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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: A dinner outing with the director and administration

In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school.  A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to your start at your new school, in your new host country.  What are all the must-haves then?  Check out our blog series here to read about the ones we have discussed so far.

Must-have #7: A dinner outing with the director and administration

IMG_0063-1In some cultures it is very much of a bonding moment between people when they share a meal together.  It is a time when you can really relax and have some nice conversations with each other.  Getting to know your director and other new teachers in this kind of setting will help you with future encounters with the director and also with your potential new good friends. Having a meal with your bosses can really start your relationship with them on the right track.

How nice is it when the administration treats you to a nice dinner out somewhere in your new town?  It really just sets the stage right to have a great start to your first year.  Sure it is not that important and of course it does not have anything to do with your job specifically, but it is nice to get some bonding time with the other new teachers as well as your new bosses. Also, there is the fact that you probably don’t have so much money when you first arrive to be going out to eat at a nice restaurant. Plus, you probably do not even know where the good restaurants are just yet anyway.

If there is not a dinner planned though for all the new teachers, it definitely feels like something is missing.  If there is a dinner planned, then there are a few scenarios that might happen.  Most often the admin plans a dinner out in the center of the city at a nice restaurant.  You can really take in your new “expat lifestyle” in this scenario!  If you have a director that is a little bit more personable, he/she might invite you over to have dinner at their house.  In this scenario, the director is really making an effort to show the new teachers that they are now “one of the family” on the staff at the school.

A less desirable scenario is when the dinner is just held at the school itself. Maybe the admin staff will get the cooking staff to make something special for everyone. Having the “dinner out” at the school is probably not making a very good impression on the new teachers, but depending on cooks, it could actually be quite nice.  Another way to not make the best impression is to have the dinner at some cheap restaurant (just across the street from the compound where all the teachers are living) with little planning involved on making the outing special in any way.

In either scenario, the conversations and experience had at the “dinner out” with the new staff will surely be ones that you remember.  A fun time is usually in store with a lot of laughter.  Take it all in because this dinner-out evening is just the beginning of your new and exciting expat life in your new host city.

Some members on our Facebook page have shared about eating out with their administration during the new teacher orientation week they experienced at their international school:

International School Geneva – Campus des Nations – “At IS Geneva there was barely an orientation week (just 2 half days) let alone any sort of dinner.”

International School Singapore (10 Comments) – “The head of school throws a BBQ dinner for the new teachers and one later for all staff to mingle with the new staff.”

Discovery College (Hong Kong) (5 Comments) – “We had a dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Also a drinks/appetizers with the larger ESF organization.”

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Not that you would ask about this topic at your interview or anything, but it might be important to ask the administrator who’s interviewing you the details of the new teachers orientation week.  You do want to know how they support new teachers to make a smooth transition.

On International School Community we have a number of principals and directors of international schools that are members. Currently, we have 20 Directors/Heads of School that have joined.  Some of the international schools they work at are:

The Bilingual School of Monza
• International Community School Addis Ababa
Olive Green International School
International School of Dusseldorf
ABC International School (Tokyo)
International School Groningen
Garden International School

Log-on today to check out the many comments and information submitted in this section topic!  Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding out the benefits an international school offers to its new teachers.

So, does your international school include a dinner out with the director and administration as part of their new teacher orientation?  Please share your experiences!

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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: A settling-in allowance given to you in cash (local currency)!

In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school.  A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to your start at your new school, in your new host country.

Must-have #6: A settling-in allowance given to you in cash (local currency)!

You just get off the airplane.  You have what seem to be a million bags with you. You are quite tired from your long flight journey to your new host country.  You are frantically looking for the person that said that they were going to pick you up from the airport.  You find them and they bring you to your new place that will be your home for the next few years.   So many things on your mind, so many things to worry about, and SO many things to buy!

Sure, you can prepare ahead of time and get some of the local currency at a bank in your home country before you get on the plane.  Sure, you can make it a point to visit an ATM at the host country airport or try and find a local bank near your new house that has an ATM.  But even then, you will have to use the money that you have in your home bank account and for many people, they might not have the finances to support starting up a completely new life and home.

