The life of an international educator can be thrilling, an eye-opening paradigm shift that will forever change the way you view the world.
Life as an international educator can also be, at times, extremely challenging. Thousands of miles away from the support of friends, family and colleagues back home, the rigors of finding and moving into a new home base while simultaneously adapting to a new school, boss and classroom can be overwhelming–especially so if you’re new to the international circuit.
One newbie teacher recently wrote ISR to say:
“My school was not at all supportive in helping me find an apartment when I moved to this job last year. Day one they simply loaned me a driver for one (!) day with a meager list of potential (?) apartments.
“I had to move three freakin’ times last year–what a drag! Why? The first apartment cost me two months’ rent extra because I broke the lease. Either me, or millions of cockroaches that came out at night, had to go! The landlady couldn’t care less.
“The second place was in a neighborhood that completely changed after dark to a very, very threatening slum. That fiasco cost me only one month’s rent. Finally I found a ‘just okay’ place and hunkered down until the end of the school year when I could leave for the summer break.
“All this moving disruption in my first year made it SO rough in lots of ways. I wish I‘d asked more questions and looked around extensively to get a better sense of what was right for me. But I learned my lessons and now I’m HOME, in all sense of the word, and looking forward to a fantastic year at an excellent school. Finally!”
For ease of “fitting” into a new school, you may have to curb your most pressing queries concerning the new job, but it’s of paramount importance that you feel comfortable with your new life outside the classroom. Your social scene, house/apartment are your retreat, a place of rest and regeneration. If you don’t have that, you’re really not going to be happy or at peace.
Veterans of international teaching have a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to adapting to new cultures and fighting the loneliness and awkward confrontations of fitting into new neighborhoods, schools and friendships.
ISR’s advice is this: ASK a gazillion questions about everything. Be sure, from every angle, that this housing, these neighbors, the landlord, car, bank, community, etc. is right for you. Don’t worry about sounding paranoid or irritating when it comes to your peace of mind. Ask!
What are some of tricks up YOUR sleeves for settling into a new locale? Share with colleagues what helps YOU feel right at home on the ISR Making Yourself at Home Blog. Scroll down to post.