International School Community Blog

Selecting an International School Tip #2: Is the School Conveniently Located?

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 #2: Is the School Conveniently Located?

The American School of London (see above picture) and the United Nations International School in New York City are conveniently located, but not all international schools are in the same situation.  Some international schools are built way outside of the city center, far away, especially if you plan on living in the city center.  Sometimes your journey to work might be around one hour, one-way; an important thing to know before you decide on signing a contract to work at an international school.

If you don’t mind living in a 3rd ring suburb, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big of an issue that your school is so far away from the city center.  However, if you like to enjoy city life and prefer to live there as well, then it might not be the best fit to work at an international school that is not centrally located.

If you are a teacher with children that attend the school, living closer to school also might be a positive thing.  Maybe if you have children, you wouldn’t mind working at a school that is way out in the suburbs because that is always where you would prefer to live anyway.

Before signing a contract, an international school teacher definitely needs to evaluate their current situation and what their living-situation needs are.  Make sure to ask the right questions at the interview about how your current situation and needs match with the location of the school and where you would most likely be living in relation to that school.

If you had a choice, what would be the preferred way for you to and from work every day?  Would you rather ride your bike, take a bus, take the school bus, ride on a train, walk, drive your car, take a taxi, or a combination of 2-3 types of transportation?  What amount of time is an acceptable journey length: 10-15 minutes, 15-30 minutes, 45 minutes, or over one hour? The ISC blog has a series called The Journey to School which highlights a number of journeys to schools from around the world. Check it out to get a first-hand account of what the journeys are like.

One colleague friend of mine worked at a school that was more than a one-hour journey from their apartment.  Most of the teachers there were taken to and from the school on one of the school’s buses “for teachers.”  One positive thing this teacher took away from that experience was that many teachers were forced to not work so long at the school.  Because of the fact that the school bus for teachers left at a specific time, you had to get on that bus…otherwise you would be stuck at school with limited options to get home!  Sometimes teachers do need to stay long at school to get work completed, but often teachers don’t really need to stay for hours and hours.  If you are forced to end your workday at a certain time, you would be surprised how much of your work gets done during that time constraint.

Another colleague friend of mine lives in the city center and their school is very conveniently located in relation to the city center.  Many teachers at this school also live where this teacher lives, and the journey from home to school is around 12-15 minutes by train and 20-25 minutes by bike.  Many of the teachers at this school are quite pleased that they at least have the option of living in the city center and also have a relatively easy commute to work.  There are also many options to get to work based on the needs and situation of each teacher.  It is nice when there are many transportation options available to meet the needs of a diverse staff.

We have had 1710 comments and information (30 October 2022) submitted about this very topic on a number of international schools on International School Community’s website.  For example on the Kaohsiung American School‘s profile page there have been four comments submitted so far:

On the Misr American College school profile page, we have two rather informative comments about the school’s location:

On the American Embassy School New Delhi school profile page, we have useful details about the school’s location:

If you are an international school teacher currently working abroad, please share your comments about if your school is conveniently or NOT conveniently located.

Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our over 24000 members.  Many of our current members have listed they work at over 2000 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about where most teachers are living in relation to the school and the city center.

ISC’s Job Vacancy Feature Update: Find the Job of your Dreams!

Our Job Vacancies feature (premium membership required) was launched just over two years ago, but its popularity already exceeds all our expectations. With our members submitting these job vacancies, each of their submissions helps another teacher find new and interesting positions at international schools worldwide. Every job vacancy submission helps schools around the globe reach new people who might just be the perfect fit for the position.

We would hereby like to thank the ISC Community for all of their 4900+ submissions (Oct 2022)

Check out this video from our Youtube Channel that highlights our job vacancy page.

Submit the job vacancies you know about today at your international school and earn free premium membership! You get one week of free premium membership for every job vacancy you submit.

Looking at all the submitted job vacancies so far, we would like to share a few statistics that we found.

So far 4916 job vacancies have been submitted in just over three years.

