Teaching in Shandong, China

Irose Hansen is an Early Years teacher who started at Yew Wah International Education Kindergarten of Rizhao this time last year. She tells us now about what her life has been like since she took on this new role, setting up the Early Childhood Education section in the school. Read on to find out about the different aspects of working and teaching in Shandong province, China.

 

ClassroomWhere are you teaching and what’s your school like?

I am teaching in an international school in Rizhao, a small city in Shandong province in China. The school is small and is the only International school in the area. Rizhao is a developing city and is fast growing. I chose China/ Asia as my next teaching adventure, and am so happy I did!

How did you get your job? What was the process like?

I placed my teaching file on Teacherhorizons.com and was immediately supported by Maggie. She gave me so much help during my search…Thank you Maggie!

What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

The city considerably small, clean and still developing. It is one of the less polluted cities in China. In terms of the expat scene, there is a Facebook page for expat in Rizhao, but I mostly hang out with my Chinese friends and family, and of course teachers from the school.

Read all about how Teacherhorizons works. Schools can even search for you now (find out more about our explorer service).

Rizhao
 Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

There are so many! My main must-see place in Rizhao is the beach area, as it is gorgeous. Some parts of the beach are well known for weddings! If you go out of Rizhao by bus or train, there is even more on offer too.

What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?

China has 4 seasons, where summer is very hot compared to back home (Scotland). Winter is freezing, colder than Scotland! In winter the area gets more polluted as all flats and houses turn their central heating on.

What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

The cost of living is quite affordable for me compared to where I came from before this (Shanghai). I work at an English school and because of this, I am able to save some money. If I worked at a local school I would not!

 

chow mein
What is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

The Chinese food is wonderful of course. In this particular part of China seafood is very common to find, given the seaside is nearby. However there are international cuisines from Japan, Thailand and Korea. There are also the big chains like Pizza Hut, Starbucks etc.

How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

There is a BIG TIME difference Scotland VS China! Chinese people are very warm and very friendly, but the downside about it is as a foreigner is that they will stare at you from top to toe :). Luckily for me they think I am one of them, since I am Asian. The problem is though that they start to speak in Chinese and I have o idea what they are saying! I love it here but I do miss the fresh air in Scotland and the quietness. Here there are constant celebrations, so there’s not much peace and quiet!

Have a read of our Happy Teacher Archives, for more happy teachers in China and other locations.

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 17.03.51
What’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city?

The best thing is that it’s small and my school is the only school in the area. Because the school didn’t open an ECE last year, I was able to open one. We started with 6 children and we are now growing to become the department with the highest number of students in the school!

Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

For my school in particular, a teacher with older / middle school children won’t be suitable as the school only caters up to primary year 6.

What advice would you give to someone coming to work in your location?

Learn Chinese!! It would be really helpful if I had actually known a bit of Chinese before I decided to come to China. However, the school staff are very helpful and there is a translation app which makes life much easier. :)

Want to join Irose in China?  To find out about this school and others, sign up here and have a look at our schools in China.

Written by Irose Hansen, a brave Early Years teacher who has taken on an exciting role in China.

The story of Teacherhorizons: An interview with John Regan

As the summer holidays draw to a close and a new school year approaches, for many of you it’s the end of one chapter and the start of a next. The same goes for John Regan, one of the founding members of Teacherhorizons, who is hanging up his hat (almost) and settling into retirement. So before we say a proper farewell to John, we wanted to share his story. I had the absolute pleasure of conducting a Skype interview with John to discover the highs and lows of his Teacherhorizons experience from start to finish. John admitted it was perhaps the most challenging interview he has ever faced!


How did you first get involved in TH?
Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 16.48.23

It all began during my time at Oporto British School (OBS). I appointed two Teach First teachers, Alex and Alexis, and they were brilliant. Just before I left the school in 2008 they came to run an idea by me. They were thinking of setting up an international community with a recruitment element attached to it. They gave me their initial thoughts and during the next couple of years they intermittently met with me and asked for my impressions about the directions they were taking. The crux came in late August 2010 when they asked me to have a final meeting, as they were just about to launch the project. This was fortunate timing for me because I was about to embark on my final year as headmaster at Cairo English School by then and was at a bit of a crossroads. The three options:

  1. Extend my headship at CES
  2. Go for one last headship elsewhere (I was aged 63 so on the borderline for that option)
  3. Retire from headship and take on a new challenge


WP_20150110_033During the meeting I explained to them:  “You have one element missing before you launch. You are both excellent international teachers so you know what they want and how to deal with them, but what you need is a former headteacher to look at the other side of it.” They agreed with this very much, so the next thing I did was threw it out there – “Why not me?” They immediately agreed, and looking back, I have a sneaking suspicion that they had been angling for that all along… Either way it turned out to be a fantastic option for all of us: That month I had a small stroke whilst I was on a 10km run. I felt peculiar during the run, and when I finished I found couldn’t say a single word! I spent a week recovering in ICU and wouldn’t have been there to begin a new year at school anyway. It became clear then, that I had made the right choice at those crossroads.

 

TH1What were your initial thoughts about TH? 

Very positive! I was excited by the project. It was September/October 2010 and we launched a year later. I spent a bit of time thinking, contributing and networking with my SLT colleagues at Oporto and the other schools in Portugal, CES and the other schools in Egypt, and many old friends in the sector. Through this I had begun to build a reasonable network for us, and it had been useful to chat to them and get their initial thoughts. A lot of our early placements were as a result of my friends and acquaintances in the international community. It was actually terrifying for me, because in 2011 when we launched, we had lots of schools on board but we actually had zero teachers to offer!

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 16.51.16What was it like in the early days?

It was miles different than today. Our priority was to get as many teachers as possible to join our community, so initially we were not concentrating on the quality of teachers. This meant that when we put forward some of the best candidates we had, they still weren’t as high quality as the amazing teachers we have today. But we needed placements desperately. We had one or two disasters in those early days because of this – and because we weren’t choosy with some of the schools we took on board too. It was a real learning curve for us.

