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What To Expect When You’re Going To Study Abroad

June 11, 2017

Studying abroad offers students many wonderful opportunities and experiences that they just cannot get at home. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that studying abroad is a popular option for many who are looking at a post-secondary education. Just like any major decision in life, there are Pros and Cons to consider when studying abroad. For those that are doing this for the first time, here are some things you can expect when studying abroad:

Expect a Language Barrier at First 

If you are choosing to study abroad, there is a good chance you will be heading somewhere that has a different national language than you are used to. This is one of those factors that works as both a pro and a con. At the start, it will seem negative as you learn to adjust, learn the language, and figure things out. However, over time, this will be a positive experience because you will be learning a new language which can only help you down the road in your education and professional life.

In order to adjust to a language barrier, be sure to enroll in a language class as soon as possible. If you do not want to take a class, you can always use an app or some sort of audio CD that teaches you the basics of the language. Additionally, you will need to immerse yourself in the local culture. Locals are often very helpful and patient when you are trying to learn a new language or culture.

Study Abroad

Expect a Bit of Homesickness

Even if you are excited and anxious to start your studies abroad, it is still perfectly normal to feel at least a little homesick. This is just part of the adjustment period and it will become less noticeable over time. Find ways to stay connected to your life back at home whether it is through video chats, emails, messages, or even postcards. This connection with home and your loved ones will help to keep you grounded and feeling positive.

Expect Things to Feel Overwhelming and Confusing at First

When you head to a different country, you will be dealing with finding a place to live, finding transportation to and from the school and other places you need to visit. You might also be looking for part-time work if allowed, meeting new friends, and getting used to an entirely new way of life. This can be rather overwhelming especially since it is all happening at first.

Again, it is important to remind yourself that this is a temporary feeling. As you start to familiarize yourself with a new place, you will feel more comfortable, confident and those feelings of confusion will be a distant memory.

One of the best ways you can fight these feelings is to get out there and make some new friends. They can help to make you feel more welcomed, help you learn your way around, introduce you to the best places to eat or hang out, and also introduce you to their circle of friends. Meeting people will also prevent you from feeling isolated, which can happen when studying abroad.

Get Your Finances in Order Before You Leave 

Even though we are living in a global economy where countries are more connected than ever, it is still a good idea to get your finances in order before you leave. Get yourself set up with an online banking account so you can access it with ease from any destination in the world. This will allow you to make bill payments, see your balance, and transfer money any time.

You will also want to familiarize yourself with the local currency and know how much it’ is worth when stacked against your home currency.

Study Abroad

Go in With an Open Mind

Keep an open mind when studying abroad. Do not automatically assume that things may be one way or the other – difficult or surprisingly easy. Prepare yourself the best you can, and take things one day at a time. Soak up the culture and the people. Enjoy the new adventure in life. Do not limit yourself by thinking negatively or basing things on inaccurate assumptions. Embrace this wonderful opportunity without any hindrances. An open mind will truly allow you to make the most of studying abroad.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Studying abroad is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can enrich your life in ways you never thought possible. With that said, there is a bit of an adjustment period and this is completely normal. Knowing what to expect can help you make it through that adjustment period much quicker.

Study Abroad Punyaa Metharom has always harbored a love for teaching.

He has been teaching English as an Additional Language, English, and Writing at Bromsgrove International School in Thailand for eight years.

When he isn’t teaching, he loves to travel around the country and beyond. Punyaa wants to have a firm grasp on the world so his students can as well.

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International Teaching: the Ultimate “Real Job” Adventure

October 29, 2016

About seven years ago I decided to take the leap, leave my stateside teaching job and get a teaching job overseas. Once I made that decision, though, I found that the process of actually getting from my public school classroom in Georgia to a private international school classroom somewhere in the world was easier said than done.

International Teaching

Unlike in the USA where you fill out an online application, go in for an interview and then start your job in August, getting a job overseas is like, well, it is like a second full-time job. After I successfully completed the process myself, I reflected on it and decided it actually felt a lot like doing a 14 month master’s program. So, I imagined what a program syllabus might look like for the “degree” of “getting an international teaching job” and this is what I came up with. 

EDU411 sec.2016

7-9 pm Tues-Fri (14 month class)

Instructor: Shawntel Allen (global gypsy, addicted adventurer, and educational box breaker)

Course Description: A you-can-do-it, no-better-time-than-the-present, what-have-you-got-to-lose, kick-in-the-pants roadmap designed to get you from here to there.