We have designed the job vacancies page to keep all of the submitted job vacancies on one page, even if they have expired.  We wanted our members to see which job positions have shown up for a school over time, and how many times a certain job position has shown up over time as well. For example, maybe if the school has just posted about the job position you are looking for last month, that position probably won’t show up the following month or the following year or two for that matter. Or if the position keeps showing up for a school, one might wonder why they are consistently having that job available each year. The expired job vacancy postings are clearly marked, so it is clear which ones are active or not.

There have been job postings submitted in a number of countries from around the world:

• Singapore
• India
• Indonesia
• China
• Spain
• Japan
• USA
• Hong Kong
• Italy
• UAE
• Turkey
• Uganda
• Thailand
• Malaysia

and many more…

There have also been job postings submitted for a number of school positions:

EAL Teacher: Around 100
Science: Around 380
Maths: Around 400
History: Around 60
Classroom Teacher: Around 140
PE: Around 90
Business Teacher: Around 80
Design Teacher: Around 110
Art Teacher: Around 380
Principal: Around 130

and many more…

We are so glad that we have added this feature to our website. If you have a good story of how our posted job vacancies led to you getting an interview and eventually an offer, let us know by writing to us via our Contact Us page.

International School Recruitment Season: In-Person Recruitment Fairs are Back!

Recruitment season for international schools and for international school teachers has definitely changed over recent years (mostly because of the pandemic).

Long ago, getting a teaching position at an international school almost exclusively happened at various recruitment fairs across the globe (London, Bangkok, Boston, San Francisco, Iowa, etc.). At least 20 years ago that was surely the case.

During the pandemic, recruitment fairs were canceled and almost all new hires were done so via the internet. Now it seems in-person recruitment fairs are back. Will they still play an important role during the international school recruitment process?

You can’t deny that 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, are back to providing in-person fairs to attend, but more importantly, they provide a large database of teaching vacancies. If you are a registered candidate with Search Associates, you will 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 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 is consistently 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 schools’ 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 chance in securing a position.

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas #3: Do not expect to replicate your current lifestyle…

Do not expect to replicate your current lifestyle. Look for what is there, not for what isnʼt.

“Wherever you go, there you are.”  A psychologist friend of mine told me that one time, and I think it is 100% true. 

I’m not for sure international school teachers are moving from school to school and country to country to replicate their current lifestyle, many times they are trying to flee it!  But again and again, you typically find yourself just settling back into the same routine and actions that you have always been doing…no matter where you are living.  You do change some small things in each placement, but many routines take time to change and are hard to break.

I think what this commandment is referring to is the situation when a person is coming directly from their life in their home country.  Then for sure, you should not expect to replicate your current lifestyle.  It is easier than it sounds though. 

It happens to be a bit human nature to want to surround yourself with familiar things.  Many smart entrepreneurs and importers are keen on this aspect and cash in on selling us those things in many of the cities around the world where there are international schools (e.g. brownie mix, soft brown sugar, satellite TV, chocolate chips, etc…).  These familiar things are going for a high price because those stores know that many of us international educators want them.  This is done all in an attempt to replicate our past lifestyle.

After a while, though, you find things in the local stores and shops that start to create your CURRENT lifestyle in your new host country.  Many of those new aspects can become an even better addition to your lifestyle than the old ones!  I definitely miss things that were part of my lifestyle in my last placement, but certain things are just not replicable outside of that placement (cleaning lady, having a driver, going out to eat every day, etc…).  With that being said, you will certainly find other things in your new placement that will become a part of your new lifestyle.

Successful international school educators are good at being open-minded to trying new things in the host country.  It means taking chances and taking opportunities to try new things and to do things in a new way.  It also means leaving some old routines of yours behind, or at least “on hold” for a while.

One thing I enjoy about my new lifestyle abroad is going grocery shopping almost every day, versus going 1-2 times a week in the United States for example.  I also enjoy walking to the grocery store versus taking a car.  There are many other aspects of an international school teacher’s new lifestyle abroad that would be hard to leave behind if we were all to move back to our home countries!

This article was submitted by a guest author and ISC member.

24000 Members Milestone: 25% off Subscriptions and Renewals!

It is a time of celebration for International School Community as we now have over 24000 members on our website!

To celebrate our 24000+ members, all members can get 25% off of all premium membership subscriptions from 1 – 7 October, 2022 (ending 23:59 PST on 7 Oct, 2022).

