Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Professional development allowance details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wonderful World of Int’l School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #6 – “Remember to research.”

“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.

6. “Remember to research.

“I’m sure I blew one interview by expressing my desire to get experience in a program they didn’t offer, and expressing my distaste for the one they did. Oops. I’d mistakenly thought they did offer that program.”

When interviewing at an international school recruitment fair, it is indeed a difficult task to be 100% knowledgeable about each international school you interview with.  You do some final researching the night/morning before the interview, but even then some facts about the school might slip your mind when you are possibly in a nervous state trying to answer their questions.

On June 15 2006 the term, or more correctly the transitive verb, “to google” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. It seems like that term has been around for ages, and although derived from the eponymous search engine, it has simply become a common use for when you need to look up something, or research something. It is kind of strange to think that only ten or fifteen years ago, if you needed to look up information, phone numbers or directions, you had to have an encyclopedia, a phonebook or a map, today everything can be found by a simple click on google. And with the second coming of the smart phones, there really is no reason to be ignorant when interviewing with an international school director.

With the daily flow of new information, we often need to research to get updated or learn about something new, either for work and for our own pleasure. If we need to give a lecture somewhere, we need to set the facts straight, and double-check that what we are actually saying is true. If we’re writing something like a blog or a book, we research.

One place where research is very vital is when we are looking for a new job; especially true if you are looking to secure a job at an international school halfway across the globe. We research the international school itself, the location that the international school is located in, and we research what it is like to work at that international school. It’s important that we know as much as possible before applying for a position at an international school, not just to see if we’re right for them, but if they’re right for us. Most work places today have a website that gives away so much information, but sometimes it just isn’t sufficient enough, and that’s when you have to contact the place and people that have worked at that place in the past (or if you know somebody who knows somebody who has worked there) and ask detailed questions. Researching the job at an international school is half of applying for a job.  Unfortunately, doing hours and hours of research on not just one international school but 5 of them can definitely put you into a tired state.

Being an international teacher only means that your research has to be very thorough, because then you’re not just researching the job, you’re also researching a country and a city. It’s important that you know what you want (career, money, love, travel, location, etc…) and what you’re capable of, because starting out some place new, with a different language and a different culture, can be hard. But doing your homework and researching might make the transition easier, well on the surface that is.

When you research most of the things you stumble on are interpretations, a subjective view of the whole. A kind of second-hand experience. So while researching is vital, you have to be somewhat skeptical and always remember to have an open mind. Google is, after all, just a small piece of the grand reality.

One excellent way to gather and share information and comments about 1000s of international schools around the world is by being a member at International School Community.  Each international school has its own profile page, and on each school profile page there are four sections: School, Benefits, City and Travel.  Members of are able to read about and submit their own comments and information in those four sections, all in a very easy to read and organized manner.  It is a great way to get a better glimpse into what could be your future life as you venture out into the world to work at your next international school!

Survey results are in – How many countries have you traveled to so far this year? (in 2011)

The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community have been to 1-3 countries in 2011.  We were thinking that people would have traveled to more countries as a typical international school teacher travels many times throughout the year, especially during winter and summer holidays.  Maybe we will do this survey again at the end of 2012 and see if we get similar results.

There are many reasons though why international school teachers decide not to travel so much, and one of those reasons is to save money.  Even though the international school teacher lifestyle affords us many opportunities and enough salary to travel and to travel often, traveling is still not that cheap.  The price of the flight and the hotel, plus the cost of going out to eat 2-3 times a day can add up pretty quick and soon you are spending 500-600 USD for a 4-6 day vacation to a city in Europe (for example).

In the near future International School Community will have new member profile pages, and you will be able to make a map of where you have traveled to in the world.  You will also be able to state where you will be traveling to next.  One way international school teachers get inspired to travel is by hearing about the travels of their colleagues.  Sometimes you get good ideas on where you might want to travel to next.  So, stay tuned for when we update our website in 2012.

Related to traveling…a great traveling website that we have subscribed to is the website.

We have highlighted entries from their website in these blog entries of ours:

Highlighted article: 6 countries that aren’t really countries!

Three Job Fairs, Three Jobs: An International Teacher Hiring Saga

Great link – 10 Steps to Becoming Fluent in a Language in 6 Months or Less

So, what countries are we going to travel to in 2012?  For many of us, the options are endless really.  Go on safari in Africa?  Go see the pyramids in Egypt?  Spend a week on a beach in Thailand?  Ah, the life of international school educators!  If you are an international school teacher and keep a blog about your travels, contact us at and we will highlight it on our website.  We will also give you a coupon code to receive one extra free month of premium membership to our website.

New survey: How many countries have you traveled to so far this year?

A new survey has arrived!  Topic:  How many countries have you traveled to so far this year?


Do you find yourself traveling to more than five new countries each year? 10 new countries? If you are an international school teacher that answer just might just be yes.  One international school teacher that we know was averaging 12 new countries each year in a three-year time span!

Is the number one reason for living abroad and working at international schools traveling?  We see time and time again many expat teachers planning out their trips months in advance in accordance to the calendar at their schools.  “Where should I go to next?” we say to ourselves.  When we hear about another teacher’s travel plans to some cool, exotic location, then we also want to go there or go somewhere even better.  We are truly lucky that our lifestyles abroad allow us these amazing travel opportunities.

