Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas

The New 11 Commandments of Relocating Overseas

July 1, 2018


It’s never easy to move to a new country, especially one where the culture is vastly different than what you are used to. Concepts such as immigration and international relocation have become increasingly common in the modern age, with developed nations such as the United States a popular destination for citizens across the globe.

Still, between 2.2 million and 6.8 million U.S. citizens are known to have themselves according to 2017 figures, as some look for new pastures during retirement, some relocate for the purpose of work, and others decide to travel for school or self-fulfilment.

Relocated

Whatever the reasons behind your move, relocating overseas can be extremely challenging, particularly from a financial and emotional perspective. In the post below, we’ll consider the 11 commandments of moving abroad, as you look to embrace new opportunities and immerse yourself in a new and unfamiliar culture.

1.    Make Positivity Your Watchword 

As we’ve already said, issues such as international relocation and economic migration are extremely relevant in the current political climate, particularly since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

This means that some will continue to talk about international relocation in negative terms, which in turn may dampen your enthusiasm for the move and discourage you from taking the plunge.

However, if you’ve made a strategic decision to relocate abroad and determined that the benefits outweigh the potential issues (whatever your motivation may be), it’s important that you do not allow such negativity to undermine your best-laid plans.

In this respect, positivity and clarity of thought must be your key watchwords when relocating abroad, as you look to maintain your focus, do not allow negative comments or attitudes to shift your outlook. Surrounding yourself with positive people in the first place is central to this, as while you always want to hear a diversity of thoughts and opinions you must engage with individuals whose minds are progressive and open to new opportunities.

2.    Remain Flexible in your Attitudes

On the subject of your mindset, there’s also a pressing need for you to remain flexible and agile when relocating abroad.

This applies to both your preparation and the transition period that takes place when you arrive at your chosen destination, as these experiences will vary considerably depending on your reasons for moving and your choice of international location.

When it comes to the former, an agile mindset will enable you to adapt to the setbacks that occur while planning your relocation, from organizing the logistics of your move to securing accommodation in time for your arrival. Remember, even the best plans can go awry, so you’ll need to manage your expectations and adapt positively to any changes that you encounter.

The same principle applies when adapting to a new culture and way of life, as this takes time, patience, and a willingness to learn quickly from your mistakes. Even in an increasingly multicultural world, there are subtle nuances that separate global cultures, and a flexible outlook will ensure that you learn and adapt to these quickly.

Relocated

3.    Gain a Real Understanding of your New Host Country

Prior to your move, you’ll also need to gain a deep and realistic insight into your new host country.

Like we say, multiculturalism may have helped to blur the lines between independent cultures, but each country will have its own unique heritage and prevailing way of life. This will have a direct impact on every conceivable aspect of everyday life, from the clothes that you wear to the way in which you interact with locals.

The key to this is conducted detailed and informed research, which charts a country’s history and its standing in the current world order. This prevents you from forming an impression of your new home based on outdated perceptions and clumsy notions of nationality, which can lead to significant issues when you initially move abroad.

Instead, you can relocate with a clear understanding of your new host country, and one that is based on knowledge, insight and relevant, real-world observations.

4.    Expect to Encounter Different Attitudes and a Diminished Sense of Urgency

In the western world, the pace of technological advancement has made patience an increasingly sparse commodity. This is reflected by the demands that we place on others and the devices that we use, as we’re increasingly accustomed our creature comforts and things being done almost as soon as we’ve requested them.

When relocating east to a less developed economy, however, you may find that these things can no longer be taken for granted. More specifically, the locals may have a diminished sense of urgency that compels them to complete tasks at a slower pace, while the amenities and the facilities that you use may fall below the standards that you expect.

And there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way.

Remember, we are creatures of habit and we only know what we know until we expand our outlook.

It’s crucial that you prepare for this before completing your move, and manage your expectations as you look to grow accustomed to your new surroundings.

This will help with the challenging transition period, while hopefully preventing you from enduring any strained or unpleasant interactions with the locals!

