The Journey to School

The Journey to School: United Nations International School (Hanoi)

November 13, 2022


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the United Nations International School (Hanoi), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to United Nations International School (Hanoi) in Vietnam

Hanoi is a growing city, with over five million people in its metropolitan area, where most of its habitants move around using motorbikes. Currently, the government is developing its metro system, but only one of its lines is operating. This, plus the fact that finding parking spaces for cars (in addition to their higher prices), makes it difficult for most people to buy one. Therefore, bikes are the preferred method of transportation in the country.

Vo Chi Con Street, near UNIS Hanoi.

When I first moved to Hanoi I was TERRIFIED of motorcycles: driving them, riding on the back of them, having them around me. I came here thinking I would be able to move around in taxis. Boy was I in for a surprise! Yes, you can take taxis to go to most places, as long as you are not in a crunch of time.

Then, going to work (or anywhere where you need to be at a specific time) would be preferable if it is done using a motorbike, which will allow you to move around on your own time, without having to wait for a low number of taxis available in most, if not all, areas of the city. When it rains, it is even worse! I have had to postpone my activities for an hour or two just because I couldn’t get a taxi to pick me up.

Very quickly, I realized that what others had said about the need of getting a bike here, was completely true. I had to leave my fear of bikes behind and learn how to drive one! Now, I go to work daily on my 50CC bike and use taxis for everything else. 

I live a little bit less than 3 km away from school, in an expat area called Tay Ho. My school is also in the same neighborhood so it only takes me around 8 minutes to get to work in the mornings and back home in the afternoons. Traffic at those times is fine (7:30 am and 4 pm). When I have to stay in meetings until 5 pm, then I run into rush hour and that is VERY hectic! Fortunately, my drive is so short and I use a major/wide street, so traffic doesn’t really add to my commute on those days. It just feels busier as the number of vehicles on the road significantly increases.

Here you can see a video of the outside of my building. Hanoi has areas that are more developed than what most people think.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member.

What to know more about what it is like to visit and live in Vietnam?  Out of a total of 36 international schools that we have listed in Vietnam, 26 have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of them:

American International School Vietnam (AISVN) (298 total comments)
ABC International School (Vietnam) (28 total Comments)
Concordia International School Hanoi (38 total Comments)
International School Ho Chi Minh City (93 total Comments)
Hoi An International School (43 total comments)
International School Saigon Pearl (154 total Comments)
Singapore International School (Saigon South) (55 total Comments)
United Nations International School (Hanoi) (121 total Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Harrow Haikou International School (Haikou, Hainan, China)

July 18, 2022


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Harrow Haikou International School (Haikou, Hainan, China), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to Harrow Haikou International School in China

Haikou is the capital city of the smallest province in China, Hainan island. It is located in the South of China and has a comfortable tropical wet and dry climate. Haikou is also known as the “Coconut City”, displaying its charm with lots of little cafes and restaurants, lush green parks and vibrant life. With the sea on three sides, beaches, seaside resorts, wetlands and tropical wildlife, the city is the main port of Hainan.

“Harrow Haikou” school is a pertinent project for the Hainan government as they transform Haikou into an international education hub. The school is in the Jiandong New area, a major zone in Hainan Free Trade Port with new infrastructure in high-speed development. This area will be home to a new international trading hub for energy, shipping, commodities and financial instruments.

Harrow Teachers can rent apartments at the Kaiwei compound close to the school and a 6-km-long beach.

The teachers could also choose to live in the city, making their travel much longer yet more accessible to shopping malls, entertainment venues, bars and dining options.

I live in Kaiwei because it is convenient to commute to school. We have a little store here, and Guilinyang village with fruit & vegetables market is not so far away. There’s a children’s playground, a swimming pool and a beautiful golf course with walking paths around it.

As you get closer to school, it becomes less developed. The school is surrounded by a protected forest area which is quite pretty.

Many teachers who live in Kaiwei purchase an e-bike for the morning ride to school, which would take no longer than 7-8 minutes. Walking from Kaiwei to school or the local beach would take approximately 15-20 minutes. Three school buses take staff from different parts of the city to school and back, and one stops at Kaiwei.

In the morning, I wake up to this view, overlooking the city street from one side and the quad within the compound from the other.

I generally leave between 7:10 and 7:20 am to arrive at school before 7:30 am.

The traffic is usually smooth, with just a few vehicles and no rush. I feel safe as I use bike lanes. Only in case of heavy rain, it is more convenient for me to take the school bus. In the school’s underground parking, I can charge my e-bike for just 0,30 RMB, which will last me a week.

