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Posts Tagged ‘life abroad’

Blogs of international school teachers: “Consider the Ordinary” (An educator at The American School of Tampico)

Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 28th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Consider the Ordinary”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at The American School of Tampico (10 Total Comments on our website.) in Mexico.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

the American School of Tampico—my new home in mexico!

“Here is my beautiful school!!!!:) It sits on over 33 acres of land…Here is my classroom from the outside(the one with the circle window)…Here are pictures from the outside and inside of the classroom…Here are the lovely stairs up to my class (before these there are 2 other flights! haha)…”

It would be awesome if all international school teachers took as many photos of their campus to share with everyone.  It is important and very helpful to know exactly what the school looks like before you sign the contract to work there. Thanks for sharing pictures of the The American School of Tampico campus!

mi apartemento en Tampico

“My apartment is wonderful! The school provides it and they were so helpful, already had telephone hooked up, a little food and drinks in the fridge, and everything we needed set up!:) I’m so glad I’m here…Here is my roomies room- Her name is Robyn. We met her and her mom (Melissa) tonight..so far seems great!…There are 2 bedrooms (with AC) with bathrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, a large study room, a laundry room, and another room with bathroom that is in the back of the place—it’s all soooo big!!!…”

What a nervous situation…arriving at a new, foreign country and finally seeing the apartment that you will be living in.  Luckily for this educator, it turned out really well.  It is definitely a relief after having seen your new place, and then get started with making it your new “home”.   Also, meeting your new roommate can also be a bit nerve-wracking.  But you never know, the person just might turn out to a really good friend of yours.  What a nice surprise too when you take notice of the nice, big size of your new apartment.  Sometimes international school teachers get lucky when they are living in a city where their benefits package or salary affords them the opportunity to live a bigger apartment than what they are used to.

a day/night at the beach…

“I went to the beach for the first time last Saturday here in Tampico! It was great. I stuck my toes in and waded up to my ankles, but didn’t swim yet. The foreign staff from school went for a birthday barbeque for Michael—he’s our librarian. There was great food, a campfire, fun people, and sand, water, and sun—-all in all it was a beautiful day and a fun time:)…”

It is great to take in all the new places that you can go to in your new city, especially if your new city is on the coast of an ocean so that you can enjoy its beaches.  Some international school teachers are very luckily indeed!  It is also important to say yes to any opportunities to go out with the school staff.  Being open to exploring the city and to get to know the staff better are two important things to try and accomplish your first few months working at your new school.

Want to work for an international school in the Mexico like this blogger?  Currently, we have 23 international schools listed in the Mexico on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

American School Foundation of Guadalajara (15 Comments)
American School Foundation of Mexico City (35 Comments)
The Peterson Schools (Cuajimalpa Campus) (11 Comments)
Colegio Atid (17 Comments)
American School Foundation of Monterrey (16 Comments)
• Instituto San Roberto (15 Comments)
American School of Durango (12 Comments)
Colegio Inglés A.C. (Torreon) (12 Comments)

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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Discussion Topic: Standing at the check-out counter can get uncomfortable!!!

How much do you need to say when you are going through the check-out line?  Not much usually. Just get your items through the scanner, swipe your credit card, bag your goods up in a reusable bag that you brought and then you get on your way.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 8.51.08 PMIt is not always that easy though.  Every once and awhile you get a cashier that decides to have a chat with you.  If you don’t know the local language so well, then situations like this can become a challenge for you.  Sure you know the word for “receipt” and “thanks”, but when the cashier strays from those simple words, things can get a little bit uncomfortable.  How embarrassing when you can’t understand what is going on?  How even MORE embarrassing it is when there are many people (locals) standing in line waiting for their turn and rolling their eyes at you?

Even if you do know the local language, it is not always an easy thing to speak up in public.  One colleague of mine just mentioned to me that even after 20 some years of living and working in her host country, she specifically plans the right time to go to her local bakery.  She prefers to go during a time when there are less people there; when they are not so busy.  Even know she is highly proficient in the local language, she is still uncomfortable at times yelling out her order when everyone around maybe judging her on her pronunciation, etc.  It is not always fun to let all the locals know that you are not from their country/not a native speaker.  Whether the other people in the bakery even care or notice, this is a very common feeling to have when living abroad.

