Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas

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

September 4, 2022


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.

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Teachers International Consultancy: Teach Somewhere Different

May 2, 2013


Thanks to the increasing number of international schools, there have never been so many opportunities in unique and exciting locations for teachers.

Today there are international schools everywhere – over 6,500 schools in 236 countries – and some of the more unusual locations are providing the most stimulating and challenging opportunities for the more seasoned and adventurous international teachers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATeach somewhere different

Corey Johnson is a Geography teacher currently working in Kazakhstan.  He’s been teaching internationally for seven years. “Being an international teacher, I can work and see the world at the same time,” he says. “Each time I move to a new country I am gaining more experience.  Knowing that a grand adventure is waiting for you out there is very enticing. Life in a new country is always challenging but it’s also rewarding. Things are very different here but that’s the adventure of it all.”

Kazakhstan is one of the more unique places for teachers to work right now and it is the international schools, led by the NIS (Nazarbayev Intellectual School Network) schools that are changing the face of education throughout the country. The aim is to develop a new way of educating local Kazakh students and the NIS Network is enlisting the skills of qualified, English-speaking, experienced international teachers such as Corey to spearhead the progress.

From Mauritius to Bangkok

For international teaching couple, Jane and Gerry Young, an extreme location change was their priority when they were ready to move schools.

“We spent three years teaching at the international school in Mauritius,” says Gerry. “There were huge career benefits there and we loved the lifestyle. We spent most of our free time outdoors in the sunshine, on beaches. When our contract ended we decided to find something just as exciting but completely different so we them moved from our sleepy little school of 260 pupils to one of the biggest names in international education – Harrow International School in Bangkok – with almost 1,200 pupils, and traded mellow Mauritius for bustling Bangkok – a different corner of the world and a whole new adventure.”

Many options near and far

With today’s international schools employing over 300,000 English-speaking teachers and all competing for the most skilled and experienced ones, those already with international school experience really can have their pick of the best jobs.  Some of the more unique positions currently available are at the International School in Azerbaijan,  at the International School Moshi in Tanzania which is located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, and at the International School in Montenegro, as well at the NIS schools in Kazakhstan.

“Don’t limit yourself to the oftentimes ‘cattle market’ frenzy of the recruitment fairs, or restrict yourself to just the jobs featured in the vacancies ads,” says recruitment expert Andrew Wigford. “Many international schools are now using recruitment agencies to handle all their placements and these agencies often know of some of the more unique jobs that aren’t publicised elsewhere. For example, the Harrow International Schools, which have a five year recruitment contract with us, hardly use job fairs at all. That’s why it’s important to register with a recruitment agency, as you’ll find jobs – great jobs – that you don’t hear about anywhere else.  The good recruitment agencies do not charge candidates any fee for this and still allow them the opportunity to look elsewhere, such as at the fairs. It’s an important part of keeping all your options open, especially if you’re looking for a really exciting or challenging next move and some agencies, such as TIC, provide a very personalised service to help you find exactly the right school and position for you.”

Andrew Wigford is Managing Director of Teachers International Consultancy (TIC), one of the leading specialist international school recruitment agencies in the world. TIC works with experienced international teachers and accredited and reputable international schools to provide a personalised placement and advisory service. For more information visit www.ticrecruitment.com

International Schools Community

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Teachers International Consultancy: International School Teachers from UK and USA Support Education Reform in Kazakhstan

December 21, 2012


Kazakhstan may not spring to mind as an obvious destination for either vacation or career, but for UK teacher Ian Shotter, it’s proving so successful that he’s hoping to stay for another five years if not more. “I’m really enjoying the opportunities that the position has provided me with,” he says, talking about his job as ICT teacher at the NIS school in Almaty.

Now well into his first year of teaching in Kazakhstan, Ian says the experience is both challenging and rewarding. “We use a curriculum provided by Cambridge,” he says referring to the new Kazakhstan curriculum which has been written in association with Cambridge University and is introducing rigorous skill development and progression to the country. ”The ideas are sound and we hope that the curriculum format will improve the learning of students here,” Ian explains. “The students soak up everything that you are prepared to give them. It is my intention to stay in Kazakhstan for the next five years if there’s a position here for me.”

NIS schools lead educational reform

CIMG0077 There are NIS (Nazarbayev Intellectual School Network) schools in several locations throughout Kazakhstan including the capital Astana and the cities of Semey, Kokshetau, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Taldykorgan and Uralsk, all of which are leading a programme of educational reform in the country. The aim is to develop a new way of educating local Kazakh students and the NIS Network is enlisting the skills of qualified, experienced English-speaking teachers to spearhead the progress. Ian is one of these teachers. He trained as a teacher in the UK and had worked for several years in secondary schools and academies in England which helped in his recruitment to NIS. “The way teachers teach here it is quite different to the UK way and you need to adjust to the language barriers but I think that I have adjusted reasonably quickly,” he says.

