After completing a whirlwind first semester as Assistant Principal at a busy International school in Hong Kong, Ryan Peet gives us his top tips for settling in as quickly as possible to your new job and surroundings. Particularly useful if you are moving abroad for the first time!
1) Do your research
In terms of your personal and professional life, do your research! Ensure you watch the latest YouTube clips, look at the housing areas and read as many blogs as you can. This will give you a good idea of where you want to live and help organise your priorities in terms of location. When you get to your destination it will make house-hunting so much easier. Some schools will provide accommodation for at least the first month so you have a little bit of time to decide where you want to live but having that head start from prior research really helps. You will also be so busy with settling into a new job and sorting out bank accounts, phone contracts etc that it is easy to make a rash decision. Having as much knowledge about your intended destination makes the transition so much easier.
Part of your research is asking questions. Read our blog on 10 questions to ask your interviewer.
2) Get social
From previously moving to a different area (even if it was just the north of England) I knew that if I was going to happy in a new place I needed to be more social than I had been previously and meet new people as soon as possible. After a quick online search, I found a football team that was looking for players (in most cases a quick google search will suffice). A single email later and I was at the training session on the first Thursday I arrived. The team are half way through the season now and pushing for promotion, it is great fun and some of these players have become good friends. Now I know everybody isn’t a footballer, neither am I really, but the point is to get yourself out and about. The people you meet will give advice on a range of topics, from the best places to eat and drink to how to send a parcel home.
Read our blog on seven secrets to social success in your new location.
This one is a little more Hong Kong specific but the main point stands true wherever you are! One of the best aspects of Hong Kong is the location. The airport is fantastic, so efficient. You can get to most places in South East Asia within a few hours. My wife and I decided to stay in Hong Kong for Christmas, which was great, much quieter than usual (due to the majority of expats travelling home for Christmas) and still warm enough to wear shorts. We still even had time to spend 5 days in Japan before the next semester started.
You can even travel with your students. Read our blog about enhancing your international experience.
4) Don’t neglect the culture shock
In my induction week, one of the sessions delivered by our Co-principal was about the impact of culture shock. This is something worth reading around before you travel. So far, I don’t think I have felt the effects, maybe I have been through it already, I’m not sure. The premise is about knowing and accepting that you are going to be annoyed and disorientated with your new environment. Thus leading you to question your decision of relocation. You may even start to think you have made a terrible mistake. These feelings won’t last, especially when you discover it’s -5 degrees at home!
Read more about culture shock in this blog written by one of our teachers.
Personally, after what felt like a huge change when leaving the UK it hasn’t been too much upheaval (though my wife may disagree). There isn’t too much of a language barrier here, most people speak English to some degree. I thought the change of schools would be a huge struggle, especially in considering my school has a high percentage of children from Hong Kong and China, but one thing all children have in common is they are happiest when they are achieving well and enthused in what they are studying. I think if this is remembered you will be successful in your own professional journey abroad.
Have you ever considered teaching in China or Hong Kong? Browse our international schools in China for information and current vacancies. Have you taught in China or Hong Kong before? Share your experiences with us in the comments.