How nice then if the international school that you will be working at gives you a settling-in allowance on your arrival to your new host country?! Getting cash in the local currency straight away is definitely a perk and a very nice benefit to look out for when searching for a new international school at which to work.

International School Community members have a wealth of information to share! Here are a few comments about their experience getting a settling-in allowance at an international school they have worked at:

“As soon as I got off the plane and claimed my baggage, I met the school principal at the arrivals gate, he introduced himself, and handed me an envelope with 1,500,000 won (roughly $1,500). Seriously, it was that quick.”  – An international school teacher at Seoul International School (68 Comments).

“Upon arriving at our apartment, we were given an envelope with some cash in it. This was our settling-in allowance. It was enough to go to a Walmart-type store and get all the basics you don’t bring with you but need right away. Cleaning supplies/trash can/kitchen utensils (beyond the basics). The school already provided all the basic furniture, bedding, and kitchen stuff (pots/plates/cutlery) but all of the odds and ends were purchased with that settling in allowance. It was great to have local currency right away…but it sure didn’t last very long!” – An international school teacher at Graded School Sao Paulo (16 Comments).

“They gave the first month’s salary in cash upon arrival.” – An international school teacher at GEMS American Academy (Abu Dhabi) (23 Comments).

“Upon arriving in Tokyo, the administration at our new school handed us an envelope fat with 300,000 yen. The previous schools we had worked at never gave us a cash settling in allowance in the local currency, so we were not only shocked, but a little perplexed as to why we needed so much cash. But as our first week in Japan wore on, we realized how valuable it was to receive our benefits in hand. First, it meant we didn’t have to bother with transferring our money into yen and losing some due to exchange costs. Second, as renowned as Japan is for its technological advances, it is still mired in the dark ages when it comes to paying with plastic. Virtually every transaction, no matter the cost, is completed in cash. Having yen in our pockets made it much easier to do small grocery shopping and even to make larger purchases at furniture and housewares stores. Finally, not having to spend your savings,turn in receipts and then wait for reimbursement is a great perk of receiving a local currency cash allowance. It made our transition into our new home smooth and a bit less stressful.” – An international school teacher at Seisen International School (22 Comments).

“I didn’t get a settling in allowance really (boo!) we did get given an extra baggage allowance which we received in local currency when we arrived so guess that is something?” – An international school teacher at Greengates School (British Int’l School) (5 Comments).

“The Canadian Academy has a decent size settling in allowance. Seems large at first, but was used up quite quickly, as Japan is VERY expensive. So perhaps not as good as it seems. (I think it was about equal to one paycheck….?)” – An international school teacher at Canadian Academy (Kobe) (10 Comments).

Getting at least some help monetarily during your first days in your new host country is very much welcomed by all international school teachers!  Though you typically go through your settling-in allowance very quickly, it is still nice have.  At many postings, you often don’t get your first paycheck until the end of the month that you start working.  There are way too many things to buy during those first few weeks, that it would be impossible to wait until you get your first paycheck!  Not to mention all the money you end up needlessly wasting when you buy certain items impulsively at one store (because it is near to your house), not knowing that the other store (down the block) sells that same item for half the price.  I’m sure that has happened to all of us at one time or another!

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In the Benefits Information section of the school profile page on our website, we have a topic related to the settling-in allowance: Detailed info about flight, shipping and settling-in allowances. Any other benefits (e.g. free lunches, etc.)?  There have been 100s of comments and information submitted in this topic on our website and many of them refer to the settling-in allowance you will get (or not get) working at that international school . Here are a few of those comments:

“You get one flight per two year contract. There is a 1500 USD appx. local settling allowance, and the school gives an interest free loan of one months salary to assist with settling costs. Shipping – be careful as if you are transitioning from another international post, you must use your home of record for quotations. Some people buy furniture, others rent furnished, some take out car loans, others buy 2nd hand cars. There are plenty of different options.” International School of Kuala Lumpur (55 Comments)

