Reverse Culture Shock: Home for the Summer

I’m home for the first time since I left for overseas 2 years ago. It’s not important where home is, but I’ll tell you it’s considered a “first world” nation. It must be because you can get anything and everything you want here, any time day or night. There’s more than 30 varieties of cold cereal and no less than 52 assorted chocolate bars gracing the shelves of my local 24/7 supermarket. Cars, furniture, appliances, clothes… It can all be had in an instant, no money down with 36 months to pay. My brain is on overload!

Everyone is overweight here, getting fat and fatter. They keep their eyes straight forward as if saying “hello” as we pass would be a breach of privacy. Shootings, mass and small are no big deal. It’s just how it is. Maybe that’s why they keep a distance. It sure isn’t because of COVID.

Capitalism has triumphed in this place called home. TV and radio pound away at psyches, insisting on what I need to be happy, what I need to find love. A shiny new car I can’t afford is a good start. Accumulated objects here have replaced friends, family, a feeling of connectedness. It’s business as usual, everyone kept satiated with what they have been programmed to buy with money they have not yet earned.

This corporate-created/managed reality of my home nation must have crept over me so subtly when I lived here that I hadn’t noticed until I looked through new eyes, eyes that have seen something better in a far-off land that my government’s travel alerts and broadcast news make look unsafe. It’s all part of an effort to keep dollars at home, feeding the corporate machine that owns our politicians and pays big money for broadcast advertising.

I’ve been living these past years in what was once termed a “third-world country,” now relabeled, “developing nation.” People here don’t rent storage lockers to squirrel away excess possessions they didn’t need in the first place. Designer clothes aren’t a thing. Labels don’t make the wo/man. Life unfolds here at a reasonable pace. Less tense. Less strained. And people smile. They say hello and nod in recognition of each other. You’re part of something. Friends, family and neighbors count. It’s not just me, me, me, with more stuff, more money.

If the country where I’ve been living is a “developing” nation and my home country is considered “developed,” something is terribly, terribly wrong with the goal. I, for one, can’t wait to get back to my “developing” nation. Am I the only one who feels this way?

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Health Insurance Gamble, USA

If you’re moving back to the States following an overseas teaching gig, or just planning a short visit, think health insurance! Without it, a freak accident or sudden illness could leave you burdened with a debt that makes a student loan from Yale University look like a bargain. On the other hand, the sky-high premiums insurance companies charge those of us returning from extended periods overseas could tempt you to risk going uninsured. It’s a gamble.

With no recent State-side medical records to help insurers assess current health status, International Educators are a statistical risk. A teacher who not long ago returned to the States on a permanent basis tells ISR she pays a stiff monthly premium, with all health conditions exempted from coverage for 2 years, except accidental injury which carries a deductible of $4000 along with a 30/70 split until her 30% of any bills reaches 5k out-of-pocket. Do the math…

Exasperating the situation is the practice of charging those individuals seeking coverage a higher premium than someone who is part of a collective of individuals applying as a group. Interestingly, when insurance companies raise your premium each year they base the increase on total claims in your area, not your personal claims. You’re part of a group only when it’s convenient for them.

Consider the following: The CEO of Humana makes $16M a year. Anthem’s CEO takes home a cool $15M. I make $45K. The best policy I could find upon my return to the States was $950 a month (just over 20% of my income) with a $5200 deductible. I’m not willing to go uninsured, putting my house and financial future in jeopardy. This feels like extortion, not a safety net in case of illness or accident.

To cut to the chase: An International Educator returning to the USA pays high health insurance premiums simply due to circumstances and insurance company greed, not health status.

ISR asks: What’s the solution? Forego health insurance, putting your financial future at risk? Head to a country with reasonably priced health care if it’s just for a couple of months while you’re between schools? What about a family of 4 returning home who are living on savings while job hunting? Any advice or experiences to Share?

