Recruiting the best possible international school staff is always a challenge. Once you have top international educators, you really want to make sure you keep them!
In such a competitive market during international school recruitment season, it is important to stand out in a crowd. You also want to be seen and known to be the international school or group of international schools that look after its people.
Employee benefits have been slow to come to the international school sector, but it is becoming a well-established tool that has already been used successfully by a number of international schools to attract and retain their staff.
It is important to look at how an occupational international retirement and savings plan can be a simple and effective method to provide a meaningful benefit to your staff; be they local, expatriate, short-term or career-focused.
Over the years there have been bad experiences in this growing sector with international teachers being sold inappropriate individual products that are too rigid in requirements, have expensive investment options and are opaque in their fees. However, the desire to save is an important objective. It is vital that international educators make the most of working overseas from a career perspective, but also for financial benefit.
By providing an occupational plan, you can offer a simple and easy way to save as well as tailor it to your requirements. So what does that mean? The rules can be customised for international school management. The options allow you to:
· Decide who can join the plan
· Provide an employer contribution but have different percentages for different categories of staff, to reward loyalty and seniority.
· Provide a “signing on/contract completion” bonus.
· Ensure employees finish their first contract or serve an amount of time before they receive the rights to any employer contribution/bonus value.
· Limit access to any employer contributions until they leave employment or retire, so they have a meaningful benefit when they leave.
· Allow employees to make additional savings safely and easily via payroll at no extra cost. This can be used for short to medium-term goals such as house purchase, marriage, education or hardship.
· Allow local employees an easy and cheap way to save in international currency.
The good news is that the costs are simple and transparent and they can be paid by the international school, the employee or shared.
Easy to Administer
We know how busy international school boards and admin are. Therefore Sovereign will use its expertise to learn what you want to achieve and build the plan to suit your requirements. We’ll do all the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.
· We’ll deliver a co-branded employee booklet tailored to your membership
· Deliver launch presentations to engage the population
· Provide institutional class funds by Vanguard, Fidelity, iShares/Blackrock that are ESG focused where possible.
· Provide a secure portal, so the members can self-serve thereby reducing traffic to HR
· The good news is that HR only has to upload basic new joiner information. Our system will automatically engage the employee. HR will also need to upload a contribution file and send one lump sum payment at the frequency agreed.
· Members and HR can view and export their information.
Jo Smeed has spent 25 years providing international retirement & savings schemes to employers of all sizes, locations and sectors and brings her expertise and experience to deliver the optimum solution.
The Sovereign Group is a global company with over 20 offices around the world.
This is a sponsored article submitted to ISC via Sovereign Group.
So many teachers that attend international school recruitment fairs say that they are stressful and a pain. Others say that they are like meat markets. With many directors walking around and potentially sleeping in the next room to you, it is indeed hard to get a good night’s sleep while staying at the hosting hotel of the recruitment fair. Nervous and sleep-deprived candidates…not fun.
On the other hand, there is a group of international school teachers that enjoy attending the fairs. Yes, that’s right. They look forward to and actually have a great time there.
So, what are the top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun? Maybe you can relate to some of these!
#1 – Getting to network with other international school teachers.
Sometimes it is all who you know at the fairs. It is fun chatting with and getting to know some of the other candidates at the fair. Networking with as many teachers as you can surely help you to get your foot in the door. Maybe you will meet somebody who has the right connection and can introduce you to some of your top schools.
#2 – Getting inspired by others to move to countries you never even thought you would go to.
A few years back, at the UNI fair, there was a panel of veteran international school teachers telling their stories of working abroad and answering questions from the audience. Almost all of them had worked in a country that they hadn’t really seriously considered during their job search. All of them said that they were so happy to have taken that chance because they all had such wonderful experiences. You might say that being in the international school community is all about taking chances and risks about living in foreign lands. It is exciting to hear from other international school teachers about their experiences in countries you don’t know about and haven’t visited.
#3 – It is like Christmas morning when you go and check your “mailbox” folder in the candidates’ room.