Pre-requisites: Students are encouraged to have completed at least three of the following:

MATH: 072 – Excess Baggage Weight Exchange – Trading in shady ex’s for Xtreme sports gear

EDU: 222 – What Box? – Educational theory minus ethnocentrism

ENG: 369 – Facebooking, Tweeting and Instagraming are the New Scrapbooking – Journaling the journey 140 characters at a time and documenting “out of work activities” in “work appropriate” photo albums

PE: 123 – Skin Thickening – Techniques for deflecting the criticism and judgments of people whose idea of risk-taking is trying a different route on the drive to work…once.

BUS: 421 – Opting Out – Investing in viable alternatives to the “American dream” (AKA-spouse, 2.5 kids, dog, hybrid SUV, SEC season football tickets, and house in the suburbs)

AVI: 747 – Flight Lessons – Giving your chick-a-dees wings

Required reading: Students need to be intimately familiar with various websites including International Schools Community, The Lonely Planet, Yahoo travel, the US State Department, and Duolingo.com language learning site.

Section 1: B-O-R-I-N-G….There must be more to life than THIS?

Lesson 1 (June): MAP READING – realizing that your current job and/or relationships are not taking you where you want to go in life

Lesson 2 (July): DEMOLITION – breaking down walls (people, ideas, financial obligations) that block your view of possibilities that are available to you.

Lesson 3 (August): ORIENTEERING – finding your way in the labyrinth of international teaching opportunities

Lesson 4 (September): FISHING – figuring out what bait to use and where to look for nibbles and bites in the international school job market

Section 2: I AM OUT OF HERE! The world is my playground.

Lesson 5 (October): FIRST AID – recovering from blunders such as mixing up headings on cover letters and incorrectly guessing the gender of a recipient

Lesson 6 (November): TARGET SHOOTING – researching and focusing on schools who are the best fit for you-location, benefits, size, staffing needs

International TeachingLesson 7 (December): SCUBA DIVING – taking the plunge-attending recruiting conferences, SKYPE interviewing, signing a contract

Section 3: BUT ISN’T IT DANGEROUS/AREN’T THERE DISEASES/WHAT ABOUT THE POLLUTION THERE? (Also known as the art of eye-rolling at doomsday soothsayers and all-of-a-sudden experts on your new location…and other keys to getting through the toughest months.)

Lesson 8 (January): SPELUNKING – surviving the change from the brightness of a signed contract to the dark tunnels of to-do lists.

Lesson 9 (February): MUSHING – keeping focused on the trail even though the end seems distant-not letting doubt and doubters make you quit.

Lesson 10 (March): ROCK CLIMBING – carefully grasping hold of each new task and piece of information about what to do and how to prepare-relying on the random “beta” and steady belay from those at the top – as the climb to the goal begins through purchasing, packing, and document assembling.

Lesson 11 (April): MOTO-CROSS – holding tight and adjusting speed as needed along the twists and turns of the trail while also remaining strong-willed when faced with extra bumps and roadblocks like booking tickets, storing possessions, severing leases, learning a new language, and arranging banking and other financial obligations.


The end of the “class” and the beginning of the dream!

International TeachingLesson 12 (May); SURFING – enjoying the moments of swift forward movement propelled by waves of activity such as securing a departure date, interspersed by both the anticipation of waiting for the next wave and the hard work of paddling out for the next ride like setting up final doctor and dentist visits .

Lesson 13 (June): SNOWBOARDING – letting go and going with the flow as the ride gains momentum through activities such as finishing the school year, moving out, turning off utilities, selling your car, completing continuing education credits for future certification renewal – hoping that all the preparations you did up to this point enable you to weave smoothly through these obstacles

Lesson 14 (July): SKY DIVING – after a cross-country trek of visiting friends and family, this final lesson entails packing the parachute (in 8 or so 50 pound bags), boarding the plane and making the final jump….embracing the adrenaline rush that accompanies the thrill of the free fall into the realm of the unknown and the out-of-your-control.

Attendance: Weekly class times optional and negotiable based on workload/To-Do lists. Mandatory class session-Meet at Departure Airport July 25th at 6 AM and board flight, change from domestic to international flight at first layover (with the help of porters to transfer all of your extra bags), then be on the flight to your final destination for an on time departure.