“At the end of your contract the school provides travel and transportation to home of record. Annual flight allowance (KIS pays up to Rs 12,000 / person once every term contract). Shipping allowance for staff on term contract upon joining and at the completion of service. Also there is a transportation allowance. Settling in allowance is given upon every term contract signed. Lunch / tea in our school cafeterias while the school is in session is provided to teachers.” Kodaikanal International School (25 Comments)

“VAIS paid for round trip airfare from the US to Hanoi and back to the US for school year 2011-2. For school year 2012-3, there’s a cap of $1,700. VAIS paid $500 settling in costs. For school year 2012-3, there’s no settling in allowances. There are no free lunches. Lunches cost $3.50.” Vietnam American International School (26 Comments)

Log-on today to check out the many comments and information submitted in this section topic!  Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding out the benefits an international school offers to its new teachers.

So, does your international school offer a settling-in allowance?  Please share your experiences!

New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: An organized trip to help you get furniture for your new home.

In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school.  A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to your start at your new school, in your new host country.

Must-have #5: An organized trip to help you get furniture for your new home.

It is not ideal to arrive the first day/night in your new host city only to arrive at your new apartment and find it VERY unfurnished.  It doesn’t necessarily start you on the right foot with regards to settling-in with your new life when maybe you do not even have a bed on which to sleep.  For sure there are many international schools out there that place their new teachers directly into furnished apartments or houses (e.g many international schools in Asia or the Middle East), but there are still quite a few international schools that can’t offer that same benefit. And even if your new apartment is furnished, many times it is not FULLY furnished with all the things you need and would like to have.

So….what to do then?  The first step to getting new furniture into your house is typically by going to in nearest IKEA in your new host country.  Now how do you get there (or another furniture store)?  Navigating the public transportation in a new city when you don’t read or speak the local language can be a bit stressful and a bit of a headache.  Taking a taxi in many European cities is just not the norm and can get quite expensive. Even if you take public transportation there, how will you get all your new things back with you?  We all know we leave with many more things than we thought we were going to get when we first walked in!  It would be a must then (since you most likely will not have a car) to pay the IKEA shipping fee as you are checking out.  In some countries that fee isn’t so bad, but in others, it can get a bit expensive.  Don’t forget too, that everything will be in the host country language, including the drivers of the IKEA shipping truck that comes to your house in a few days.  Trying to let the drivers know that they have the right place (when and if they finally arrive) will be one of your first stressful (or very funny) culture shock moment for you, that is if you are not able to speak a word of the language of the locals.

How great would it be then if your new school helped to coordinate your first visit to IKEA?  There are some international schools that appoint a go-to person for all new teachers.  This person will plan many trips for you around the city, but most importantly, they plan the all important trip to IKEA.  A colleague of ours has worked at a school where this go-to person was actually the director.  The director even offered to drive his own mini van to IKEA himself.  He also offered for the new teachers to use his credit card to pay for all the purchases at the check out when the new teacher’s own credit card didn’t work at the register because it was first time they used it overseas or something (of course that new teacher paid the money back to the director as soon as they could).

Another colleague of ours worked at a school that had a go-to person that even organized a large moving van to come and take the purchases to each of the new teachers’ homes after the shopping trip.  The guys driving the moving van even brought the furniture items up from the street level, up many flights of stairs to some teachers’ apartments; very lucky indeed!  As an additional benefit to the new teachers was the ability to request help putting the furniture together from the school’s custodian (up to around 3 hours).  Not having to put together your new IKEA furniture is just what you would dream of having, especially after exhausting day of being a new teacher at an international school. Oh, and we forgot to mention that the new teachers also got an nice, sizable allowance from the school to spend on buying furniture as well!