The candidates’ room. So many nerves and so many folders! It is easy to get butterflies in your stomach as you enter the room. As you get closer and closer to the tables with the ‘mailbox’ folders, you get more and more excited and nervous. You find the row of folders that start with the first letter of your last name. Opening your folder and seeing one note from a school is cool enough, but seeing notes from three, four or even more schools in your folder, now that is a good feeling. Checking your folder becomes an addiction during the fair, as you find yourself checking it multiple times throughout the day.
#4 – Pretending you are interested in a school by going to their informational session.
Even if you know a school does not have a position for you to interview for, it is fun to just go to their informational session anyway. Sure, the other people in the session might be actually interviewing with the school later on at the fair, but do not let that get you down. There might be a position for you down the road at this school, so keep a positive attitude and sit back and enjoy learning about a school that you might work at in the future! It is fun to fantasize and pretend about these potential future schools for you.
#5 – Getting surprised, in a good way, that a school you are interested in actually has a position for you!
Thinking you know all the available positions at the schools attending the fair is a first-timers mistake. Anything can happen at the fair and things change fast. It is guaranteed that there will be last-minute vacancies that come up for many schools. So, make sure you check the master list of vacancies (if that is what your recruitment fair has) or take a close look at the posters behind each school at the round-robin sessions because there might just be a vacancy for you that pops up last minute.
#6 – Having intense dreams each night while you sleep, dreaming about what could be.
Yes, it is hard to get a good night’s sleep during the recruitment fair. But, the dreams you have are intense and exciting. Having a dream about your top choice can be just what you need to help you make the best decision. You might even have a great dream about another school you are interested in, moving it closer to the top of your list. It is true though that you cannot choose the schools or countries you dream about when you go to sleep at the fair. So, if you do have a dream about a school/country, it might be your subconscious telling you which school to seriously consider signing a contract with.
#7 – Making some pros and cons lists about the schools you are interested in.
You need to know you are making the right choice at the fair; if you are lucky enough to get multiple offers in which you are interested. When you make a pros and cons list of each of the schools you are considering, you get to think about your future life there. Fantasizing about you living with the school’s salary and benefits is what all international school teachers like to think and talk about. Additionally, you will be writing down the pros and cons of life working at that school itself, your actual job. The pros in that list could truly be the changes you have been looking for in your next school.
#8 – Getting to wear your dressy interview clothes.
Most teachers only get to wear their interview clothes once every 3-6 years. During the years while working at your current international school, there is typically not an appropriate time to wear them. Well, it is true that at some British international schools, you need to wear a suit and tie during parent conferences, etc. Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a country where you can easily and cheaply get some new interview clothes made for you at the local fabric market. How nice to show up at the recruitment fair with a custom-designed suit made specifically just for you. Nice interview clothes that you feel good in are important. You will be at your best (at the fair) when you are wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable and help you be yourself.
#9 – Enjoying the host city of the recruitment fair (who doesn’t want to go for a long weekend to Boston, London, Bangkok, etc.?)
It is true, you do not have that much free time to enjoy the host city of the recruitment fair. Most of your time is spent in your hotel room researching cities, countries, and schools. It is good though to take some time to get away from the fair. Get out of the recruitment fair hotel and explore the city a bit! Each recruitment fair is hosted in a cool city that most people would actually plan vacations at, so get out and have a nice dinner or take a walk around some cool neighborhoods. Maybe you have some family or friends that live there that you can hang out with as well. It is nice to have a good friend or family member there so that you have somebody to talk to about all the happenings at the fair that day.
#10 – Signing a contract on the first day of the fair and just enjoying the rest of your time at the fair.
Yes, these candidates exist. They interviewed with a number of schools before the recruitment fair even started. Once at the fair, they have that final interview and sign the contract shortly after, sometimes on the first day of the fair. Signing a contract with a school that you are seriously interested on the first day of the recruitment fair is a dream come true for most candidates. It definitely gets a load off your chest. You can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the fair and your time at the hotel and in the host city. It is still good to hang out around the fair though so that you can continue networking. You might just meet some people that have worked at the school you just signed a contract with, and they can give you all the insider information about your new school (hopefully mostly good things!).
This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member. All guest authors to the ISC blog get one free year of premium membership to our website. Email us if you have a top 10 list idea and would like it to be highlighted on our blog!