Unfortunately you can’t live you life in your host country trying to avoid all linguistic encounters with the locals.  You must eventually go through a check-out line and you will eventually have a cashier trying to tell you things.
One time a cashier confused me by asking me whether I would like to charge more on my debit card so that I could get cash back by him.  That situation definitely threw me off-guard as not many cashiers are outwardly offering that service to their customers. I would guess that is more customer initiated.  Another time a cashier was trying to give me shopping tips; if I would buy three of one of the items I was purchasing, then I was to get a small discount.  Adding a bit of public service help to me, the woman just leaving the check-out counter told me in English that the discount wasn’t that amazing.6337012304_3f3f9f685d_z

Not all linguistic encounters with the cashier (while living abroad) though end up in embarrassment for you.  Some situations might end up being quite funny.  They might be quite memorable for you and a good experience; giving you a good story to share with your other expat friends.  One time in Spain, I was checking-out at a grocery store.  As the cashier was ringing up the items I was going to purchase, she motioned towards a one liter bottle of Fanta.  I thought she was trying to get me to buy it.  In turn, I told her no.  But the cashier kept on trying to give the bottle of Fanta to me.  Finally, I realized that she was trying to just give it to me for free as it was a special promotion (it was a new flavor of Fanta…pineapple!).  I told her “OH, es libre!”  Of course, some people around me and the cashier laughed a bit at me. The word libre does me free, but it is the word free that you would use like when you unlock a cage of a zoo animal and letting them be free. I should have used the word gratis.

This comical situation is what happens all to often to expats.  You are in a situation that you weren’t prepared for ahead of time.  Because of the unpreparedness, you get nervous.  And because you are nervous, your brain does not think too clearly to either try and understand what was being said to you or get the words that you know in the local language out in the correct manner.  It is all part of living abroad I guess.  How boring and monotonous to go through a check out line in your own home country, when you can go through multiple check-out lines in your host country and experience the unexpected?

If you have a culture-related story to share about your experience living abroad, send us a message here and we will see about getting your story as a guest author on our International School Community blog!

Blogs of international school teachers: “Finding Bliss and Balance in Barcelona”

Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 27th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Finding Bliss and Balance in Barcelona”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at American School of Barcelona (91 Total Comments on our website.) in Spain.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Decisions…

“Living abroad has presented challenges in my life that I didn’t know could exist. Still, almost weekly, I have to learn new things about how to live within a new culture and a new system. Routine things, like going to the dentist or getting your hair cut, present new experiences and ask me to adapt to new ways of doing things. Another big challenge lately has come about because of a bike accident Dave had on a rainy night in October.…”

We actually have an article that we have written about the topic of getting a haircut in another country.  You can read the full article here.  A haircut is one thing, but when a big accident occurs while you are living in another country, that can be quite a different, more intense experience.  It is never a good feeling when you are hurt and in need of hospital care and then there being a big language and cultural barrier potentially creating problems and stress.  My experience though in foreign hospitals has all been quite positive.  Many people might be surprised to know that the majority of your experiences in foreign hospitals are actually better than they would be in your home country!

A Surprise Christmas in January

“The incessant ringing caused Dave to do something quite uncharacteristic of himself in the mornings; he exited the warm bed and ran through the frigid hallway to answer the doorbell. From my sleepy stupor I inferred by the muffled Spanish being spoken through our intercom that it was in fact the correos (mail), but that she needed to deliver a package to us instead of just needing to be let in the building to reach everyone’s mailboxes. Again, Dave did something uncharacteristic of himself in the mornings: he threw on his glasses and clothes in a snap. I heard the rapid footsteps of the mail carrier make her way up 4 flights of steps and knock on our door. Dave accepted the package, “Gracias….”

Kind of a strange feeling when you get a buzz on your intercom (when living in a foreign country) and you are not expecting anyone.  Then when the voice starts talking to you in the local language, things can get a bit confusing and quick!  Soon enough you figure out who the person could potentially be and make a connection to the thing you were actually expecting to receive via delivery/the postal carrier.  More often than not, the postal worker does their best to give great service and to try to communicate with you with the least confusion.  But once they arrive at your door, there is not much that is really needed to be said; when you most likely just need to sign your name on some sheet of paper.

