cost firsthand. Luckily, International School Community is now here to help international educators. We have specifically designed our school profile pages to include questions about everything related to money, benefits and the many facets of the cost of living. With new comments being submitted every week, International School Community is certainly the website to find out important information about many international schools around the world!continue reading