Are you looking to increase learner autonomy in your English language classroom? Integrating technology, specifically ICT (Information and Communication Technology), may be the way to go.
Studies have shown that when students have access to ICT in the learning environment, they have more control over their own learning process. They are able to monitor their progress, identify their learning needs, and construct their own knowledge based on the information available. This can lead to a more positive approach toward learning and increased efficiency in the learning environment.
Here are a few more examples of
using ICT to enhance learner autonomy:
Online language learning platforms: There are many websites and apps, such as Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone, that offer interactive language-learning activities, such as vocabulary drills, grammar exercises, and listening comprehension practice. These resources allow students to work at their own pace and track their progress.
Virtual language exchange programs: Tandem, HelloTalk, and ConversationExchange are platforms that match students with native speakers of the language they are learning, allowing them to practice speaking and listening skills through live conversations. This can be a great way for students to take control of their own language learning and engage in authentic communication.
Collaborative document editing: Tools like Google Docs allow students to work on writing projects together in real time, regardless of their physical location. This allows for peer editing and feedback, as well as the opportunity for students to take on different roles and responsibilities within the group.
Podcasts and video lectures: Students can use their own devices to access recorded lectures or podcasts on a variety of language learning topics. YouTube and iTunes are both great sources for language learning podcasts and video lectures, such as The English We Speak and BBC Learning English. This gives students the freedom to review the material at their own pace and revisit specific sections as needed.
However, it’s important to note
that many students may not be familiar with using ICT resources for language
learning. That’s why it’s important for teachers to provide orienting
activities, such as introductions to the ICT tools and instructional
objectives, to guide students through the learning process and reduce anxiety.
It’s also crucial that the use of
ICT is relevant to the students’ needs and interests. Both teachers and students
must be willing to adopt new roles and use technology appropriately in order to
truly benefit from technology-based learning activities.
In conclusion, incorporating ICT
into your language learning curriculum can be a great way to increase learner autonomy.
Just make sure to provide the necessary support and structure to ensure a
smooth and effective learning experience.
This article was submitted by Ayoub Chaouch, a teacher with 6 years of experience in teaching English, history, and geography at primary and secondary education levels.
He is currently working at Shenzhen Chenghan Experimental School in Shenzhen, China as a Secondary Education High School Geography and History Teacher and Middle School English and Language Arts Teacher. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management at Keele University.
His skills include lesson planning, facilitating engaging classroom discussions, helping students improve their language skills, and evaluating student progress through assessments. He is skilled at guiding and counseling students with academic problems or special academic interests. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look for ways to strengthen and maintain your enthusiasm.
We all have been there before; alone in your new apartment, not wanting to go out onto the street to the nearby market, not wanting to be confronted with a bunch of people that are speaking a language you don’t understand, feeling tired all the time and wanting to sleep through your whole weekend, etc.
It takes some mental toughness to get your spirits up again, to grasp at a tiny bit of enthusiasm when you are knee-deep in culture shock emotions. If this is your third international school, you might have said to yourself, “this time it is going to be different. I am going to accept people’s offers of invitation to go out around the town. I am going to be more positive and active during the first 3-6 months after I arrive.”
Sometimes it feels like every other new teacher at your school is full of enthusiasm and you are the only one not feeling that way. However, it is true that all new teachers go through this tough stage of culture shock, which is trying to stay positive about your situation and keeping an upbeat attitude about the host country and culture.
Ways to increase and maintain your enthusiasm:
• Join a meetup.com group in your host city. There are many groups on that website from all over the world. Sometimes it is good to just get away from your work colleagues and meet some other expats in other industries.
• Invite some of the new teachers out for a drink at a bar in town, for a walk around the nearby park, for some dinner over at your new apartment, etc..
• Start up a blog about all your new experiences living abroad. Keeping your friends and family up to date with all your new experiences can be quite motivating, and your friends and family look forward to your new entries and enjoy hearing about all your adventures.
• Make sure you have some of your favorite TV programs to watch on your computer. We have all experienced in at least one of the host cities we’ve lived in the long wait time that there can be when getting internet installed in your new apartment. Having some TV programs or favorite movies to watch in the meantime can definitely keep your enthusiasm from dipping too low.