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Pros & Cons of a Home ‘Back Home’

Owning a home ‘back home’ comes with some major Pros & Cons for International Educators. A big Pro of home ownership, and I think you’ll agree, is you have a place to retreat to in an unforeseen crisis such as Covid-19 putting a sudden end to your job. On the other hand, a huge Con for home ownership is the question of ‘How do you take care of the place and protect your investment when you’re 1000s of miles away?’

If you are planning to own a home from overseas, the Con side — a mortgage, potential troublesome tenants, regular maintenance and upkeep, annual taxes and insurance, emergency repairs — needs to be balanced against the Pro side — potential rental income, property value appreciation, a home to park yourself during the summer, a place to call home in the event of an emergency.

If a mortgage and other house-related bills are dependent on your teaching position and/or tenants, you may want to think twice. The headaches may not be worth the benefits of long-distance home ownership. However, if you’re financially solvent, home ownership could be the way to go, provided you have trustworthy people to oversee your property in your absence. Teachers report making more in rental income as compared to their salary.

ISR asks: Do you own a home that you maintain from a distance? Has it been a positive experience? What advice do you have for other International Educators considering owning a home ‘back home?’

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Summer Travels

If you’d asked me about my summer travel plans last year, I’d have told you about my itinerary for a Thailand dive-trip followed by a brief detour to see the folks back home. But…that was last summer. This summer, in the shadow of COVID-19, there’s so much more to consider than just how much traveling I can afford.

On the bright side, borders have been reopening. This should be encouraging except…a growing refusal to wear masks and an obvious failure to social distance is causing a serious COVID resurgence. With borders sure to reclose, I’m concerned about being banned from entering my host country if I leave for the summer, thereby putting my job at risk. The EU just blocked entry to US citizens due to the virtually unbridled spread of the virus in America. Other countries seem likely to follow suit.

Watching TV news I was disappointed to see airlines failing to enforce social distancing or the wearing of masks. I don’t want to unknowingly become an asymptomatic COVID carrier, infecting friends, family and everyone else around me, let alone becoming ill myself. I’m thinking that my best plans for the summer may be no travel at all.

As much as I’d love to take full advantage of the remaining summer months, a nagging little voice inside my head is telling me differently. I’m sure International Educators around the world are facing the same dilemma. It would be much appreciated if ISR could provide a place for us to share thoughts about making plans for the remaining summer months, and the reasoning that led to their final decision.

Sincerely,
Travel Bug blues

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Feeling More at Home in My Host Country than My Own

Hello ISR, I’m an American expat who has been living and teaching in Sweden for the past 6 years. I find many aspects of life here much like how I previously viewed my own country: Open, liberal, and in many respects, progressive.

I love Sweden. From their stance on education, alternative energy, abortion and health care, to support for the arts, a free press and immigration, Sweden embodies what I’ve always loved so dearly about America.

The conservative wave, however, sweeping America since the advent of the Trump administration leaves me conflicted, frustrated and anxious. Yes, I am a liberal and I’m feeling exceptionally apprehensive about returning to America for the summer vacation.

Watching from overseas I have felt somehow immune to the turmoil I’ve been witnessing in America.  Distance seems to soften the blow and even allows me to tell myself it’s not as bad as it looks. Of course, there are people who welcome these changes and loss of freedoms, and this worries me.

The atrocious assault on women and the environment, the senseless and accepted mass murder of school children by gun lobbies, talk of war with Iraq, removal of funding for the arts, poor treatment of military veterans and the complete lack of decorum on the part of our president is upsetting to me, to say the very least.

Since when has the free press been the “enemy of the people?” Not since Hitler, as far as I know. Since when is investigation termed as spying? Since when did the health and welfare of big corporations take precedent over the people of a nation? Our Constitution has been breached by the very people tasked with defending it. The America I love is being eroded.

This week I’m flying home to visit family in mid-America. I’m having a hard time dealing with the thought I will be immersing myself in a country that is far different from when I left Her. I normally avoid traveling to countries that abuse its citizens’ rights and here I am travelling to my own country that is quickly falling into that category.