5.    Maintain a Strong Sense of Humor

As we’ve already said, relocating abroad can be extremely challenging both from a financial and an emotional perspective.

This sense of difficulty can be compounded further in instances when things go awry, and it’s easy for feelings of doubt and anxiety to build in a relatively short period of time.

However, a strong and omnipresent sense of humor can help with this, as it prevents you from taking yourself or the process too seriously and makes it possible to seek out positivity even during challenging periods.

The same principle applies when you first arrive abroad, as you’ll need to prepare for the fact that making social faux-pas and linguistic mistakes are part and parcel of adapting to a new culture. By laughing with others and seeing the funny side of these instances, you’ll feel empowered and ultimately transform a potentially negative cultural experience into a positive one.

Relocated

6.    Try to Understand the Host Country Perspective in any Given Scenario 

The issue of social and cultural interaction is an important consideration, as this will dictate your day-to-day experience when you first move abroad.

In order to facilitate positive experiences, you’ll need to make a concerted effort to understand the host country perspective in any given scenario. After all, you’ll be talking to individuals that are likely to have enjoyed entirely different upbringings to your own, and this will leave with an alternative view on a host of potential issues.

By comprehending these viewpoints and taking them on-board when you first engage with locals, you can participate in open and positive conversations that hopefully serve as an entry point into new and exciting relationships.

Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of clashing regularly with locals without every really understanding and allowing for your differences.

7.    Plan for a Difficult Adjustment Period of Around Six Months

While you may well know that you’re in for a challenging period of adjustment when you first move overseas, this alone is not enough to ensure that you negate this. In fact, you’ll need to plan strategically for this transition, by considering the various stages of your adjustment and expecting it to last for at least six months or so.

We’ve broken down these phases below, so you can prepare for them and develop viable coping mechanisms.

  • The Honeymoon Phase: This phase applies to any type of new experience or relationship, and it tends to inspire an innate sense of excitement and adventure. From your new home and office to the people that you meet, your mind is open to a host of exciting possibilities and far more willing to embrace change. You should definitely make the most of this phase as it unfolds, while recognizing that it cannot be sustained indefinitely. 
  • The Negotiation Phase: The second phase usually triggers a period of anxiety, as the excitement of your international adventure fades and the realities of everyday life in a foreign country take hold. Linguistic and cultural differences can take root here, creating a sense of uncertainty and alienation that is difficult to overcome. It’s important at this stage that you focus on your work and developing relationships with locals, as this will help to settle your mind and encourage a far greater work-life balance.
  • The Adjustment Phase: If you’re able to maintain your focus and overcome the issues posed by the negotiation phase, you’ll enter a more settled period of adjustment after six months or so. At this stage, your new surroundings become normal, while you’ll have learned the cultural and linguistic nuances that can prove so problematic. It’s important at this stage that you maintain the positive behaviors in terms of work and social interaction, as you must not become complacent even as you begin to settle.

8.    Look for Ways of Strengthening and Maintaining your Enthusiasm 

When attempting to cope during the formative phases of your relocation, it’s absolutely imperative that you identify viable ways of maintaining your enthusiasm.

This is particularly important from a social perspective, as there may be times where you’re alone in your new apartment and develop a tremendous sense of isolation from your fellow man.

To overcome these feelings, you’ll need a robust and fortified mindset, and one that is constantly striving to maintain a keen sense of optimism. Socialising with your new colleagues is an excellent way to achieve this, as this helps to maintain contact with the outside world while also building positive and long-standing relationships.

Joining a local meetup.com group in your new city is also a worthwhile measure, as this exposes you to new experiences and relationships while providing a crucial learning experience.

Socialising

9.    Use Home Comforts to Manage Your Transition

In order to make a successful transition to a new culture, you’ll need to commit to your new surroundings and ensure that you maintain an open mind.

However, this does mean that you cannot ease the transition period by leveraging home comforts where possible, as this can have a decidedly positive impact on your mindset during the adjustment period.

