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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Photo Contests

New Photo Contest: Best Winter Vacation Envy (All entries win free premium membership!)

December 18, 2019


One of the best parts of living abroad is taking the vacation of your dreams during the winter holiday break.  Of course many of us go home for the holidays, and that is nice too!  Some teachers do a combination of going home to visit family and then taking another side vacation for some real rest and relaxation. It is possible that your trip to visit your family is also the trip of your dreams (well at least maybe for your colleagues that have never been there).

Once the winter holiday break starts, now comes all the photos that your friends post on Facebook and Instagram. Australia, Canary Islands, Costa Rica, etc. Leaving you maybe second guessing the trip that you actually decided long ago to do for yourself (and your partner/family).

So, if you are on one of those trips that is making your friends feel a bit envious, take a moment to participate in our new photo contest. Please note that all photo contest participants will win free premium membership to our website!

Photo contest topic:
The best photo from your December holidays that makes your friends, family and colleagues envious.

The PRIZES:
1st prize: 2 YEARS FREE of premium membership
2nd prize: 1 YEAR FREE of premium membership
3rd prize: 6 MONTHS FREE of premium membership

(Those submissions that are not in the top three will receive 1 free week of premium membership for just participating.)

Send your photo to editor@internationalschoolcommunity.com. Please remember to:

• Write your name and email address
• Attach your picture and write a short description about it
• Enter these words in your subject: International School Community Photo Contest Entry: Best Winter Vacation Envy Photo

or

Tweet the photo and mention our profile @IS_Community to make sure we will see it. If you are on Instagram, use the official hashtag #iscommunityphoto

(Deadline to submit your photo: 5 January, 2020. Maximum one photo per contestant.)

Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

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Photo Contests

New Photo Contest: Your Favorite Local Grocery Store

April 26, 2019


Some might say that going grocery shopping in your host country is so exciting!

There are so many new products to look at and try out. Sometimes you get lucky and discover your new favorite local product.

But it is not always that positive when shopping in your local grocery store. Many times products will only list their ingredients in the local language. If you are not able to read it, then for some that means you probably won’t buy it. It is a shame because it is very possible that you will really love it!

There is also the local ‘expat’ grocery store. Maybe that one is your most favorite. Who wouldn’t love a place that sells products from your home country and from around the world? Of course, you typically pay a high price tag for those products. But expats love to treat themselves every once and awhile, don’t we!?

At ISC, we are really curious to see what grocery stores our members are going to in their host countries. The next time you go grocery shopping, take a picture with your smart phone of what it looks like; maybe of the employees working there or you shopping in your favorite aisle. We’ll chose the top 3 photos that are the most interesting to win the photo contest prizes!

So, what is your favorite local grocery store?  Submit your photo to us and enter our photo contest! All participants receive free premium membership to our website!

Photo contest topic:
Your Favorite Local Grocery Store

The PRIZES:
1st prize: 2 YEARS FREE of premium membership
2nd prize: 1 YEAR FREE of premium membership
3rd prize: 6 MONTHS FREE of premium membership

(Those submissions that are not in the top three will receive 1 free week of premium membership just for participating.)

Send your photo to editor @ internationalschoolcommunity.com. Please remember to:

• Write your name and email address
• Attach your picture and write a short description about it
• Enter these words in your subject: International School Community Photo Contest Entry: Your Favorite Local Grocery Store

or

Tweet the photo and mention our profile @IS_Community to make sure we will see it. If you are on Instagram, tag us when you post the photo and/or use the official hashtag #iscommunityphoto

(Deadline to submit your photo: Friday, 10 May, 2019. Maximum one photo entry per contestant.)

Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

Photo credits: Pixabay

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Traveling Around

Top 10 Things to Do in Japan in 7 days

November 11, 2018


Japan is, due to its remoteness and quirkiness, a dream destination for many Westerners. Common opinion is that, to fully experience wonders of the land of the rising Sun, one should plan for at least a ten-day long vacation. However, I still think that a week-long trip to Japan is a great idea for a spring or autumn break.

I traveled to Japan in the fall of 2018 when the weather was just perfect with almost no rain and the temperatures between 20 and 25°C. Itinerary wise, I chose to do the best of (and ideal for the first trip to) Japan: Osaka – Kyoto – Tokyo tour, flying to Osaka and leaving from Tokyo, and I would like to present you the 10 highlights from my trip.

Japan

  1. Visit the Osaka Castle

Depending on where you are located, it is good to go visit the Osaka Castle first, and during the day, as it is situated a bit separately from other tourists’ sights. This is a pre-Edo era fortress and a castle with a large moat, fortified with wonderfully executed stone wall. The castle itself is an architectural eye candy rising in the middle, that you can climb and get a view of Osaka skyline for as cheap as 600 JPY (5 USD).