The early days were really tough, and we worked unbelievably hard. I didn’t go back to the UK immediately, but lived in Spain for the first year and Alexis came out to live with me! Alex would come out from time to time too. We were working 9am-9pm 7 days a week and we had no income whatsoever. We started in September 2011 and didn’t make our first placement until January 2012!

In our first year we made very few placements and the small income that came from them was split three ways. No matter who made the placements we split this equally back then, and this was a great idea because it made for amazing teamwork with no competition. We were all in the same boat.

Here is a great example of our dire straits in the early days: Our first AGM was in Oporto. Alex and Alexis were already there, and I had to travel up from the Algarve in Spain. With money being so tight I had to do this as cheaply as possible, so it was a bit of a trek… I got a local bus into the town near me, then the ferry across the river to Portugal, then a local bus to Faro, a train to Porto and then the Metro to the centre of Porto. The whole journey took about 14 hours… all to save those pennies! That was the spirit of the setup, and I think it gave us our sense of spirit and enthusiasm. It was good fun.

 

aa28fe9a-0bac-4828-b7a3-1393bfdd5d93What have you enjoyed most (in general) about working with/for TH?

Leading on from the last question, the team and the spirit is what has been most important for me. Seeing the business grow from those early days and become what it is today, has been a pleasure and I am glad to have been a part of it.

Give a top moment from your TH time?

Simple!! Getting our first placement. It was some time coming for sure! We were in London at the time having coffee with another former colleague of mine from Cairo (who later became Chief Education Officer of Yew Chung/Yew Wah). Alexis got a call from Lisbon to say they had hired our candidate – Alexis ran into the cafe shouting that we had made our first placement….People thought we were mad!

What has been the biggest challenge? 

The first two years collectively, as mentioned before. But also a personal challenge for me has been to fit in with the company’s set procedures as we developed them, rather than doing it my own way. This is necessary of course as a growing business, to set parameters, procedures, conduct appraisals etc, but I found it much easier when there were just the three of us and we did our own thing.   

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 16.54.37Is there anything you would change if you started the whole thing again? 

We all benefit from hindsight don’t we! We made a few schoolboy errors in the first few years, but those errors are what allowed us to develop into the amazing team we are today. We have learned by experience which is arguably the best way. Perhaps I would have put forward some better candidates in the first few years if we had them, but we didn’t! We did the best we could.

What skills have you learned from your experience with TH?

The most significant skill has been my IT skills! For me, the recruitment part of the job has always been easy, but getting to grips with the website, data handling, Skype and all of the systems we use has been a real challenge for me. My experience with TH has changed my working habits in many ways which I think is a positive thing.

 

9e55a1d9-7283-470e-8208-10d98726318aWhen did you know TH would be successful? 

Straight away. I knew from the initial comments from my fellow headteachers. I knew that if we could build on the contacts and the initial candidates we had, success would ensue. I had no doubt we would be successful. In the first two years we exceeded our targets, so we were a success right from the start. We had to hire new people after two years as we grew so fast.

There were times where our placements plateaued (eg. in 2014/15) and this concerned me a tiny bit. A typical business model increases rapidly and then plateaus, and the danger is if you don’t find ways to increase again bur rather stay at that plateau, you are likely to crash. That was the one wobble I had, but we quickly turned it around. Our solution was to put more money into IT development, and we hired some new Recruitment Adviser too, who really drove the business forward.

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 16.55.34What do you think the future is for TH?

Again…I am very optimistic of TH continuing to be successful. As long as we never get complacent. If we plateau again, we must think of ways to counteract that. From the conversations I have had with Alex and the team, and through our continual appraisal of ourselves as a business, I don’t see that as problem.

As we grow and require more new people, we have to be very careful about appointing the right people, training them well, and sticking to our principles. We need to maintain the same values as the small business we started out as. That is important.

 

 

9ce8ef4e-1fce-4668-85ae-0146e5016318If you could give our Teachers/Headteachers one piece of worldly advice, what would it be?

The one thing I have found in international teaching is that people tend to move around a lot. I would say to teachers that they must stick with a school for at least two years, and ideally three years. For headteachers it should be at least three years, ideally five. A lot of international teachers move around too much, and this impairs their CV, I believe. So my main piece of advice is to stick around.

What’s next for you?  

The plan is to live where we are now, just outside Sevenoaks, as 2 of my children live nearby with our four grandchildren. It’s not quite a full time job – but with school pick ups whilst they are all at work in London, it is almost! Now I don’t spend days doing Teacherhorizons, perhaps I can spend some time with Tineke, my wife! We might start playing golf together again, visiting nice places, and other enjoyable things during the days. Oh, and I want to write my memoirs… but whether I will get around to it or not is another question.

Any final words?

I have so much trust that TH will continue on with its development. I want to say all the best to the fantastic team we have made. They are very strong, and I have no doubt they will continue to produce. Thanks so much to all of you.

 

Thanks so much John! Without your dedication and support from the start, Teacherhorizons would never have become the organisation that it is today. This journey has been everything we suspected when we started – exciting, challenging, rewarding, fun, exhausting but absolutely worthwhile! You have provided us with all the foundations and building blocks to take Teacherhorizons confidently into an exciting new era of growth and for that we are extremely grateful!

We wish you great happiness and fond memories in your retirement and look forward to keeping in touch.

Huge thanks,

Alex and the Teacherhorizons team.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

A teacher’s life in Bucharest

Maxine Huijuan is a Mandarin teacher who started at British School of Bucharest this time last year. As a language and culture teacher, she has always been fascinated by the differences between cultures and intrigued by the different systems via which people live. Exploring the diversity of the world was a big reason for her move to international teaching, and she tells us now about what her life has been like since she took that step. Read on to find out about the different aspects of working and teaching in Bucharest, Romania. 

BSBWhere are you teaching and what’s your school like?

I’m teaching in Bucharest, Romania in a British International school. The school runs a UK educational system, has a good reputation and is approved by Teacherhorizons.

How did you get your job? What was the process like?