Our Stay-cation

“I will have to admit that when we originally decided on a “stacation” I wasn’t stoked as I am always eager to leave the bustle of the city and explore the beauty that the Spanish countryside has to offer. Nevertheless, after a little guidebook research and recommendations from friends at work, we managed to plan a packed week full of eating, drinking, music, and sightseeing in Barcelona. We also snuck in a quick jaunt to Cadaques, which turned out to be the highlight of my vacation…”

We always think about where we (international school teachers) are going to go next.  Actually, many of us feel uneasy when our next trip isn’t planned yet.  No trip to look forward to can be an uneasy feeling!  We do sometimes forget that staying in your host city (or nearby your host city) can actually be an attractive alternative to flying somewhere via a plane.

Want to work for  an international school in the Spain like this blogger?  Currently, we have 25 international schools listed in the Spain on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (13 Comments)
American School Madrid (7 Comments)
American School Valencia (7 Comments)
El Plantio International School Valencia (4 Comments)
Sotogrande International School (6 Comments)
King’s College – The British School of Madrid (3 Comments)

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

Blogs of international school teachers: “A Leaf Around the World”

Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 26th blog that we would like to highlight is called “A Leaf Around The World”  Check out the wealth of information in the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at Yokohama International School in Japan.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How to be an explorer – Day 1

“I have been reading this book called ‘How to Be an Explorer of the World’. It’s basically a guidebook/ reminder of my creative thinking, whenever I feel like, I turn the pages and roll in. Last night, I came across the exploration #4 which is a very simple practice. During your walk to your work/school,etc. you pick up 30 things. A collection of 30 random things… I decided that I will pick one object everyday and will record my findings and thoughts here. It will take a month and in the end I will try to create an artwork with my findings. It is a challenge for me to break away from my daily routine of speed walking to the train station while I am nibbling over  my so called breakfast consisting a piece of  toasted bread with cheese, paying attention to nothing but the road that leads me to my destination. A nice challenge though, one that will make me look at things rather than seeing them passing by…”

What a great idea!  I think every one should have a go at this if they are living in a foreign country.  Sometimes we can walk down a street many times in a foreign city and not notice certain things, even things such as a store.  If we can remember to take a look around ourselves while living abroad, it could only help us to better understand our current situation and aide you in making new connections with regards to your life living in your host country.

Recycling in Japan

“If you are living in Japan, you make a big commitment to recycle. The moment that you register with your neighbourhood ward, you are given an A4 paper of how to separate your rubbish. There are certain days for certain garbage and you need to tie them up as shown in the picture and moreover you need to wash your plastic garbage before you put it out in front of your door…”

I love the topic of recycling in other countries. Each one does it slightly different.  Sometimes it takes awhile to get into the swing of things when trying to recycle things from your home after you have just moved to a new country.  If you are living in Shanghai, there isn’t really a city recycling programme.  But that doesn’t mean people in Shanghai don’t recycle.  There are always people with big bags going to and looking inside of garbage cans in Shanghai.  They are the recyclers.  Actually, they look at their recycling other people’s garbage as their job, according to an article I read on the That’s Shanghai website.

My Morning Walk in Yutenji

“Every morning, I walk to the train station in Yutenji. On my way to the station I meet the same people everyday, the little old lady neighbour who sweeps her front door, the young woman on her fancy bike with a trendy green backpack, the father and daughter walking down to Nakameguro, the big old neighbourhood watchman sitting on a bench in Yutenji park which is the smallest park ever with its own rules and regulations written on a sign in both Japanese and English. The most interesting thing every morning for me, is the board that hangs on the wall of a very old house with weekly messages from a wise neighbour. Everyday when I walk down that road, I stop, read the message and think about it on my way to the station…”

Your journey to work is an important one. Going to work in a car is a bit different than going to work by bike or walking.  You can see and interact with more people when walking to work.  You can get some exercise biking to work.  It is important to research how teachers get to work at international schools you are intersted in working at; will it be a good match with the preferred way you like to get to work?

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1300+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.  We have over 6000+ submitted comments and information as of this blog entry!

