Do not expect the same sense of urgency or availability of conveniences
In the heat of a strong and intense culture shock moment in your host country, it is very, very easy to slip a bit. Slipping up is what culture shock is all about. There are moments when you take a step back and ask yourself, “Did I just do that?!” Not the best moments in your attempt to have meaningful cultural experiences and intercultural exchanges. Many of these moments are things you are actually trying to avoid or think you are above them, but then your “sense of urgency” just shows its face at the most inopportune times.
So, what are these conveniences of our home country that we instinctively want to cling to? They aren’t necessarily things you can explain in specifics, but there are general topics we could discuss.
“Where is the bathroom? Is that the only bathroom in this place? Am I going to have to use that? Do I really have to actually pay money to use this restroom?”
There are times when you are in search of a bathroom in a non-western country; probably the most important thing you need while traveling. In the United States and in some other westernized countries, the general idea that restaurants, stores, grocery stores, etc. in a community will provide you with a restroom free of charge, and most of the time you don’t even need to buy something there. We expect that the bathrooms are going to be there for us that we indeed start taking that convenience for granted. Then you find yourself in another country and that convenience is now gone. Many places do not even have a bathroom for their customers to use. The quest for where you are going to find a bathroom to use is indeed a real one when walking around a city in a foreign country. Not everyone will let you into their bathrooms!
“It is taking so long for the internet to get set up in my apartment! Why don’t they offer an English option when I called the phone company’s customer support line? Why is the internet so slow in this country?”
How important is having internet in your home nowadays? Most people cannot live without it. Now throw in your inability to communicate in the host country’s language to actually get internet set up in your home, and it can feel like your sense of urgency about getting internet into your life is not shared with the local phone company…not one bit.
Some international schools provide support to their new teachers to help get things set up in their apartment or to even have them set up before they get there, but other international schools leave you on your own. That means you are the one going to the telephone store and trying to figure everything out yourself. Now the tricky part is when you finally get to the date of the installation, you get the phone call from the technician who is literally minutes away from your house. You are so close to getting the internet set up, yet the technician is speaking to you in the host country’s language and doesn’t speak one word of English. Luckily though, many times the technician does arrive and is able to install everything successfully, but in that one stressful moment, you would have given anything to be able to speak their language.
“Could this line be going any slower? How can there be so many people here? Where exactly is the ‘line’ anyways??!”
Waiting in line in more western countries is sometimes quite different from waiting in lines in countries in Asia. What are the hidden rules about getting in a line in China for example? What are the hidden rules about getting in line in India? In some countries pushing and shoving is just part of the game when in a line waiting to get to the cashier. The locals have a “sense of urgency,” the correct sense of urgency, and they get to the front of the line faster. You just need to carefully observe and figure out what their rules are first so that you can also get to the cashier in less time.
The convenience in a more western country is that you can assume that nobody will be touching you or pushing you in a line, the line will most likely be a straight one, and there will be someone who can speak English more or less at the register. Once you are living in a foreign country though, you soon may realize that you have possibly taken for granted all of those conveniences from your home country.
If there is one lesson to be learned…it is that you actually do (usually) end up getting the conveniences that you look for in your host country, it just comes to you a bit slower than or in a different way maybe to what you are used to. It all comes down to communication (or your lack of communication) doesn’t it? Maybe your sense of urgency for all the conveniences you expect will be lessened a bit if you are able to explain yourself better.
What has been your experience living in your host country?
This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.continue reading
International School employers often promote overseas postings with the promise of ‘tax-free’ income. For U.S. teachers working abroad, this can be a bit deceptive. U.S. international school teachers are required to file a tax return reporting all income from all sources if the taxpayer’s income exceeds the filing threshold. However, the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and the Foreign Tax Credit help to avoid double taxation and in many cases may result in no tax being due when filing your U.S. tax return.
The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion or FEIE allows the taxpayer to exclude up to a given amount of earned income from income taxes; however, there are a few items to keep in mind. First, this only applies to earned income – the income you earn from your job as an employee or the income you generate from self-employment while living abroad. Second, this only applies to income tax. If you owe Social Security taxes on self-employment income, you must still pay that. Social Security or self-employment tax cannot be excluded using either the FEIE or form 1116 the Foreign Tax Credit.