ISR, I’m asking if you would post my thoughts as I would like to hear from expats and educators dealing with the same conflicting thoughts as me. I know there are people who will tell me that if I love Sweden so very much, why don’t I just stay there? I’ve had that thought and am entertaining it. So thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts.

Sincerely,
An anxious expat

ISR Note: Bashing, name-calling or criticizing this author or the political views of participants in this discussion will result in an immediate and permanent ban from our Discussion Boards. We ask you stick to the topic. This is not a discussion on the pros and cons of the Trump administration. Please remember, we are educators!

Surviving Summer Without a Housing Allowance

More than just a few things bother me about my current school. But the one that irks me most is that the housing allowance covers only 9 months. This leaves teachers with 2 choices:  1). Give up your apartment when summer rolls around & find another one when you return. Or, 2). Take what amounts to a month’s salary & hand it over to your landlord to cover June, July & August.  I opted to move.

You’re probably wondering why I don’t just pay the rent & spend the summer months in-country? Believe me, I would if I could, but I’m driven to go home & spend time with my aging parents & a handful of longtime friends. Like most international educators, I live in two worlds. I have a life back home & among other things, I continue to have financial responsibilities. Student loans are a biggie for me. Throwing away good money on an empty apartment is simply not an option.

The school does allow us to store our belongings in empty classrooms while we’re gone. The problem is, all summer long the maintenance people & who-knows-who-else have complete access to these classrooms. Leaving anything of value for 3 months unsecured is not a good idea. Renting a storage facility (in scarce supply) or taking really valuable stuff with you could be the way to go. But what a hassle!

The practice of creating homeless teachers at the start of each school year throws all our lives into turmoil & severely diminishes the level of instruction. Personally, I’m not at my best when I’m preoccupied with getting my living situation in order. For those who haven’t found an apartment by the first day of school, admin recommends staying in a hotel (expensive) or bunking with a friend (problematic). It’s no wonder this school doesn’t hire many couples & absolutely no couples with kids. I can’t imagine what that would be like!

I do love it here. I have wonderful students & parents, & the city offers an endless array of cultural attractions. The school, unfortunately, is owned by a tight-wad. Still, I’m willing to put up with him, at least this one last time. Yes, I must be a glutton for punishment ’cause I signed on for a third year!

Has anyone dealt with this situation? Does anyone have a creative solution?

Signed:  Movin’ Man

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On Retreat w/ ISR

ISR is on retreat this week in Mexico, land of sun, sand & sea, art, music, dance, history, cheap tequila &, of major significance in this climate, legendary cerveza.

Team-building is part of any retreat. ISR’s planned activities have consisted of imbibing spirits, savoring local fare, more imbibing, more savoring, & of course, shopping for souvenirs.

Once we reach full relaxed mode, we’ll endeavour a few brainstorming sessions, our goal being to make ISR the best it can be to help YOU navigate the often treacherous waters of International Teacher recruiting.

Hmm…’navigate, treacherous waters…?’ The sun, sand & sea are influencing me already! Relaxed & rejuvenated….. it’s about time to start brainstorming a plan for the upcoming recruiting season!

Enjoy YOUR summer vacation wherever your travels may take you!

Hasta Luego,

Ben @ ISR

Back Home w/the Job Search Blues


After 4 years teaching overseas I thought I’d be a ‘hot ticket’ in the pool of candidates vying for jobs in America’s public schools. I spent 2 years in Thailand, a year in South America and a year in Saudi. I’ve had experiences with students and parents from all over the world. Any school principal or district-office bureaucrat could see I’m adaptive, open-minded, well-traveled, and uniquely qualified to teach a widely diverse student body. Or, so I thought….

It never occurred to me that people in a position to hire me would view my overseas teaching as an extended volunteer experience and/or a laid back beach vacation! Part of the problem is they just don’t understand the reality of how professional and world-class international schools can be (certainly the ones I worked in) and how hard us international teachers actually work! I’m sure they, instead, picture a thatched-roof complex of dirt-floored huts with bare-footed students sitting on straw mats.