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In the Benefits Information section of the school profile page on our website, we have a topic related to housing – Details about the staff housing or the housing allowance. If there is no housing allowance, how much are rent costs and utilities?  There have been 100s of comments and information submitted in this topic on our website and many of them refer to the potential furniture needs that you may require. Here are a few of those comments:

“Housing is provided for single teachers. There are five schools houses about one or two blocks away from the school campus. Houses are not coed. Each teacher gets a bedroom and a bathroom and shares living space with 2 to 4 more teachers. The houses come fully furnished and they are equipped with appliances.” Colegio Inglés A.C. (Torreon) (12 Total Comments)

“Total US dollar equivalent of annual benefits comes to approx: $15,800. The School provides modestly furnished housing for teachers on temporary visas who are single, providing a one or two-bedroom apartment depending upon single or shared accommodation; (b) for a married teaching couple with no children or with one child, and who are temporary visa holders the School provides a two-bedroom apartment or equivalent. All housing contains the following appliances and furnishings: stove, refrigerator, beds, sofa, dining room table and chairs, washing machine and basic kitchen utensils. The School will retain ownership of these items, which will be kept in good condition by the Teacher. The School will pay the rent, condominium fees, and property taxes related to the apartment/house. The employee is responsible for all other expenses, such as utility bills (water, electricity and telephone bills) but installation and maintenance charges for these utilities as well as Internet connections (not usage) shall be at the School’s expense.”  School of the Nations (11 Total Comments)

“Apartments are located at Riffa, within 10 minutes drive of the school. They are within walking distance of most amenities. Most apartments are two/three-bedroomed, with good sized rooms, kitchen and two bathrooms. Most of the teachers reside in two apartment buildings close by to each other. All apartments are fully furnished. All items that you may want to purchase to personalize your apartment are readily available in homeware centres. Rugs and other traditional Arabic items are readily available at affordable prices. Apartment water and electricity bills (up to BD8) are paid directly by the school. Telephone bills are paid by the teacher.” Naseem International School (Bahrain) (19 Total Comments)

Log-on today to check out the many comments and information submitted in this section topic!  Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding out the benefits an international school offers to its new teachers.

So, does your international school organize a trip to help new teachers get furniture for their new homes?  Please share your experiences!

New teacher orientation must-have: Help finding a place to live!

In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school.  A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part of your start at your new school, in your new host country.

Must-have #4: Help finding a place to live!

Finding a place to live in any country can be a headache!  When you involve different languages, different cultural traditions and norms, etc. finding an apartment can be even more of a headache.  In turn, it is much appreciated if the administration/business staff at your new school can help you out.

Some international schools just place you in a compound that the school owns and you must live there for the whole length of your time working at that school.  Other international schools don’t own or have a relationship with buildings or complexes through the city and you are meant to search and get your own place completely on your own.  But there are more than just two kinds of experiences when it comes to where you will end up living after moving to your new international school.  There are some that state you must live in a certain apartment for the entire first year you work at a school. After your first year, then you are allowed to find and move to a completely different apartment of your choice.  Other international schools ask their current staff who are leaving if they can help to set up a new teacher to take over their apartment or they might even send out an email to the current staff asking around if any current teachers are looking for a roommate.  If there are some options, then these schools will usually help to make the right connections so that you can immediately move into your new place with your new roommate.

If there aren’t any options for you and the school just places you in a specific place, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about as you know you will immediately have a place to live when you arrive without much of a headache.  If there are options for you, you need to be prepared for potential headaches, unknowns and possible disappointments when you arrive.  Additionally, you might need to be prepared to move two or three times during your first year.  Your first place might be completely opposite to what you were thinking it would be!

If you can work it out and are lucky enough to visit the location that you will be moving to, then of course you can get some of the apartment searching done in person. How ideal would that be?  I have a colleague that made a point to make a visit to their future city during the beginning part of the summer (before they officially moved there later that summer).  They got the opportunity to view some apartments that the school had recommended to them in person.  Not all of us can be so lucky though as to make a pre-move trip to check out possible living situations, but if you are able to, then for sure that would be beneficial.

A good international school will make sure to answer all your questions that you have about your future living situation.  They should send pictures if applicable of your future apartment.  They should request answers to a housing survey that they send to you, so that they can better gauge what type of place best suits your needs and wants (that is if the school does indeed help to find you a place).  They should have language support available to you if you need some interpreting or translating of the rental documents. Good schools would even help you out to pay the sometimes high cost of a rental deposit (e.g apartments in Western Europe).

There are many international school teachers experiencing a wide range of experiences related to how they found a place to live.

Here are some firsthand accounts of how these international schools teachers found a place to live in the city they just moved to (and whether or not their new school helped them out or not):

“The Canadian Academy has a first year rule: all new teacher must live in school accommodations for the first year. This includes a variety of apartments and houses both on and off campus, and options depending on the number of dependents. All in all, they took care of everything, and it made it the best transition we’ve ever had. Besides getting a futon with pillows, sheets, and blankets, we had a stocked fridge, a basket of cleaning supplies and toiletries, snacks, a phone, a fax machine, furniture, and many more items. While I wouldn’t describe it as moving into a furnished place, it did have all the essentials. Also, after the first year, we’re free to move to our own choice of accommodations or select a new school housing option. Very user friendly.  A teacher from Canadian Academy (Kobe).

“My current school offered to help find an apartment, however I was more interested in finding share accommodation as I find that’s a nice quick way to make new friends and to always have someone on hand who know’s the area you live in. They put me onto a website for share housing and also asked around the school to see if anyone was interested in having a new teacher share with them. Someone did and now I share a house with two other people in a beautiful, artfully decorated place 3 minutes walk from school and town and for half the rent I would pay to live in a place on my own. I also didn’t need to pay any deposit. They’re happy for it to be short term in case I decide to move into my own place later, but I’m thinking that staying here is a good thing. I would personally recommend seeking share housing to anyone (not in a couple) who is open to the idea. I’ve also experienced living in my own apartment straight out, but became bored with that after a year and moved into a new place with 2 other friends. It can also be a pain setting up a new apartment in terms of buying furniture, crockery and connecting the internet.” A teacher from The Bermuda High School for Girls.

“The school helps you find your first apartment before you arrive.  Actually, all new teachers move into a gated community called Shanghai Gardens when I worked there.  Basically all new teachers need to live there their first year.  After that first year, then you can use the allotted housing if you decide to move and find your own place.  When I moved into the apartment at Shanghai Gardens, it had all the furniture you would need.  The school also left a ‘survival’ package of things to get you started (e.g. pots and pans, sheets, etc.).  I was appreciative of the school helping to place new teachers in this building complex and the apartment; many of the staff in the business office could also speak English which was a perk.  On the other hand, many teachers had a negative experience living at Shanghai Gardens.  There were problems with the apartments sometimes (as some of them were owned by different owners).  There were also problems with your bills at time, some of them being way too high from the price they should’ve been.  I was quite happy to find a different apartment my second year there.”  A teacher from Shanghai Rego International School.

“ACS Hillingdon was great to us in helping us find a place to live. They have a staff member, Maxine, who is there all year, including during the summer, and she worked with a local estate agent to help us find a flat that fit our needs, location, and price range. I know she drove several of even the pickiest people around to multiple places, and she knows the areas where the school’s bus routes go for those of us who don’t have a car.

The school even helped a newly hired couple whose flat was damaged by fire in the London riots of 2011 by giving them extra time off, arranging a place to stay while they looked for a new permanent residence, and even donating money from an emergency fund while insurance agencies worked through their claims.

A+ all the way around.” A teacher from Acs International School – Hillingdon Campus.

In the Benefits Information section of the school profile page on our website, we have a topic related to housing – Details about the staff housing or the housing allowance.

Log-on today to check out the hundreds of comments and information submitted in this section topic!  Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding a place in your new city.

So, does your school provide help for new teachers to find a place to live? Please share your experiences!

New teacher orientation must-have: Lunches provided by the school during the orientation week at the school campus.

In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school.  A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part of your start at your new school, in your new host country.

Must-have #3: Lunches provided by the school during the orientation week at the school campus.

Having a catered, home (cafeteria)-cooked lunch is NOT a given when you start working at an international school.  Some international schools include free lunches in their benefits package all year round (for all teachers mind you!), but some international schools don’t offer this benefit…not even during PD events or during new teacher orientation.

It is definitely a nice gesture on the school’s part to offer lunches to the new staff during the orientation week.  It is setting the right tone amongst the new staff and their budding relationship with their new school.  Additionally, it is a great opportunity for new staff and administration to get to know each other better being that they are kind of forced to dine together because they are eating the same food.