  1. Osaka City Center in the night: Dotombori, Takoyaki

In the evening, I suggest you hit up the Dotombori area for a postcard worthy picture of the Moving Crab or the Swimmer neon poster. Take a stroll down the main shopping street that is so lit up with LEDs and neon lights in the night that you will lose every impression of the night sky above. This is a great place to try Takoyaki, the Japanese seafood balls that originate from this area. The big (moving) models of crabs, octopuses and squids are to indicate the kind of food that the restaurant is serving, so use them as a guide.

  1. Walk the Shinsekai in Osaka, The Tsutenkaku Tower, Kushikatsu

Shinsekai is an old, colorful, part of Osaka ironically called the New World. Well, once it was new, in 1920s that is, when it first emerged. The area was modelled by New York and Paris of that time, with the Tsutenkaku Tower dominating the neighborhood in the middle. It allows for another great view of Osaka skyline, but also to the Shinsekai from above. This area is famous for Kushikatsu –panko covered, deep-fried skewers made of vegetables, meat, eggs, cheese and the mixture of it. It is suitable for vegans as you can select only vegetables on your menu.

  1. Go to the Osaka Aquarium

The central tank of this aquarium features a couple of whale sharks and that alone is a big reason to visit the Osaka Aquarium located in the eastern part of the city and easily reachable by the subway. Apart from the sharks, which is the aquarium’s main attraction, this place showcases not only a huge variety of marine life from the world’s seven seas, but rivers, creeks and lakes as well such as otters, birds and even penguins!

  1. The Imperial Palace of Kyoto

Kyoto is Japan’s old capital and hosts the second active palace of the Emperor – The Imperial Palace of Kyoto. Enjoy the free tour of walking the vast courtyard with traditional Japanese architecture and gardens with lakes and bridges, posing for some fantastic photo opportunities. Located centrally, it is easily reachable from every part of the city.

Japan

  1. Kyoto downtown: Nishiki Market, Gion district and The Yasaka Shrine

If you are in for some shopping, check out the center of Kyoto – The Nishiki shopping area with both high-end boutiques and Asian covered bazaar markets. On a walking distance from there stands Gion, the old, geisha district of Kyoto. Stroll down the romantic streets on of Gion heading east and you will reach the Yasaka Shrine, a popular tourist spot. Before you enter the Shrine, I advise you to try Pablo’s cheesecake tarts which stand just a couple hundreds of meters on the left side of the entrance.

  1. Kyoto – Kodaiji Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and climb the mountain for the views

For a more spiritual experience, walk south from the Yasaka shrine and experience the Kodaiji Temple, the ceremonial Japanese garden where traditional weddings happen and walk the mini bamboo forest that they have in the small hill behind the temple. The entrance fee is 600 JPY. Then you can take a train south from there to Fushimi Inari Shrine, (the main shrine of the god Inari) which is represented on most postcards from Kyoto: an array of orange arches called Torii leads towards the top of a hill where you may feel as a pilgrim, but the top promises you some great picture worthy openings.

  1. Tokyo – The Centers: Shinju-Ku and Shibuya

Take a bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo for a great traveling experience. Taking about 3 hours to reach it from Kyoto, Tokyo is a gigantic city, so one should not even dream of seeing it all in 3 days, but it is definitely enough to scratch the surface. After the traditional Kyoto, you may be hungry for some futuristic views. Head to Shinju-Ku in the evening and Shibuya in the night and experience the lights of Tokyo at their prime.

  1. Tokyo – Akihabara and the Kitchenware district

Akihabara is the electronic and gamer’s town of Tokyo – “Otaku district”. For all the geeks and anime lovers, this is the right area to browse vintage video game stores, comic and toy collector stores, maid cafes and other quirky stuff. Not far away from there is the Kitchenware district in a street of Kapabashi. Here you can find any kind of kitchenware, but most of the people come to purchase a Japanese knives, known for their quality, precision and durability.

Japan

  1. Tokyo – The Imperial Gardens, Roppongi and Akasaka

Scratch the surface of the cultural experience of Tokyo by walking the Imperial Palace garden. Only East garden is open for public admission, while you can preregister for an organized tour of the palace itself. You can have an afternoon tea in a bar of the Imperial Palace Hotel which is an attraction of Modernism architecture in itself, offering numerous restaurants and luxury shopping experience. Hit Roppongi and Akasaka for some excellent eats in the evening. Both of these neighborhoods are located close by and are in a walking distance from each other. They offer great bars, restaurants and cafes for you to enjoy and relax after this amazing and trip.