You could make sure that you access some of your favorite TV shows and box-sets online, for example, enabling you to access a slice of home whenever the mood takes you.

Similarly, try to combine an appreciation of new cuisine and dishes with some of your old dietary staples. Consuming your favorite food and drink from home can provide genuine comfort during times of transition, reminding you of your loved ones in the process.

10.Look Out for the Signs of Culture Shock

While you may well struggle with various issues when transitioning to a new culture, this is part and parcel of relocating abroad and can generally be overcome with a number of relatively simple measures.

In more serious instances, however, you may find yourself struggling with the effects of culture shock. This is a far more debilitating condition, and one that can close your mind to new experiences and ultimately force you to return home.

The symptoms or effects of culture shock are numerous, and include a sense of feeling uprooted and a sustained feeling of disorientation. These can be compounded by the sensation of being overwhelmed by the need to make significant changes, and this can cause you to become intolerant of the very culture that you seek to integrate into.

It’s important to address these effects as early as possible, before such feelings take root and completely alter your mindset. You may want to seek out professional guidance and counselling to deal with these issues, or at least share your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.

11.Negate the Emotional Side of Relocation by Partnering with Professionals

On a final note, it’s crucial that you manage the emotional aspect of relocating internationally before you complete the move.

This is particularly true if you have a family, as younger children may be overwhelmed by the prospect of leaving their family home and leaving their friends behind.

To focus on this, you should ensure that you partner with a skilled and reputable removals firm, particularly one that has experience or organizing international moves. This will enable you to delegate the practical and logistical requirements of your move to an industry expert, so that you can spend your time attending to the needs of your loved ones.

This is an important consideration and one that can aid the transition process, while also helping you to make the most of your time.

Bio: At A1 Auto Transport, we have a wealth of experience when dealing with domestic and international locations, and can effectively manage your relocation overseas. This type of service is worth its weight in gold, particularly when moving to a brand new country and an unfamiliar culture.
* pictures are from pixabay.com

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For the Newbies

How Do I Get into International Education #3: Bring It On!

February 16, 2014


“I wondered about the explorers who’d sailed their ships to the end of the world. How terrified they must have been when they risked falling over the edge; how amazed to discover, instead, places they had seen only in their dreams.”

Jodi Picoult, Handle With Care

Recruitment season is now in full swing. So it´s time to finally get down to business. But with more than 6500 international schools in the world, where do you start?

DSC_9281To begin, do your research both on the schools, and the country and city where they are located. When considering a location, be open-minded and willing to consider any place. Be prepared to experience (or maybe, in some cases, tolerate might be a better word), the cultural differences and discover the richness of these new cultures. Whether for good or bad, the influence of western culture and commercialization has stretched so far that if you were dropped, blindfolded into a city in almost any place in the world, you might be hard-pressed to figure out what country it was. But peel back that superficial layer of “globalization,” and you will find a place of such rich cultural diversity, that your own life can only be enriched. When looking at schools, look for a school with which you share educational, leadership and lifestyle values. Unless you are going to be in a position to influence it, look for one that has a clear vision for who they are, where they are going, and a well-developed strategic plan to get there. Let´s face it, a teacher teaches. You do what you do regardless of where you are, so that it the easy part.

In a recent non-scientific survey, of educators, teachers were asked, “What questions did you wish you had asked in the interview?” The top six, in no particular order, were:

• What is the average tenure of the international staff? (If the answer is two years, maybe there are issues beneath the surface. If it is ten years, there is a reason people stay.)

• What percentage of the student (and staff) body is international? (This may be completely irrelevant to you, but it gives a picture of the culture of the school.)

• How will the school help me settle in? (If you are left to your own devices, you will almost certainly run into some roadblocks immediately.)

• Tell me about the orientation program (i.e.: housing, benefits, salary) (See above.)

• What are the pros and cons of living in the country, and what are the top challenges in adjusting? (A later article will deal with culture shock, but you WILL experience it.)

