Discussion Topics

9 International Educators Share How Close the Beaches are to Their International Schools

June 6, 2021


Who wouldn’t want to live next to or very close to the beach? Better yet, a beautiful beach with amazing sand and turquoise water!

International school educators could only be so lucky!

But this actually does exist in the world of international schools. There are a number of international schools around the world that are very close to the beach.

Some are on islands and that life has its pluses and minuses, but other international schools are simply just located on the coast of their continent.

Either way, you could be listening to the crashing of the waves as you walk home from a day’s work at your future international school next to the beach!

After searching the keyword ‘beach‘ using our Comments Search function on our website (premium access required), we found 331 comments. Here are 9 of them that give some insight into the hospital experience in different countries around the world.

Al Sahwa Schools (40 total comments)

“The school has not changed their site since the comment. They are close to the beach and the school has a new building on each side plus a new astroturf pitch. The older buildings are in need of some upgrading…”

Qingdao Amerasia International School (56 total comments)

“The ample outdoor activities available within the comfortable confines of a modern city: 40km boardwalk, beaches, mountains – tons of opportunities for outdoors enthusiasts…”

American School of Recife (27 total comments)

“American School of Recife 10 minutes to the nearest mall. Uber taxi is the most popular transportation in Recife. You can hire Uber to get you to the nearest beach area i.e Paiva or Porto Galinha. Single teachers are housed in a fully-furnished flat (considered a hotel in the city). The flats are only a one-bedroom apartment with a nice view of the beach and 7-10 minute walk to the school. The flat is also nearby small groceries where you can get most the things you may need in terms of food…”

UWC Thailand (107 total comments)

“There are many awesome beaches for different tastes. Bang Tao and Layan are popular with the school community. They are within 30 min of driving from campus. Ao Yon and Karon in the south are also popular…”

Lucaya International School (30 total comments

“The relaxed vibe on the island, friendly people, and absolutely stunning beaches, on which you may not see another person. It’s like having your own private beach. If you love deserted, pristine beaches, you will enjoy living here…”

United Lisbon International School (12 total comments)

“Lisbon is near to the Algarve area which is a popular beach destination for Europeans. Once can get there by car in 2.5 hours and by train in 3 hours. Porto, the other large city in Lisbon is 3.5 hours away with train service as well. Then there are smaller cities all accessible by good roads and trains…”

International School of Western Australia (28 total comments)

“The school is in the lovely suburb of Doubleview. Not to far from the city and quite close to the beach. There are a few nice cafes nearby that are great and quick to get lunch for school. It is quite expensive to rent or buy near the school – most teachers live 15-20 minutes away and drive to work.”

The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (83 total comments)

“West and South Coast are great places to live and go out. Lots of restaurants, bars and beautiful beaches to enjoy after work and on weekends.”

Cayman International School (6 total comments)

“There is no housing allowance. Rent is extremely high if you intend to live on or near a beach. Traffic can really be a problem, especially if you live on the south end of the island. A two bedroom apartment will run about $2,000 away from Seven Mile beach, $3,000 on the beach.”

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Melbourne, Australia (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

December 26, 2019


Traveling Around: Melbourne, Australia

Can you relate?

  • learning a bunch a new words that are just abbreviations of words you already know in English.
  • eating out at restaurants and finding that there are all cuisines on offer in the city, so diverse!
  • taking a day trip to Phillip Island to find those fairy penguins, but also enjoy the lovely summer day full of sunshine.
  • having an encounter with a mob of 15 wild kangaroos by yourself with no one else around.
  • being amazed by all the different kinds of animals in the wild that many countries don’t have.
  • being shocked by how much the temperature can change from day to day, sometimes with a 20+C difference!
  • thinking that the prices for food at restaurants look expensive, but after converting the price into my host country current, realizing it is kind cheap here.
  • wanting to catch up with a local (a person I worked with at one of my past international schools) but finding out it wasn’t going to work out do to that person being too busy during the holiday season.
  • meeting up with a friend who just moved there and finding out all the details about the pros and cons of living and working there.
  • renting a car and finding it not that stressful to drive on the other side of the road.
  • going to a restaurant of your partner’s home country cuisine and talking to the servers and owner who were also from that country.
  • checking out places that you didn’t visit the first time that you were in Melbourne (Luna Park, the bathing houses, Flinders Station, etc.)
  • walking into the National Library and being amazed by the architecture of the place.
  • not buying one souvenir, but taking lots of pictures of all the unique buildings, both old and new.
  • being disappointed when arriving at a favorited restaurant to realize it was closed for the holiday season, then checking ahead of time if the next restaurants were open for future meals.
  • seeing a near crash between car and tram, ‘trams can’t swerve’ said the sign!
  • loving that the trams in the CBD are free to use for everyone, every day!

Currently, we have 31 international schools listed in Oceania on International School Community. 8 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Kwajalein Senior High School24 Comments
Woodford International School12 Comments
International School Nadi9 Comments
Majuro Cooperative School8 Comments
Port Moresby International School8 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

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What Expats Must Endure

A visit to the immigration office

November 18, 2019


Last week I had to go and ask for a re-entry permit at a local immigration office. It is an integral part of life for most of expats to pay a visit to this place every now and then. The immigration office is usually the only governmental institution that we can turn to when we need a document or a service.