The interview process went very well. I had a Skype call with one of the specialists from Teacherhorizons first, and then I was recommended to my current school by her. Not long after this I had a Skype interview with the Head of Secondary and the Head of Faculty. After that I got the offer. Simple!

What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

The city is middle sized eastern European city. It has quite a few parks and lots of city facilities as you need it. There are no specific places that expats go but there is an expat organization that organizes weekly social events for expats. I have made some friends through that and I do sport with them, short trips within the country with them and I also like to explore the city on my own.

 Read all about how Teacherhorizons works. Schools can even search for you now (find out more about our explorer service).

btr

 

Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

If you visit, you need to go to the old town area in the city center. There are lots of bars and restaurants there and if you like an active clubbing atmosphere you will like it. There are also a few other cities nearby that you can get to via trainand should be visited, such as Brasov and Sinaia.

What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?

The temperature difference is quite big here. In winter it snows a lot but with a good heating system, it’s ok. In summer it gets hot and dry but morning and evenings are quite bearable. Extreme weather involves some heavy storms in winter but the country is very prepared for it. I live close to school so I have no difficulty getting into work despite the weather.

What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

The cost of living is quite affordable for me compared to where I came from (Shanghai). I work at an English school so I am able to save some money.

 

 

bbq
What is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

The local food is a bit meaty for me as I am from Asia. And the local flavor is quite mild for me. But I don’t mind as there are many restaurants that offer international food. Good Japanese and Thai restaurants, and I managed to find a really good Chinese one too. I haven’t tried any unusual dishes in Romania, given that Chinese cuisine uses very diverse ingredients.

How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

The Romanian culture is quite different from the Chinese, but because I speak English and have worked for many years with Westerners, the culture shock is not that big.

 

Have a read of our Happy Teacher Archives, for more happy teachers in Romania and other locations.
IMG_20180402_110804What’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city?

You get everything you need from a city and if you want to be closer to nature, you could take a train and do a day trip in the mountains around the city. People are friendly and it is very safe. I personally like the Therme here. It’s a wellness and relaxtion centre with a pool and lots of other facilities. It’s very relaxing, and affordable.

Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

I don’t find too many drawbacks here. Sometimes it can be a bit hard to communicate with taxi drivers. But with Uber and taxi Apps it’s not a problem. I can’t think of anyone who would not like this place. The best advantage of it is that it’s very affordable and close to Middle East and other European parts, so if you like to travel around you will like it.

What advice would you give to someone coming to work in your location?

Pack your luggage and I’ll meet you at the Therme! Ha-ha. :)

Want to join Maxine in Bucharest?  To find out about this school and others, sign up here and have a look at our schools in Romania.

Written by Maxine Huijuan, a Chinese teacher who loves to travel and experience different cultures, and is passionate to share her culture with other parts of the world. Maxine enjoys jogging, movies and searching for the best cappuccino in town.

Five first week worries and how to solve them!

CONGRATULATIONS!! Most of you have kissed your loved ones goodbye and boarded the plane to your new home for the next few years. Pat yourself on the back – that’s one very hard step complete! But now what? Every international teacher will agree the next part is the most exciting and nerve-wracking of all. The first week is filled with the complete unknown, and trust us when we say – it is not easy! So to put your mind at ease, we wanted to take you through some common worries that teachers have in their first week, some advice on how to ease them, and some inspirational blogs written by teachers who made it through!

 

lonely1) HELP! I don’t know anyone!

Of course you don’t, you just stepped off a plane into the unknown… and so did everyone else. There will be plenty of new starters just like you, and even those who started last year will just be finding their feet again. Make the most of this…you have the rare opportunity to make a completely fresh start, socially. You can reinvent yourself, or stay the old you – no one will know the difference! A key thing to remember is that there is a certain type of person who teaches internationally. You all share that adventurous spirit. Use that and bond over it.

So the advice is… Be sociable.
Read this blog: Seven secrets to social success in your new location. Number 4 should have already been done and if it hasn’t – do it now!

 

language2) HELP! I don’t understand anyone!

This can be quite overwhelming. We all remember arriving in a new city and not wanting to go outside. Everyone speaks a different language, you don’t know how to greet people, ask for directions or order food. You have basically regressed back to being a baby who can’t communicate their needs…it’s a terrifying thing! Also, something new international teachers won’t have experienced yet – you won’t understand many of your students. They may all speak a different first language, and though English is predominantly spoken in most international schools, students will still banter in their own languages. Don’t let this intimidate you…you are still in charge and they know that!

So the advice is… Learn the basics. Know ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘how much please?’ ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘goodbye’ and to earn the respect of your students…’OK, lets get started’!
Read this blog: Learning the language of the locals. 

 

ill3) HELP! I feel ill!

Did you think you would get away with it? Thought you had a stomach of steel? Think again! Please do not think you are the only one to get a dodgy tummy. Everyone will, some sooner than others and some lasting for longer than others. No matter how many spicy curries you ate back in the UK – the Indian food will still get you! Just don’t let this put a downer on your first few weeks – it won’t last forever, you will be enjoying the food again in no time. And if you don’t – there are always alternatives. I don’t think I have ever been anywhere that you can’t find chips or a decent salad of some kind.

So the advice is…Don’t expect to get away with it! But keep as healthy as possible.
Read these blogs: Seven secrets to staying healthy that only expats would know, and Staying healthy when you move abroad.

 

induction4) HELP! I feel lost!

This is where your school comes into it. You will be about to undertake your induction period, or perhaps you have started already. Some schools are well established and over the years have developed an excellent induction schedule. They will meet you at the airport, give a guided tour of the area, help you set up a bank account and find accommodation, provide well structured training sessions etc etc. Others will not have so much experience and might not be so organised. Bear with your school, and go with the flow. Find out who is in charge and who you can direct questions to if you need to. Ask your Head of Department to set you up with a ‘buddy’ or mentor who has been there for longer, they will always be willing to do this for you. And if all else fails, remember we are still here! Email your Recruitment Adviser and they can support – most of us are international teachers ourselves!

So the advice is… Let your school do the work for you, and ask lots of questions!
Read this blog: What happens when you arrive at your new international school? 