To claim the FEIE you must first qualify as an overseas resident. This means that either you were in the United States for no more than 35 days during any 365-day period or qualify as a bona fide overseas resident. Assuming you meet one of these requirements, you must then calculate the portion of the exclusion for which you qualify. If you were an overseas resident or a bona fide resident for the entire tax year, you qualify for the entire amount. If you moved overseas during the tax year or moved back to the United States during the tax year then you qualify for a percentage based on your qualifying days of overseas residency. Form 2555 accurately completed and included with a timely filed tax return allows the taxpayer to claim the FEIE.
The Foreign Tax Credit provides another means of avoiding double taxation. This credit allows you to apply income taxes paid to your host country against the income tax owed to the United States on the same income. This requires the filing of form 1116 with your annual tax return. Again, this only applies to income tax and this credit can only be applied to income earned while you were physically present overseas. If you work for a foreign company while residing in the United States, the Foreign Tax Credit is not permitted.
If your income exceeds the FEIE and you pay income tax to your host country, you may be able to apply any taxes allocable to the difference to your US tax bill by using Form 1116 in addition to the FEIE. For example, if you earned $150K with an FEIE allowance of 108,700 that would leave $30,700 of taxable income. The income tax paid to your host country on that $30,700.00 could be applied to your US tax obligations on a pro-rata basis.
While at first glance it may seem better to utilize the FEIE, especially if your income falls below the exclusion limit, there are times when the FTC may prove more advantageous. Using the FEIE automatically excludes you from certain child tax credits. Also, by exempting all of your earned income you become ineligible for IRA/Roth contributions. There may be state considerations as well with one method or the other so a holistic view is needed.
The important thing to remember is that once you stop using the FEIE you must wait 5 tax years before you are eligible to use it again. You cannot switch back and forth each year. Working with a tax preparer who is experienced in helping US expats will enable you to make the decision that is best for you right now and help you to determine if and when a change may be beneficial.
If this sounds overwhelming, we can help set up and file! Just reach out to us at www.tietax.com or Stephen.Boush@tietax.com and reference code:
for preferred rates.continue reading
It is a time of celebration for International School Community as we now have over 46631 comments and over 25671 members on our website….and it is Winter Break for a lot of teachers in Europe!
To celebrate, all members can get 25% off of all premium membership subscriptions from 11 Feb – 25 Feb 2023 (ending 23:59 PST on 25 Feb 2021).
The 25% off coupon code is: FEBWBREAK23
Even if you are a member with Premium Membership already right now, you can still add more premium membership during this Winter Break promotion. Just login to our website and go to the Manage Subscription page, choose the membership option that you’d like, and then enter this coupon code (FEBWBREAK23). Next click on the Make a Payment button to pay either with your PayPal account or without logging in to PayPal and just paying with your credit card.
Once you have premium membership access, please take this time to submit some comments on the schools you know about on our website. For every 10 comments you submit, your account will automatically be updated with one free month of premium membership. There is no limit, too. So if you submit 40 comments, then you will get four months of premium membership added to your account for free!
Check out the many other things you can do with premium membership access:
• Take a look at our Compare School Salaries page. (822 schools with 1614 comments about salaries are listed on this page.)
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There is much to be potentially nervous about when going to a hospital in your host country.
Once I asked a doctor in China who was servicing an infected open wound on my leg, “what are you putting in my wound?” He replied, “I don’t think you would want to know.” I told him to tell me. He said, “Cockroach juice!”
Luckily, I was open to Chinese medicine and thought how cool is this?! Also thinking, this would never happen in a hospital in the USA! (My wound healed up very nicely, by the way.)
But this experience is just one out of many, many experiences of expats going to hospitals in China. So to learn more about what hospital experiences are like in China, you would need to keep asking around to learn more and more.
The hospitals around the world do vary and so does the health coverage that international school teachers receive while they are working abroad.
There are so many factors that can affect your experiences: payment, language, cultural differences, location, etc
After searching the keyword ‘hospital‘ using our Comments Search function on our website (premium access required), we found 286 comments. Here are 9 of them that give some insight into the hospital experience in different countries around the world.