I love my morning e-bike ride to school because I can get there quickly, feeling the refreshing breeze and enjoying the beautiful greenery on the way.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member, Aleksandra Grbic. She is currently the Head of Music and Performance at Harrow Haikou International School. Aleksandra has been working in international schools for 15 years in Thailand, the UAE and China. You can find her on Linkedin.

What to know more about what it is like to visit and live in China?  Out of a total of 216 international schools that we have listed in China, 151 have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of them:

Access International Academy (Ningbo) (48 total comments)
Beanstalk International Bilingual School (Beijing) (59 total Comments)
Beijing BISS International School (79 total Comments)
Beijing International Bilingual Academy (118 total Comments)
Changchun American International School (157 total comments)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total Comments)
Guangdong Country Garden School (71 total Comments)
International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (88 total Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)

March 20, 2022


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries at which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to American International School of Budapest in Hungary

My journey to school each morning starts downtown in the heart of Budapest. Before it was united in 1873, Budapest used to be two smaller towns, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube river. Buda is the hilly more residential side to the west while Pest is the flatter, more touristy downtown to the east. Being a city person myself, there was no doubt that when I got a job at the American International School of Budapest, I would choose to live on the Pest side. One thing that was a tick in the “PRO” column for me in choosing to move to Budapest was that there is a great public transportation network that not only covered the entire city but could bring me all the way to the front gate of the school. (I did not want to get a car!) For the first half school year, I did take public transportation every morning and that took me just over an hour each way. I had to change two times though (tram + tram + bus), so that was not ideal. By the second semester, I had found myself a carpool saving me a significant amount of time each morning, but the need to get back home after school in a timely manner following various meetings and activities convinced me to finally buy a car in year two.

Of course, not everyone chooses to live so far from school. Many families live in the village of Nagykovácsi where our school is located and they are able to live in houses with big backyards and enjoy a commute that is under five minutes. Some even walk or bike to school. Other teachers choose to live on the Buda side but not quite so close to school. One popular area is near Széll Kálmán tér (circled on the map) which is a transportation hub making it easy to get to both school and the Pest side. Because the Buda side is very hilly, many of the apartments on this side offer lovely views.

Back to the journey . . .

This is the street where I live. I generally leave between 7:00 and 7:10 am. The drive takes about 30 minutes, and during that time, I catch up on podcast episodes.

One of the benefits of having to cross the river to get to school is getting to see this view every morning. It never gets old!

Here are some of the buildings I see along the way to school each day.

As you get closer to school, it becomes less developed. The school is surrounded by a protected forest area which is quite pretty.

On the final approach to school, you can see the campus off to the left. It really is a sight to see. All of this open area to the left here was recently purchased by AISB ensuring that a future development doesn’t come close to the school.

Finally, here is the entrance to the upper building of the school where the middle and high schools are located. (The elementary building is at the bottom of the hill and connected by a bridge.) I usually arrive around 7:40 a.m. Teachers have to be at school by 8:00 a.m., so this gives me a little bit of quiet time in my room before the day starts.

The drive home takes about 45 minutes on a good day. On a bad day it can be closer to an hour (occasionally more). Still, after eight years, I’ve never been convinced to move closer to school.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member, Lindsay Manzella. Lindsay has been working in international schools since 2010. You can find out more at her blog The Present Perfect or on Twitter @MsMTeachesELLs .

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Hungary?  Out of a total of 6 international schools we have listed in Hungary, 4 have had comments submitted on them. Here they are:

American International School of Budapest (81 total comments)
Britannica International School Budapest (67 total Comments)
British International School Budapest (12 total Comments)
Greater Grace International School (7 total Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: International School Basel (Basel, Switzerland)

October 22, 2020


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries at which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the International School Basel (Basel, Switzerland), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to International School Basel in Switzerland

Getting out the door, I walk through a neighborhood in an industrial area, a low-rise concrete jungle. I walk past Decathlon, a fuel station, a building that doubles up as a mosque and a gym. They must have thought “Mensa sana in corpora sana”. This quirky place always brightens up my day when I walk past it. During summer, the hills in the distance are painted red by the rising sun. In autumn and winter, the mist is often too thick to even see the hills. Winter makes you wish you had a car; unless – like several of our teachers – you’re from the North of Canada and enjoy the “rather mild Swiss climate”.

The walk to the Dreispitz tram stop takes me 10 minutes at most, still I rush to tram 11 before realizing over and over again, that I shouldn’t have bothered because there’s a tram every 3-7 minutes. Very Swiss. As I get on the tram which takes me to ISB, I look for other teachers to talk to or chat with some students. When I’m alone, I stare out the window and watch how the landscape gradually becomes more rural.

The tram first passes the Reinacherhof tramstop right in front of the ISB senior school campus − where most of the teachers get off − before taking me to the Reinach Sud tram stop where I get off after exactly 16 minutes. While the tram heads off to its next stop at the ISB Primary campus in Aesch, I walk past a local farm to the Fiechten Middle school campus, which takes me exactly 4 minutes.