To extinguish any preconceived ideas, I talk about IB accreditation and that I taught in English, while also, contractually, having to tutor, lead student community service clubs, and teach after-school activities. I tell them about the extensive computer labs, sports programs and availability of resources, about how I dealt with inattentive and/or high-achieving students, discipline problems, and parental ‘concerns’ and support.

It may be interviewers fear I’ve been living on a different planet and won’t fit in back here in the “trenches.” Yet, I had 10 years public school experience and was tenured before leaving for international teaching. I know the score here in US schools and I’m ready to jump back in. But how?

Anyone else have a similar experience? I’d feel much better if I could hear about how other freshly returned-home international educators are overcoming this unanticipated obstacle.

Sincerely,
B

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Too Bummed Out to Go Back – Need Advice

The miserable school I work for is in a hell-hole of a “city.” The school, director, parents, students, and everything about this place disgusts me. I’m feeling abused, angry, anxious, lied to, put upon, and, worse, have been clearly cheated$. I’ve about made up my mind not to go back after summer vacation. I took everything home with me that means anything to me. I came home with four, fat suitcases.

My distrust and hatred for this place started on day two when I was given a contract to sign in the local language. The government visa office (the school’s HR people said) would not accept an English language contract as proof of employment. Stupid me! When I received my first check I found a big deduction for electricity and rent! My original, recruiting fair contract said housing and utilities would be provided. Well, guess what? The local language contract says differently and that’s the only one that has any validity here. Damn!

From grade-fixing (to appease wealthy parents) to Xeroxing textbooks and bootlegging software, it’s an unrelenting assault on my professionalism. After I gave a “D” to a high school kid who rarely showed up to class I was told it was my fault — the kid said I was boring. It’s hard to find a student who feels worth my time to teach, honestly.

I contacted my recruiter who gave me some bull about how breaking contract would destroy my chances of getting an overseas position in the future. This guy should be arrested for human trafficking!

I posted a lengthy, truthful review of this school and now I’m afraid if I do go back they’ll accuse me of writing it. I could actually find myself in jail, when any number of teachers could write a very similar report. We’ve been texting as a group and we’re all thinking of not returning. We had to buy our own tickets home and they said they will reimburse us when we get back. Yeah, right…

Anyone have an experience like this? I could use some advice at this point.

 

 

 

 

Leave No Task Behind

...If you’re returning to your current school after summer break, or moving on, a score of tasks are on the immediate horizon. As if final exams & report cards are not enough, there’s a zillion things you need to do prior to departure.

Tedious classroom inventories, equipment/materials return, preparing your room for potential maintenance crews & getting grades in on time can turn the last days of the school year into complete pandemonium. Add to this personal responsibilties such as travel plans & providing for maids, gardeners, phone/utility bills (if you’re returning after vacation) & the most organized among us can easily find themselves overwhelmed.

To complicate matters, some schools do not offer housing allowances for the summer months, prompting many returning teachers to give up their home to save money. This, of course, leaves the additional task of securely storing home/personal items until your return & then finding &/or renting new “digs.” If you have pets who are not joining you on vacation, the task can be even more daunting.

If you’re moving on to a new school, you have an especially difficult task ahead. In addition to the business of leaving your “old” school, you must arrange to ship your personal belongings, closeout cell phone/internet/utility accounts, collect deposits, sell the car/furniture, & perhaps hardest of all, say good-bye to dear friends. The big & little details of moving-on can be daunting & extremely time-consuming.

There’s far more involved in leaving a school for the summer break, or forever, than merely locking the door. Join us here to SHARE your must-do list, COMPARE experiences, ASK questions & OFFER ADVICE on how to leave no task behind.

  Ringo says: Well this time I am restricting myself to what I can carry on a plane – everything else has to go – a new way of living!