Bonus tip: Try to book a hotel with a Japanese spa in Tokyo. It will help you unwind at the end of every day full of experience, and the sauna and hot water of the spa will do miracles for your tired feet!

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Highlighted Articles

Fulfilling the Dream to Travel the World

June 24, 2018


Most people can probably relate to the fact that you don’t get to travel the world very much when you are a teacher in your home country (and definitely before you start your career in teaching). For me personally, I had only been able to travel to 10 different countries before I moved away to start my first international school teaching placement.

travel

Of course, I realize that ten countries might be a lot for the majority of the world’s citizens. Most people would be lucky to have the chance and money to travel to that many countries in the world. But for some people, it only makes them desire to see even more!

There is something addictive about traveling to and experiencing firsthand the many different countries in this world. You do see a lot of similarities (i.e. there’s always a fruit seller selling his/her fruit, the local barber has some shop cutting people’s hair, etc.), but the fun part is seeing the different things or even how each countries does that same things slightly differently.

travel

Now you might be wondering how did I get to those ten countries before I started working at international schools, being that I hadn’t started my career yet or was only making a state school’s salary for a teacher just starting out. The first one was because I decided to do a study abroad program through my university, to Spain. I believe I was a junior at the time. Even though I went to that country to study for only 2.5 months, I made sure to visit two of the neighboring countries during my time there (France and Portugal). So, now I was up three countries visited in just one year! It was in Europe too, before the Euro currency had taken over, so I feel lucky that I got the chance to see those countries before the big change. Because this was a study abroad program through my university, I did have to pay for this “trip”, but it would have been a very similar amount if I had just stayed at my university to study there instead.

Just a year later after that study abroad experience, I found another program that would take me to another country, and a very unique and interesting one at that…Russia!  I went through a program called Camp Counselors USA. You do have a pay some money to go on this program, but it wasn’t that much and many people also got paid some money while they were there.  Basically, you have to work and teach English at one of the many summer camps all around Russia (a popular tradition there). This adventure was the first time I could experience being completely immersed in a language that wasn’t my home language. Though stressful at times, I have many wonderful memories of that trip. Russia is a country that many people just simply don’t know that much about. I’m so lucky to get a chance to have an insight into this beautiful country and its lovely people.

That’s now four countries, in total.

travel

Then many years passed until I had my next foreign country adventure. I thank the big tax refund that I received that year which allowed me to buy a ticket to Colombia! I decided to go there because one of my friends was living there. You guessed it, she was working at an international school there. You are simply a fool if you do not go and visit your friend when they are living abroad. Traveling to a foreign country can be scary. But if you have a friend there, there is simply nothing to worry about any more because they know the way around there and know what to do and what not to do. Another big money saver is that you can just stay at their place while you’re visiting. Now we are at five countries!

A few years after Colombia, a friend tipped me off to another program for teachers. One where you could travel completely for free, all expenses paid for a three-week trip. The program was called People to People Student Ambassador Program. My first placement with them was to travel to all four countries of the British Isles. Even though it was a free trip doing amazing things traveling around these countries, your main job is to be a chaperone to 30-40 middle or high school students. But it isn’t that bad at all. Looking back, you really get to do very unique things that you probably wouldn’t have done traveling there by yourself. You also stay at quite nice hotels that you probably wouldn’t have booked and paid for if the money was coming out of your own wallet! The total countries visited now is up to nine.

travel

The last country that I visited before I took my first international school job was to Australia. It was a dream to go there! And I got to go there for free as well, through the same People to People Student Ambassador Program. Three weeks traveling around Eastern Australia was definitely a dream come true! Back then, no way did I have the money to fund this kind of trip if I was going to travel there on my own. Australia was country number 10!

Once that country visit was over with, a few weeks after actually, I hopped onto an airplane to start my first international school teaching placement. I have worked at three international schools in total now. Throughout those 10+ years working at international schools, I have now visited over 70 countries!

Have I visited enough now and is my desire to explore the world waning? I don’t think so. The dream to experience different countries and cultures firsthand is still pretty strong. Even if I moved back to my home country and ran out of “extra” money to traveling with, I’m certain I would find some ways again to explore new countries for free or for very cheap means. There are probably even more programs out there nowadays, especially for teachers. Luckily, my international school teacher/expat lifestyle is still affording me the opportunity to travel on my own and/or with my partner. It still gets me excited to open up Kayak.com and start searching for my next trip/adventure!

This article was submitted to us by a guest author and ISC member.

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