Unlike the other two campuses which are purpose-built for ISB, Fiechten is owned by the Swiss “Gemeinde”. The building looks very much like a Swiss protestant church and stands out because of its grey concrete walls and staircases. What is even more unusual is that the sound of the children’s footsteps is muffled by the carpet in the hallways and in the classrooms. Most teachers have plants and colorful displays to brighten up the place a bit.

The large windows and the view is what makes working on this campus worthwhile. Through my window, I can see the Goetheanum building in the distance. This is by far the most unique place in the area. It was founded in honour of Rudolf Steiner as a center for the Anthroposophical movement at the turn of the 19th century in a time when positivism dominated the natural sciences and humanities. People became aware of a growing interconnectedness between different parts of the world, cultures and religion. One of the main purposes of the movement was to create a new universal religion or philosophy which would incorporate wisdom of the major world religions. Rudolf Steiner conceptualized his teaching philosophy (used in Waldorf schools) based on the principles of Anthroposophy. The center has somewhat lost its function of ‘church’ but it is still a sanctuary for creative ideas. Today it offers theater and classical music performances, Steiner school training programs for teachers, art classes for kids, a bookshop (with books in a wide variety of languages) and a lovely tearoom which serves organic food. The entire hill is covered with buildings constructed in a similar architectural style.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Switzerland?  Out of a total of 33 international schools we have listed in Switzerland, 19 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

College du Leman – International School (85 comments)
Inter-community School Zurich (69 Comments)
International School Basel (131 Comments)
International School of Zug and Luzern (32 Comments)
Leysin American School (113 Comments)
Zurich International School (59 Comments)
TASIS The American School in Switzerland (32 Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Tarsus American College (Turkey)

January 30, 2019


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries at which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to Tarsus American College (Turkey)

Tarsus is a city near the Mediterranean near the larger cities of Mersin and Adana. The school is located in the old part of the town means rich Roman and Biblical historical sites, that include an old Roman road, the Well of St. Paul, mosques, a bazaar, crumbling Roman Baths, Cleopatra’s Gate and a nearby waterfall.

I’m originally from a small town in the state of Iowa in the Midwest USA, so while Tarsus is not a major city, it is larger than where I grew up, but smaller than the capital cities I worked in before coming to Turkey.

My commute to work is a five-minute walk from my school furnished apartment located near campus. Most local teachers live off campus, in the nearby towns of Adana or Mersin and take school buses each morning and afternoon. Most international faculty live on or near campus.

Living on or near campus means teachers can use the school’s, fitness equipment or join others to play tennis on the outdoor courts while walkers and joggers can find flat paths or stroll through parks in the city.

Tarsus American College is a bilingual school that follows the Turkish Ministry of Education and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. International teachers work in English, Science, and Math Departments or International University Counseling and Administration.

The school is located near a number of shops and bakeries, so In the morning, I don’t have to walk far to find a warm simit at a nearby bakeries or bring in office treats such as a box of cezerye, a Turkish dessert made from caramelized carrots, shredded coconut, and roasted walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios. Following are more photos of food that can be found near campus.

On the way home from school I usually pick up fresh produce oranges, lemons, mandarins and grapefruit. Pomegranate season means I eat delicious pomegranates every day.

A few new drinks I’ve grown to love while living in Tarsus.

Şalgam Suyu, is fermented turnip juice, it can be spicy and draink alone, or enjoyed with rakka on a night out.

Cinnamon topped salep is made from a flour of ground tubers of wild orchids, and is a warm alternative to coffee or tea.

Baklava is commonly known as the Turkish dessert, but there are many more treats to try. Turkish Künefe is served with the same sweet syrup, but has cheese inside a crispy shredded wheat type outer coating and covered in pistachios.

On the weekends, I can find a traditional Turkish breakfast served with tea and Turkish coffee, break, cheeses, olives, butter, honey, jam, and eggs.

Hummus is served hot and is a full meal, not just an appetizer when served with bread, tomatoes, and pickled vegetables. Most restaurants allow diners to choose from traditional covered in olive oil, or served with beef.

A common meal here is the Turkish kebab and the best kebab in my opinion comes with decision salads.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Ellen Johnston.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Turkey?  Out of a total of 25 international schools we have listed in Turkey, 17 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Bilkent Laboratory & International School (135 comments)
Enka Schools (Istanbul) (45 Comments)
Istanbul International Community School (54 Comments)
MEF International School Istanbul (156 Comments)
MEF International School Izmir (58 Comments)
Robert College of Istanbul (47 Comments)
Tarsus American College (47 Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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