  Globetrotter1 says: We have had a similar problem with shipping to South America – an absolute nightmare – the cost of shipping was reasonable but the customs taxes (more than the cost of shipping) have forced us to have a major downsize. Most of our weight is books and clothes so we have had to take the hard decision of scanning most of our books. The remainder we will ship back to our home country and when we leave 3 weeks later for our next post we are all taking it on the plane (yes it sounds crazy but it is cheaper!). It helps to only fly with an airline which lets you take a lot on the plane!

  Allen says:  If you are returning to the same school, you may be able to store some items at the school. I was fortunate, my schools had a campus the size of a small university. If you are returning to the same apartment complex, you may be able to store items with the complex for the summer. Finally, friends who are staying for the summer or nationals that you taught with at your school could help you.

  Phil Johnson says: Having had 5 summers effectively homeless due to tenants living in my State-side home I recommend that if you can afford it, leave your house empty so it is there when you are bakc home. You do need a family member or friend to look after it though. Alternatively rent it for 6 months through the winter and get tenants to vacate afterwards, this adds to costs but at least you know where you are spending the summer.

  JMS says: Even when I am not moving on, I use the end of the school year as an opportunity to do some spring cleaning. I bag up old clothes or items I simply don’t use anymore and give them to my housekeeper or someone in need. I also come up with a summer “to do” list for my housekeeper, and give his number to the school so that they can contact him when they need to do the painting and repairs over the summer.

  Michelle says: My “old” school really helped out us departing teachers by allowing us to hold a “garage” sale–we made a party out of it and included the incoming staff by sending them photos of the bigger items (transfer of item for cash via the school), and one colleague sold their car to an incoming teacher. The parents also bought an amazing amount of our stuff plus brought music, treats, lunch and drinks galore for the all-day event. We got the word out to the neighborhood and the sale was a huge success!

Our flight, fortunately, is not until a bit more than a week after school ends and I’m glad we thought of that to give us time to unwind and finish up details of exiting the country and school/jobs. Our girls will have some play dates to fully say goodbye to their friends, too. I’ll be at home packing (while having a beer or two or…).

Another thing which is really helping is that I’ve hired trusted locals to come and help me clean our apartment, pack, sort, and dispose of unwanted items. This way they get a chance to make some extra money, while taking away some items themselves which can be sold or used in their own homes. They are also helping with languages difficulties when getting our deposits back from landlords, for example. These are people who have worked alongside us at school as aides and maintenance staff, so we’re also able to enjoy some more time with these helpers, our friends.

And finally, we were able to sell our car to a worker at our school, a good deal for him and an easy transaction for us. And, we get a ride to the airport with hugs and pleasant goodbyes!

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Survey:

With the academic year over or soon to be ending at International Schools around the globe, you no doubt have a clear idea of what the near future has in store for you. Take our quick Survey and check the real-time results to learn what’s up for your colleagues in the summer months and onward into the next school year. It’s always nice to know how YOU fit into the picture! Here’s your opportunity.

 

Go to follow-up survey results article

 

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Departing Thoughts

Whether you’re departing your International School for the very last time, or just heading home for the summer break, countless experiences have influenced how you’re feeling about saying goodbye. Some of us have had the experience of a lifetime and depart with reservations. Others of us will say we had a so-so experience but are ready to move on. Still others will say…This sucked–I’m glad to be out of this hell-hole of a school!

With summer vacation and/or completion of Contracts on the horizon, ISR asks: What are YOU thinking/feeling as you prepare to depart your school?

We’ve supplied a writing prompt to get you started. Just copy a statement (in green, below) that applies to you, paste it into the Reply Box and let ‘er rip. Keep it short or go into detail–it’s up to you.