 

relax5) HELP! It’s not what I expected!

We don’t think it ever has been, for anyone, ever. Your school might look different than the pictures, you might not like your apartment, you might have different classes than you were expecting, and the weather might be too hot, too cold or too rainy. Some of these things you will be able to change immediately or with time, and others you won’t (unless you speak directly to the rain man) but the key thing to remember is to not let these things get you down… relax and enjoy yourself. Get to know your local area, join in with what everyone else is doing, make the most of your surroundings. See it as new and exciting, not scary and difficult (even if it is!).

So the advice is…Relax and enjoy yourself.
Read this blog: A teachers diary: My first week in Sri Lanka

 

How has your first week been? WE WANT TO KNOW! Please email us at editor@teacherhorizons.com with news of how you are settling in. Give us the good, the bad and the best! And if you haven’t started yet, best of luck and BON VOYAGE!

 

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

The impact of Teacherhorizons’ charity donations II

Did you know that by using Teacherhorizons, you are helping us support important projects and providing opportunities for thousands of disadvantaged children in developing countries like Sri Lanka? Teacherhorizons donates 10% of all our profits to support education projects that offer opportunities to less fortunate students in developing countries.

Last year, we selected Tea Leaf Vision (TLV) as our charity due to the impact they are having on young people in the tea plantation region of Sri Lanka. Read more about the charity in this blog and read on to meet some of the individuals whose lives we have changed so far.

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 11.25.37Hansika’s story

There was a girl. She was very sad about herself and she worried a lot. Now she is very happy to remember her past life, because now when she considers her present life things have improved. All because of one amazing place.

Truly when she came to this place she didn’t have a clue about English.

She had a very bad vision of herself and she didn’t believe she would ever speak English. She was scared of learning English; at government school her and her friends didn’t enjoy English class so they avoided it and roamed freely. One day they were caught and sent to the class, but when they arrived the teacher didn’t even recognise them and thought they were new students at the school.

But things changed when she came to TLV. At first she came very timidly but slowly, step by step she improved and by the end of the year she finished the diploma with a Merit Pass. This is a girl who couldn’t even get a Simple Pass in her English O level!

As well as her difficulty with English she had and still has a lot of problems in her life. But this amazing place has given her some answers to these problems and ways of overcoming them.

Now she is doing the Advanced Diploma in that amazing place. She enjoys her class, has caring and dedicated friends and she speaks English with confidence. More than this she is teaching English to students now; she is proud of herself and her achievements. Now nobody can stop her, she will go far.

Thankyou TLV you made a totally different Hansi – a strong, confident Hansi. Thankyou TLV!

 

Click here to read more case studies from Tea Leaf Vision 

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 11.29.38Chamudini’s story

If we learn anything special and new, our focus will fall upon that place.

It was 2016 and my friends Navoda and Sanduni were going to a new English class at a place called Tea Leaf Vision (TLV). They asked me to join them but I had never heard of the place and I thought that it was just another English course, so I didn’t go. Seven months later they had spaces on the Basic English Programme and my friends asked me again. My father encouraged me and so in September, I joined the course. Then I felt a little nervous but thankfully I had my friends who supported me and I completed the programme in December.

I had a great experience and so in January, I applied for the Main Diploma. When I came for the interview I was very nervous but my teachers were very kind and patient with me and so I faced it well. When the Intensive English Programme (IEP) started I was placed in a new class with a completely new group of people. It was difficult at first but as the time passed we became good friends. The IEP was a helpful experience as we learned a lot of basic English, we had fun and we laughed together. But after those two weeks they changed our classes again! It was a hard moment for us, we had already built good friendships but it taught us how to adapt and to change.

My new class name was Enthusiasm: energy, being active and being positive. At first I didn’t feel like that but again we soon made friends and became stronger; supporting, working and laughing together. We worked together during the Talent Show and then the Business Fair becoming stronger and more united all the time. When our class was divided into two teams for Business Fair we still supported each other and when the other team won we still felt as though Enthusiasm together had won.

Our class worked hard to make the most of every opportunity that TLV gave to us. We had the best attendance across the year because we always encouraged each other to come to school, to keep getting these opportunities. Our Success and Ethics [personal development class] teacher, Mr Chandrasageran was our key motivator and champion. Never in my life have I seen such caring teachers as here at TLV. There is no favouritism amongst these teachers they treat us all fairly and they have a big heart for us.

When we graduated from TLV it was an incredibly proud and sad moment. We were all so proud of ourselves and our friends; the skills and English that we have learnt, the people that we are becoming. But also this special time with our friends has come to an end and we are all taking new steps in our journeys.

Now I am an intern at TLV. Thanks to TLV I faced the interview and my teaching observation with confidence. Now I have new friends and new responsibilities as part of our Adventure class. I know that I have to work even harder than last year as we support the Main Diploma students and the teachers. We have new projects like the English Bus Project [mobile library project] where we will be bringing English opportunities to our communities. I am confident that it will be a good experience for us and a great opportunity. I expect that there will be some stress and many responsibilities but for now, thanks to TLV, I am confident that I can face and overcome these things.

How to find out more

Twitter – https://twitter.com/tealeaftrust1

Website – https://www.tealeaftrust.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TeaLeafTrust

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/tealeaftrust/

Video – https://vimeo.com/36237230

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Next year we would like to give to a new charity. Help us decide which one! Read more here, about how you can help us choose.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

What’s it like to teach at Dulwich College, in Beijing?

Zeba Saudagar is one of our adventurous primary school teachers. After completing Teach First in the UK she was brave enough to take on an international post, and has been teaching in China, at Dulwich College since 2017. In this blog she explains how she found the role, and what her life has been like so far in the bustling city of Beijing.

 

dulwichWhere are you teaching and what’s your school like?

I teach at Dulwich College, Beijing in Junior School as a year 3 teacher. I choose the school because they are extremely supportive of my career and personal life. There is lots of professional development available for example being able to attend a first aid course, attend an EAL course, observe other teachers to get ideas to improve my teaching practice and the school is extremely supportive for career development and progression.

