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!
1) 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!
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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?
5) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!