Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Hong Kong, China (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

March 14, 2015


Get inspired to make your next travel plan!

Traveling Around: Hong Kong, China

Can you relate?

• Being overwhelmed by the thousands of people you see as you are getting out of the metro system.
• Trying your best to just walk in a straight line on a sidewalk because of all the people around you trying to also walk in a straight line to their destination.
• Enjoying the wonderful view of the mountains and sea and thinking how nice it would be to live here.

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• Keeping your head looking up to the sky as you are walking around the city because of all the amazingly tall skyscrapers.
• Finding it very cool to get the chance to walk into a little temple and observe the locals in a non-obtrusive way.
• Being surprised to find that the normal grocery stores here have a wide range of products, including many products from my home country. How nice!
• Walking around the city and randomly running into the local zoo, realizing it is free and taking advantage of looking at all the cool animals on offer.

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• Loving looking at all the large signs on each street, how they jet out over the streets.
• Eating at a more ‘local’ restaurant and getting the chance to eat some of the seasonal dishes on offer.
• Finding out that expats here can go to mainland China for some time, to go shopping, without having a tourist visa.
• Feeling lucky to go up to the peak on a cloudless, sunny day. The view is really outstanding.

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• Running into a school that had outside walls that were so colorful and inviting.
• Riding on the old trams in the downtown area and finding out that they were shipped over long ago from somewhere in the UK I think.
• Taking a ride on a smaller city bus and seeing that there was a number sign telling how fast that the driver was driving.
• Enjoying eating at the non-restaurants places, like the ones that just have take-away food available, such tasty food!

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• Being astounded hearing about how much apartments actually cost there, so expensive!
• Hearing Cantonese being spoken through the city, but then not really meeting anyone that didn’t also speak English.
• Finding it surprising how much there was discrimination between Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese people.

Currently we have 29 international schools listed in Hong Kong on International School Community. Here are the ones that have had comments submitted on them:

 American International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 24 Comments

• Hong Kong Academy Primary School  (Hong Kong, China) – 34 Comments

• Hong Kong International School  (Hong Kong, China) – 62 Comments

• International Christian School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 19 Comments

• Singapore International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 14 Comments

• Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 17 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com 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 SIX free months of premium membership!

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Surveys

Survey results are in: Which region in the world would you most NOT want to move to next?

July 14, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have the Middle East as the region in the world they would most NOT want to move to next.

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Well, what is so undesirable about living in the Middle East? The really hot weather basically all year round?  The vast difference in the culture in comparison to your own?  The local food is not to your liking?  It could be any number of reasons why most of our members voted that the Middle East is the place they would most not want to move to next.

Being that many people don’t want to move there may present a problem for international schools in that region.  How can the schools find quality candidates to move to their Middle Eastern country and work at their school?

One major attraction for candidates looking for a job at an international school is the salary and benefits package.  And it is widely known that many of the international schools in the Middle East (Non-profit ones and For-profit ones) offer excellent benefits with tax-free, very high salaries as well.  I guess though that disregarding how high the salaries are or how amazing the benefits package is, many international schools teachers will still turn a blind eyes to an opportunity to interview at a school in this region.

Let’s remember though that there are still many international school teachers that are interested in working in the Middle East; some might even put working in the Middle East as their number one choice.  Those who put ‘saving money’ as a top priority are likely to consider working at an international school in the Middle East.  Those who also are career-minded will find a number of ‘Tier 1’ school in that region which can even be quite competitive in which to even get an interview.

International schools in the Middle East are also known for their flexibility to hire single teachers with dependents, teaching couples with dependents, and single teachers with a non-teaching, trailing spouse. Not all international schools around the world will be able to hire these types of candidates.  Not every teacher with dependents though desires to have their children grow up in the Middle East region (i.e. they will most likely be living in compounds…which is not to everyone’s liking.).

If you are a single teacher, maybe the Middle East is also not the best place for you to move. It might be hard to find/going out on dates there.  It might be hard to meet the locals, but it also might be difficult to find other expat people to go on dates with since a high number of them might already be married.

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Luckily on International School Community, we have a City Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses many aspects of the city/region for each school.  One major reason to help international school teachers know more about where they would like to move to next is the weather.  Fortunately, we have a comment topic related to weather called:

• Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.

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Taken from the school profile page.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at : “For six months of the year, the Eastern Province has beautiful weather – from about mid-October to mid-April, ideal for outside activity. After that, it begins to get hot and from July to September it is very hot and sometimes very humid – generally oppressive. That is when everyone is very grateful for the fact everything is air-conditioned. Fortunately, school is out for much of that time and everyone who can leaves the area. From mid-October, the temperature starts to cool off and the Arab winter can be very pleasant, even requiring a few light wool sweaters and socks at night. In years when there is a fair amount of rain, especially when it comes in December or earlier, the desert blooms and everyone with a car packs up their tents and heads out to enjoy the flowers , watch the baby camels, and view the glorious night time sky undiluted by city lights.”