Many international school teachers are very conscious about the number of countries that they have been to in their lives so far. and other websites help us create our own world maps highlighting the countries we have been to so far.  But surely we are not traveling solely to get another country checked off of our lists.  We of course enjoy the thrill and excitement involved in experiencing a different language, culture, climate, etc. first hand.  This possible issue though is that do those reasons diminish the more countries we travel to in a year.  Maybe a topic for a future blog entry.

We are curious to see what the average number of countries that international school teachers go to each year.

So, what is your number of countries so far?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!

School profile highlights #7: American Int’l School Vienna, Kodaikanal Int’l School & Makuhari Int’l School

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

American International School Vienna (10 new comments):

New Comment: “If you have a BA with 4 yrs experience your salary will be around 38K euros. If you have a MA with 8 yrs…”


Kodaikanal International School (15 new comments):

New Comment: “KIS is fortunate in having a fully staffed Travel Office to coordinate student, staff and community travel. Our travel partner ‘Around the World Travel’ is an India-wide agency with…”


Makuhari International School (7 new comments):

New Comment: “The monthly accommodation allowance is JPY 30,000.00. The average rent for a 2bd apt is JPY 50,000.00.”

Traveling Around: California, United States

Traveling Around: California, United States

Can you relate? (to reverse culture shock)

(from an international teacher living in China)

  • Pointing to things in the restaurant menu that you’d like to order (like you do in China most of the times, even if you do know Mandarin!) and having your family and friends laugh at you because it is more customary to just say the item on the menu that you want.
  • Watching car after car slow down to let pedestrians cross the street as if they have the right of way.
  • Not hearing the honking of car horns everywhere when driving down the street.
  • Hearing the sound of a lawn mower
  • Driving to all the stores we want to go ourselves, not using public transportation or taxis.

(from an international teacher living in South Korea)

  • Actually knowing the difference between Korean and other Asian language when I see it on signs while in Los Angeles! (I never had a clue before!)
  • Seeing no one walking on the streets……….everyone is in a car or bus.
  • Getting a break from AFN (the Armed Forces Network) on the TV
  • No extreme climate in California
  • Noticing the “larger size” of Americans…..

If you are on a trip right now from your host country, write to us at with your reverse culture shock experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in your home country and how you are coping with going back to your own culture.  If we choose your “Can you relate?” experience, International School Community will give you a coupon code for 1 free month of premium membership!

“The Amazing Race” of International School Teaching

“If only my life could be like The Amazing Race!” I say that to myself all the time.

I can’t stop watching this show as it is like all my dreams coming true.  How cool would it be to travel around the world (for free), do amazing challenges with your teammate and interact in a very interesting and meaningful way with a variety of different cultures?

Many of my international teacher friends watch this show religiously. Why? Because I think we are attempting to do “The Amazing Race” in our lives abroad every time we book a flight for our next trip.  The international educator’s life is one step closer to the life of an Amazing Race contestant.  Luckily, we have more money and more vacation time to go on more trips.  Living in the United States, I was lucky to travel internationally once a year (and it was more like every 2-3 years).  Because of that fact, it will be some day when I decide to go back to live there.

Here are the countries that The Amazing Race has been to so far:

Who cries during the finale, when the winning team is running towards the final pit stop mat?  Actually, I get emotional at the end of any of the episodes; when the last team explains what traveling around the world with their teammate has meant to them.  I do like traveling by myself, but there is something quite special experiencing another language and culture in a foreign country with a good friend or your life partner.  I personally have some great memories about many of my trips that I have taken with friends.

The unfortunate thing is that the vast majority of us will never get to be on the Race itself while living abroad.  You need to be currently living in the U.S.  Also, you need to be able to leave your job for 2-3 months, and that is just not possible for most of us working at international schools.

How cool to meet someone though who has actually been on The Amazing Race?  I actually have met somebody (who is currently an international school teacher) who was on the Race!  It was the The Amazing Race though in Belgium.  She got in 2nd place!

Survey results are in – What’s the top reason for why you want to teach at international schools?

The survey results are in, and it seems as if travel and location are the main reasons why us teachers want to work at internationals schools.

Contrary to what you might say in an interview setting, most people are focusing on getting jobs in desirable locations.  Obviously, those locations might be different for different people…thank goodness!  It is not just teachers that are interested in location, it is the administrators as well.

I went to a recruiting fair once and went to about 4-6 school information sessions.  The vast majority of their presentations had to do with the location that the school was in.  Now of course, prospective teachers need to know about where they might be moving to, but to have the majority of their presentation be about location and the places you can travel to from there?  It is pretty obvious what is motivating people.

One area that I think is very important, now knowing how important travel and location is, is to know more about the airport in the city that you choose to live in.  Is it a good hub?  How much to round trip tickets cost to locations with the country and outside of the country, and more importantly to your home country?  Which places are cheaper to go to?  Answers to these important questions on our minds, can be found on the school profiles page here on International School Community.  Of the 4 sections, travel is one of them.  Here are the 4 questions that you will find there and can leave your comments on: