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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!

International Teaching Predictions for 2012 #4: East Asia

#4: International Schools in East Asia

“It is no coincidence that a number of established British schools groups are uprooting from the UK and relocating their headquarters to Hong Kong. First Nordanglia, and two more big names following next year (not sure it’s been announced so I don’t want to say publicly what I have been told privately).  The Far East and Southeast Asia is an economic bright spot and will remain so for many years to come.  Not only is the international school scene vibrant, especially in China, but a number of state schools -both privately and publicly funded are looking to hire more western expatriates to teach their academic high flyers.  So the appetite, especially in China, for teachers will be voracious in 2012 for teachers.  Teachanywhere are also included in a bid for state schools in Hong Kong, so if that comes through, there may be lots of opportunity there as well.

Based on our school visits, I can say that schools in the Far East and SE Asia tend to be more academically focussed on average, when compared to similar schools in the Middle East, North Africa and even Europe.  High educational attainment is an integral part of many cultures here and it’s reflected in attitudes towards schools, teachers and academics.  The combination of high quality educational focus and high economic growth in this part of the world must be hugely exciting for many teachers.”

Taken from the “Teach the World with Teachanywhere” blog written by General Manager by Diane Jacoutot.




Currently (as of 12 April, 2012), on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com, we have 165 international schools listed in this region of the world.  That makes the East Asia region rank #2 (out of 13) in terms of the regions of the world with the highest number of international schools listed on our website.  According to the article and to what we see happening in our community, there are many new international schools being founded each year in both regions.  For example out of the 165 international schools listed in East Asia, 84 of them are less than 15 years old; that is a little bit over half. The expat communities there seem to be growing and thus the need for more international schools is also growing, especially in areas like China.

Out of the four countries that we have listed in the East Asia region, the top four countries with the highest number of international schools listed on International School Community are the following:
1. China (107)
2. Japan (34)
3. South Korea (21)
4. Mongolia (3)

Some more facts about these East Asian international schools:
• 54 teach the American Curriculum, 35 teach the U.K. curriculum and 3 teach the IPC curriculum.
• 84 are less than 15 years old, 51 are between 16 and 50 years old and 20 are more than 30 years old.
• 88 are For-profit schools and 77 are Non-profit schools.

The following schools in East Asia have had comments and information submitted on them:
Seoul International School (32 Comments)
Dulwich College Seoul (10 Comments)
Seoul Foreign School (12 Comments)
North London Collegiate School (Jeju) (9 Comments)
International School of Ulaanbaatar (10 Comments)
Orchlon School (11 Comments)
American School in Japan (19 Comments)
K. International School Tokyo (10 Comments)
Kyoto International School (9 Comments)
Hiroshima International School (16 Comments)
American International School of Guangzhou (12 Comments)
Western Academy Beijing (30 Comments)
International School of Beijing (15 Comments)
Shanghai Rego International School (72 Comments)
Western International School of Shanghai (27 Comments)
Xi’an Hi-Tech International School (10 Comments)
American International School (Hong Kong) (22 Comments)
Hong Kong Academy Primary School (14 Comments)
Access International Academy (Ningbo) (6 Comments)

There are many more!  Check out the rest of them here.

Many of our members currently work at international schools in the East Asia region:
Paul Grundy (Taipei European School in Taiwan)
Rae Yang (Chinese International School in China)
Mayke van Krevel (Shanghai Rego International School in China)
Kelly Norris (Nishimachi International School in Addis Ababa)
Kiyo Horii (Nishimachi International School in Japan)
Mercy Grace Caliente (International Academy of Beijing in China)

There are many more! Check out the rest of them here. If you are interested in working at an international school in the East Asia region that one of our members currently works at, feel free to send these members a private message with the questions and concerns you would like first-hand account answers too.

So, we will just have to wait and see then how the “International School Community” in East Asia actually pans out for the year 2012.

Great Resource: International School – a website about the many international schools in China.

Are you interested in reading about the numerous international schools in China?

Then you might want to check out the “International School!” website.

China is one of the countries where the economy is booming.  As a result, the number of international schools there is also booming.  Many teachers are finding themselves taking a chance on China and having a great time working at an international there.  Many of the international schools there offer some excellent benefits, thus making the choice to live and work an easy one.

China has so much to offer too in terms of culture and travel.  With an endless list of interesting places to visit, international schools teachers will never get bored when wanting to explore the country.

Some people think the language there (Mandarin Chinese) is too difficult to learn and acquire, but after working in China for two years myself, I met and worked with many expats there that had become very highly proficient.

The International School website has many different sections to it.

The advantages of International Schools

“Mr. Kai said that the nationalities of the students in his ACS schools are of more than 69 countries. Fitzmaurice from Nord Anglia said that all the children studying in the three schools in China received one lesson of Chinese mandarin once a week from the first beginning, so that when they leave they can reach the proficient level although they may not speak Chinese quite fluently…(more)”

The system and approval of International Schools

“The international schools for foreigners’ children are set in the name of middle school, primary school or kindergarten. The courses offered, the teaching materials and the teaching plans are determined by the school itself. Generally, the system is the same as that in the founder’s motherland, or the popular IB system, and even the school can set its system by itself.