• What priority does the school place on work/life balance? (If you are single and a workaholic, there are schools for you. If you´re not, you want to be in a school that recognizes the importance of “downtime.”)

Likewise, administrators were asked, “What do you wish you knew about the interviewee, but might not have asked?”

• How adaptable will this person be in the school and community, cultural values, and with our way of doing things? (A certain kiss of death is to hear, “In my old school, we ….”)

• Will (s)he be an open-minded team player? (If you are not, you and everyone around you will be miserable.)

•  Is (s)he willing to make strengthening the school a priority, or is (s)he a teacher-tourist? (Yes, you definitely want to explore the country—that´s part of the whole experience. Just remember, you are being paid to do a job.)

• What will (s)he contribute to the school community? (It´s not JUST a job. What special interests, skills, hobbies do you bring that will enrich the community?)

• If we invest in him / her, is (s)he in it for the long haul? (If you are going into a job knowing that you are there for “only two years,” how will you find the motivation to really give 100%?)

DSC_9709Be prepared to ask those questions and give the interviewer the answers to the questions (s)he has in mind, and you will be setting yourself up for success. If teaching in international education is, to paraphrase a seasoned international educator, “doing an ordinary job in an extraordinary place,” why do it? First, it is, without a doubt, an adventure. Stepping out into the unknown is exciting and frightening at the same time, but approached with the right mindset, it will be a wonderfully positive experience. Secondly, living in a different country, is quite different from visiting it.  You will be in a unique position to explore the country, meet the people and learn about their culture. Take the time to do so, and make an effort to learn the language. As you do, you will grow as a global citizen. And above all, you will be able to take the best of all cultures, incorporate them into your life, and have a greater understanding of the world around us.

Step out of your comfort zone, into the unknown, and immerse yourself in it. To say that you understand the world as a traveler, is to only scratch the surface. To say that being in a plane is flying, is like saying you´re swimming, while in a boat. Get out of the plane and enjoy the adventure.

Good luck and watch this space for the next article, where we will look at making the move, and the final article in this series will look at how to deal with culture shock.

This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member: John Brown.

(John has held both administrative and teaching positions for over 20  years, with the last five being in international education. He is a well respected presenter at regional, national and international education and technology conferences as well as a consultant, who has helped set standards in teacher training and assessment, use of technology in the classroom, curriculum development and effective management practices. A graduate of Tarleton State University in Texas, USA, with graduate studies at North Texas State University and Texas Wesleyan School of Law, he is currently teaching IB Psychology and Spanish at an international school in Portugal. His current projects include development of an online tutoring system for Spanish, consulting on development of a National Language Policy for the United States, and research into the effects of early language learning on brain development. You can contact John at jbb0906@gmail.com.)

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Discussion Topics

Culture Shock and Misplaced Normal (An int’l school teacher’s experience in Tanzania)

February 5, 2014


There’s an element of visiting home while living abroad that I call Misplaced Normal.  It gives you a taste of the culture shock that everyone else that is just visiting your country feels when the norms that they carry with them don’t apply to their new surroundings.

1240232_10152188433337589_1867444700_nWhen people first move to a new place, many things about our everyday life seem exotic and fascinating.  It’s amazing how quickly we can adapt to change, though, and the exotic can very quickly become normal.  So what does that do to us when we go home for a brief visit?  As we move from one version of normal to the next, our behaviors change in subtle ways that we don’t always notice, and that sometimes make us do really dumb stuff.

I moved from the southeastern United States to Barcelona, Spain in 2008, and I quickly got used to lengthy lunches, going grocery shopping on foot, not owning a car, and living in a small apartment, all pieces of the Spanish lifestyle.  When I visited my parents during the Christmas holiday, I couldn’t believe how quickly everyone ate, how much of a hassle it was to have to get in a car to go anywhere, and how pointlessly huge every department store, supermarket and home seemed.  I had never noticed any of those things before moving overseas, but now they were blaringly obvious.  I was carrying over the norms of my new home, and the place where I grew up had become strange.

