Nobody wants to be worked to the bone. And then not have any time to enjoy life outside of work.
Many of us left our home countries to escape being worked too much at our home country schools.
Teachers want to do their best and have time, inspiration and encouragement to do just that.
Just like the schools located in your home country, there is also a wide range of work-life balance situations at international schools.
Sometimes the work-life balance is affected by the norms of the host country’s laws and culture. Other times it is more influenced by the school itself and its admin.
But luckily, there are some international schools out there striving to have the best possible work-life balance for their teachers. As they say, teachers are more able to keep their focus and do their best if they are not so stressed at work.
So which international schools then have some good work-life balance conditions? Can you guess which countries/schools around the world would make for the best conditions for a good work-life balance?
Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 30 comments that had the keyword “Life balance” in them. Here are 11 of them:
“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity (1 hour/8 weeks) each semester…” – Khartoum American School (44 total comments)
“Expectations are high and teachers work hard. There is very reasonable non-contact time and staff gets paid if they do extracurricular activities. The workload is not excessive and there is a good work/life balance…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (18 total comments)
“The expectation of quality is very high, but this is reflected in giving ample prep-time. One can also request a “retreat” morning/afternoon/day if you would like to spend some extra time planning with a team. I find this to be one of the best places for work/life balance, without sacrificing quality…” – International School Hannover Region (38 total comments)
“Reasons to stay:
– Amman is pretty easy to live in – most things are available in stores
– The staff is a lot of fun and friendly and enjoyable to work and play with
– Jordan has a lot of amazing things to see and do, especially if you enjoy an outdoor life
– The school program is strong but the expectations on staff are realistic
– The school values a healthy work-life balance, there is not a workaholic mentality here…” – American Community School (Amman) (55 total comments)
“It is a great place to work at and the work-life balance is good too…” – Norlights International School Oslo (122 total comments)
“In general people stay because they feel supported, welcome and have a good quality of work/life balance…” – The English Modern School (Doha) (99 total comments)
“There are pros and cons but I think it depends on what you value. If you want a good work-life balance you can find that here. You don’t need to bring work home with you once you are established. The school also has great kids and the lack of structure means you have a lot of creative freedom…” – The Canadian International School Vietnam (147 total comments)
“KAS is the best international school in Kaohsiung as far as school resources, work/life balance, collegiality among staff, pay, vacation time, and students who work hard. As of yet, it is not the best in Taiwan (those would probably be TAS or TES in Taipei), but it’s working towards it…” – Kaohsiung American School (43 total comments)
“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity 2 out of 3 trimesters…” – International Community School of Abidjan (68 total comments)
“There are many couples at our school, mainly young couples that are actively having children. There are so many staff having children each year! It is a great place to have children because of the long maternity and paternity leave, etc. What I’m trying to say is that if you are a couple and want to work at our school, it is a great match because couples really enjoy their work/life balance here…” – Copenhagen International School (391 total comments)
“There is a lot of work, but everyone can maintain their work-life balance. The school is supportive of on-campus wellness activities before and after school…” – International School Manila (110 total comments)continue reading
I always hope that somebody will care every year I go home, but every year most of them don’t. (Ha ha!)
It is not because they really don’t care though, it is mostly because most just don’t fully understand the international/expat life you are living. Very rarely do the conversations that I have relate to my life living abroad. Hardly do we even talk about the amazing trips that I have been on the past year! (Oh, the things I have seen! It is hard to talk about your trips without giving an impression of bragging though.)
We indeed live a life that is a foreign world to us, so different from where we were born and raised. On the other hand, so many people in this world still just stay living very close to where they were raised. When I look at my home-country friends and relatives, most are living in the same city they grew up in or in the city just next to that one. (Why do we feel the need to escape our home towns?)
And of course, so many people are saying that such a high percentage of people in the United States are without a passport (is it true for the American people you know??). Being that these friends and family that you know maybe haven’t had so much experience living abroad or even traveling abroad, you would think that would make them even more interested in your international life…but that isn’t always the case.
I guess when you go home, you spend most of your time just reminiscing about the good times of the past, of when you used to live there maybe. Most of the conversations you have also are just normal ones, talking about day to day things (e.g. the weather, etc.).
Sometimes your friends and family dominate the conversation with updates from their life, which of course you are curious about as well. You want to get the lowdown on their lives being that you are only there visiting with them for typically such a short time. I mean they haven’t seen you in awhile as well, and they are excited to see you and catch you up on their lives.
Though it is truly so nice to go back home and catch up with everyone, little do your friends and family realize or understand the reverse culture shock you may be experiencing when you go back home, even if it is the 8th time you have come home in 10 years (let’s say) that you’ve been abroad.
International school teachers live a dual life basically. The fact is…that we live most of the year in our host country; eating our host country food, hanging out with our host country friends, being surrounded by a foreign language and culture, living in our host country apartment, using and thinking in a foreign currency, etc. When you visit your home country, you really want to tell people in your host country about those things! Some will listen though, when it comes up naturally in the conversation, but it is usually a fleeting moment…not giving you time to share as much as you would like.
This article is not meant to make fun of or hate on our home country friends and family, but it meant to express our feelings of how an expat teacher might feel and how they might think in their head as they go home for the holidays. When you are living abroad for so long, it is so nice (and important) to see and catch up with your family and old friends. How do you feel when you go home to your host country, in your conversations with your friends and family about your life living abroad?