From a personal aspect, Dulwich are very friendly, they asked me to attend a welcome session in the UK, helped me with all my relocation queries and assisted me whenever I needed any help or support. When I arrived in Beijing my boss picked me up, showed me around my apartment and ensured I felt settled. they had lots of activities arranged for new staff and made me feel extremely welcome. All staff at Dulwich are really friendly.

How did you get your job? What was the process like?

I got my job with Teacherhorizons. I filled out all the information about myself, attended an interview with one of the recruiters (Anisha) and next had an interview with the school. Within 24 hours I had managed to secure a job!After the offer letter, I had to complete the usual forms such as medical checks, police checks, obtain a visa and legalise all my certificate. This process can be hard because the Chinese laws always change, but my school was extremely helpful and helped me through the whole process.

What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

Beijing is a fantastic city and I love it! There are a lot of expats in Beijing. My school has lots of activities to get involved in such as netball competitions, hikes and weekend trips away! I attend lots of events through a group called Girl Gone International (GGI) from exercise classes to cooking classes. It’s a great way to meet expat women from all around the world and has a real community feel. In my free time, I like to cook, go to the cinema (Cinker cinema in Beijing is great!), enjoy going out for drinks, reading (Bookworm in Beijing is great!) and eating at fab restaurants.

 Read all about how Teacherhorizons works. Schools can even search for you now (find out more about our explorer service).

 

great wall
Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

In Beijing you must see: The Great Wall of China, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, the Hutong area, Lama Temple and Temple of Heaven.

If you like shopping there are great places such as Indigo Mall, Wanjing area, Sanlitun (Expat hub) and cheap bargain places such as the Pearl Market. But also go to the local markets such as Bairong World Trade Centre where you can buy everything from clothes, electronics to toys and it is very cheap!

Beijing has many beautiful parks such as Chaoyang park, hikes on the great wall, Follow the Beijinger, it shows you all the events that happen in Beijing each month. One of my favourite places to visit is Niu Jie snack street. This street is the muslim quarter of Beijing and its where the culture of the old silk road becomes alive. You can get great Chinese food infused with middle eastern influence and it is amazing.

What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?

Beijing has two distinct seasons: Summer and Winter. Summer is lovely but very hot. Winter is lovely as well but very cold and you need to make sure you have lots of warm layers. If you like winter sports, Beijing is a great place for you. You can go ice skating and skiing. Autumn and Spring last for about 2 weeks, the weather then is mild and warm. The air quality is amazing and you can enjoy great days out.

Beijing has a very dry climate. I would recommend topping up on your moisturiser and staying hydrated. The air pollution in Beijing can be bad but there have been lots of sunny days which go unreported. I have an air mask (Cambridge mask), and an air purifier for bad pollution days. If I am honest this winter in Beijing has been great, I haven’t had to use my mask or my purifier because the air quality has been great.

What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

Beijing can be cheap and expensive! Rent is expensive especially in areas such as Sanlitun and Shunyi (Main expat areas). But if you live in Wangjing and Lidu area it is slightly cheaper and you can get a decent flat. Food can be very cheap especially if you go to the local supermarket and food markets. If you want expat food obviously it is slightly expensive. Petrol, gas and public transport are very cheap.
I am able to save quite a bit of my money, however, my work pay for my rent and I receive fapiaos to claim back money on my food and dry cleaning.

 

Peking_duck_wrapWhat is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

The food is great! Chinese cuisine is amazing especially Peking Duck. My favourite cuisine has to be a hot pot; its healthy, cheap and extremely tasty! The Rosewood for a great hotpot. If you like unusual dishes please go to Wangfujing snack street, it is fantastic and they sell everything!

You can buy lots of international, organic food in Beijing. The expat restaurants are great you can get food from all over the world. I usually go out for a curry, and have Korean and Mexican food regularly.

I have an Indian background and I could not have survived without my spices but markets such as Sanyuanli in the Chaoyang area sell everything from turmeric to garam masala. I can also buy my halal meat there and organic vegetables. Supermarkets such as Jenny Lou’s and April Gourmet sell lots of expat food. Also get used to Tao Bao and Alibaba you can lots of great things online and it won’t cost too much!

How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

I live in an expat community and generally, I almost feel like I am living at home. China is not a third world country and is extremely developed, particularly in Beijing. It is the capital and it has many events happening within the city on a regular basis.

The shocks I have discovered are not always being able to communicate with people because of language barriers but apps such as Baidu are great. Everything is open till late usually until 9-10 pm so there is no urgency to rush! Chinese people are extremely helpful and are very relaxed. However, driving in Beijing is scary and people do spit on the floor. Also China is a communist country and there are restrictions on the internet, the films that are released in the cinema so please get a VPN before you decide to move here. Also sometimes the pollution can be bad so stock up on films and tv programmes for days when the weather is bad and the internet doesn’t work (this is rare!)

Have a read of our Happy Teacher Archives, for more happy teachers in China and other locations.

 

 

beijingWhat’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city? What have been your highlights so far?

The best thing about living and teaching in Beijing are the kids that I teach, they are great and always eager to learn!
I also have a great social life, it is easy to make friends and there is a big expat community so you can meet lots of new people. However it is a transient community because people leave and people come, on the flip side, you get to make lots of new friends regularly. I have loved discovering cooking classes in the hutongs and learning to cook lots of different cuisines. I love the winter weather when the lake freezes over and you can ice skate in the hutong areas and at the summer palace. If you do move to Beijing please try chair skating.

One of the reasons I moved to Beijing was to travel, Beijing is connected well to many different countries, I have been to South Korea, India and Australia so far. Flying to Australia, South Asia and Japan is very cheap compared to the UK and because of the geographical distance. I can explore different parts of the world very easily.

Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

Mydrawbackk for Beijing is when the internet doesn’t work and I can’t watch TV, I would say invest in a good VPN and make sure your family and friends download Wechat (Chinese Whatsapp) so you can talk to them whenever. If you get homesick please bear in mind there is a big time difference between UK and China.
If you do not like hot summers (30-40 degrees) and cold winters (-12 degrees) please do not move to Beijing. If you have bad asthma then please be cautious of the air pollution. But the pollution really is improving in Beijing year on year.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of coming to live and work in your current location?