It is important to note that new teachers most likely don’t have everything set up in their new apartments to be ready to cook themselves a packed-lunch to bring to work.  The new teachers might not know exactly where to go (e.g. where there is a proper grocery store) to buy food they like to eat either.  Well they might know a place to go (one that was recommended to them by a new friend at work), but it might propose a challenge for them to walk there or to navigate a taxi or the public transportation to get there.  All of these things are stressers for new teachers during their first few weeks in their new host city/country, and one of the main goals of a new teacher orientation week is to make sure the new teachers are as least stressed as possible.

Now I’m not saying that schools are offering free lunches like in this picture (the beautiful hummus wrap), but some international schools have very nice cafeterias and cooks that can make some quite tasty lunches.  At a colleague’s international school in Mediterranean [American School of Barcelona (79 Comments)], they did offer free lunches during new teacher orientation week (during the whole year as well).  The food wasn’t the highest quality, but it was nice and made in-house.  Lots of fish and local cuisine were prepared on a number of the days.  At another colleague’s school Seoul, South Korea [Seoul International School (68 Comments)], there is a buffet available to staff every day…a pretty nice buffet too.  There are many choices to choose from. The quality can be quite good at times as well.  The colleague noted that sometimes they had to control themselves from not over-eating being that the buffet choices where very good some days! There is a small cost though involved for the teachers to pay if they wanted to eat at the school’s buffet, but it is reasonably priced at $3. However at new teacher orientation, the new staff get it for free (breakfast and lunch).  Additionally, the new teachers and the whole staff also get free lunches provided by the school during the first week back before students arrive.

At a for-profit international school in Shanghai though, it was a different story.  For the most part, the school did not provide lunches for the new staff during orientation week. If they did provide lunch one day, it wasn’t a lunch prepared for by the kitchen staff.  It was from a take-away place nearby to the school.  Most days though the new teachers had to figure out their own food to eat during orientation week.  The new teachers that didn’t want to make their own lunch (and most new teachers didn’t want to or weren’t really able to), they could also order for themselves (and also pay for themselves) from the take-away place.  After trying to navigate a menu all in Chinese characters with a Chinese staff member translating, when the food arrived it definitely wasn’t the highest of qualities or not even close to what you thought it would be.  It would have been better really if the school had started up a better relationship with another take-away place.  The problem was though that the school was basically in a very rural part of Shanghai, far away from the nicer places. On a positive note, the lunches at the take-away place nearby were priced very, very cheaply!

It is important that the basic needs be met for a new teacher working at an international school.  They should have a place to sleep (shelter), they should have some money (via a relocation allowance possibly) to spend on necessities, and they should have food and water (among other things).  A wise international school chooses to play a major part and takes an active role is helping to make sure their new teachers have their basic needs met.  One way to support this decision, for sure, is to provide lunches to teachers during new teacher orientation.  Now how that provided-lunch will look like can vary a lot though!  It is definitely not a “deal-breaker” though and you should mostly likely not be asking about the possibility of catered lunches (and their quality) at your interview!

How funny though if schools did come prepared to show pictures of the types of free lunches they provide to their new staff.  Actually, seeing those pictures at the interview might be nice; anything really to help you make your decision before you sign the contract.

So, does your school provide lunch during new teacher orientation week?  Please share your experiences!

New teacher orientation must-have: The orientation programme at The American School Foundation in Mexico City

One of our Linkedin contacts just sent us this information about the new teacher orientation programme at The American School Foundation in Mexico City.

“Of course I would be happy to share information on our Welcoming Committee, which I will once again be a part of this year. Already we have put new teachers in touch with mentors to help them with academic, and classroom needs for 2012/13. Apart from this our Human Capital (resources) team have already informed new teachers about available apartments sending info and photos. Some of the new teachers arrive with apartments waiting for them and the others will go to a residential hotel for a couple of nights until they have chosen apartments that are available and suitable. Most of these apartments are furnished and ready just to move into.

Members of the committee are allotted new teachers, usually according to divisions (K-12), and we help by showing the new staff how to use the subway, buses and taxis (safe ones). We help them get any missing furniture, go to the supermarket, Costco etc. We try and show them the nearest markets etc.  We also show them around the city and the highlight is a trip to our Mexican “Venice”, with a ride and box lunch on our “gondolas” and a trip to a huge nursery to buy plants for the apartments. The drivers from school mark the plants and add the addresses and then deliver to each home.