Another member said about working at : “Always good except for rainy season, which changes around each year. It can last for 1-2 months.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at : “From November to April, the weather is cool (22 to 28 Celsius), with little rain and lots of sunshine! You do get occasional thunderstorms though.”

If you are currently a premium member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know about the weather in the different regions/cities of the world at which you have worked. You can start by logging on here.

Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.

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Surveys

Survey results are in: Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

January 19, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have had the most success at IB conferences.

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IB conferences/workshops can prove to be a very motivating and enlightening experience.  Isn’t that what going to conferences is all about?  Most people might say that teaching is viewed as a career, and with careers comes professionalism.  Many international school teachers aspire to be the best professionals in the field.  The IB (PYP and MYP too) teachers definitely have similar aspirations as well; to learn more and more about the new ways of thinking and teaching using inquiry.  They are also looking to learn more about how to make their students’ thinking visible.

But like many workshops that you may attend at international school teaching conferences, the benefit of the workshop you attend greatly depends on the instructor that you get.  It can also be said that the success of your workshop depends on the people that attend it as well.  So many different factors come into play, but when all of them line up correctly, you are most likely in for an enlightening experience.  Those types of workshops can really inspire you throughout the rest of the conference and stay with you when you return back to work.

In terms of staff development benefits, the IBO requires that the teachers working in approved/accredited schools get on going PD in the IB philosophy and latest strategies on how best to instruct students in their inquiry programme. Instead of using your own PD monies to attend IB workshops, very often the school will take the costs involved out of their own monies.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work.  Knowing about the professional development allowance (or lack there of) can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what you can expect in terms of you getting the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences while you work there.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a Benefits Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Professional development allowance details.

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Taken from International Community School Addis Ababa (35 Total Comments) school profile page.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at Mef Int’l School Istanbul: “IBO certified IBDP and PYP training provided. Outside speakers such as Virginia Rojas brought in to provide in house PD.”

Another member said about working at Western International School of Shanghai: “Most teachers don’t get any out of school PD their first year of contract. Depends on the needs of the school.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at American School of Barcelona: “The PD amount is 390 Euros a year. You can roll over this amount for 3 years. But the reality some people get more, it is not so clear cut on who gets what amount and who gets to go to what PD opportunity.”

If you are currently a member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about the PD allowances at your international school. You can start by logging on here.

Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.

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Surveys

Survey results are in: How many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools?

November 21, 2012


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted expect to keep working abroad at international schools for at least 1-3 more years.

For many of us, I suppose teaching abroad at international schools is a temporary circumstance in our lives.  Some of us have international school colleagues that move abroad to teach, and after their one and only international school posting, they are now living and happily working back in their home countries. Sure, there is a chance of them moving abroad again, but it likely to not happen again.  Many people look for stability in their lives, and many people ultimately find that stability back in their home countries.

For other international school educators, when they start working at international schools, they can’t seem to get enough of this life.  Working at international schools and moving from country to country can be very addictive.  10 total people out of 23 voted that they will be working at international schools 7-10 more years and even maybe for forever!  The salaries/benefits, work conditions and standard of life must be quite attractive for these people. If things are going well and you are not having to worry about money, why not choose to stay working at international schools?  It is nice to not have to worry about paying for housing or any utilities for example.  It is also maybe nice to not have to clean your house or wash your clothes as you may be able to hire a house keeper to do those things for you in your current position.  These people might have met their partner while living in their host country and now have decided to stay abroad for the long term!

Then there are the teachers that have made the all-important (and possibly difficult) decision to make this year their last one (3 people in our survey have said that this is what their future holds for them).  To say goodbye to the international school teaching world is sometimes not an easy decision to make.  Livin’ the ‘good life’ will soon be ending for you, and you may not ultimately want things to end.  Also, the anticipation of reverse culture shock is not necessarily welcomed with open arms.  Cringe!

On the other hand, your current situation might just be a very bad fit for you, enough of a bad fit that you have decided to not take the risk of working at another international school.  A very negative experience at one international school might have you come to the realization that this life really just is not a good fit for you.

Moving back home has it pros and cons, and one must look at them carefully.  One reason to not move back to many of the states in the United States is that the job market for teachers is not so good right now.  There are many, many teachers applying for one position still right now.  Hopefully as the U.S. economy improves, more money for staffing and for school districts in general will become available which may lead to more jobs for prospective teachers.  I think the same thing is happening at many international schools right now.  Many international schools are looking for and actually finding more families with children to attend their school.  More students typically means a higher need for more staffing.  How nice would it be if the power was back in the candidate’s hand at the recruitment fairs; more options and opportunities for us!