Ian is teaching ICT in English to local students in collaboration with local teachers. This mentoring process is one of the specific roles for the expatriate teachers and involves supporting the Kazakh teachers with teaching, planning and assessment.  Corey Johnson is doing the same as a Geography teacher.

Gaining from cultural differences

Corey is a Social Studies teacher originally from Missouri, USA. “The curriculum is very different from the one I used in America so I had to learn a lot about it very quickly,” he says. “Doing this was hard work at the beginning, but I have quickly adapted. The teachers I work with are very diverse, and that is different than the schools I worked at in America. Also the students come from a different culture and background and this means I have to be aware of cultural differences, and adapt my teaching to fit my students. Even though all of these teachers and students come from different backgrounds they find a way to work together in harmony, and I think that is pretty amazing,” he adds.

In addition to their teaching, both Corey and Ian are enjoying discovering many new social experiences in Kazakhstan too. “Adjusting to life in a new country is always challenging, but it is also rewarding,” says Corey. “The food here is great. I was surprised at how friendly and kind the people are; it really helps the transition to living here.”

Corey has now been teaching internationally for seven years and says that each time he moves to a new country, he gains more experience. “Saying goodbye is a hard thing to do, but knCIMG0126owing that a grand adventure is waiting for you out there is very enticing,” he says, adding that flexibility, adaptability, strength of character, and an adventurous spirit are all necessary qualities for teaching internationally. He offers advice to others considering it as a career option: “Take everything for what it is, and don’t compare where you are to your home country. Of course it’s not the same; things are different, and some things are hard, but that is the adventure of it all. Enjoy yourself, and you will have a lifetime of memories to look back on after your time is finished.”

Increasing options for international teaching

Since taking on his first international posting in 2005, the opportunities available to Corey in international schools have increased significantly. “The number of international schools around the world is growing at a phenomenal rate,” explains Andrew Wigford, Director of Teachers International Consultancy, an organisation that specialises in the recruitment of teachers for international positions. “Many international schools provide excellent learning provision for both expatriate children and for local children who are seeking an English-speaking education. Most international schools have a very good reputation for learning and for the higher education opportunities that they provide, and this is fueling their growth.  There are some regions of the world, such as Dubai, where the number of international schools is simply not meeting the demand and so right now schools are continually expanding. There are other regions, such as Singapore, where the international schools are helping to support new global business development due to the education infrastructure suitable for expatriate students that is being put in place.  And there are other places such as Kazakhstan where international schools are actually changing the face of education throughout the country. It’s a very exciting time for teachers who have good experience and skills and who want to travel. Not always is it sunshine and sand that motivates a teacher to select a destination. Corey and Ian are both examples of teachers who have selected their teaching job for quite different reasons. Being part of educational reform is a compelling, challenging and rare experience and one that they are bound to gain from both professionally and personally.”

The Nazarbayev Intellectual School Network is continuing to recruit experienced English-speaking teachers to support Kazakhstan’s education reform.

Teachers International Consultancy offers a recruitment, placement and advisory service for qualified teachers from all over the world who are looking for jobs in international schools including those at NIS in Kazakhstan. The service is completely free to teachers. For more information visit www.ticrecruitment.com

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Teachers International Consultancy: This time next year…teachers get planning for international opportunities.

November 6, 2012


It’s not an easy time of year for many teachers. Holidays are still a long way away and for many, winter is just around the corner. Not so for Physics teacher Gerry Young who is enjoying the sunshine in Bangkok and loving his work.

Four years ago, Gerry was in Lanarkshire, Scotland and not so happy. “The rain was battering against the roof of my lab and the wind was rattling the windows. It’s no secret that Scotland isn’t a nice place to be just now if you’re trying to find a [teaching] job.”

It was enough to inspire Gerry and his wife Jane to look further afield and as a result, they discovered the extensive opportunities available to qualified, skilled, English-speaking teachers and school leaders in international schools.

“We never realised the possibilities that were out there to develop our careers as well as to travel and see different countries and cultures – to live them rather than just pass through them,” he says.

Gerry and Jane have since spent three years teaching at an international school in Mauritius; “Where we worked with a staff body pulled from lots of wind-swept and interesting corners of the globe,” he says. “The lifestyle was completely different. We spent most of our free time outdoors, in the sunshine, on beaches and there are huge benefits to be gained from a rich career spent teaching and living overseas…in a word, adventure!”

This summer, Gerry and Jane relocated as a teaching couple to Harrow International School in Bangkok. “We moved from a sleepy little school of 260 pupils to one of the biggest names in international education with almost 1200 pupils, and traded mellow Mauritius for bustling Bangkok – a different corner of the world and a whole new adventure,” says Gerry.