I had an appointment for the document that I needed to get, and I arrived on time for this appointment with all my application documents filled out correctly. And, of course, my non-expired passport with many blank pages for my re-entry permit.

The office looked nice and bright, and the wait was surprisingly not long at all. That made me feel like the government is taking care of me almost as good as of all the citizens of my host country. As soon as they called my number, I handed over the paperwork to the agent only to be told (to my great shock and disappointment) that I was in the wrong place!

The “right” place

As I was taking the metro across town to get to the other foreigners’ centre, I felt upset about wasting my time; especially because I was clearly following all the rules I found on the ministry’s website.

Finally, I arrived to the other immigration centre where I could get what I needed. This building looked nothing like the first one. It was in a dark alley, looking old and unpleasant. The air in it was stuffy and there were tons of people from all over the world and from all walks of life, including kids and babies that were watching cartoons in one corner (and other being rather loud!) of this big waiting room. Not a place you’d want to visit after a long day at work!

People seemed confused about what they should do, although the guards were trying to guide them through the ticketing and waiting system. The overall experience looked like pure agony not only for the clients, but for the employees of this place as well. I was thinking about what the clerks really thought of us (the immigrants in ‘their’ country). Did they take this job to help and support us or does this experience make them more anti-immigrant?

Why are expats so different?

After 45 minutes of wait, I finally got what I needed and walked out of this room. It was already dark outside, but I decided to walk home. I needed some fresh air after that stuffy, crowded place, not to mention the stress of all of this nonsense. I couldn’t help but wonder why does the government need to treat non-citizens so differently? Such is the case in probably many of our home countries as well.

Expats are just as hard-working, tax-paying and law-abiding members of society just like the actual citizens, so don’t they deserve the level of service that is just as high as everyone else? I can’t find a proper reason why would the governments constantly try to remind us that we are not equal to their citizens. Maybe it is just an issue of lack-of-funding, constantly changing immigration laws, or maybe the current politicians don’t care about us because we don’t have the right to vote.

What are your experiences that you must endure being an expat in your host country? Share your story by submitting an article for this blog series by contacting us here.

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Highlighted Articles

How to Learn French, Swedish, Spanish

July 20, 2019


“How about Italy?” she said.

I was lying on my friend’s couch. It was 2010. Los Angeles. I was 20, visiting from University in Boston. 

That year I had stopped playing competitive tennis. I had a spinal injury. I was depressed. 

“You love food,” she said.

2007. High school. End-of-the-year  evaluations. My Spanish teacher sat me at a desk in the back of the room, away from the other students. She opened a manila folder with my final course grade, and then closed it. 

“You have great tenacity,” she said. 

“But you’ll never learn a foreign language.” 

“It’s just a small application,” she said. “You’ll finish it by the afternoon!”

On the plane to Italy I sat next to a girl my age, knees shaking, scratching her wrist. She was crying.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. 

“My father died on September 11th,” she said.

We held hands. And we took Italian together. 

That summer we practiced Florence. 

Fast forward to 2012. I studied more Italian at the Middlebury Language School. A couple teachers there helped me with my application to be a high school teacher abroad. I moved to Crema, Italy. The town is now known for the Oscar-winning movie “Call Me By Your Name.” Some days I’m jealous. If only the director had spotted me years ago! Seeking male 18-24 American, speaks French and Italian.

I speak French because I moved to Bordeaux. 

Because why not? 

My roommate was a grandmother. I still remember her first email to me:

“Malgré my advanced age it’ll be a pleasure to pick you up from the airport.” What does malgré mean?!

Despite. She was 74. 

She stewed the best fig jam. Little dotlets of confitture and hot yellow butter, glistening against a crisp o’clock baguette. 

My new grandmother got sick. She had to stay in the hospital for several weeks. She couldn’t swallow properly. I should’ve noticed. All the little yogurt spoons in the dishwasher.

I had to leave France when she was still in the hospital. She held my hand. 

“Go, go, adventure!” she said. 

I left for Los Angeles, a Master’s program. When I finished, I thought I was moving to Sweden, a fellowship I was applying for, a project between Portugal, Sweden and the United States. 

I had to learn Portuguese and Swedish, enough so that I could pass the speaking portion of the B1 proficiency exams in both languages. 

I touched every word I could find, working with online teachers, making sure I made that girl on the plane, and my French grandmother proud. Go, go, adventure! 

I passed. 

If I listed to you the languages I now speak, it would sound arrogant. But to recount the sequence of events that make me feel like any language is possible, I turn to the territory of the heart. 

It’s quite random, who opens us. It would be easy to say that my high school teacher’s ignorance was what fueled me to learn many languages. Perhaps a little fuel. It’s a more profound idea to say that the ultimate compassion of friends, teachers, and strangers transform us. It’s not one individual who lets us learn. It’s the fragile edges of connection, from a sofa to a girl on a plane to a malgré grandmother, all who expressed self-love and towards-love simultaneously. Not romantic love, but a spiritual love, surfaced through the language of kindness. 