• Make sure you don’t pass up your first travel opportunity on the school calendar. Looking online for flights to new destinations can really boost your enthusiasm for the expat life that you have chosen for yourself. If you are not feeling like traveling, just start asking the other teachers at your school where they might be going. Once you hear where they are going, you will for sure want to get on the bandwagon and get your trip planned as well.
• Before you move, make sure to pack some of your favorite home country food products. When you have a day that you are feeling down, you can get one of these products out for dinner. Having some familiar foods can really make you feel back on track. It might just be too much of a shock to your system to only be eating the host country’s cuisine.
Does anybody have any more good ideas for keeping up your enthusiasm? There are many more for sure. Just try and keep in mind the reason that you decided to take on this new challenge and change in your life. The life of an expat is indeed quite nice, but it is not full of wonderful moments all the time. International school teachers need to be prepared to handle these tough situations we experience every once in a while when our enthusiasm for this lifestyle temporarily dims.
This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.
Our school profile search feature is one reason that makes International School Community unique. The search feature allows our members to search for the international schools that best fit their specific criteria.
This fast and easy-to-use search feature also helps international school teachers find the school profile pages on our website that have some useful comments and information on them. You can easily see how many comments have been submitted on each school profile page by looking to the right of each school listed on the Schools List page.
The “Schools with Comments” tick box feature is at the bottom of our school profile search box (see the above picture). If you only want to see school profiles that have comments on them in your search results, tick this box! Then on the search results page, you will only see the schools that have comments. Genius!
Example: First we selected East Asia in the Region drop-down menu. Then we selected China in the Country drop-down menu. Finally, we selected Shanghai in the City drop-down menu. But instead of getting ALL the school profile pages for schools in Shanghai, we put a tick next to the ‘schools with comments’ part before we pressed the Search button.
As of 18 December 2022, 27 schools in Shanghai have had comments and information submitted on their school profile pages.
Log-on right now to our website and start your searches using our ‘schools with comments’ feature (which is available to all members).
Currently, we have 1209 schools that have had comments and information submitted on them. That’s over half of the 2258 schools that we have listed on our website!
It is also important to note that there are over 45869 individual comments and information that have been submitted on our website. All of these comments mean more informed teachers in our international school community! We encourage all international school community members to share what they know by submitting comments on the international schools they currently work at or have worked at in the past. Why not become a Mayor of a school for unlimited free premium membership? Become a Mayor today!
A survey that we did a few years ago made it clear which information international school teachers want to find out about when recruiting, and that is Salary Details.
What if you are only considering working in Shanghai? Or maybe you are only interested in working in Germany and are flexible about the city in which you would live. It would be invaluable information if you could access details about the salaries of all the international schools in that area of the world. Once you are able to take a look at the different salary details of a number of international schools, it could help you make a better decision on whether to accept an offer or not or which school you should put most of your focus on.
Compare School Salaries page: A unique feature on International School Community
Currently, we have over 1592 individual comments about international school salaries that have been submitted on our website (December 2022). The specific comments and information about salaries have been submitted on 814 different international schools (December 2022).
The topic related to salaries (that members have left comments on) is on the Benefits tab which can be found on each school profile page. The comment topic is called “Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?” Members are encouraged to leave informative details on a typical teacher’s monthly take-home salary at that school.
When you first visit the School Salaries page (premium membership access is needed), you will find that all the international schools (that have comments about salaries on their profile pages) are listed in alphabetical order. You can browse through all the schools there. But if you want to just view the schools from a specific region, country, or city in the world, then make sure to use the filter button on the right. The filter feature allows you to filter the schools listed here and narrow down the list. You can more quickly find the specific schools at which you are most interested in checking out.
For example, let’s say you are only interested in working at an international school in Central/Eastern Europe. Just click on the Select Region tab and select Central/Eastern Europe. After that, press the green Search button, and Voilà…only the schools matching your criteria show (currently 66 comments from 35 different international schools).
To see the exact salary comments, just click on the school. Here are some examples:
You could say that international schools like to keep their exact salary details secret. Rarely do you find specific information about take-home salary on their websites. Even on other websites where international schools display their vacancies, specific salary details are sometimes hard to find. In turn, our Compare School Salaries page is quite special, useful, and unique!
