Lessons From Your Country

Five Lessons I Have Learned From Living in Barbados

January 7, 2022

I regularly pinch myself, particularly on my commute to school, where I pass turquoise waters and white beaches, green monkeys crossing the roads, and fruit vendors offering coconuts and pineapples. Do I really work and live here? I do, but of course, like all places, there are always lessons to be learned!

Lesson #1: Barbados is not the place to save money

You will be told before you arrive: Barbados is an expensive place. Of course, like anywhere, it depends on your lifestyle, but it is true that most things here are pricey. Your rent, car, and grocery shopping will dent your balance the most and are unavoidable expenses. Not having a car here is not an option, and I quickly learned that my romantic idea of having a little scooter in Barbados is absolutely not an option due to the conditions of the road here.

Lesson #2: People do get bored

During my interview, the principal told me that people have left in the past because they got very bored here. At the time I thought to myself “Who in their right mind would get bored of living in paradise??”. However, what I didn’t consider is, that an island like Barbados might only be a paradise for people like me. I spend every spare moment in, on or under the water. I surf, scuba dive and sail almost on a daily basis and if I didn’t have all these hobbies there may be a chance that I would actually get bored, too. Leaving the island is not as easy as I thought when I first got here, which may have been another reason for people to seek other locations.

Lesson #3: You have to accept ‘island time’

I am a very patient and laid-back person, so this has not really
been an issue for me personally, but I know that some people
struggle with this. Whenever you need to go to an office or
government facility (eg. bank, car registration, national ID office),
it takes a long time. We are talking about hours and hours of
queuing, often outside the building you are trying to enter. This is
often due to the local processes, which still include the filling in
of paper forms, rather than the digitalisation of processes. You will
often find yourself trying to get any of the bureaucratic jobs done
during the school holidays, as it is almost impossible to fit it into a workday, without having to take time off.

Lesson #4: Stay connected

Barbados is a very small island and although there are some private schools, there is only one International School, so there are no local collaboration or networking opportunities. Although there are some international schools in the region, there are no existing links or connections to any of them, so I have had to make much greater efforts to stay connected to colleagues than ever before.

Lesson #5: You do get to live in paradise

Despite the few things that one might have to get used to, Barbados truly is a paradise. The sun shines every single day, even during the ‘rainy season’, the ocean is always warm and there is a lot of fun to be had, especially if you enjoy getting to know the local spots. I moved here as a single female, and I have had no issues making friends and feeling connected, especially through my hobbies. There may not be a huge package with the job, but one of the benefits is certainly that I live a fairly relaxed life in the Caribbean!


This article was submitted by a guest author and ISC member who currently works at The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados)in St. John, Barbados

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New Survey: How is your experience using your health insurance and medical benefits?

July 15, 2015

A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How is your experience using your health insurance and medical benefits?

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It is not fun worrying about your health when you live abroad, as medical systems can vary from country to country in their efficiency, price and quality.

Some cities have only local hospitals on offer; meaning ones that are staffed by locals and that serve mostly locals. It is not uncommon for these hospitals to have a staff with poor English or any foreign language fluency. It might be necessary for you to find, or in a best case scenario – for your school to provide someone who can accompany you at the hospital to serve as an interpreter. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe quality of these hospitals isn’t necessarily poor, as one may suggest, but not knowing the local culture of “how things work” in a local hospital can indeed be quite nerve-wracking.

Other locations have more expat-oriented medical facilities and/or special-health insurance plans for foreigners. These types of hospitals can put expats at ease in how they are served.  They have foreign-hired doctors on hand that can speak their language.  Expat-oriented hospitals typically also have all the different types of medicine and prescriptions that you may need while living abroad. In less developed areas (ones that have lower employment desirability), you are in luck if you have access to these types of expat-oriented medical facilities.