Want to work for  an international school in the Japan like this blogger?  Currently, we have 37 international schools listed in the Japan on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

American School in Japan (19 Comments)
Seisen International School (22 Comments)
St. Mary’s International School (14 Comments)
Kyoto International School (9 Comments)
Horizon Japan International School (9 Comments)
Canadian Academy (Kobe) (10 Comments)
Hiroshima International School (17 Comments)
• Gunma Kokusai Academy (8 Comments)

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

Blogs of international school teachers: “From USA to KSA” (The Life of an International School Educator in Saudi Arabia)

Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 25th blog that we would like to highlight is called “From USA to KSA”  Check out the wealth of information in the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at an international school in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Things You Should Know Before Moving to Saudi Arabia

“Saudi Arabia is both mysterious and unique in many ways. A trip to the kingdom can be both challenging and adventurous at the same time. Getting used to a new culture, language, and country can also be the way to test ones patience. Saudi Arabia is no exception. Below is some useful information for anyone preparing to visit or move here either alone or with family.  The work week, Prayer times, Ramadan, Value of time, women aren’t permitted to drive, etc…”

Every country has its list of “things you should know before moving to that country.”  It is good to get a “head’s up,” so that your culture shock reaction to it when you get there is minimized!

Trip to Taif Mountains!

“After reading about the horror stories of Riyadh zoo we wanted to see how bad was Taif zoo. To our surprise it was no way close to the Riyadh zoo. Things were not how they should have been but the animals had bigger cages. The lion did look malnourished but in much better shape than the one in Riyadh. The lion and the bear also had open areas to walk freely. But along with all the usual we also saw a few animals that really surprised us. Actually, we couldn’t stop laughing! I’ll let y’all decide for yourselves…”

Zoos in other countries are quite the interesting experience. How VERY interesting that the zoo in Riyadh has American pets on offer. Check out the American dog and Ameircan cat exhibit pictures on this blog entry!

Andrea’s Holiday Experiences Around the World!

“I have lived in several countries (Spain, the US of course,Taiwan, Kazakhstan and now Saudi Arabia) but never for more than one year. The first holiday that I ever “missed” was the 4th of July. In Kazakhstan I celebrated this patriotic holiday at the American Embassy. It felt so American with green grass and hamburgers fresh from the grill. It was oddly entertaining and enjoyable. Yet, I knew the whole time that we were not in America, so it felt kind of strange celebrating our independance-in another country…”

It is important to have an open mind to participating in the celebrations and holidays in the host country, but it is also important to remember and celebrate the ones from your home country too. Celebrating your own holidays abroad can potentially bring new meaning and even more fun memories to you.

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1300+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.  We have over 6000+ submitted comments and information as of this blog entry!

Want to work for  an international school in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia like this blogger?  Currently, we have 20 international schools listed in the Qatar on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

Jeddah Knowledge International School (26 Comments)
American International School Riyadh (11 Comments)
King Faisal School (Riyadh) (8 Comments)
Rowad Alkhaleej International School (Dammam) (8 Comments)
Al-Oruba International Schools (8 Comments)
International Programs School (Al Khobar) (13 Comments)
International Schools Group (14 Comments)
Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (23 Comments)

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

Blogs of international school teachers: “All you need to know about teaching overseas.”

Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 23rd blog that we would like to highlight is called “All you need to know about teaching overseas.”  Check out the wealth of information in the blog entries of this international school teacher who has worked at an international school in Thailand.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

5 Things I Love About Living in Thailand

“What do you love about the place where you live? Here are 5 things about living in Thailand that I love. I couldn’t possibly choose which of these would make it as my number one favourite thing, but these are definitely the top 5!

I love having a pool
I went down to the pool in my apartment building today after work and swam for a while. When I got back to my apartment, it struck me that having my own pool (okay, I do share it with the other people in my building but I am usually in it by myself) is one of the things I love about living here in Thailand…”

It is important to sit back and think about why you took this job in the first place.  Surely there are things to celebrate about your current placement.  This blogger celebrates the housing perks that one might have like a pool, the lovely local cuisine, the wonderful shopping experience of bargaining, the coolness of your encounters with the local people,  etc.

What Your Procrastination is Costing You!

“I’m currently looking at the TES Jobs website in another window, and I’ve discovered that there are 229 international schools advertising jobs there this week.  I’ve looked at several adverts and many of these schools are advertising more than one teaching vacancy.  What are you waiting for? Check out the TES Jobs website today…”

To get a job at an international school, many times you have to be on the ball and very proactive. Checking out all the vacancy websites is just one of the many things a prospective international school teacher needs to do.  Sometimes it can get obsessive, checking those websites every day…sometimes 3-4 times a day!  The TES website is mostly great in finding jobs at British international schools.

