A Letter from Ladygirl

I seem to be spending a lot of time writing to other teachers who have contacted me through the TES. Well, it is good to be able to help. I am going to include this message from “Ladygirl” because it might be helpful for other teachers who are thinking of making the move into international schools.

Congratulations on your retirement! 

I'm sorry I am just replying. I am still learning how the details of the forum, etc. 

Yes, I have seen many of your posts in fact! I have been doing a lot of research on teaching abroad. 

In talking to my husband, we are probably going to wait 5 years to teach abroad. The reason being the county we teach in will pay for 60% of our health insurance if we wait 5 years to retire with 20 years in Virginia. One has to have their health insurance! We are thinking of teaching for 10 years and then returning to the states as we own a farm here. 

I have noticed that some prefer the International American Schools over the British schools. Why is this? Does one have to have IB training to teach in an IB school? I noticed at the International School of Warsaw they hired a teacher who has taught about 30 years in the states, so I see that age is not always a factor. Yeah! It looks like some of the schools will pay for your visa, what have you experienced? Where did you teach in Romania?

The countries we are considering are Poland, Hungary, Romania and Luxembourg. We would also consider Thailand. 

I did read part of your blog! Bulgaria is beautiful! 

And here is my reply.
Yes, I absolutely agree with you about health insurance. Here in Bulgaria, we bought a year's health insurance for 100 euros. Ten years' health insurance costs 800 euros. In the UK, you do not need health insurance because of something called "the National Health Service".

I am not a doctor and I do not have any medical training, but they do say that one of the major causes of illness is stress. One of the best ways to avoid stress is to retire! Exercise is also meant to be good for your health. Well, I find that I can take much more exercise now that I have retired.

As for teaching overseas, I would say that there is indeed a good time to do this: right now. Do not delay and do not put it off. Having taught in the UK, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Romania, the UAE, Qatar and China, I would say that teaching in an international school is a lot more fun. I am not sure that I would not be happy about working in Poland because it is absolutely FREEZING in the winter. Romania? Well, I quite enjoyed our two years in Bucharest. There are heaps of schools in China and we really enjoyed our five years in Shenzhen. Yes, pollution is a major worry in some of the major Chinese cities, Beijing being the worst. Mrs Hippopotamus had some pollution-related health issues in our fifth year in Shenzhen. On the other hand, I walked to school and back each day and I had no health problems.

Visa costs vary enormously. It is standard practice for the school to pick up the tab for your expenses associated with getting a visa, but alas some schools can be a bit shabby about these things. The initial cost (and hassle) of getting a visa can be quite awful, in some cases. The good news is that renewing your visa is often a painless process. In China, the school's wonderful HR ladies renewed our visas for us!

The big difference between "American International Schools" and "British International Schools" is that the American ones are really American schools that just happen to be in Jordan or Peru or Iceland or wherever. The curriculum, the staff, the ethos and modus operandi of the school are all from the U. S. of A. The other major difference is that the American schools pay better and of course they usually insist on American accreditation / certification / qualifications from their staff. Brit schools are (more or less) the same as schools in the UK, but of course the salaries are not so good! There are also some schools that are more "international" and they tend to follow a curriculum that is not tied to a particular country. Also "international" schools tend to have teachers of many different nationalities. I have had some excellent American colleagues in various "British" schools where I have been teaching. As well as having to put up with those dreadfully stuffed-shirted Brits, they also have had to cope with a new lot of educational jargon, but somehow they cope with it all rather well.

Do IB schools sometimes hire teachers without IB experience? Yes, that does happen, but not that often. It might depend on whether or not your subject is a "shortage" subject. Although younger teachers might get offered IB training at their new school, this does not usually happen if you are older.

I am very glad that you have enjoyed reading my blog. It has now reached more than 15,000 "hits". Some people say that they cannot load my blog if they type in www.bulgariawithnoodles.blogspot.com. Well, it helps if you are running Google Chrome or else you could just go to Google and then type in bulgariawithnoodles

Best wishes from Bulgaria!


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