I would say welcome… you will have a great time and meet great people! Buy lots of moisturiser that you like and if there is something particular you like then stock up! I absolutely miss Walkers Salt and Vinegar crisps and I can’t find them anywhere in Beijing. But its a great city and a great opportunity to see China. You will really enjoy it.

 

Want to join Zeba Saudagar in China?  To find out about this school and others, sign up here and have a look at our schools in China.

Written by admin

Life at International School in Genoa

Jennifer Duffy is one of our talented drama teachers, who has been teaching in Italy, at International School in Genoa now for two years. In this blog she explains how she found the role, and what her life has been like so far in the beautiful city of Genoa.

 

isgWhere are you teaching and what’s your school like?

I am teaching at the International School in Genoa, Italy. It is a very small school of only 360(ish) students, ranging from preschool all the way up to 12th Grade. I chose this location as I have always wanted to live and work in Italy since I was last working here on a temporary contract 10 years ago. I got to see a lot of the country and fell in love with the culture and landscape. Also the prospect of moving from a large secondary school in the UK with 1400 students to a whole school of just 360 was very appealing!

How did you get your job? What was the process like?

Through Teacherhorizons. I had an initial interview with Alex and then went from there to an interview with the schools Director and a second one with the Head of Primary. It was such an easy process and made me feel much more relaxed come the official interview as I already felt confident after talking with Alex about my suitability for the school. The interview with the Director of the school immediately made me feel at ease and I knew from that moment I would like the school. He even gave me homework to email staff and ask honest questions to see if I thought ISG was right for me. I got so many replies and already felt welcomed before I’d even officially got the job.

 

What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

Genoa is an interesting city. It is not like your typical touristy city in Italy. If you are expecting it to be like Rome and Milan, it is quite different. For one, you need to accept that the locals are not very welcoming at first and they do not speak English widely here compared to other big Italian cities. So you really need to put in the groundwork and learn the language (as you should anyway!). There are expat groups around. However I’ve been very lucky with the staff at my school and I also made friends through Italian lessons which I signed up to as soon as I got here. Genoa is full of historic buildings which are beautiful and there are some fantastic places to go and explore from castles on the hills to palaces and museums in the city. In my free time I go out to dinner with friends or go explore neighbouring towns and villages such as Cinque Terra, Turin, Florence, Pisa, Lucca to name a few. With friends we either go sight-seeing or will go to local food and wine festivals.

 Read all about how Teacherhorizons works. Schools can even search for you now (find out more about our explorer service).

 

sunshineWhat is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?

The climate is very typical of the Italian Riviera. It can get cold in the winter from about November to February but mainly due to the wind chill. But also nowhere near as cold as it gets in the UK. It doesn’t snow but it does rain… a lot… in winter. Genoa has an alert system for rain as it is on a hillside, so if there is a lot of rain we sometimes get red alert days, which means all school close. However from March through to October the weather is glorious. Right now it is really warm and I’ve been warned to prepare for a very hot summer.

What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

Food and drink is average but rent can be quite high. You need to look around carefully. I’m currently in an apartment in a really nice neighbouring town called Nervi. It is beautiful and the area is stunning, but I may have to downsize next year as it is expensive. My friends who live in the city though have found cheaper apartments. As for saving money, no. That’s mainly due to the wages being lower, but the quality of life is great.

 

focaciaWhat is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

The food is amazing here. As well as traditional Italian food there is also the Genovese cuisine. They specialise in Pesto and Focaccia and the seafood here is fantastic.

How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

It was quite a culture shock when I first moved and I was not prepared for it at first. It has taken some time to adjust, but now I love it here and feel very settled. The main downside is the cost of living and wages ratio. The wages are not as great (in fact I took a bit pay cut compared to my last school), so if you are thinking of it for money, don’t. However if you want to immerse yourself in a rich and vibrant culture, full of traditions, amazing food and quality wine, with scenery that is breath-taking, historic buildings and easy transport links to the rest of Italy and Europe and want to enrich your life… then Genoa is amazing! This is exactly what I love about being here and what I was hoping for. After getting past the initial settling in period of about 6 months I am now enjoying every moment. Luckily the staff here are very social and I have made some amazing friends. I came back after Christmas with the goal to just try new things, meet new people and take risks with my new found language. Best decision ever, otherwise I may have stayed at home.

Have a read of our Happy Teacher Archives, for more happy teachers in Italy and other locations.

 

genoaWhat’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city? What have been your highlights so far?

One of the highlights has been the school itself. It has a great community feel to it and the staff are really welcoming and friendly. From day one I was made to feel part of a family here. The job itself is great. I love it. It’s a lot more relaxed than my job in the UK was and I don’t have half the pressure put on me that I did there. The leadership team are very supportive and have an open door policy, so you feel like you can speak to them about anything anytime.

Another highlight has been the fact that I have made some fantastic friends here. It’s nice to know you are all in the same boat and everyone is very supportive. I also like the fact that I am still quite close to home so people can come visit easily and I can pop back if need be. Being able to take my parents to Florence and fulfill my mum’s childhood dream of seeing the city was particularly special.

 

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of coming to live and work in your current location?

I would say to anyone thinking of moving to the international school scene for the first time, especially in Genoa, is be prepared to struggle a bit at first. It’s a massive life change and can be very daunting. I had travelled lots before, but this was a very different experience as this was more of a permanent move. But persevere and it pays off so much! As long as you are willing to immerse yourself in Italian life and make the effort to start to learn the language as soon as you can you will love it here.

 

Want to join Jennifer in Italy?  To find out about this school and others, sign up here and have a look at our schools in Italy.

Written by admin

Help us choose our new charity!

This week we need your help. Every year we support a different educational charity, and it’s time to choose who is next! Who better to help with this, than our international community of teachers? Being stationed all around the world, you know where the help is most needed.

schoolbooksWhy do we support charities?

