Take Your Meds

August 25, 2016

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If you’ve accepted an overseas teaching position & are living with a medical condition, you absolutely must do your due diligence to verify beyond a shadow of a doubt that any required treatments or meds are available in your new location. Simply asking the person interviewing you at a Recruiting Fair is not sufficient research.

   It should go without saying that many prescriptions &/or medications readily available in the West are difficult, if not impossible, to find in other areas of the world. When you move overseas, no matter where in the world you are going, you owe it to yourself to bring at least a few months’ supply of your prescription so you can stay healthy until someone sends you what you need, if it should become necessary. But do be prepared for ridiculous customs duties & maybe even a bribe or two before you actually receive your package.

   ISR hosts a handful of School Reviews that relate absolute horror stories from teachers who failed to bring meds or were unable to find required periodic treatments for themselves or dependents. For some teachers, the only option was to break contract & return home. Don’t become a victim of insufficient research!

Important Medication Facts to Keep in Mind

• It is illegal to send some medications to certain countries by mail. Check with the postal service & customs office.  This regulation will usually apply to controlled substances, but not always. In Japan some common medications are included on the no-mail list. Contact the embassy of the country you will be entering to ensure your medicine is legal there.

• Learn about the process for purchasing your medication in your new host country. Some medications can be in short supply, a different dosage may be the only dosage available, &/or you could be required to get a prescription from a local doctor.

• Before you leave home, get written prescriptions from your doctor in case you need to order meds by mail, assuming they are legal for delivery by mail.

• Research the destination country’s customs regulations regarding medications. Some countries only allow a 90-day supply to be brought in.

• It’s recommended that you bring letter from your doctor which includes the name of the meds you take & in what dosage.  The letter should state that the medicine is for your personal use.

•  You might find the medication you get with a prescription at home is available over-the-counter in your new host country. Unfortunately, the situation can also be reversed & drugs you’ve been buying over-the-counter at home may require a prescription overseas.

What has Your experience been living overseas in regards to medical treatments & medications?  Do you have any Advice to share?

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International Teachers of Color in The Wall Street Journal

August 18, 2016

hands247206A recent Article in The Wall Street Journal, “Wow, I’m the Only Black Person Here,” interviewed educators of color working in International Schools. One educator reported she applied for a job at an International School in Colombia and was told the school was worried what parents would think about employing a black teacher. Another recruiter in Egypt told her, “It could be difficult as a black woman to come to the school.” When contacted by The Wall Street Journal, several International School recruiting agencies didn’t respond to inquiries about the racial makeup of International teachers or said they did not collect racial statistics.

ISR is pleased to say that The Wall Street Journal’s article sites an International Schools Review Article/Blog titled, Teachers of Color Overseas. First published in 2009, Teachers of Color Overseas hosts 189 posts by teachers exchanging information on this important topic. Unfortunately, from our perspective, it appears not much has changed since 2009. In fact, it is looking like not much has changed in America since 1960. We invite you to revisit this timely topic.

Go to Teacher of Color Overseas / Blog


Dipping Into Savings Hurts

August 11, 2016

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..Location, Location, Location! This real estate adage couldn’t be any more true than in the world of International Teaching. Depending on where you are in the world, you CAN literally starve on a salary considered fantastic back home. Or conversely, you CAN live like royalty on an income so low you wouldn’t even consider it back home.

..An important, but often overlooked step in considering a school and location is a cost-of-living Vs salary comparison. The last thing you want is to find yourself dipping into savings each month just to make ends meet.

..Before you say you can save money at your low-paying International School by living like the locals, you’d be wise to thoroughly check out what their lifestyle is truly like. Remember, you’re going to be there month after month after month. So, if you can survive in humid, 100+ degree weather without AC, subsist on rice & beans & you never need an icy cold beer on a Friday evening, or reliable transportation, or freedom from vermin/mosquitoes/snakes/cockroaches the size of a Volkswagen, this may be a viable plan.

..But be aware that life in most emerging nations is rich in cultural experiences but surprisingly expensive if you want even a humble but higher standard of living. Minor conveniences such as running a small window air conditioner, for example, can easily run the electric bill up to over U.S.$350. It can be quite expensive to make yourself comfortable in the emerging world.

..On the flip side, beautiful, cultured Western Europe can deplete a paycheck (and possibly a savings account) quickly. With loads of teachers looking for positions in this part of the world & the number of jobs proportionately low, Western European schools get away with offering salaries that are disproportionately low in relation to the cost-of-living. Some teachers even report having to take on part-time jobs to supplement their salary with no savings possible. But for many, the opportunity to live in Europe make the temporary “poverty” all worthwhile.

..Fortunately there ARE many schools where the salary allows teachers to live well & save way more money each month they they ever could back home. And, of course, there’s the opportunity to live & work around the world that may offset any inconveniences a salary dictates. What’s YOUR take on this? We’d like to hear about your situation:

..Where in the world are you? How do salaries Vs cost-of-living compare at your school? What’s the name of your school?  Are you saving money and living well? Here’s a chance for us to Share the good & the bad & the ugly truths.


Shots or Not

August 4, 2016

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The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services advises its citizens to take this battery of vaccinations & immunizations in order to stay healthy:

Flu Influenza / Td/Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) / Shingles / Pneumococcal / MMR (Measles, mumps, rubella) / HPV (Human papillomavirus) / Chickenpox 

Contrary to their recommendation, in the past 20 years I’ve only taken 2 Tetanus boosters & have avoided the others. I’m simply not convinced that all the risks of side-affects & potential detriment to my general well being are worth the possible protection from such diseases. For me, it seems highly unlikely that I may have to deal with a Mumps outbreak. I’m willing to take the risk to not have to deal with the potential for depression &/or my kidneys failing. For me, once I hear the phrase “If suicidal thoughts occur…..” or “There is potential for liver failure…..” I’m out!

Likewise, in my many years teaching overseas the only additional immunization I take is for Hepatitis-A. This form of Hepatitis is mainly spread through consuming contaminated food/water (as from food handlers who don’t wash hands) & is very common in less developed areas.  I’ve considered the Malaria vaccine, but after checking into its adverse effects (hearing loss & night terrors), I stepped up my game with repellent use but do not take the vaccine.

When travelling back to the U.S. from the foreign location where I’ve been working, however, I do carry some medications & vaccines that will treat diseases I may have contacted prior to departure. Your doctor, hospitals, clinics & county health agencies may not be equipped to treat dysentery or parasites, & are most likely unschooled in diagnosing &/or treating tropical diseases. In fact, County Health officials in my home town (a city with 170,000+ people) told me it would take at least 2 weeks just to get the results of a simple malaria test. That’s too long to figure out, back home, why you feel so bad!

The decision to be vaccinated in your own country &/or life overseas is a personal decision that each of us has to decide for ourselves. If we make the wrong decision, we’ll have to accept the consequences of that decision. What’s your stance on this topic? Is the risk worth the cure? Do you get the recommended vaccines for travel, or just one or two? Or none of them? Please take our short Survey and scroll down to add your comments.

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