The NCCT in China provides the authentication service for the international schools. The international schools which are set for more than three years can apply for authentication voluntarily. And each time of authentication is valid for 5 years. The international schools receiving this authentication means that the graduation certificates conferred by the international schools are directly acknowledged by China’s official.

Western Academy of Beijing is the first one to get this authentication and this authentication system is first proposed by Western Academy of Beijing…(more)”

There are also separate pages for the 3 different sections at international schools (Primary, Middle School, and Secondary).  In each section, you can find the following information:  the latest news from international schools in that section, highlighted articles, the latest news that is recommended to read, a list of recommended international schools, articles about the perspective of the students in that section, a FAQ section, a section about when there are Open Days at various international schools, etc.

Primary Schools in China
Middle Schools in China
High Schools in China

Currently there are 106 different international schools listed in China on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.  The cities with the most international schools listed on our website are:

Hong Kong (22)
American International School (Hong Kong) (22 Comments)
Hong Kong Academy Primary School (14 Comments)
International Christian School (Hong Kong) (11 Comments)
Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong (11 Comments)

Shanghai (18)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (15 Comments)
Shanghai Community Int’l School (10 Comments)
Shanghai Rego International School (72 Comments)
Western International School of Shanghai (27 Comments)

Beijing (16)
Western Academy Beijing (23 Comments)
International School of Beijing (15 Comments)
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (10 Comments)
Beijing National Day School (12 Comments)

Taiwan (11)
Morrison Christian Academy (3 campuses) (13 Comments)
Ivy Collegiate Academy (7 Comments)

Guangzhou (5)
American International School of Guangzhou (12 Comments)
Alcanta International College (6 Comments)

Take a look at the numerous comments and information that have been submitted about these international schools in China!

Video Highlight: Living in Shanghai and its International Schools

There are so many international schools in Shanghai.  Which ones are good places for international school teachers to work at?  How does the parent community view the international schools there?

We stumbled upon a great resource at Move One.  Their website has a wealth of information about the ins and outs of moving abroad to a variety of cities around the world.  They have many videos explaining what the international school situation is like in cities like Prague, Kiev, Budapest, etc.

Check out their video about Shanghai’s international schools.


Here is what Moveoneinc.com had to say in general about expats that are moving to China and the current schooling situation:

“In the past few years, a number of local Chinese schools have opened up to expat children and some expats without education allowances are giving it a go. Although these are remarkably cheaper than private schools and give children the opportunity to become immersed in the Chinese language and culture, most expats still opt to send their children to international schools.

China’s larger cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou, offer a diverse range of international schools based on the International Baccalaureate programs, the American curriculum as well as the English National curriculum. These have a very high reputation and offer first-rate facilities, advanced teaching technology and equipment, internationally experienced teachers, low student/teacher ratios, and a wide variety of extracurricular activities.”

Their website has many more videos about life in Shanghai.  The numerous topics covered are: medical clinics, what to do in case of an emergency, housing, kids activities, Chinese language, expat shopping, and more…

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 18 international school listed in the city of Shanghai. The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right the link to each school.

British International School Shanghai – Puxi ( 0 Comments)

British International School Shanghai – Pudong ( 0 Comments)

British International School Shanghai – Nanxiang ( 0 Comments)

Concordia International School (Shanghai) ( 15 Comments)

Dulwich College Shanghai ( 7 Comments)

Fudan International School ( 1 Comments)

Livingston American School Shanghai ( 0 Comments)

Shanghai American School – Puxi ( 0 Comments)

Shanghai American School – Pudong ( 0 Comments)

Shanghai Community Int’l School ( 10 Comments)

Singapore International School (Shanghai) ( 5 Comments)

Shanghai United International School ( 0 Comments)

Shanghai Rego International School ( 72 Comments)

Western International School of Shanghai ( 27 Comments)

YK Pao School, Shanghai ( 0 Comments)

Rainbow Bridge International School ( 11 Comments)

Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) ( 0 Comments)

Lycée Français de Shanghai ( 0 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Shanghai, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  If you submit more than 30 comments and information, then you can get 1 year of premium access to International School Community for free!

International School Community Member Spotlight #9: Annette Harvey

Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members.  This month we interviewed Annette Harvey:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I am from Cheadle, Staffordshire in England.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

A long term relationship had broken up and I felt I needed a change and wanted to be in a closer school community.

Which international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.

PDO School Muscat: Fantastic colleagues, children and parents. A Beautiful, safe country. Swimming with turtles, umpiring the Omani hockey, even though I was a woman! Horizon School Dubai.
Newton International School DohaShanghai Rego International School: great colleagues who have become friends. Again some wonderful, supportive parents and amazing children. Champagne brunches. My tailor who I miss greatly!

Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

I am currently working at Haileybury Almaty in Kazakhstan. Having a traditional Kazakh Band play to all the pupils on the last day of the autumn term. Listening to their amazing music on unusual (for me) instruments; watching them move model animals with their instruments and watching the snow fall outside, just beautiful.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

Location, salary, curriculum, benefits as I would never move to a school without medical insurance.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Hard work, but immensely rewarding.

Thanks Annette!  If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

International School Community Member Spotlight #7: Jo Hughson

Each month International School Community will highlight one of our members.  This month we interviewed Jo Hughson:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?
I am a true blue, dinky-di Aussie. I grew up in a beautiful beach side suburb called Mount Eliza, which is close to the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. I wanted to be a teacher from a very young age, as I was inspired by many of my educators at school. I can remember the names of all of the teachers that taught me from Primary School through to Secondary School! After I finished my last year of school, I studied for 4 years at Deakin University and gained a Bachelor of Education. Following this, I taught in Australia for many years before embarking on a 3 year exploration of the world. During this time, I gained my first experiences as an international teacher and definitely acquired a thirst for life abroad. Upon my return to Australia, I married by boyfriend of 10 years (Ben) and we had 2 beautiful daughters (Eliza and Alexandra). After the birth of our children, we found that our finances were quite tight (because only Ben was able to work) and we started to consider our options….This is when we decided to follow in the footsteps of my husband’s parents and (try to) become teachers at international schools!

How did you get started in the international teaching community?
Ben and I decided to take a risk. We packed up our home in Melbourne and bought 4 return tickets to Shanghai. Luckily, my parents in law were already based in comfortable digs in Shanghai, so we were welcome to stay with them for as long as we needed to. Initially, I did some substitute teaching at Shanghai American School, Rainbow Bridge International School and Shanghai Rego International School. It’s the last school metioned (SRIS) where I finally got my big break! Thankfully (for me!), international schools can sometimes face staffing problems at awkward times of the year, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time! One of the Grade One teachers needed to repatriate to the UK due to personal reasons and they needed an immediate replacement. SRIS very generously offered me an expatriate contract, which included a free education for my daughters and other fantastic benefits. I still consider myself to be very lucky to this day!

 

Which international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
I worked at SRIS for three years. I taught Grade One and Grade Two in the time that I spent there. SRIS had a fantastic and diverse range of teachers that I felt privileged to work with. I learned a lot from them and am very grateful to the people there that made my three years there such positive ones. My background before teaching at SRIS was mainly in the secondary sector, so the learning curve (teaching primary students) was an extremely steep one to stay the least! One of the best things about this school was the unpredictable nature of the job. No day was ever boring! There was always something interesting going on! I also gained enormous satisfaction through the time that I spent with my students and their parents, too! After 3 years at SRIS, I decided to leave for a couple of reasons but the main one was that it was too far from the area where we were living. I was offered a teaching position at Western International School Shanghai (WISS) as a Grade One teacher and this is my second year here. I am currently Head of Year and teach a wonderful class with extremely diverse backgrounds. This school is an IB world school from early years to graduation, so I have now gained invaluable experience as a PYP teacher. I love the PYP system and the fact that it promotes inquiry-based learning.  WISS is very unique in that it is the only school in Shanghai offering this educational programme and I feel privileged, once again, to be part of the solid team here.

Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face. 
Everyday that I spend in this city presents either a hilarious or bizarre cultural encounter….It’s just never ending. I am a huge fan of Chinglish- especially when it comes to clothes. Recently I went on an escalator that read ‘keep your legs, no running’ and I like the ‘deformed man’ toilet signs that I see a lot…. ‘

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
Firstly, it needs to be a country that interests me and that is safe. I am not interested in making a living in a country that is not stable and that doesn’t inspire me. I also like being in a country that is relatively close to Australia and preferably, in the same time zone! I am a bit of a foodie, so the area that I work needs to have an interesting and diverse range of restaurants and cuisine. I also need to mention that I like the cost of living to be low enough to allow me to save some money and finally, there need to be cities and countries nearby that I can explore during my time away from school! 

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Fascinating, exciting, lucrative, wide-ranging and addictive!

Thanks Jo!  If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

School profile highlights #10: Int’l School of Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai Rego Int’l School and Colegio Nueva Granada

Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments and information on the following international schools:

International School of Kuala Lumpur (2 new comments) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

New information or comment in the School section: “English is the primary language in the hallways. There are a number of EAL students, but are not the majority. The largest single cultural group is Korean (24%) but there is a cap of 25% per class year of any one particular cultural group, ensuring an international make up to the school community.”

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Colegio Nueva Granada (2 new comments) in Bogota, Colombia

 

New information or comment in the City section: “If you either speak or at least try to speak Spanish they will love you. It is a great city to learn the language and the people are very happy to speak to foreigners about their own countries, etc.”

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Shanghai Rego International School (6 new comments) in Shanghai, China

 

New information or comment in the Benefits section: “This year the school has given another option for housing. It’s a place called Royal Garden and everyone seems quite impressed with it! I’m still happy though with my own choice in the city but its good to have another option.”