I also found myself doing really stupid things, things that made sense in one setting, but not in another, and I did it all over again when I went back to work.

Misplaced normal while living in Spain had me talking a lot more loudly than anyone else when I visited the U.S., and not being hungry until restaurants were ready to close.

Misplaced normal while living in England had me driving in the wrong lane in parking lots and carrying an umbrella with me at all times.

Here is a recent example from my current home, Tanzania, on the eastern coast of Africa.  I visited home for Christmas after only five months in Tanzania, yet I still took subconscious Tanzanian norms home with me.

In Tanzania the tastes of Christmas are golden mangos and papayas, because they are at their best around Christmas time.  These are tropical 1240318_10152188436592589_1742188044_nfruits that grow in Tanzania’s tropical climate.  That means December is hot in Tanzania.  For my northern European friends, though, December means drinking hot mulled wine, simply because that was the taste of Christmas for them.  It was what they had always drunk at Christmas time since, because it’s really cold in northern Europe in December.  That’s what was normal.  Two friends from England invited friends over for mulled wine shortly before the December break.  We drank some very good mulled wine and did a lot of sweating.  Why would we do such a silly thing?  It was our misplaced normal.

In Tanzania there isn’t enough money on the local level for the police force to have their own cars, or even radar guns to keep people from speeding.  Instead, huge speed bumps are put in at seemingly random places, marked by paint on the road.  Within a few weeks, the paint wears off and isn’t replaced, so driving slowly to avoid flying over an unnoticed bump and losing pieces from the bottom of your car keeps your speed down.  Where there aren’t any speed bumps there are huge potholes and wildly driven buses that pull over at seemingly any intersection to squeeze in more passengers, often not really coming to a full stop before swerving back onto the road again.

Visiting my family in the U.S. my misplaced Tanzanian version of normal driving had me going down a local highway at 20 miles per hour above the speed limit.  I had grown used to driving at the fastest speed that was physically possible while avoiding reasonable danger in Tanzania, but that version of normal makes you go really, really fast on a smooth, well-maintained highway in the United States.

1186006_10152188434617589_262902529_nWater is not safe to drink out of the tap in Tanzania, because of bacteria, so clean water is carried around the city in huge tanker trucks and everyone I know has a water dispenser with the big five-gallon bottles on them.  Visiting my family in the U.S., I kept getting a glass out of the cabinet and looking around for a water dispenser.  My parents have had the same house for over 30 years, and have never had a water dispenser.  Why was I looking for one now?  It was misplaced normal yet again.

When I came back to Tanzania for work after a mere two weeks back home I nearly wrecked my car because I had forgotten where those large, unpainted speed bumps were.  I also nearly drank a glass full of water straight from the bathroom tap, a mistake that I never came close to making before my visit home.  Why would I do those stupid things?  The norms of home had so quickly taken root again that I had to go through yet another round of adjusting my normal, and even though I am fully aware of it, I know that every time I visit home I will still misplace my contradictory versions of normal all over again.

This article was submitted by a veteran international school teacher and International School Community member, Jonathan Park.

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For the Newbies

How Do I Get into International Education #2: How Do I Find That Coveted Position? (Part 2 of 2)

October 20, 2013


(This article is a continuation of Part 1)

If the meat market or job fair theme is not for you, another option is to work directly with an independent recruiter. In light of the changing attitudes toward job fairs and tight budgets, many educators are now turning to recruiters. They provide many of the same benefits as the major recruiting organizations, but offer more individual attention. As with the organizations mentioned above, some charge educators a fee, others are funded by the schools. A unique advantage to using a recruiter is that they have more intimate contact with schools and are focused on helping both. The screening process is bilateral. They work with schools to screen candidates for best fit and also screen schools in an attempt to provide a match for candidates that will be mutually beneficial. One of those agencies is Carney Sandoe www.carneysandoe.com. Although they advertise schools around the world, they seem to have more placements in the United States. One recruiter that is relatively new and growing stronger every day is Teacher Horizons www.teacherhorizons.com. A recent check of their listings revealed a number of postings throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Snake oil—diamond—or diamond in the rough?