The 25% off coupon code is: OKT2225O

Even if you are a member with Premium Membership already right now, you can still add more premium membership during this 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 (OKT2225O)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!

International School Community’s website launched back in February 2011.  When our first newsletter came out in May 2011, we only had 49 members!  On average, we have been getting over 300-400 people signing up to become new members each month.  We hope this trend continues!  The more members we have, the more people you have to network with.

International School Community’s goal is to be the largest online community for international schools educators.  Our website provides a useful, informative and celebratory environment for networking with other international school teachers and learning about different international schools around the world.

We created a website that would highlight the ins and outs of working at international schools (the benefits, the school itself, the city and travel information, etc.).

Another major goal of this website is to provide experienced teachers the platform to share what they know so that prospective and seasoned international school teachers can make more informed decisions as they venture out to a new international school.  Making connections and gathering information about international schools in our community has never been easier!  Whether you are looking to make new friends, network with other international school teachers or learn more about the wonderful world of teaching at international schools, International School Community is the place to be.

We want members to provide real information that is specific; information that is related to all the different topics we need to know about before signing a contract. International School Community offers up-to-date information in a highly organized, easy-to-use manner.

We also offer a vast amount of information and links related to the world of teaching at international schools and education in general via our blog.

You can search our vast collection of international school profile pages to find that specific international school you want to know about. You can also search our member profiles and be able to find a contact to send a private message to so that you can get firsthand information about a school that member has worked at.

While the focus of the site is to serve the international school teaching community by providing real and useful information about international schools, we have specifically organized our website to promote our members to leave comments and information that are useful for everyone.  Enjoy being an active member of our website!

We strive to have the largest collection of resources and services for the international teaching community.  International School Community really wants to take writing reviews and comments about international schools to the next level.

Here are what some of our current members are saying about International School Community:

“It’s really useful…it’s a really good way to find out practical info about schools when you’re looking for jobs. If you are interested in particular schools, you can just contact any member from that school to find out insider info! It’s also good if you just want to find out what life is like for teachers in other cities! Really unique idea!” (An international teacher in China)

“International School Community is a great resource for international school teachers. Whether you are doing research for a new job, or just connecting with other teachers, this site is has a plethora of great information. I especially love that this site has a positive feel to it, rather than a place for teachers to vent. I really recommend registering to be a part of this great idea.” (An international teacher in South Korea)

“You have an amazingly wonderful website and seeing these comments is extremely helpful to me.” (A teacher looking to teach abroad at international schools)

“I am very impressed for a website to take the time to do this. You have a great resource that I certainly could have used when I first set off overseas teaching in 1998!! The site works well and it is nice to get a good background on almost every school I’d wish to work in. You are doing a fantastic job with your website, keep it up!” (A veteran international school teacher)

“I truly love being an international educator and researching and comparing schools, as well as discovering great schools that aren’t as well-known. I am grateful for ISC having a platform that makes it all so easy.” (Another veteran international school teacher)

Selecting an International School Tip #1: Local vs. International School Systems

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 #1: Have you fully weighed the advantages and disadvantages of placing your child in an international school in (insert country name here)? It is difficult to go back and forth to the (insert local country) system and it will affect high- er education choices.

As it is a real option for most international school teachers, it is important to think about whether you are going to send your children to a local school versus the international school at which you work.

We all know international school teachers typically get free tuition for their children, but not all international schools offer this benefit.  Furthermore, some international schools might make the teacher actually pay for a certain percentage of the tuition cost, sometimes up to 50% or more.  With 2-3 children, that could all add up to make your benefits package not that attractive!  Other international schools offer free tuition, but don’t actually guarantee a spot for your child which might result in waiting 1-2 years.  The schools that do this are seeing more of the monetary benefit of getting more ‘paying’ students in the school versus ‘non-paying’ students.

In my opinion, it is to the international school’s benefit to have their teachers’ children attend the school.  Many international schools only have a small percentage of students in the class that are native-level speakers of English.  When the number of native speakers is low, then the level of English and proficiency of the students can be low as well.  In general, non-native speakers of English need native speaker role models in the class to help them achieve high proficiency in English. At least that was the case at one of my previous international schools in the Mediterranean where the student population was 45% from the host country.

Some international school teachers are married to a local from the host country.  When that is the case, many times the family will send their children to the local schools, so that the children can learn fully in the local language.  Knowing the local language like a native speaker will definitely be an important factor in that child’s future if the family’s plan is to stay in the host country forever (or a really long time). Sending your children to a local school is typically the cheaper option if you are in a situation where the international school you work at wants to have you pay a certain percentage.

Sometimes the choice to have their children attend a local school is a choice the family is making for themselves, or it is a choice that is made because of the difficulty with getting a spot for enrollment in the international school.  It is important to note that most international schools though do make sure to have a spot for teachers’ children if they are foreign hires. Otherwise, it would be most difficult to get any teaching couples (with dependents) to sign a contract! But for international school teachers with a local spouse, like in some areas of the world (e.g. Western Europe), getting a spot might prove to be more challenging as the international school will state that the children have a viable option to attend a local school.

If you are an international school teacher with children, please share your comments about ‘Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of local and international school systems.’ on your school’s profile page.

Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our almost 25000 members.  Many of our current members have listed they are ‘married with dependents’ on their profile pages.  Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about what life is like as an international school teacher with children.

Back to School Initiatives and New Demands: Welcoming or Stressful?

Every school year, a school always goes through some new changes or simply experiences new things that the staff is now required to do or complete. The changes could be related to the school’s curriculum, some new professional development based on new initiatives, new building procedures (like fire drills), new mandatory training (like child protection), etc.

For many things (like ones actually dictated by the host country), they are mandatory and the admin simply just needs to fit those required things into their yearly meeting schedule.  Combine those required things with the other things and initiatives that a school wants to do, it can make for a sometimes stressful school year for the staff (and admin!). Furthermore, balancing these new things with your normal planning work and actually teaching students can prove to be very challenging.

So what are some of these new initiatives that international schools are focusing on in recent years?

A number of international schools are having their staff work with the Managebac program. There are 97+ comments related to Managebac on our website.

It’s also fairly certain that your school is now or will very soon be going through an accreditation. ISC has 525+ total comments related to school accreditation on 351 international schools at the moment.

With regards to curriculum, it appears that a number of schools are doing training with the Common Core curriculum. There are 45 comments that are about the different schools taking on this in recent years.

There are also 49 comments on IB training.  200 comments on different workshops going on in 149+ international schools.

And the list goes on…

What is a possible plan then for balancing all of these newly added things so that staff and admin don’t get too overwhelmed?  As one ISC member wrote about working at United Nations International School (Vietnam), “the [needs to be a] conscious adoption of a “less is more” ethos.”

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new things added at a school. Our members can share what current international schools are doing in this topic. There are a total of 1007 comments (Sept. 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 68 comment topics called – “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“The use of Kagan cooperative structures is the focus for this year. The entire faculty had 2 days of training before the commencement of the school year with another session upcoming later in the year. The goal being student engagement. Most of the faculty have been receptive and are already using the structures in their classrooms…” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 231 Total Comments

“The school just finished a multi-year curriculum initiative designed to put the entire Pre-K through 12th-grade curriculum documents onto Rubicon Atlas. The school seems to focus most on literacy in the Lower School, innovation and design in the Middle School, and IB/AP in the Upper School. School-wide, there is a focus on Differentiated Instruction, but this takes different forms in different divisions. There is a new Head of School coming in for the 2018-2019 school year…” – American School of Paris (Paris, France) – 68 Comments

“The administration said they care more about kids learning English and Maths rather than any other subjects. What makes the school unique, seems independent of what they are pursuing; bring more local students no matter what their academic level is…” – Changchun American International School (Changchun, China) – 168 Total Comments

“Professional development this year has included IBDP two-day Category 3 in-school workshops on the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge. All staff also completed a Stewards of Children online course and a one-day first aid and CPR course…” – Tsukuba International School (Tsukuba, Japan) – 58 Comments

“The school has offered, over the past two years, very little in terms of professional development. There has been talk of a curriculum change to the Cambridge Primary Curriculum for September 2018…” – Cambridge School Doha (Doha, Qatar) – 85 Comments

“The school is just setting up a Professional Learning Centre to improve instruction and practice at the school first. The school has designated professional learning time on Friday afternoons and encourages professional development…” –  YK Pao School (Shanghai, China) – 61 Comments

Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas #2: Anticipate a challenging adjustment period of…

Anticipate a challenging adjustment period of at least SIX months. Do not decide if you like it until these six months have passed.