There are many factors to consider when deciding to stay abroad or move back home.  Knowing about what kinds of teachers work at an international school and the average staff turnover rate can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what others are doing who maybe from the same country and situation as you.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at Khartoum International Community School: “You will find a range of teachers from New Zealand to Canada, via UK, Egypt, Palestine, South Africa, Australia, France and more. Most teachers are expat hire. Local hire teachers are well qualified. The school is still only 7 years old so turnover rate is hard to reflect on. It ranges from 1-7 years at current time.”

Another member said about working at Tsinghua International School (Beijing): “Can’t really comment too much on this as things may have changed. When I was there lots of staff were from North America, but what could be called “old Chinese hands.” They’d lived in China a long time. Other staff were Chinese with American passports. All were great, but at the time, not many were what you’d think of as north American trained teachers. Very high turnover when I was there.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at Colegio Granadino Manizales: “The school has both Colombian and expat teachers. All of the expat teachers are North American and all are qualified teachers. The Colombian teachers are also well certified. There is not a high turnover rate at the school. Many expat teachers, though young, stay three or four years and some have been at the school much longer.”

So how many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools? Please share what your plans are!

Stay tuned for our next survey topic to come out in a few days time.

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Surveys

Survey results are in: Where are you spending your ‘extra’ money while teaching abroad?

September 15, 2012


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted are spending their ‘Extra’ money on traveling, clothes and food.

I guess it comes as no surprise that international school teachers are traveling a lot.  If we have the time and means to do it, then we often take advantage of this time in our lives (because it might not last for ever!).  We love the fact that we are getting more time for holidays throughout the school year (than maybe you would be getting in your home country).  Some international schools are also celebrating up to three countries’ national holidays!  Being that many of us don’t have family living where we are currently living in the world, there is sometimes no good reason to stick around our host city during our vacation time.  When holiday time comes around, we are all asking each other “Where are you traveling to?”

At one point in my international school teaching career, I was traveling so much that I was averaging 12 new countries a year!  New countries!  And I was at a placement with the lowest salary of my teaching career.  I guess then it all depends on your location in the world and how well that city’s airport is connected to other cities in the world.  Sometimes the cost of living in the city can play a factor as well to how much money you have left over for traveling.  If you pay rent in your current placement, having a roommate too can help you put more of your earnings towards traveling instead of a higher monthly rent that you would be paying if you were living by yourself.

There are many factors to consider.  Knowing about all this information about traveling before you sign a contract can quite important then…that is if traveling is one of your top priorities while living abroad.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a Travel Section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile that discusses this very topic.  There are four topics in this section:

• Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby.

• Describe proximity of major airport hubs to the city center and give sample taxi, train, subway and/or bus fares to get there.

• Popular travel websites to buy plane tickets or tours that are popular for expats living in the city and/or country.

• Places to travel to outside the city by bus or train.

There have been many comments and information submitted in the Travel Section on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at American School of Barcelona: “It is easy to get to almost every European city from Barcelona for a decent price. You do have to shop around and it is better to book ahead. A flight from Barcelona to the east coast of the USA at Christmas costs around 500-900 Euros.”

Another member said about working at American School of Asuncion: “It is very difficult to travel on a regular weekend, since Asuncion is basically in the middle of nowhere, and flights to the closest cool cities (Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro) are expensive. It is also becoming more and more pricey with the Visas required for Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. They range from $60-140.”

Another member submitted a comment about the traveling opportunities while working at Kodaikanal International School: “KIS is fortunate in having a fully staffed Travel Office to coordinate student, staff and community travel. Our travel partner ‘Around the World Travel’ is an India-wide agency with decades of experience in providing national and international travel options to and from KIS.”

We also have other comments and information topics in the City Section of the school profile pages that are related to clothing and food.  One of these topics covers the best places in your host city to find good deals on clothing and other shopping.  We all can benefit from hearing about places that are good to go to versus spending time and energy going to ones that aren’t so good in our host city.

For those international school teachers that put going out to eat a lot as a top priority while living abroad, there are also topics that discuss the best places in the city to go out to eat.  We even have a topic that is about restaurants that appeal to the expat community living in that host city (we all want a little ‘familiar’ food every now and then!).

Some of us spend our ‘extra’ money buying imported goods.  Typically the food sold in the local expat grocery store is at a very high price, prices you would never pay if you were living in your home country.  But because of the ‘extra’ money that many international school teachers have while living abroad, we can afford buying these products. Well we can often buy these high-priced products, but maybe not live on these products!

So what are ou spending your ‘extra’ money on while living abroad?  With the appeal of being able to travel to most places in the world and being able to go out to eat more often, it is indeed difficult to save your ‘extra’ money at times.  According to the survey results though, there are some international school teachers that are saving their money.  Some schools actually force you to save in a way, when they transfer part of your salary into your home country bank account while they transfer another part into your local bank account.  Typically you can live on the money transferred into your local account, letting you save the money in your home country bank account very easily and make is ‘less accessible’ to spend too!

To save or not to save…that is the question!

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