http://www.icmstudy.com/icm/images/course_imgs/info.jpg

To quote a phrase made famous by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Доверяй, но проверяй (doveryai, no proveryai) for those non-Russian speakers among us, “Trust but verify.” As you begin to sift through the offers rolling in, it is important to do your research. Before interviewing with a school, and certainly before accepting a position, it is in everyone´s best interest to do your research. You want to get an objective picture of the school, administration, potential colleagues, students and families, not to mention the country and city, it´s politics, and possibly, if this is a priority for you, even what brands of deodorant are available. The rub in all of this is the term objective. Bear in mind that everyone has an agenda. Unfortunately, there is a lot of, at a minimum hyperbole and at worst, fiction out there. As long as you approach your research with that in mind, you will be usually be able to find the facts among all of the roses—or thorns.

The first place to look in your search is a school´s website. It will give you a good picture of what´s going on and their priorities. It also can give you a look between the lines. If for example the information is up-to-date and relevant, someone at the school has made it a priority to present a current picture of the school. If it´s not, it could be that it is no longer relevant, that they are not proud of what is going on, or simply that everyone is too busy to take care of it. Look closely at the vision, mission and values of the school. Do they represent your vision, mission and values in education? Are they practical and relevant? Do they look like they lead to an actionable plan, or do they look like cookie-cutter, feel-good idealisms that do not really say anything? Look at the goals and the strategic plan. Are they achievable by mere mortals? Are they missing? If there is no strategic plan, could it be that the ship is rudderless?

Another option are the myriad of school review sites. Among the most common, is International Schools Review www.internationalschoolsreview.com. A weakness to this site is that you do not have to be a member to post a review [on International School Community you need to be a member to leave comments]. There truly are facts to be found here, but only with a microscope. First, to read the reviews, you must be a member. The fee is reasonable but might be the best investment. This anonymity for posting, opens the door to the hyperbole and fiction referred to above. The thing to keep in mind as you read these reviews is that if it seems very rosy, it was most likely written by someone with a vested or financial interest, i.e.: a founder, board member or administrator. If on the other hand, it seems like hell on earth, it was most likely written someone who left the school under less than friendly terms. You have to read between the lines to find the kernels of truth, but hopefully you will also be able to identify some rational and objective reviews.

Other places to look are the International Baccalaureate (IBO) site, www.ibo.org, or discussion forums found on such sites as Linked In www.linkedin.com, or Internations www.internations.org. Ultimately, it is incumbent on you to do the research to be sure that you make informed decisions that are right for you.

Talk to me!

Burnout stress - woman sleeping on computerSo you have your papers in order, you have jumped through all of the hoops. You know about the schools and countries you are considering and you heard that they have a position. The next step is to sign the contract, right? Well, not so fast. You still have to convince them that you are the perfect person for the job.

Before blasting out 200 CV´s with a form cover letter, do your homework. Although at job fairs, it may seem that international schools are isolated entities in “competition” with each other, the reality is that it is a small group. The directors of these schools know each other, and whether they are best friends or passing acquaintances, they talk and compare notes. You want them to see that you have carefully considered your skills and their needs and that you truly believe that you are a solid fit. Remember that there are a set number of hours in a day and just as you have limited time to get things done, so do directors and recruiters. Do not waste your time or theirs by sending a letter of interest to a school that is not a clear fit for your skill set.  Likewise, if you do not know enough about a school to write an individually crafted cover letter, why should they be bothered to find out about you? That being said, everyone has a dream location in mind, but if you allow yourself the opportunity, you will discover that some places you never dreamed of living, can provide a rich, colorful and amazing experience. Having grown up in a time (in the U.S.) when most people imagined Africa to be nothing but desert, bugs and snakes, and New York City to be nothing but crime, it is easy to understand how we let our preconceived ideas limit our opportunities and potential. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to ignore those preconceptions and be open to consider any country. Wherever you go, I can assure you that you will find warm, open, friendly and dedicated colleagues and citizens.