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 #3 – Vision: What is the vision of the school? Is it consistent with the actual operation of the school?
What is the vision that is expressed by the school head or officials? Can anyone attest to whether it is consistent with the actual operation of the school?
Whether you are a potential parent or teacher at an international school, it is important for you to inquire about the Vision of the school. You might ask yourself “what is this notion called Vision” all about and why would it be a concern? As long as the school is safe and orderly, isn’t that enough?
Vision is the core of the functionality of the school. Many international schools are privately owned and operated as a business with a mission and vision, often that of the owners. Other schools might be government entities or faith-based, both of which will likely have specific purposes for existence. Nonetheless, the vision for a school should be clearly articulated and a driving force for all decisions within the school. Furthermore, the vision should be one that is shared with a wide array of stakeholders from teachers and students to parents and community members. It also should be revisited each year or two for refining.
Strong, effective vision statements are often succinct and able to be implanted throughout the decision-making process. A common current vision theme might include the concept of “preparing global learners for the 21st century” which can sound appealing to teachers and parents assessing international schools. Don’t we want our students/children to be prepared for the workforce and the competitive market?
Let’s take a look inside the school’s operation as we examine the concept of 21st-century global readiness. Some easy-to-identify indicators of the use of the Vision for the school might include:
1. Clearly stated on the school website 2. Visible at the school 3. Included in school marketing materials 4. Articulated by school leaders in interviews and meetings
However, the true power of the Vision is embedded in decision-making and is generally harder for a parent or new hire to identify. The following questions (and many more) can reveal if the Vision indeed drives the inner workings of the school:
1. Do enrollment and hiring practices support diversity? 2. How has the curriculum expanded to prepare students for a global future? 3. How is technology financed and integrated into the curriculum and daily operations of the school? 4. Do the instructional strategies reflect on teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving for students and faculty? 5. Are multiple languages spoken at the school? 6. Are teachers trained to use best practices in their instruction? 7. Are there global partnerships for teachers and students to engage in international discussions, projects, and exchanges? 8. Is there a sense of shared leadership that enables teachers and students to have leadership roles and develop leadership skills? 9. How does the school’s budget reflect a commitment to preparing 21st-century global learners? 10. What achievement expectations do the leaders have for learners?
From that limited list of thoughts, one can recognize that future parents and teachers need to be creative in their inquiry process. Otherwise, the Vision might be more of “the blind leading the blind.”
If you are an international school teacher currently working abroad, log in to ISC today and submit your comment regarding your school’s realization of its vision!
Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our over 950 members. Many of our current members have listed they work at over 200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about an international school’s vision statement and whether it is consistent with the actual operation of the school.
I am a big believer in bottom-up education
policymaking. Despite the long work hours, the low remuneration, the lack of
resources, and the innumerable other challenges teachers face worldwide, what
happens in the classroom – how teachers bring policy to life within their
classrooms and how they choose to teach – has a profound effect not just on
pupils’ learning but also on educational structures.
I have also heard and seen, again and again,
how environmental education is relegated to a secondary role at best, outright
ignored at worst, in most education systems across the globe.
However, there is no question about the need for it. Our world is undergoing dramatic and potentially irreversible environmental changes and our youth is demanding action and tangible steps toward sustainability more than ever. So what do we need in order to bring environmental education to the core of educational curricula and into classrooms across the world?
It is clear to me from my experience interviewing teachers for my master’s thesis a few years ago that teachers’ actions are defined by personal drive and access to the right educational tools. Now, I do not think there is much anyone can do about teachers’ personal commitment to raise awareness about sustainability among their pupils. However, there are loads to be done to provide them with the right teaching resources!
The Earth Prize, an annual, global, $200,000 environmental sustainability competition for students between the ages of 13 and 19 that rewards the best ideas to solve environmental problems, is one of such resource.
Apart from very appealing prizes ($100,000 for
the winning team to be split between team members and their school or $10,000
for one teacher selected as the Educator of the Year), The Earth Prize provides
students and teachers with exclusive learning materials covering key
environmental sustainability topics and featuring young entrepreneurs who came
up with revolutionary environmental solutions when they were only teenagers.