We strongly believe that all children from all backgrounds deserve great teachers and a good education. However, most of our income is generated from international schools that educate more privileged children. By giving to education projects in developing countries, we can also enable thousands of less privileged students in developing countries to gain access to a quality education as well.

How do we support these charities? 

We support in two ways.  Firstly, we commit every year to give 10% of our profits to our chosen charity. Secondly, we raise awareness and promote the work of the charity on our website. We give them free advertising space and communicate their message through blogs to explain the good that they are doing. Finally, we like to spread the word personally. Through direct emails to teachers and schools, we make everyone aware of the impact that they are having just by being part of our community.

Read more about how and why we support charities in this blog. 

 

Who have we supported in the past?

camboThis year we have been supporting a charity called Tea Leaf Vision. This is a charity that is having a huge impact on young people in the tea plantation region of Sri Lanka. TLV provides English classes to some of the most impoverished children in Sri Lanka providing them with the employability skills they need to broaden their horizons. For every teacher that is hired through Teacherhorizons this year, we have committed to supporting a student in Sri Lanka to study English for six months.

In the past we have also worked with Helping Hands in Cambodia. This is a grassroots organisation which runs a school for 300 children in rural Siem Reap, and educates mothers and care-givers about health, hygiene and nutrition. Teacherhorizons part-funded Helping Hands’ initiative to provide students with solar-powered reading lamps in order to let them study in the evening, as many homes in rural areas have no electricity supply.

 

nepalWe have supported Teach for Nepal and Teach for Cambodia. These amazing charities are starting a movement to end educational disadvantage and inequality in both Nepal and Cambodia.  They work with outstanding university graduates and young professionals who commit to two years of fellowship teaching in public schools. In doing so, they bring about academic achievement and have a transformative impact on their students. At the same time, they harness their leadership skills through the teaching experience and intensive development training and support.

 

Finally, we work with smaller projects too. For example, we enjoy helping the Giant Puppet Project – a local children’s community arts project that promotes education and self-expression for disadvantaged children. The project holds a spectacular parade through Siem Reap each year (where our office is based), with impressive giant puppets representing environmental and educational themes.

Read more about how we help Tea Leaf Vision by reading our blog here

 

tea leafWhat are we looking for?

We need you to give ideas of charities which are close to your hearts. The charity must be an international education charity, or helping education in some way. Ideally, they should be helping a developing country, but they must be registered in the UK.

What you need to do.

Please send an email to info@teacherhorizons.com with the subject title ‘Charity idea’. Give the name of the charity, a link to the charity website (if possible) and a brief explanation of why you think we should support them.

 

We know that as teachers, you impact children every day, but this is a great opportunity to widen that impact. By giving us ideas, you have the chance to make a big contribution to a charity you really care about. We look forward to hearing from you.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

10 things to pack when moving to teach abroad.

We all know how to pack for a holiday. If you are anything like as forgetful as me, you actually have an excel spreadsheet which you use as a checklist every time…(really? just me?) in fact, we have probably all moved house at some point, maybe even twice. However, there’s something a bit different about packing to move to an international teaching job, in a new country. It requires that extra little bit of preparation in order for you to have the smoothest ride out there. Here is a little list of 10 things I thought you might find useful to pack..!

 

clothes1) The right clothes and shoes

First, check the weather! Take suitable clothes for it. Some places are swelteringly hot all year round, others have extreme seasons which you need to prepare for in advance. As part of this, consider essential footwear. Flip flops or sandals for South East Asia, and if it’s a colder country like Korea, China or Japan, don’t forget a pair of warm boots!

Next, check the local cultural norms! Some places will require you to cover shoulders and knees, or even your head as a female. This often isn’t enforced everywhere, but it will certainly be in parts, so ensure you have suitable clothing with you.

Finally, check your school’s dress code. And if you are not sure, dress up, not down!

Despite all this checking, it’s actually important not to panic and over pack. You will find when you arrive,  lots can be bought or tailor-made very cheaply.

 

plug2) A universal plug adapter

This one is obvious. Firstly, your country won’t have the same plug sockets as you at home (well, it’s unlikely!) and secondly, if you make the most of your time abroad, you will be dashing about from country to country seeing the world whilst you’re there… and everywhere will have different sockets. Take a multi-country adapter so you can charge your phone or straighten your hair wherever you are.

3) Your favourite toiletries

It’s unlikely you will find that face cream you love, that mascara or the cleanser which keeps your skin looking so fresh. So take a big stash with you. I have run out of face wash in Asia before, and found hundreds of alternatives. The only issue was that they all contained a whitening additive which lightens the skin – fashionable in Asia. You also find it in deodorants and moisturiser. Save yourself the stress of being sweaty and smelly, or just plain pasty, by bringing a years supply with you.

Read a blog by one of your fellow teachers, whow gives advice on how to settle into your new surroundings

 

currency4) A top-up multi-currency card

Before you go out, make sure you have some cash in local currency. If you are going to a country where the currency is hard to get (Kazakhstan for example, or Cambodia where some still use Rial) then the next best thing would be US dollars.

Secondly, my advice is to get a multi-currency card, that can be loaded with any currency you need. You simply load the card up with money before you go to each new country and then use it like a debit card. You can keep going to the bank to make free cash withdrawals. Also, if you lose it, your cash is protected. As you get the rate on the day you load your card, not when you spend, you are not affected by fluctuations in exchange rates.

However, do be careful because there are a few places that don’t accept them – when I turned up in Cambodia last year, I traipsed from ATM to ATM and could only find one which would accept the Caxton. Our top pick is Caxton as it has decent exchange rates and low/no fees. FairFX is also good if you’re loading £600+, as it gives an extra £20 of currency. The Monzo card is a great option too. You don’t load a currency but you do get free withdrawals.

Have a read of our 5 tips for managing your money when abroad.