How important is this time frame when you first move to a new country, from the first month to the sixth?  It is VERY important.  Some international school teachers tend to experience different levels of culture shock and can pass through the stages quite quickly, but I still think for those people that you need to give yourself six full months to decide whether you like your new country or not.  Also, it is important to give your new school six months as well before you decide whether or not you think you are a good fit for the position and school.

I have international school teacher friends that seem to be able to just move anywhere and be in any culture and be just fine.  They don’t get stressed out too much about how things are different from their previous placement.  According to LaRay Barna – “There are no fixed symptoms ascribed to culture shock as each person is affected differently.”  And I would have to agree to that.  Unfortunately, there are other international school teachers that are very sensitive to basically all the stages of culture shock.  Let’s go through some of the stages of culture shock that are on Wikipedia.

1. Honeymoon phase:

Everyone’s favorite stage.  It is definitely the most fun one.  I love just getting to a new country.  Your new apartment, your new school, your new friends, the new culture, the new stores, your new favorite restaurants, etc…  You post on Facebook how cool things are going so far to all of your friends and family.  It is truly a great time to really enjoy why you got into the field of international school teaching in the first place; exploring the world and experiencing different cultures firsthand.

2. Negotiation phase:

The anxiety sets in about your new school and host country and how it is different from the one in which you were previously.  “How could they do things this way?” I hear some international school teachers say many times.  You must be careful during this phase to not offend your coworkers, bosses, and the people of the host country either directly or inadvertently.   The anxiety you are feeling can become stronger too if you don’t know the host country’s language (e.g. the language barriers start to become very apparent).  It is important to note that some schools employ many people from the host country to work in the administration offices, the cleaning staff, and even in teaching and teaching assistant positions.  Their level of English is most likely not 100% native-like, so there are bound to be times when they are just not getting what you are trying to communicate to them; and sometimes you might be trying to communicate some really important matters (e.g. getting your work visa all situated, etc.)

3. Adjustment phase:

Wikipedia says that this stage starts around after six months.  So, it is in agreement with Nexus’s 10 commandments of relocating overseas. Finally, things start getting back to “normal”.  You have now found how you fit in at your current school (hopefully).  By this time you will have made the necessary changes and adjustments so that now it does seem like you are indeed a better fit for your position at your new school.  Also, the host country most likely feels more like “home” and when you arrive back at the host country/city airport, you indeed feel like you are back home.  Sometimes that might surprise you, having these new positive feelings after having gone through the anxiety phase!

4. Mastery phase:

Well, I’m not for sure I have gotten to this phase ever.  I would guess that most teachers never fully master being considered an equal member to the locals of a community in another culture/country.  I have worked at schools where there have been expat teachers working at the school for over 25 years, and I got the impression that they still experience a sense of not fully belonging, even if they are fluent in the host country’s language and have a spouse who is a local.  I would love to hear what other international school teachers think about this mastery phase.  It is probably an achievable one, but many factors would come into play and the stars would have to be aligned for it to happen I would imagine.

Go ahead and check out our current members and send them a private message.  According to some member profiles, we have some very experienced international school educators on International School Community.  Also, check out the stages of culture shock here on wikipedia.

This article was submitted by a guest author and ISC member.

Uh oh: Message from the Principal

That was the title of the email I received three weeks before the start of my new job in 2022. Here are the next five lines from it:

 Unfortunately, the school has been unable to recruit the number of students expected for the next academic year and the decision has been made to reduce the number of staff for the next academic year.

Unfortunately, I am having to write to you to confirm that your position has been one of those selected. I am therefore writing to withdraw our offer of employment for September 2022.

I read that as I was actually with my suitcases on the way there. Yes, actually in transit, on my journey! I replied within ten minutes explaining that this meant I was left without a fixed address. I hurriedly stated in my reply that there were so many other issues that it raised, but I was in no state to write much at that point.