Grading Scale: Pass/Fail (any failed portion=fail for class)

50% sign contract

50% arrive at final destination 

Extra credit for passing any re-certification tests, license renewal classes, or learning a new language before departure.

*Enrollment limited-sign up early.


International TeachingShawntel Allen is a career teacher who has taught in Indiana, Georgia, Venezuela and Colombia. She has also lived in France and Benin, West Africa. She loves to cook foods from places she has visited and places she hopes to visit. Her classroom does not have any traditional student desks (only video rockers, bean bags, couches, pillows…) and her goal is for her and her students to be 100% paperless. She is currently teaching in a one-room schoolhouse on the remote island of Afognak in Alaska but is “back in class” looking for a position in an overseas international school for next school year.

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RoboRAVE: Today’s Play, Tomorrow’s Pay.

October 4, 2016


RoboRAVE is a growing Robotics education program to teach teachers and students how to design, build, program and test robots to perform a variety of tasks.  It is also a competition for teams of kids, ages to 8 to adults, to test their design in one or more RoboRAVE Challenges. Kids have the choice to use any hardware and software.

RoboRAVE focus on STEM education.

Here kids learn to use what they have learned in Science (mass, velocity, forces, friction etc) along with Maths (Variables, functions, formulas etc.) to develop Engineering skills (design, materials, systems) using Technology (programs, sensors, computers) in order to get the best results. Learning is fun. It is sharing of information and above all teamwork.





Kids have to build robots in order to perform tasks in a stipulated time (3 minutes). Kids need to build and use autonomous robots, so they become familiar with the mechanical parts, electronic boards and software programs.

One of the challenges is Robotovate – Entrepreneurial challenge. Here kids present their idea and develop the idea into wonderful products.


Kids compete in their own divisions in challenges like Line Following and A-Maze-ing.

1. Elementary School – 3 to 5 Grades

2. Middle School – 6-8 grades

3. High School – 9 to 12 Grades

4. Big kids – College & Above

Fire Fighting and Robotovate are open challenges. Everyone plays in One division. Robot Performance and Team Presentation performance are graded separately.


Now for the first time, we are organizing RoboRAVE in India. This year we have Kochi, Kerala as the venue. The competition is coming up during 5th & 6th November 2016.

It is a two-day event. Kids can practice and tune their robots on actual challenge tracks on the first day. They can conduct demos and score bonus runs while the second day is the actual competition.

In order to participate this year, Schools can register online on http://www.roboraveindia.org

First they have to register their coach and then their team.

For further details and support, mail to info@roboraveindia.org


Contact: Jisha Sera Joji, National Coordinator, RoboRAVE INDIA at +91 9847322999

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International School Recruitment Season: Recruitment Fair or Skype?

October 1, 2016

Recruitment season for international schools and for international schools teachers has definitely changed over recent years.

Getting a teaching position at an international school almost exclusively happened at the various recruitment fairs across the globe (London, Bangkok, Boston, San Francisco, Iowa, etc.). At least 10 years ago that was surely the case.


Now recruitment fairs still play an important role during the international school recruitment process, but increasingly teachers are getting hired via telephone and/or Skype. In fact, if you were hired at an international school in the past 2-8 years, a high percentage of you were probably hired via Skype which resulted in you and your new school not having a face-to-face meeting in person.


Recruitment fairs, like Search Associates, still provide great fairs to attend, but more importantly they provide a large database of teaching vacancies. If you are a registered candidate with Search Associates, you have unlimited access to those vacancies. Even though you may be signed up to attend one of their fairs come January/February, they often encourage you to contact schools directly and try to arrange an (online) interview or at least a pre-interview before the fair. If you are lucky, you will get offered a position via this Skype interview which will in turn cancel your trip to the recruitment fair (saving you time and money).

Having access to a constantly updated list of job vacancies is definitely a valuable tool in your search for a teaching position. You can also look at the school’s own website (via their employment page), but it is possible those lists aren’t as updated as much or at worse don’t even exist. One bit of advice for international schools is to create a useful, updated, and informative employment page on their website.

To repeat, we (the teachers) strongly request that international schools make sure their list of vacancies are constantly updated with the latest information (on their website, on a recruitment fair website, etc). There is nothing worse than preparing a unique cover letter, carefully adjusting your CV content, and a writing personal email message all for not. We understand that vacancies can take a long time to fill as some school’s interview processes can take a long time. But if the school indeed has secured somebody for a position, it is their responsibility to update their list of vacancies accordingly.


