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TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS: #1 – Learn as much as possible about…

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS by Nexus International School in Malaysia

1. Learn as much as possible about the host country in order to have realistic expectations.

How much can you learn about a host country before you arrive? Yes, thank goodness for the internet and its endless (and sometimes tiresome) list of websites that try and shed light on the many facets of the host country’s culture and language.

A type of website that can be the most informative: personal blogs of expats (possible international school teacher expats) that currently live in the host country you would like to know more about.  For sure they are the best type of website to gather firsthand information about the host country.  The expat blogger typically is very explicit and candid about their day-to-day experiences living there.  Personal blogs of international teachers are even better.  Many times you are able to read entries that they have written before they even arrived to their new country to when they have been there three years later.  Finding good international school teacher blogs is now very easy as we highlight a new one every month on the International School Community blog.  International Teacher blogs that we have highlighted on International School Community so far:

In reality, it is important to note that some international school teachers know very little about the country they are currently moving to or just started living in.  Sometimes you have just got to go to a country yourself to see about the culture and language of the host country’s people.  When international school teachers go back to their home country for a visit, they are sometimes inundated with questions about what life is like there…and some of the questions are really unbelievable (but of course you may at one time have also asked about those unbelievable things as well!).  I think it is hard to get away from the stereotypes that we have about each culture group in the world.  The issue is, as we all know, that the stereotype might actually be true for the majority of the people in the host country.  HOWEVER, it is NOT true for EVERYONE in the country.  You cannot group everyone in one culture group together.  For example, some people say that due to the Danish culture norms Danes don’t try and make good friends with people that they work with.  Obviously, there are indeed a few Danes that hang out with their co-workers outside of work and call them their best friends.

Realistic expectations? This will take some good research we think.  Many soon to be international school teachers buy the latest Lonely Planet for that country/city when they know they are moving to a country they don’t know so much about.  For sure after reading a bit of that travel book, they can have their expectations be a tiny bit more realistic, if not even make them a bit more exciting.  Be mindful though that numerous people can be quite sensitive to culture shock.  So, even if they have realistic expectations and are ready to expect the unexpected, they are still subjected to embarrassing mood swings about the things that in theory they had already expected.  One of the joys of living abroad we suppose!  Some people subscribe to the idea of cherishing all emotions: the good and the not so good.

Last thing that we know about with regards to how we can find the most we can about your future host country: talk to people that currently work at the school in which you will be working.  Not the administrator, the human resources department, etc…the real people that work there and will really tell you how it is.  Many new teachers receive a few contact email address of some teachers that they can contact during the summer.  Some have even had a Skype call with one of them which really helped them think about getting their expectations to be a little more realistic.  It is key to talk to people and gather as much information as possible.  Right now on International School Community you can get in contact with our members who know about more than 260 international schools, and the list of schools our members know about is growing every month!

 

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