Are you moving to a new international school? You may be excited to start your new adventure, but don’t forget about the essentials. It can be overwhelming to arrive in a new city and not know where to buy things. You don’t want to end up paying more than you should have because you don’t know where to go to get the best prices.
Ideally, you would arrive at the airport, and someone from the school would pick you up and take you straight to your new fully-furnished home with groceries waiting for you. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There will be things that you need to buy, and some are more important than others. If they are small things, it’s not a big deal to walk down the street to pick them up. It’s a great way to explore your new neighborhood.
However, if you need to buy many small items or a few big ones, it can be stressful. Depending on your living situation, you may need to make emergency purchases. You may need to go to a store like IKEA, which some schools may take you to in their van. Don’t forget that your new school may also require you to bring or buy some items for the classroom.
Living abroad is different from living in your home country. You need to be adaptable and open-minded. Don’t expect everything to be perfect when you arrive. Be prepared for a few surprises, such as surprise purchases, in your first few months.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to figuring out which things you might need to buy once you arrive in your new host country, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What are some things that you need to buy/pay for when you first arrive at the school that you didn’t know about beforehand?“
Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 403 comments in this comment topic (May 2023). Here are a few that have been submitted:
“You WILL need a car, although some teachers rent one. If you get a nanny (not on the school’s nanny visa) you will need to pay for their visa which is usually about 850 OMR for two years but must be paid up front. You will also need to pay for their healthcare (about 150 OMR for a year)…” – American British Academy (Muscat, Oman) – 65 Total Comments
“You need to come with a lot of money! This was a shock for us. We needed money for a car rental and eventual purchase (hard to finance a car as a foreigner) and first and last months rent plus damage deposit for housing…” – St. Andrews I.S Green Valley (Pattaya, Thailand) – 31 Total Comments
“The school provides a limited amount of textbooks or resources. As a new teacher, this is often a challenge as you develop or buy the resources needed for your daily lessons. The school has expectations on what will be taught but the teacher is responsible for providing the materials used in class. The school pays for one Twinkle subscription that teachers can use in school. The school also provides a color copier, lamination tools, some manipulatives, Google /SeeSaw classroom, and a class supplies list (glue, storage containers, notebooks, etc) from the teacher list given the prior year…” – International School of Brno (Brno, Czech Republic) – 99 Total Comments
“The school offers the help of a real state agent. He can help you to find your places and manage internet and utilities, at a cost. Other than that, you will have to buy everything else. Furnished apartments can be a good way to go if you do not want to spend much just landing…” – Benjamin Franklin International School (Barcelona, Spain) – 125 Commentscontinue reading
Many of us teach abroad to save money! So, why do some international schools make their teachers pay for simple supplies? Well not all do, but according to a number of comments submitted on our website, some indeed leave their teachers in a situation where they need to. Why do some international schools give nice big budgets to classroom teachers and others do not?
Some might say that only the for-profit international schools don’t give appropriate budgets. However, that would not be true. A number of non-profit international schools also leave their staff with limited budgets to buy supplies.
Let’s say that your international school does provide some money to buy some supplies. It is nice to get at least something for your classroom! But the question is, when you are working abroad, where can you/the school buy these supplies?
If you order from your host country, then it will be cheaper, but the supplies might not be exactly what you want or have a quality you are used to. If you order from abroad, then the costs will be higher because of shipping and the wait time will most likely be a long time (with the risk of never even getting your order because it gets lost somewhere along the way).
Another question to consider is does a big budget for classroom teachers equal to better instruction and more learning for students. Teachers can get quite creative in a budget-less classroom, and it is fairly certain that good learning still happens.
But when an emergency arrises and materials that are necessary for the lesson/curriculum are not there, a number of teachers will use money out of their own pocket to buy them. It is the sacrifice that many teachers choose to do to make sure that their students are getting the best education possible and that the promise the school has made to paying parents can be met.
But does the administration/owner of an international school really want their own teachers to be using their own money to buy basic and necessary supplies for their classrooms? It would be hard to believe that they would. But when other factors (like a recession in the world or a declining student population) come into play, sometimes schools don’t have a choice to provide a nice budget for their staff.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to what kind of budgets international schools offer, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What types of budgets do classroom teachers/departments get?”
Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 212 comments in this comment topic (March 2016). Here are a few that have been submitted:
“Teachers have no budget to spend in their classrooms. They can take supplies from the resource room, which has basic materials like pens, white board markers, tape, etc. Everything else has to be paid for yourself.” – The International School of Egypt (New Cairo City, Egypt) – 12 Comments
“Budgets for resources are never an issue – if you have a good reason for purchasing something and can demonstrate the learning that it will support then you are generally approved. Art, Maths and Science materials are often ordered in from overseas and are of high quality.” – Ican British International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) – 51 Comments
“In past years, teachers have been required to submit their budget requests in October for the following school year � a full ten months before the beginning of the year being budgeted for! This was a major source of stress. As of today, no one has been asked to submit a budget and the budget process has not been discussed.” – American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland) – 64 Comments
“The businessman Mr. Strothoff pays for the school and pays most operating costs. In general, teachers fight for basic things such as staplers, two-hole punchers, tape, whiteboard markers, etc. Departments have budgets but protocol for ordering and getting something as simple as a pear of scissors is 100 layers of red-tape.” – Strothoff International School (Frankfurt, Germany) – 49 Commentscontinue reading