One concern for teachers moving overseas is…

“Teachers who are looking to move overseas may be concerned about pension contributions. There are a number of solutions, and the solution will depend on your personal situation.

One thing that you can consider is an overseas teacher pension. They are available through a number of companies and most international schools will have a contact with one or two…”

Finding an international school with a pension plan is not as easy as you may think. In fact, many international schools don’t offer this benefit or if they do, it is quite complicated to join and/or keep that money when you leave. Ideally, many international school teachers would be thinking about their futures via a pension plan, the reality is sometimes your pension plan (that just basically happens automatically when you are teaching in your home country) is put on hold while you are teaching abroad.   

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1290+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.  We have over 6000+ submitted comments and information as of this blog entry!

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

Blogs of international school teachers: “Dan and Jillians International Teaching Adventures.”

Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 22nd blog that we would like to highlight is called “Dan and Jillian’s International Teaching Adventures”  Check out the blog entries of this international school teaching couple who are currently working at Al Batinah International School (9 Comments).

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Semper Try

“Suddenly it sounds all too apropos—with such a small teaching staff, everyone needs to fill in to make the school day run smoothly. Certainly our principal sold the job this way and these last few days before school begins have been an exercise in filling in every last gap in the timetable with people ready and willing to take on new things. The second grade teacher (who’s from Pawtucket, Rhode Island!) will also teach grade 6-7 math and the P.E. teacher will dabble a bit in middle school science. Flexibility becomes our greatest virtue…”

Working at a small international school with a small group of teachers would definitely be an interesting experience.  It is much appreciated when administration tries their best at the interview to give you a head’s up about what life as a teacher is really like at their school.  At a small international school you indeed really would have to help “fill in the gaps” to help get teachers to teach all the classes on offer at the school!  Using the School Profile Search feature on the homepage of International School Community’s website, we found that there are currently 513 international schools (out of 1273) that have a student population of 300 or less…that’s is almost half of our schools listed!

Location, Location, Location

“Since we’d been at the school everyday since we arrived, Jillian and I decided that yesterday would be a break—though this didn’t stop her from spending several hours planning her reading curriculum, but at least she was doing it on the couch. I, on the other hand, did nothing of the kind. After putting up nominal resistance, I succumbed to the temptation to begin reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, part three of Stieg Larsson’s awesomely escapist crime trilogy. Just what I need to be doing right now.

In the afternoon we headed out for a drive and our first real look at Sohar. We’d driven around a few times previous, but it was always within a short distance of our house. Yesterday we headed down towards the fish market and the old Sohar Fort and turned south and just started driving. Sohar is incredibly spread out, so even after driving along the coast for a good 45 minutes, we had only just reached the Sohar Gate, the entrance to town…”

It is so important to get yourself out and about the first few weeks of school, especially when working at an international school.  Going out and appreciating your host city and taking in all that it has to offer is a great idea!

New Frontiers

“Less than an hour later during lunch, our principal walked into the teachers’ lounge and informed Jillian and I, plus another teaching couple, that to obtain our much-needed resident card, we’d need to leave the country and re-enter on a new working visa. Ummm, huh? Oh, and it would be best if that happened today. Thanks.

So after the closing bell we were headed for Dubai, or more exactly, the border station between Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Waiting in line in Oman only to be told we needed to exit the country and come back in. Yeah, we got that. Then standing in the hot sun, waiting for our UAE visitor’s visas. Of the thirty days we were allotted, we used approximately three minutes. U-turn, then back across into Oman and literally sprinting into the building ahead of a group coming off a tour bus to beat them to the window. And finally, an official stamp certifying our working status.
I’ll never forget my first trip to the United Arab Emirates. No matter how hard I try…”

It is unfortunate, but this situation is not so uncommon for many international school teachers.  It is really hard getting the whole residency and visa paperwork to work out as you would have hoped it would work out.  We all know though that it doesn’t always work out perfectly.  I guess as international school teachers we needed to be flexible and aware that we might have to leave the country at some point and re-enter to get your new working visa validated.

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1273+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.