 

cadbury5) Home comforts

Dairy Milk Dairy Milk Dairy Milk! You may not find it there, and if you do, it will be stupidly expensive and also taste weird.  I actually googled this as it upset me so much… I think it has something to do with the temperature out there and stopping the chocolate melting in the heat. Either way it won’t be the same as if you brought it with you. Take your favourite types of coffee, tea, and biscuits. The only brand I have found which has made it fully international seems to be the Oreo. Well done Oreo!

6) An unlocked phone

First, it’s worth checking whether your mobile network provider already includes free calls to and from the country you are going to. If not, it’s worth getting an unlocked phone. If you are on a contract in the UK with companies like EE, Vodafone and O2, your phone might be ‘locked’ to that provider and only work one of their own SIM cards. In your new country you might want to get a local SIM to save money making calls, so take a cheap and  ‘unlocked’ phone, or buy one out there. You may still want to use your own phone for WiFi, photos and music though. Make sure you and your friends/family have apps like Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, or FaceTime before you go so that you can avoid incurring any long-distance charges!

 

bedroom
7) Photos and room decorations

As snazzy as your accommodation might be, I guarantee it will feel alien and weird to begin with. Make it homely by taking the photos from your current home, and putting them on the wall in your new place. It will feel much more welcoming with pictures of your favourite faces all over the wall. Other things I took with me were pretty decorations like fairy lights, bunting and a few trinkets. Do consider space in your luggage though, and remember the new room might not allow for too much stuff. Maybe leave the lava lamp at home!

8) Documents

Keep a copy of your important documents – passport, degree certificates, security checks, visa information and your contracts. Take hard copies in your hand luggage, along with the school phone number, email and address in case you get stuck. You could also back them up securely online or on a memory stick.

Enjoying this post? Have a read of one of my other posts, 10 things to love about Cambodia 

 

pants19) Resources

Even though your new school may run a different curriculum to the one you have been teaching, it’s worth taking all your resources with you. You can easily adapt to suit a new curriculum, and it will make your life much easier. Utilise all possible sources, get as much as you can, and put it all on a memory stick.  Obviously, if you can find someone who has already taught your new curriculum then that’s more than ideal!

10) Enough pants

I’m serious! My poor mum forgot her knickers last year when we went to Spain on holiday. We had to go on a wild goose chase to find pants that fit! Be warned… you may be entering a country where the people are much smaller than you and me (and my mum) and you won’t find big enough pants anywhere. So stock up on multi-packs at Marks and Spencers before you get on that plane!

 

I hope this helps a little when putting together your packing list. If you have any questions or think something should be added, let me know on  editor@teacherhorizons.com. We would also love to publish some of your own blogs, with ideas and advice for other teachers. Just send over your thoughts and we can get the ball rolling!

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Happy teachers about to start their adventures!

As another year of recruitment draws to a close, we find we have beaten our record again, placing more teachers than ever before! This successful bunch are now getting ready to board that plane and start afresh in a new school, in a new country.  We want to share with you some feedback from them about how their process with Teacherhorizons was, and what exciting adventure they are looking forward to.

 

Kristen HughesKristen is venturing to Vietnam!

As I had already completed my profile and my references were in place prior to looking for a new role, I found the entire recruitment process from start to finish went incredibly smoothly and quickly. Anisha (Lead Recruitment Consultant) was very supportive and professional. After a Skype discussion, Anisha was able to recommend roles which she felt were particularly suitable for me.

Anisha, was great. She telephoned me when I had not replied to an interview offer (as it had gone into my junk mail) and without that personal touch I would not be starting a new role in Vietnam in January. I also really liked the fact that she considered roles that were suitable to my teaching style and philosophy so I didn’t feel I was being pushed into applying for unsuitable jobs.

I am really looking forward to getting to know my new class.

Read about some outreach projects in Vietnam that you could get involved in.

 

J Tomlin and penguin
Judson will sing our praises from Singapore

So many positives about my experience with TH. I think the biggest thing was that Tiffany actually took the time to get to know me a bit by email and over Skype and listened to what I said I was looking for in a potential school. Instead of throwing every available school to me, she would match me with schools that she thought were a good fit for me and was able to clearly articulate why she thought each school matched what I was looking for. Additionally, there was great support going into interviews–simple things like quick, positive emails of encouragement, along with brief follow-ups and a few really useful logistics, like linking to a short video on how to create a professional setup for a Skype interview. The other big positive I would highlight is that I never felt inundated by emails from TH–no marketing stuff, no unnecessary communication–everything that came through was personal and pertinent to me…and, as soon as I accepted a post, the weekly emails with new vacancies stopped without me having to take any additional steps. I really felt like TH valued my time, which is a huge help for busy teachers.

I am looking forward to being able to do more fieldwork with my students in some interesting locations throughout Southeast Asia!

Judson is going to teach at one of the best international schools to teach at in the world.

 

Talim ArabTalim will be tripping to Turkey!

TeacherHorizons gave me step-by-step information on finding a job overseas. An initial interview gave me clarity about what was required teaching in an international school. My consultant was incredibly informative and helpful. At no stage did I feel pressured to take a job and actively advised to think carefully before committing to the interview process.

Since there are no job fairs, Teacherhorizons offer a far more personalised service. I felt like I was being taken care of every step of the way from recommendation to accepting a position. They are super friendly and very down to earth without sacrificing professionalism.

I can’t wait to start teaching the IB curriculum!

Check out the schools we work with in Turkey

 

meganMegan is moving to Morocco!

My advisor worked hard to understand exactly what it was I was looking for and then helped me to find the perfect job in my dream location. I was contacted by various schools and also put myself forward for a couple that worked for me. Within around a month I had secured a job in a location I hadn’t even considered.

Making a profile on Teacherhorizons instantly gave me access to a wealth of incredible opportunities, without having to fill out lengthy applications or repeatedly pester my references for each different role I was interested in. My advisor worked hard to understand exactly what it was I was looking for and then helped me to find the perfect job in my dream location.

I am excited for a challenging new role, career development, an interesting culture / location and a new climate.

Want to join Megan? Have a look at schools in Morocco.

 

If you’re inspired, then why not browse our latest jobs in South AmericaAsia or Europe? Visit more of our happy teachers blogs to read more testimonials and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.