I allowed about a week to pass and stayed in a hotel, believing that the principal would reply and offer some sort of assistance. It’s now been about ten days and he has not replied to my second email which stressed the point that a contract had been signed. This has all simply been ignored.  I am still staying in a hotel scanning the internet for alternative jobs. However, this is mid-August, and so many schools have already started the academic year.

How did it come to this? I had a good leadership position in a school which was authorised to teach both IB PYP and MYP and it was a school with CIS accredition too. The only issue I had was that chances of promotion were slim. I knew there was a bit of a gamble I had to take. The choice was either stay within the safety of an established school with good international accreditations or choose to accept a higher position in a school which was only five years old and didn’t yet have any great accreditations.

Prior to the interview when I looked closely at the website of the new school I saw that it was only a member of British Schools in the Middle East and a candidate member of Council of British Schools International. It was not in a strong position in terms of being well established and recognised by accrediting agencies. This was a matter I discussed at the interview and I accepted that in its fifth year of existence there were still some improvements to be made. I knew that at the time, but the salary was very good and tax free too.

That awful email was received on August 5th, and so chances of finding a similar appointment are now incredibly small. The email did wish me well in finding another position, but wishes aren’t enough. He could have chosen to actually do something for me. On the flip side, I don’t have much interest in dealing with a school that would do something as cold as this. 

What do I advise others now? Stick with top-tier schools. Look at the accreditations a school has, and understand what it means to have those seals of approval. Join online groups where it is possible to ask what others know about the school. Finally, at the interview stage, find a polite way to ask what the plans are when student numbers are very low.

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas #1: Learn as much as possible about…

Learn as much as possible about the host country in order to have realistic expectations.

How much can you learn about a host country before you arrive? Yes, thank goodness for the internet and its endless (and sometimes tiresome) list of websites that try and shed light on the many facets of the host country’s culture and language.

A type of website that might be the most informative: personal blogs of expats that live in the host country.  Certainly, they are the best type of website to gather information about the host country.  The blogger typically is very explicit and candid about their day-to-day experiences living there.  Personal blogs of international teachers are even better.  I love reading from their entries even before they arrive in their new country to when they have been there three years later.  Some of the international teacher blogs that we have highlighted on International School Community so far:

• Education Rickshaw (China)

• Expat Heather (South Korea)

• Josefino Rivera (Bulgaria)

But I must say that I knew close to nothing about the country I am currently in, and the people from where I am from knew even less.  Sometimes you just got to go there yourself to see about the culture and language of the host country’s people.  When I go home now, I am inundated with questions about what life is like there…and some of the questions are really unbelievable (but I was once in their shoes I’m sure). 

I think it is hard to get away from the stereotypes that we have about each culture group in the world.  The issue is, as we all know, that the stereotype might actually be true for the majority of the people in the host country.  However, it is NOT true for EVERYONE in the country.  You cannot group everyone in one culture group together.  I just read recently that due to the Danish cultural norms Danes don’t try and make good friends with people that they work with.  I’m sure that there are a few Danes that hang out with their co-workers outside of work and call them their best friends.

Realistic expectations? This will take some good research I think.  Every time I go to a new location, one of the things I do is buy the latest Lonely Planet for that country/city.  For sure after reading a bit of that travel book I can have my expectations be a tiny be more realistic, if not even make them a bit more exciting.  I don’t know about you though, but I am quite sensitive to culture shock.  So, even if I have realistic expectations and am ready to expect the unexpected, I am still subjected to embarrassing mood swings about the things that in theory I had already expected.  One of the joys of living abroad I suppose.  By the way, I subscribe to the idea of cherishing all emotions: the good and the not-so-good.

Last thing that I know about how to find out the most I can about my future host country: talk to people that currently work at the school.  Not the administrator, the human resources department, etc…the real people that work there who will really tell you how it is.  I’ve always received a few contact email addresses of some teachers that I can contact during the summer.  I have even had a Skype call with one of them which really helped I think get my expectations to be a little more realistic.  It is key to talk to people and gather as much information as possible. 

This article was submitted by a guest author and ISC member.

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