Last year, I had the chance to collaborate in the creation of these unique learning materials. They include 17 powerful short videos created with the help of university professors and a film production company based in the UK, and accompanying written chapters with up-to-date, easy-to-digest, and interactive information on the key topics of each video. They are available on-demand for all registered competition participants, including for team supervisors and teachers to watch and use in their own classes. You can have a sneak peek here: https://www.theearthprize.org/learning-content.
In its first-ever edition, The Earth Prize
attracted over 500 schools in 114 countries and territories, from some of the most prestigious
institutions in Switzerland and the UK to schools in UNRWA refugee camps in
Jordan and Lebanon.
The Earth Prize is not just a competition; it
is a great platform for teenagers to bring their ideas to the table and make
them a reality, and the ultimate project-based learning tool for teachers
interested in weaving environmental sustainability into their classrooms.
Interested secondary teachers and students can
register for the competition on The Earth Prize website until November 30th: www.theearthprize.org.
Teams will then have until January 31st to submit their ideas.
Diana Conde Moure is the Head of Communications and Operations at The Earth Foundation, the nonprofit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, behind The Earth Prize competition. Diana is an alumna of United World College Costa Rica and holds a master’s degree in Comparative International Education from the University of Oslo, Norway. Her experience includes working and volunteering for numerous organizations in the nonprofit, government, and academic sectors. Passionate about education, Diana brings her knowledge and expertise in the field to help The Earth Foundation in its strategic development.
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!
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.
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.
This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member.
So what is your journey to the international school you work at? Earn oneyear 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.
Develop tolerance for ambiguity and frustration by being flexible and open toward the new culture.
Effects of Culture Shock
• A sense of uprootedness • Feeling of disorientation • Not knowing what is going on • Behaviors and attitudes which were necessary for obtaining goals in the culture we learned are no longer useful • Familiar behaviors which marked a well-adjusted person in one’s own culture are now seen as bad manners • So many adjustments to be made that one becomes overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry
All these things can lead to you not being the most open-minded toward your host culture and country. Do we need to go through certain steps until we get to the tolerance that we seek?
Typical Pattern of Culture Shock
1. At first we think it is charming 2. Then we think it is evil 3. Then we think it is different
Almost everyone who studies, lives or works abroad experiences some degree of culture shock. This period of cultural adjustment involves everything from getting used to the food and language to learning how to use the telephone. No matter how patient and flexible you are, adjusting to a new culture can, at times, be difficult and frustrating. It is easy to get lost, depressed and homesick. You may even want to go back home!
Don’t panic…these are all totally normal reactions and you are not alone. Sometimes it is hard to remember why you decided to leave home. You are on an adventure – a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn – but it does not always seem that way. Staring you straight in the eye, you cannot avoid culture shock entirely.
Adjusting to a new culture can be difficult and frustrating, but it can also be a wonderful, thought-provoking time of your life during which you will grow as a person. Living in a foreign country will open new doors, introduce you to new ways of thinking, and give you the opportunity to make life-long friends. The most effective way to combat culture shock is to step back from a given event that has bothered you, assess it, and search for an appropriate explanation and response. Try the following:
• Observe how others are acting in the same situation • Describe the situation, what it means to you, and your response to it • Ask a local resident or someone with extensive experience how they would have handled the situation and what it means in the host culture • Plan how you might act in this or similar situations in the future • Test the new behavior and evaluate how well it works • Decide how you can apply what you have learned the next time you find yourself in a similar situation
Throughout the period of cultural adaptation, take good care of yourself. Read a book or rent a video in your home language, take a short trip if possible, exercise and get plenty of rest, write a letter or telephone home, eat good food, and do things you enjoy with friends. Take special notice of things you enjoy about living in the host culture.
Although it can be disconcerting and a little scary, the “shock” gradually eases as you begin to understand the new culture. It is useful to realize that often the reactions and perceptions of others toward you–and you toward them–are not personal evaluations but are based on a clash of cultural values. The more skilled you become in recognizing how and when cultural values and behaviors are likely to come into conflict, the easier it becomes to make adjustments that can help you avoid serious difficulties.
* Information and excerpts were taken from Julia Ferguson’s website.
This article was submitted by a guest author and ISC member.