With over 6,000 English-medium international schools to choose from, making their move could have been quite a daunting prospect  for the Youngs. “What is often a traumatic experience was transformed into one where excitement and anticipation were our main emotional states,” explains Gerry who says the recruitment approach that Harrow International took was supportive, informative and reassuring.

Andrew Wigford from Teachers International Consultancy which is the sole recruiter for Harrow International Schools says “The number of international schools is growing at a phenomenal pace. Finding the right school to match a teacher’s specific skills and experiences, that supports their career growth, is a reputable establishment, and offers them the lifestyle and location they choose can be a challenging matching-up process.”

As a specialist recruitment organisation for international schools, Teachers International Consultancy works with many schools throughout the world and places hundreds of teachers each year. “There are currently over 280,000 expatriate teachers working in international schools around the world and there’s still a demand for more who have great skills and teaching experience. Our advice to those considering this as a career move is research the schools as much as you can. Look for accredited schools or those with a very good reputation and get your applications in early. Most international schools start their first round of recruitment in January and February so now is the time to get registered with a recruitment organisation and to find out as much as you can. Agencies that specialise in the international schools market should be able to help you through the whole process; right from preparing your CV appropriately, and reputable agencies do not charge candidates for this service because there is such a demand for quality teachers.”

If you would like to find out more about the opportunities available for working in international schools, Teachers International Consultancy regularly hosts free informational webinars and will also be hosting a free seminar providing advice about teaching in international schools on Saturday 17th November in London. For more information visit www.ticrecruitment.com

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TIC (Teachers International Consultancy) article: This time next year….teachers get planning for international opportunities

September 23, 2012


It’s not an easy time of year for teachers. The summer holidays are over, the academic year ahead seems daunting, and bad weather is just around the corner. Not so for Physics teacher Gerry Young who is enjoying the sunshine in Bangkok and loving his work.

Four years ago, Gerry was in Lanarkshire, Scotland and not so happy. “The rain was battering against the roof of my lab and the wind was rattling the windows. It’s no secret that Scotland isn’t a nice place to be just now if you’re trying to find a [teaching] job.”

It was enough to inspire Gerry and his wife Jane to look further afield and as a result, they discovered the extensive opportunities available to qualified, skilled, English-speaking teachers and school leaders in international schools.

“We never realised the possibilities that were out there to develop our careers as well as to travel and see different countries and cultures – to live them rather than just pass through them,” he says.

Gerry and Jane have since spent three years teaching at an international school in Mauritius; “Where we worked with a staff body pulled from lots of wind-swept and interesting corners of the globe,” he says. “The lifestyle was completely different. We spent most of our free time outdoors, in the sunshine, on beaches and there are huge benefits to be gained from a rich career spent teaching and living overseas…in a word, adventure!”

This summer, Gerry and Jane have relocated as a teaching couple to Harrow International School in Bangkok. “We moved from a sleepy little school of 260 pupils to one of the biggest names in international education with almost 1200 pupils, and traded mellow Mauritius for bustling Bangkok – a different corner of the world and a whole new adventure,” says Gerry.

With over 6,000 English-medium international schools to choose from, making their move could have been quite a daunting prospect  for the Youngs. “What is often a traumatic experience was transformed into one where excitement and anticipation were our main emotional states,” explains Gerry who says the recruitment approach that Harrow International took was supportive, informative and reassuring.

Andrew Wigford from Teachers International Consultancy which is the sole recruiter for Harrow International Schools says “The number of international schools is growing at a phenomenal pace. Finding the right school to match a teacher’s specific skills and experiences, that supports their career growth, is a reputable establishment, and offers them the lifestyle and location they choose can be a challenging matching-up process.”

As a specialist recruitment organisation for international schools, Teachers International Consultancy works with many schools throughout the world and places hundreds of teachers each year. “There are currently over 280,000 expatriate teachers working in international schools around the world and there’s still a demand for more who have great skills and teaching experience. Our advice to those considering this as a career move is research the schools as much as you can. Look for accredited schools or those with a very good reputation and get your applications in early. Most international schools start their first round of recruitment in January and February so now is the time to get registered with a recruitment organisation and to find out as much as you can. Agencies that specialise in the international schools market should be able to help you through the whole process; right from preparing your CV appropriately, and reputable agencies do not charge candidates for this service because there is such a demand for quality teachers.”

If you would like to find out more about the opportunities available for working in international schools, Teachers International Consultancy regularly hosts free informational webinars and will also be hosting a free seminar providing advice about teaching in international schools on Saturday 17th November in London. For more information visit www.findteachingjobsoverseas.com.

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