|Teaching Jobs Overseas
International Teaching Jobs
When I left the United States, it was as a single woman, with my teaching certificate in one hand and a suitcase in the other. It was the best thing I have ever done in my life.
Igor and I spent a few wonderful years at the Anglo-American School of Sofia (AAS) - in the capital of Bulgaria. Here's a videoclip about our school.
After a few years in Japan, I teach in Hong Kong now (since July 2011).
In 1996 we started this website as an attempt to share our overseas experiences and help those who begin to explore the big and exciting world of international education. It's hard to believe that it has been 15 years already!
“The reward is an enormous storehouse of people and places, memories and experiences”
A comfortable tax-free salary.
Yet, you will probably ask me, "What is so different about working overseas?" Well, to begin with, this is where you stop worrying and begin living.
Perhaps for the first time in your life you start to really enjoy your profession. You encounter respect instead of hostility.
This is where you stop maintaining discipline and begin to teach. This is where you receive full support and respect from parents, whatever position they may have. And when you have only 10―15 students instead of 30, and (often) a full-time aid plus administrative support, your professional life begins to make sense!
Perhaps for the first time in your life, you have the opportunity to think about your investment plan, as you begin to save up to 50 per cent of your salary! (It depends on the country, in some places the cost of living is too high and in the others you'll live like a millionaire.)
I know couples that work overseas for the sole purpose of buying a house. It is amazing. You have no debt! You can travel and do lots of other things that used to be reserved only "for special occasion" like your weekly massage and facial. (Salaries vary greatly: from $20,000 to $89,000 a year for teaching positions, depending on the school.)
Even a modest salary is better when you don't have housing expenses, insurance and car payments, utility bills, etc. Wouldn't you want to have some disposable income instead of paying these bills?
Wouldn't you like to have a maid and a chef? In some places a full time maid will cost you $100-$200 a month.
You meet people you would never meet otherwise - diplomats, ambassadors, bankers, artists, variety stars and other interesting people.
Both daughters of the US ambassador to Bulgaria were my students and I taught children of the ambassadors of Turkey, Croatia and Great Britain. I have met many wonderful people. My students from Spain (my first overseas job!) still write to me! It is very rewarding when many years after you've gone to continue hearing from your students.
Your only regret is that you wasted so much time trying to win the rat race before you found this opportunity. You forget about layoffs, overcrowded classrooms, abusive kids and indifferent parents. The world seems a much better place!
The school paid for our relocation and I had air tickets home for me and my husband. When we decided to return to the US the school also paid for one ton (over 2000 pounds) of our luggage to be delivered to our home in Oregon by air.
We both had medical insurance. The school paid $1,000 for professional development each year - some teachers attended teacher's conferences in Hungary, Poland, Russia or Turkey, some preferred to buy a computer with the money or upgrade their systems. They even paid $500 'hardship' fee monthly and the school took care of all logistics and traveling issues — like booking tickets, delivering goods, finding furniture and so on.
Sound enticing? What if I told you that your odds for landing an overseas posting were wonderful? ... 1 in 20? 1 in 10?
The conferences I attended offered a 1 in 3 chance of being recruited, odds which bolstered my confidence, persuaded me to pack my bags and ultimately landed me my first overseas teaching position.
In Spain I shared a three bedroom apartment with another teacher. We had red marble countertops in the kitchen and two bathrooms with an unparalleled view of the city and mountains.
In Eastern Europe my husband and I lived in huge apartment which had three bedrooms, a dining room, a spacious living room and 5 balconies. After a year we moved to a three-story house with marble stair cases, a sauna in the basement, two glassed-in sun rooms and a garden with flowering fruit trees in the prestigious area of the city — all to ourselves, with all the bills paid for by the school. The only bills I had to pick up was my long distance carrier and my local Internet service provider. No rent payments. No utilities. Free sauna and utilities!
Almost all teachers at the AAS had maids to clean their houses and
apartments. The school didn't pay for them but everyone could afford
it. The teaching couples that had small kids had nannies to take
care of them. It was inexpensive and very convenient. Those with
older children could enroll them into the school — the school waived
all tuition fees.