“A visit to the doctor is usually $150-$200TWD ($6-7USD). That is all you’ll pay. If you need to stay overnight in the hospital a quad shared room is free, a double shared room is $1000TWD, and a private room is $1500TWD ($60USD!!!)…”
“Austria has state-maintained (public) hospitals and private hospitals. The best-known type of hospital is the general hospital, which is set up to deal with many kinds of disease and injury, and typically has an emergency ward or A&E department to deal with immediate threats to health and the capacity to dispatch emergency medical services. All hospitals, with the exception of some private clinics, are open to all insured patients. Normally doctors transfer patients to a hospital and control of treatment is then managed by a doctor there. When going to a hospital or clinic, you need to take your e-card with you. If you are ever admitted to hospital, your health insurance will cover the costs of that stay. All hospitals run a special accident and emergency department (Notaufnahme), where you go if you need urgent and immediate medical attention at any time.”
“Local hospitals can be quite crowded, especially the lab-collection sections. Definitely a different atmosphere than American hospitals/clinics…”
“Private health insurance is provided in-country only, although this also grants you emergency care throughout the EU c/o the government. Romanian hospitals are certainly not the best! Some medical care however is surprisingly good; it really just depends what it is…”
“Most avoid local hospitals and usually pursue treatment in private medical establishments. For many routine things, the prices are so low that there is no reimbursement. There is at least one clinic with US doctors and there may be more with other foreign-trained staff. Some Turkish doctors/clinics are available, they often know English and provide high-quality care for a reasonable price.
Avoid using state-run healthcare, mostly because they are short-staffed, often underfunded, and have many other burdens. There is no major problem, especially if you just need a simple infection or issue checked out, but you will have a difficult time communicating.
Be wary of some private clinics that will try to get extra money from you for extra services. Some places offer interpreting and a steep cost. It might be better to take a trustworthy friend or colleague to help you and offer them a nice meal…”
“Great medical insurance. Local hospitals are nice but it is recommended to take a local with you. Appointments often involve a lot of waiting. If you need serious surgery people usually fly to Singapore. Some vaccines are unavailable…”
“CDNIS have steadily increased the quality of medical benefits available to faculty and staff. In addition, employees have access to inexpensive optional dental insurance through Quality Health, which has a large network throughout the city. Local hospitals sometimes have long waiting times so in emergencies some choose to go to private hospitals and pay the difference out of pocket. Other times, local hospitals are the best option because they are ridiculously inexpensive and the staff are very often highly specialized in certain treatments or procedures…”
“We don’t know Italian very well, and we had to recently call the hospital because our baby was feeling sick. We asked the person on the phone if they knew how to speak English, and she said know. We asked if she could speak Swiss German, and she said no. Then we asked if she could speak Serbian (we are from Serbia) and she said ‘si!’ and then we continued the conversation in Serbian after that. There are a lot of Serbs here…”
“My experiences at hospitals here have been excellent, way better than my time in France for example. You do need to pay, of course, for this insurance. You can shop around many choices for health insurance here. There is something for everyone, but you’ll need to pay for it. I chose one for CHF 3000 a year, but I do have a deductible that I need to pay off when I receive the services…”
Check out the first “9 International Educators Share their Hospital Visit Experiences from Around the World” ISC blog article here. And log on to the International School Community website today and share your experiences going to the hospital in your own host country!continue reading
What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well? Many international school teachers are in teaching couples that have children. There are also international school teachers that are married to a local and have children too. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend? This blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
Tip #4 – Is the school accredited? If so, by who?
International schools intentionally seek various forms of approval and accreditation as assurances to their students, parents, employees, and community that quality and excellence drive educational decisions. Countries have governmental standards that schools must meet in order to have local approval. Schools generally follow specific steps to apply and meet approval status through the country’s Department or Ministry of Education and are monitored for annual renewal of the approval status. This standardization is important for students and parents to have proof that the school provided an education that had to meet specific standards and provide some basic assurances of quality.