There are many reasons why Skype is becoming more and more used during the international school recruitment process. One reason is that it is cheaper for both parties involved. No paying for the recruitment fair fees, no paying for hotel reservations, and no paying for all flights involved. Another reason that Skype is being more used is that it saves time, a lot of time in some cases. When interviewing candidates from all over the world, it is a hassle to take off a long weekend or miss a whole week of work just to attend a fair. A third reason Skype is being used more is that it indeed still gives the school and the candidate a good idea of each other’s personality and demeanor.  The ultimate goal for both parties involved is to find the “best fit”.

In the end, there really isn’t a clear answer though to which is better: going to a recruitment fair or just using Skype. At this point, it is still recommended to use a combination of the two. Utilizing both covers all your bases; giving the candidate the best chances in securing a position.

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International Teachers the World Over Have a Decision to Make: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

September 10, 2016

As the new school year begins tens of thousands of international teachers the world over have a decision to make: do I stay or move on? Our profession is dominated by contracts of two or even one year’s duration leading to an annual cycle of conversations, reflections and the agony of decision-making. It is not unusual for international schools, particularly in developing world locations, to have annual teacher turnover of 20% or more. Needless to say, the impact of such levels of attrition on school and teacher finances, school culture, institutional memory and – most importantly – student learning is far from positive. Constantly changing schools and countries is draining on teachers, their families and on the communities they leave behind. The irony is that it is almost counter-intuitive for international educators to stick around. After all, the travel bug and sense of adventure that made them head overseas in the first place often become the thing that makes them itch to move on. So what can teachers do to feel more comfortable about staying longer?

Here are five things international teachers can do to give themselves the best chance of finding a longer-term fit that works for them and for the schools where they teach.

International Teachers

1. Talk to the boss

How do you know if you want to be part of a school’s future if you don’t know where it’s headed? Any self-respecting school director will relish the opportunity to share their vision of what they hope lies ahead. Book a time and ask the question: where is the school going? As importantly, ask a second question: how can I be a part of the journey? One of the most powerful motivators is having a sense of purpose. You owe it to yourself to know what that purpose is for the school and how you can play a role.

2. Be intentional

I meet so many educators who seem to let life blow them hither and thither. Be better than that. Commit to taking control of your career and being intentional in your work as a professional educator. There is so much that is in your control yet all too often teachers seem to feel that control over their own destiny is one thing they lack. If you haven’t done it already, sit down with your director or principal and start the process of identifying what you want from your career. It is hard to be intentional about anything if there is no focus to the intent. You may be surprised how much professional growth is possible if your director knows what it is you are looking for.

3. Plant a tree

Not literally, though I guess it wouldn’t hurt. Invest in a horizon goal in the school that takes you beyond your current contract. It may be a particular level of achievement for a student, or a project outcome, or something else down the track. The key is to see yourself as being instrumental in achieving that outcome on a longer time frame. You’ll be amazed how your sense of the now shifts as a consequence.

4. Be relevant

To be honest, this one is true regardless of whether you stay or go. To be relevant as an educator is to be meaningful in the lives of others. Find ways to enrich the lives of the students and families whom you serve. Be that teacher who you always wanted to have as a child. I don’t know about you but I don’t remember a single work sheet or test from school, but I do remember the teachers who were relevant to my life, who knew me as a person. Also, be relevant in the professional lives of your colleagues. When we become relevant to each other we build community – and that is hard to walk away from.

international teachers

5. Only connect

At the heart if all happiness lies connection. The first year in any international posting is hard. New locations, new climate, new cultures, new challenges, new colleagues and a new community all demand time and energy. But the connections we make are like money in the bank. They are investments in our future selves. We draw strength from our connections and find meaning in being part of something larger than ourselves. The success of the second year is directly related to the investments made in the first, and a successful second year opens the door to that deeper sense of fulfillment that lies in the magical third year. Don’t skimp on those connections.

There will always be some international teachers who prefer the here-today-gone-tomorrow lifestyle that comes with moving on every two years. But most educators want more than that. They want to make an enduring difference, to really matter in the lives of young people and to be a genuine member of the communities who welcome them into their homes and cultures. Instead of asking the question ‘should I stay or should I go?’ perhaps the question you ought to be asking is this: should I stay and make a difference?

This article was submitted to us by guest author and international school community member, Nigel Winnard.

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