Kindness is not about the expectation of others. I was a New England kid who expected to stay in Boston my entire life. I was expected to never learn a language. Ignore the preconditions. Start listening to the language of kindness – “how about…?”, a child’s cry, the goodbye wave – as open acts to start a conversation. Language then becomes living – the courage to sit with others, which is a bodily language, a language of our senses, which I’d argue is the easiest way for us to learn a language, to be an expat. 

Resistance to foreign culture isn’t necessary when we’re close to the senses of others. Spoons in a dishwasher aren’t just spoons. It’s a physical memory I can recall. A relationship tied to a breakfast table. Jam is sweeter, adventure more of a quest than an itinerary. More words absorbed than “do you speak French?”

I speak what needs to be held, with hands, with my eyes, with my stomach. That’s real multilingualism. In fountains, gardens, kitchens, courts, alleyways, with the falling leaves, and flowers blooming. That’s real learning.

Go, go, adventure. 

Joshua Kent Bookman is a writer and artist. Like the characters of his book, “close to elsewhere,” he calls several places home, and has worked in France as an agricultural laborer, as a high school teacher in Italy, and tennis instructor in the United States. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1990. 

“close to elsewhere” was released this summer by the Swedish publisher LYS. This is Bookman’s first novel. 

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Highlighted Articles

OMG: I’m Becoming a Citizen of my Host Country

June 26, 2019


When most international teachers move abroad, they aren’t thinking “oh, this is the country that I want to be living in for many, many years.” They also aren’t thinking “When I move there, I’m going to do whatever it takes to become a citizen.”

But somehow, some of us get ourselves into that exact position. What was once the goal of staying at an international school for 4-6 years has turned into 8, 10 or even more than 12 years!

If the situation is good where you are at, then why not stay?! Most likely, not everyone can work and live where you are. Actually, some international school teachers would probably die to live and work in your host country! (note: the grass is always greener problem…)

As you stay longer and longer in your host country, the question about trying to become a citizen starts to be a popular one to talk about and discuss (depending on where you are living, of course).

Things to think about:

What are the requirements to becoming a citizen in your host country? There are many in some cases!

Can you have dual citizenship so that you don’t have to give up your home country passport? Some of us would very quickly give up our home country passport, but many of us would very much not!

What is the time frame for waiting around to get your citizenship application approved? In some countries the processing time can take up to two years!

So the question comes, what then does it take to actually become a citizen?

You will probably have to fork over a sizeable amount of money for your application. Could be from hundreds of USDs to thousands of USDs!

You will probably have to pass some sort of host country language test. Some countries don’t have this as a requirement, but others do. Sometimes just having a A2/B1 level is alright, but other countries might want higher than that!

You will also most likely need to pass some sort of citizenship exam. There will be a bunch of questions about the culture, history, politics, laws, etc. of the country. It can take quite some effort to read and study about all of these topics so that you can pass this exam.

Once you pass all the tests and pay all the fees, the next step is to complete and submit the application and also to check and see if you meet the rest of the requirements. For example, if you have unpaid speeding tickets from driving, that can be a problem. If you have received some financial support from the government in the past few years, that can also be a deterrent. Other problems can include: if you have been outside of the country for more than 6 months, if you haven’t been making a certain amount of money during the time you’ve been working there, if you haven’t had full time work for the duration of your stay so far, etc. All of these things can delay or make it so that your host country will refuse your application.

Even if it is fun to get caught up in all the excitement of becoming a dual citizen, what does it mean to really be a citizen of your host country? Maybe you have got married to a local and had children together and need to get citizenship so that everyone in your family has the same legal rights in the country. That can be stressful for you until you get the passport!

Another question to ask yourself: Once you get citizenship, does that mean you will stay there the rest of your life and that your life as a roving international school teacher is over? That prospect could sound daunting to some people. It is good to have choices though in life. Once you get a host country passport, you could still move and try living somewhere else for a bit, and then you can rest knowing that you could always move back if you want. If your new passport is from an EU country, that would definitely open up more possibilities for places to live and work without the hassle of having some school sponsor you in anyway (which is often a problem for most schools in EU).

We all know that the passport you hold can really make a difference in many ways. If you have an EU passport, you can often get through passport control much faster. If you want to visit Iran, then it would be much easier to go there on an EU passport vs. a USA one. If you want to vote and participate in the main elections in your host country, a passport will allow you to do just that. If you want to get out of teaching and your current job, a passport would allow you to try out a different school or even a different career. The benefits and advantages go on and on…

Of course, the main advantage of having a host country passport is that you can rest and relax knowing that you will not be kicked out of the country for any reason, you will have the same legal rights as any of the other citizens there, and you can stay as long as you want and enjoy the country that you have gotten to know and fall in love with over the years. Even though you probably don’t have your own relatives and direct family there with you, you can stay with and build even stronger relationships with your new family in your host country (or now just your country).

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