Each year Human Capital and the committee work better together and make the transition for new staff smoother. This is always easier when you have a friend to help you.”

Currently, The American School Foundation in Mexico City has had some comments and information submitted on it by one of International School Community’s members.

American School Foundation of Mexico City (35 Comments).

Here are three samples of the 35 comments:

“There is no staff housing. Most people live in Condesa. The commute time can be as much as 45 min. There are buses that run before and after school, 4:30 and 6pm. The city is huge and there are many centers.”

“The housing allowance is $1,000 US so when the dollar goes down so does your allowance. It is plenty for basic housing, which is worse than most US apartments.”

“Lovely weather, cool all year round however the pollution is terrible, really terrible, dangerous.”

New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools #2: A pick-up from the airport from administration

In our new blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school.  A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part of your start at your new school, in your new host country.

Must-have #2: A pick-up from the airport from administration

One of my international school teacher colleagues has experienced three different ways of being picked up (or not be picked up) after working at three very different international schools:

• The administrator’s driver comes to pick you up, and the driver doesn’t speak English very well. There are moments in the long car ride to your apartment when you start to feel insecure.  You also start to second-guess everything that was discussed with you during the interview and during your email communication with the administration.  You arrive at your apartment complex (or what you hope is your apartment complex) and the driver doesn’t know where to bring you as they weren’t told which apartment you were staying in and don’t have the keys.  Luckily, two other staff members just so happen to be in the lobby when you arrived and were able to help you sort everything out and get into your apartment.  You could’ve been more stressed-out with this situation, but you were so jet-lagged that it fortunately didn’t phase you too much.

• No administrator, no staff member, not even a driver comes to pick you up.  Even after discussing your arrival flight details via email, nobody shows up at the airport.  You are carting your 3+ bags around the arrivals-lounge looking for somebody with your name on a sign or something.  After looking around for 30 minutes or so (trying to keep your eyes open based on the fact that you just got off of a long, red-eye flight), you decide to use your credit card (you don’t have local currency yet or a mobile with a local sim card in it) to make a few calls.  Nobody answers their phone and you decide to go to the airport information desk.  They suggest a hotel to stay at and you take a taxi to get to the hotel (which cost you a lot of money!).  Finally, you get in contact with the school via email once you get the wifi working in your hotel room.  Luckily, the school ends up paying for the phone calls, the taxis and the three nights you stayed in the hotel, but it would have been less stressful for sure if somebody would’ve been there to pick you up and bring you to your apartment in the first place.

• The director himself comes to pick you up and is waiting clearly in the arrivals lounge as you walk out from baggage claim. You know who to look for because the he is the one who has interviewed you and hired you in person.  He even brings along another one of the new teachers so that you can already have a person to contact.  Using his own car, he drives you to your apartment (that the school has helped you organize through another teacher at the school).  The director has the keys to let you in.  In the apartment he gives you a free mobile to use with a SIM card (a phone from a teacher that just left the previous school year) so that you can immediately start to be in contact with everyone just in case any emergencies arise.  After making sure that you are comfortable and ok in your new apartment, he drops off a bag of “starter” groceries for you which includes some basic necessities.  A nice touch to a wonderful, less stressful way to be picked-up from the airport when you first arrive.

To start things off right, it might be the most ideal if the person who hired you picks you up from the airport when you first arrive. Starting off on the right note is very important for an international school teacher, especially when you are bound to experience a bit of culture shock.  One way to start off in the right way is how you get picked-up/arrive at the airport.  Not having to worry about lugging your 3+ bags around trying to find a taxi can really lesson the stress and nervousness you might already be feeling, being that you have just relocated yourself to a potentially very different part of the world.  Not having to worry about where you are going to stay your first night and how you are going to get there can also have a calming effect to your already tense feeling about this big move your have decided to make for yourself.

So, how were you picked-up at the airport when you first arrived?  Please share your experiences!