The first step in landing a contract for a job that will be rewarding for you and beneficial to your employer, is to know yourself and be honest with yourself and on your CV. There has been a great deal of news lately about how common it is to lie on a CV. There are two perspectives from which to view this. “One is that everybody is doing it, so if I don´t, I can´t compete.” If that is your perspective, ask Lance Armstrong how that worked out for him. Further, exaggerating your CV might land you a job, but if you are not truly qualified for that job, it will inevitably end badly. On the other hand, as an educator, we are role models and just as we would cringe at giving a student a grade for something he did not do, what would it say about the character of an educator who got a job fraudulently. Be honest—completely. It will not open every door, but it will open the right one.

A career change brings with it a lot of excitement, frustration, exhaustion and in some cases, panic. International education is not for everyone but if I still have your attention at this point, you are on the path to an amazing life, with all its joys, heartache, highs and lows.

In the next article, we will talk more about the interview, what to look for, what to expect and what questions to ask.

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 4.34.33 PMThis article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member: John Brown.

(John has held both administrative and teaching positions for over 20  years, with the last five being in international education. He is a well respected presenter at regional, national and international education and technology conferences as well as a consultant, who has helped set standards in teacher training and assessment, use of technology in the classroom, curriculum development and effective management practices. A graduate of Tarleton State University in Texas, USA, with graduate studies at North Texas State University and Texas Wesleyan School of Law, he is currently teaching IB Psychology and Spanish at an international school in Portugal. His current projects include development of an online tutoring system for Spanish, consulting on development of a National Language Policy for the United States, and research into the effects of early language learning on brain development. You can contact John at jbb0906@gmail.com.)

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For the Newbies

How Do I Get into International Education #2: How Do I Find That Coveted Position? (Part 1 of 2)

September 20, 2013


Teachers Wanted

“Be All That You Can Be Doing All You Can Do”

Live in exotic places, Experience all the world has to offer….

U.S. Military 1980-2001

Sounds great, huh? Actually, this is excerpted from the marketing campaign of the U.S. Military, but there are some really good comparisons to be drawn.

Ok, so you have read and analyzed the first article and you have decided that in fact, you have what it takes and that a career in international education is for you. Congratulations! It is, without a doubt, everything that you imagine, and more. No doubt, it will be different than anything you have experienced before. This article will focus on the nuts and bolts of how to make those first contacts, get your name out there and get the interviews. It will give you some specific details on where to look, what to look at and for, and how to evaluate what you see. There has been no effort to include all possible resources, but it should give you a strong start and those leads will open other leads.

I´ve got my papers!

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 9.55.30 AMYour first step, as with any career move, is to gather the necessary documents. At this point, it is worth mentioning, that when you land that job and move thousands of kilometers from your home country, if you need another document or another copy of a document, it is likely to be a monumental process that might involve an expensive trip back home, so to avoid that, if it is possible, get two or maybe three copies of all of your documents. The documents that you will most certainly need include an up-to-date CV or resume. Official copies of your birth certificate, teaching certification(s) / license(s), university diploma(s) and transcripts. Criminal background checks are also a requirement. Depending on your country of origin, this may include not only federal, but state, province or regional reports. The background checks are typically easy and inexpensive to obtain in your home country. Another important thing to note is that once you enter your international career, be sure that if you are planning to leave a country, you also get a background check from that country as well. Although you are likely to need official copies of all of your documents to present on arrival, you should have electronic copies as well, because most of the services mentioned below and many schools, will want electronic copies before considering you for a position. Many countries also require a medical report. This is unique to each country, so once you are offered a contract, your school will give you the specifics of those requirements. If you plan to drive in that country, you may need an international driver´s license and / or a copy of your complete driving record.