I could buy American food at the commissary which was run by the US Embassy, with special orders for the holidays, and my computer was able to send and receive email from my relatives and friends all over the world. So there was no isolation. The local cuisine was great and affordable, we would go out for dinner whenever we wanted. The movie theaters had American films, with the local subtitles and an entry ticket was about 50 cents. Our TV set had better CNN reception than we have in America now.
Yes we had our share of culture shock but the whole experience was well worth it!
If you have dreams of tropical white beaches and exotic birds, then you should probably save your money and experience a two-week holiday during Christmas break. If you think you would like to experience something which is distinctly different for an extended period, then consider teaching overseas for a while.
The biggest thing to remember is that you will be entering the unknown. You might have the most wonderful support from your friends and family, the most glorious promises from your new Director, but it will all be new and, in most cases, vastly different from what you will be leaving.
I must tell you that committing verbally to accept a position is like signing a contract. You don't begin bartering for the snakeskin until you've already decided to buy it. Breaking a verbal agreement with an overseas recruiter more or less prohibits you from ever gaining entry into the overseas teacher's club.
If you do not want to leave your familiar North American (British, Australian) standards behind, then you may not be ready to live elsewhere.
If your palette relies on American standards, be it fast foods or all the gourmet accouterments, you may be disappointed, depending on where you are placed. If odd situations and improvisation inspires you, you may be ready. Have you tried live octopus in hot sauce? Well, maybe that is too exotic but the world has so many dishes to die for.
If meeting interesting people, absolutely different from yourself intrigues you, you are ready. If you can do without electricity for several hours at unexpected times or live without your own vehicle, consider teaching overseas. No one can tell you how you will fit into an overseas placement.
If you are open minded and flexible, if you are willing to let go of all the things you take for granted, if you are adventurous in heart and spirit and if you have a light heart and a sense of humor, you may be ready. The experience is what you will make of it.
I have seen American teachers become a part of their community, loved and respected by the host country and I have seen teachers tucked away in their cozy apartments behind a satellite dish waiting for football season to begin or the next season of their favorite soap opera.
Many international schools are isolated, often with limited supplies or access to English materials. You may be called upon to perform miraculous duties, like teach an intimate group of corporate executives the fundamentals of the language or a summer school session to a mixed age and ability group of youngsters with no curriculum and no written materials!
I taught first grade for two years with no books. I taught a group of summer school kids aged 3—13 with no guidelines or workbooks. If you are creative, if you love the challenge of succeeding, whatever the hurdles, and if you think you have an enormous personality with good ideas who can be a team leader and keep moral high in often frustrating situations, then you have the potential to be a huge success.
You need to have the commitment and desire to fully experience and appreciate being somewhere that isn't here. Of course some days you will pine for your home, other days you may weep over the political situation surrounding you. In many cases you will witness poverty and suffering every day.
You may even be required to learn a few survival words of another language and use them. Most rural communities around the world do not speak much English.
An open mind and a commitment to expand your own horizons will carry you far during your overseas experience.
The reward is an enormous storehouse of people and places, memories and experiences; you create your own issue of National Geographic.
So, how does one find a good position abroad?
There are three crucial elements that
make the difference between those who get the contracts and those
While we can't supply desire, the specific information and recruiting know-how are readily available. What is required from you is Action!
The international teachers' community is a sort of club where people know each other by the word of mouth. Once you enter this circle you are never lost, but it requires integrity and devotion.
Most overseas teachers learn this information through friends and relatives. Now with the power of the Internet, any teacher can prepare for a successful international job hunt.
If you use it correctly you may have
even better chances than the experienced international teachers.
I'd like to give you some advice right now: don't plan on quitting your present teaching position just yet. Allow yourself one year to plan and execute your action.
If you are presently teaching, your district may allow you to take a one or two year leave of absence, guaranteeing you your comfortable position back at home. Think of it as a sabbatical! Return to your school refreshed, revitalized and the envy of your peers.
However, there are lots of things to
prepare for before stepping onto the plane which will carry you into
your international adventure. You must first decide if you are ready
to take the international plunge.
Teaching Jobs Overseas /