8566688298_45da9904cc_zIt is all fine and dandy to have super accessible and well-resourced hospitals in your host country, but let’s not forget out the health insurance benefits package that you are receiving through your school.  It is clear that your medical insurance coverage can vary from school to school in their efficiency, price and quality as well. In one international school, they give you amazing health coverage with everything covered (including health insurance for you around the world), no co-payments, with most dental needs included. In the next school, you find yourself very limited to what you can do with your benefits.  A less desirable health insurance package might not include dental or cover you during your travels around the world or back in your home country.

Your health insurance benefits package should always be talked about and maybe even negotiated with your international school before you sign the contract.

Because things are so different for each of us at international schools across the world, take a moment to go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!

If you are interested, you can check out the latest voting results here.


We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.

Right now there are over 598 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“The insurance is pretty good. At hospitals that accept it, you pay approximately $13 U.S. for the visit, treatments and prescriptions. The difficulty is not with the insurance, but the hit and miss quality of care available in town.” – Liwa International School (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)23 Comments

“You can get travelers and accident insurance from your bank here, like at Nordea. It is really cheap and it gives you health insurance coverage anywhere in the world! It is important to know about this option because now the Danish CPR health social health care card doesn’t cover you anymore in Europe, well for non-Danish people with a CPR card.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark)244 Comments

“Macau offers free health care coverage to all residents and all who hold work permits. This kicks in after about 3 months of living in Macau. The school helps facilitate private insurance until the government insurance starts up.” – The School of the Nations (Macao, China)20 Comments

“Health insurance is not the best. It only covers emergencies and specialist doctors, not a General Practitioner. I have been to the doctor here, and it was a good experience. Doctors were efficient and I got taken care of pretty quickly. I would advise asking people who have lived here a while, who to go to though.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (St. John, Barbados)70 Comments

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New Survey: What is/was your most successful strategy for finding vacancies for the 15-16 school year?

January 11, 2015

A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  What is/was your most successful strategy for finding vacancies for the 15-16 school year?

Screenshot 2015-01-11 14.59.42It is hard to know what is the best strategy to use when recruiting. Some might say any strategy that gets you the job!

You can try a combination of all of the strategies, but usually one finally wins over the others in the end.  But which one is the most popular nowadays?

Even if you find the most popular strategy that everyone is using, a strategy that works for one person might not work for the next.  In turn, it is good to use as many as you can.

It is true though that different schools post in different places. For example, mostly British international schools post on the TES website.  It is vital then to check out your top schools and where they are most likely to post their vacancies.

Additionally, there are some schools where no vacancies appear anywhere (or very limited places). These schools might be placing a high importance on whether the school has any personal connection to the candidate. If somebody working at the school already knows/has worked with the candidate, the person just might shoot to the top of shortlist.

Regardless of all the strategies, it is truly all about luck and timing. If you are recruiting this year, are you going to be at the right place and the right time to get the chance to interview for your dream job?

Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today on What is/was your most successful strategy for finding vacancies for the 15-16 school year?

You can check out the latest voting results here.


We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country? 

Right now there are over 839 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“It does not use the methods of most International or bilingual schools. It is not on Search, TIE, or ISS nor does it use any job fairs. Face to face interviews are for local hires, and skype interviews are common.” – Global Prodigy Academy  (Jeonju, South Korea) – 48 Comments

“The school generally recruits at the Search fairs, in Johannesburg, Bangkok and London. There are some long-term local hire teachers. Many local hires are expats who are here with their partners. I believe they also hire through Skype interviews. There is a good mix of people – couples, families and singles. Recently there have been a lot of singles hired which has put a bit of a crunch on housing.” – International School of Tanganyika  (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 130 Comments

“I believe that they usually go to the Search Associates job fair in London. And they hire face-to-face, as well as via Skype. As long as there are valid teacher qualifications, immigration generally gives few problems. When I was hired I received a lot of informative emails that let me know about the school and Barbados. They also gave me the emails of a couple of current staff members.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados)  (St. John, Barbados) – 68 Comments

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