Regarding authenticity of documents, different countries have different rules regarding how long they consider a document valid, for example, even if your birth certificate says it is valid for one year, some countries may only accept it for six months. The same is true for background checks, driver records, etc., so keep that in mind as you prepare for the transition. Regarding authenticity, most countries accept as proof of authenticity, an Apostille. The process varies depending on your home country. For example, in the U.S., the process is to have your document(s) notarized, then take them to the Secretary of State for your state, who will then Apostille the document. In essence, this means that the notary has certified the document as an official copy, and the Apostille is proof that the notary has the legal authority to do so. If you are in a country that is not a signatory to the Apostille agreement, typically, the procedure is to obtain the official document and any documentation that may be available from the issuing agency, and take those things to the embassy or consulate, in your home country, of the country you will be moving to. They will then be able to authenticate the documents. Assuring that you verify the procedure and what your new country will accept, will save you many headaches and potentially significant expense. One additional set of documents that is beneficial is letters of reference and / or evaluation reports from previous employers; or if you are just graduating, letters of recommendation from your professors will suffice.

“Show me the money jobs!” (Jerry McGuire 1996)

Once you have your documents together, the next step is to find out where the jobs are. There are hundreds of businesses who offer their services to help you find a job. Your process begins by finding a reputable service that meets your needs and produces results. Depending on whether you hold a TEFL certificate or a government issued teaching certificate, which typically requires a minimum of a bachelor´s degree, extensive teaching practice and exams, you will find different services to fit those needs.

educ29-rdv-tmagArticleTwo of the simplest and least expensive option for becoming aware of the openings by subscribing to mailing lists, electronic publications, such as: TES Connect www.tes.co.uk, TIC Recruitment www.ticrecruitment.com. Although this is a very easy and inexpensive option, it is extremely popular. An international school director recently reported to me that for one teaching position, he received more than 3600 applications. Word-of-mouth is another great way to network and identify openings, but they don´t always produce results. The challenge here is to be in the right place at the right time.

Most international schools are members of organizations that provide recruiting services and / or school accreditation. These organizations screen and process applications and provide a forum to connect teachers wanting jobs with schools needing teachers. The most common agencies are: The Council of International Schools www.cois.org, International School Services, www.iss.edu and Search Associates www.searchassociates.com. COIS does not charge teachers a fee to place their CV or to attend their recruitment fairs. ISS and Search Associates both charge an annual membership fee. An advantage of these services is that they will work with you to create an online profile and verify your records. Your profile is searchable by their member schools. Schools know that teachers using these services have already been pre-screened. Additionally, they host recruitment fairs in various locations around the world. You can select the conference(s) you wish to attend and it will give you an opportunity to talk with many schools under one roof. A disadvantage is that interviewers generally interview a large number of applicants every day, and if you do not really stand out, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Opinions vary among teachers ranging from a great opportunity to a meat market. They are; however, obviously successful, so it is an option to consider.

A bit of insider information here is that just as you are competing for those “prize” locations and schools, the schools are competing for the top candidates. That means that in practice, if a school identifies candidates they are really interested in, they are asking them to meet “before the conference starts.” In essence, what that means is that the conference starts a day early for many.

Stay tuned next month for part two of this article!

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 4.34.33 PMThis article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member: John Brown
(John has held both administrative and teaching positions for over 20  years, with the last five being in international education. He is a well respected presenter at regional, national and international education and technology conferences as well as a consultant, who has helped set standards in teacher training and assessment, use of technology in the classroom, curriculum development and effective management practices. A graduate of Tarleton State University in Texas, USA, with graduate studies at North Texas State University and Texas Wesleyan School of Law, he is currently teaching IB Psychology and Spanish at an international school in Portugal. His current projects include development of an online tutoring system for Spanish, consulting on development of a National Language Policy for the United States, and research into the effects of early language learning on brain development. You can contact John at jbb0906@gmail.com.)

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