Accreditation takes the quality assurance factor to the next level by focusing on the processes used within a school to provide a high level of excellence not only in the “end product” of a quality education, but it examines the manner in which that excellence is achieved. As in the previous blog post in this series, which focused on the value of international schools having a Vision, accreditation looks at what the school does and how it provides for an internal and external examination of its programs and processes: how decisions are reached within the school itself, what programs are offered that have international value, how student achievement is documented and used to increase learning, and to what extent the greater community is informed and included in the life of the school. Accreditation not only looks at meeting quality standards; it requires that schools be engaged in a continuous improvement process so as to give its constituents long-term quality assurances.
Why is it important for a school to seek and obtain international accreditation? Often international schools obtain multiple levels of approval and accreditation to demonstrate commitment to excellence for parents who are making educational decisions and educators who are seeking meaningful career experiences. Let us take a look at what you should know about the processes involved in international accreditation.
The Internal Process…
can take one to three years of collaborative examination by the Head of School, the Faculty and Staff, the Governance Board, Students, Parents, and members of the local community. The Standards or Required Elements for accreditation become the work of focus groups that look at the present reality, then, using the Vision, set forth a map of how the school can improve and how that improvement will be assessed and sustained over the years. After much collaboration, data gathering, and communication, a formal report is usually prepared and submitted to the accreditation agency.
The External Process…
will likely include an on-site visit by a team of highly experienced educators with specific areas of expertise who have the responsibility of examining evidence to validate the school’s formal report. This visit includes several days of interviews as well as classroom visits to observe the quality of instruction and the depth of student engagement, critical thinking, and application of knowledge.
The Accreditation Report…
that the visiting team provides will likely include a level of accreditation recommendation for the school and most importantly, that report will give direction and focus for the school to provide ongoing quality educational programs for its students.
What has been described in this article is indicative of extensive work by a cross-section of a school and its community stakeholders. So who benefits from this work?
School Owners and Directors…
are members of a highly competitive market. International accreditation gives added distinction to a school that sets it apart from many others when parents are looking for excellence. It also attracts quality teacher applicants for employment.
Teachers and Prospective Teachers…
who seek employment in international schools want to be in schools of excellence where there is a strong vision and internal human support and programs that enable them to perfect their teaching skills. They also want their years of experience to be recognized by other educational agencies should they seek graduate school acceptance or transfer to other parts of the world. It is important to note that when an international school is going through an accreditation process the teachers (and everyone else basically) have to spend much time and energy gathering and filling out all the paperwork involved! It can be quite an intensive few years for teachers (and all other stakeholders too!).
appreciate direction for their decisions which accreditation defines. It is added assurance that as a Board, decisions are intentional and supportive of the standards set forth in accreditation.
want the best possible educational experiences for their children. Often they feel inadequate in evaluating schools and programs, so the quality assurance component of international accreditation can aid them in this important decision. Additionally, international accreditation gives parents assurances that the education their children received will be viewed favorably by other schools and universities in admission to future institutions, transfer of credits, and possible scholarship acquisition.
are the direct beneficiaries of international accreditation. Behind the scenes, educators are required to have ongoing analysis and refinement of programs and activities so as to consistently provide an education of excellence. As mentioned previously, student records indicate international accreditation for the purposes of transfers, admissions, and scholarships.
benefits from schools of excellence that are providing quality education; it becomes an added value and attraction to the area. Corporations want to be established where high-performing schools prepare citizens for the 21st-century workforce and generate sustained excellence for community growth.
International accreditation is a continuous process of internal and external conversations and reviews of what is happening inside and outside a school to prepare creative and productive problem-solving people for international stability in an ever-changing society.
This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member: Mary Anne Hipp (contact her here – email@example.com or visit her Blogspot – http://mahipp.blogspot.com/)
On International School Community all school profile pages have a topic in the School Information section that specifically addresses the accreditation status of each school. The topic is called “What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations?”
For example on the Seoul Foreign School’s profile page there have been 6 comments and information submitted so far on this topic:
If you are an international school community member currently working abroad, please log on today and submit your comments and information about your school’s accreditation status.
If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and become a part of our over 25000 members. Many of our current members have listed that they work at over 1200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about an international school’s accreditation status and get firsthand information about how the accreditation process is going for them.continue reading