Prompts & Examples

Prompt 1: As I make plans to leave my school for the very last time…
(sample reply – your experience may be different) I’m experiencing mixed emotions. I’ve formed some wonderful friendships with colleagues and host nationals. The kids have been a joy to teach and the parents have been supportive. I probably could have stayed longer but I just want to see what else is out there. I’m not getting any younger. I hope my next school is as special as this one. (Optional – Enter School name)

Prompt 2: As I make plans to head home for summer vacation…
(sample reply – your experience may be different) I feel relieved and ecstatic to be leaving this poor excuse of a school and putting this nightmare to rest for at least a few months. I’m seriously thinking of not returning at the end of the summer. I don’t think I can face another year of this. (Optional – Enter School name)

Now it’s YOUR turn. How do YOU rate your upcoming exit on the Depart-O-Meter?

Too Frazzled to Go Back

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..Hello ISR, I’ve noticed you post teachers’ letters from time to time and open them up for discussion. The situation I’m in is literally making me physically ill from stressing over what to do. I’m just frazzled at this point and could use some advice and support from other teachers. Maybe someone out there has been in the same situation? Here goes, I hope you post this:

..This past school year, I (a single woman in my early 30s) was teaching in the Middle East and can honestly say the place I’m in is disgusting beyond words. I do take care to cover up very well, yet I literally can’t walk 10 steps on the street without some jackass ogling me or making disgusting sounds. Men have even lewdly touched me in crowded situations. From the city to the the school, just the thought of the place sickens me.

..The final straw was when I turned to walk away from a little kiosk and glimpsed the driver of a parked taxi eyeing me with his hand down his pants — you can fill in the rest. The entire scene is repulsive and oppressive and I feel like I’m trapped inside a nightmare. The school is no gem either. I won’t go into it but it’s definitely a candidate for a seething ISR School Review.

..The point is, I hate my life at this school so much that I am seriously considering not returning after the summer. Actually, I don’t know if I can face another moment of it. When I left for the summer I took everything of any value with me. Any ideas, anyone? I really need some advice. Sincerely, Stressed to the Max

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“Grounded” Back Home

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Dear ISR, The 2015-16 academic year is over and I’m happy for that. The problem is I resigned my teaching position back in December, attended an ISS Fair but did not find a job for the upcoming school year.

   Now what? I’ve been overseas for 11 years straight and have absolutely no plans to make living in the States a permanent situation again. Right now I’m essentially without much of a home, car or job, my health insurance is soon to expire, and have no social life since old friends and respected colleagues have moved on a long time ago from our hometown history. Worse, making new acquaintances seems like a pointless effort.

I’m feeling “grounded” so to speak — bored, frustrated, a little bit depressed — like I’m going seriously backwards in my life and career. I have savings but hate to deplete it, so substituting will hopefully defray daily expenses. I am registering for both ISS and Search recruiting fairs, taking no chances of not getting another international teaching job. But for now life isn’t much fun at all…

I’d really like to hear from other international educators who are, or have been, in the same boat. Hearing how others survived this sense of idling while my career and life languish, or from those who are currently dealing with it, would go a long way. Maybe those of us in this situation can help each other using your much appreciated website as a place to meet and share ideas and experiences. Thanks very much, ISR, for considering my request to share my letter with your readers.

Sincerely,

(Name withheld)

Survey: What Are International Educators Doing This Summer?

summer-sun85091069..The world’s in your backyard when you’re an International Educator! Isn’t that grand? Add to that the relatively inexpensive/unlimited travel possibilities & international travel is, for us fortunate International teachers, absolutely limitless!

So, what are YOU doing this summer? Have you rented a cottage on a tropical island & learned to scuba dive? Maybe you’re traveling in your host country or on some distant continent you’ve always wanted to explore? Perhaps you’re studying a foreign language, living in a tree-house in the Amazon, or building houses for Habitat For Humanity? It could be you’ve opted to return to your home country for some family/friends-back-home time?

ISR Members want to know! Give a shout-out to your colleagues around the world:

v

Take our brief Survey – Leave a comment

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School’s Out for Summer

school-is-out-64404601For the remainder of June & all of July, ISR Newsletters will feature our Most Popular Blog Topics, Forum Posts & Articles of Interest. We recommend you also visit the ISR Newsletter Archive to view Newsletters you may have missed during the busy academic year.

During the upcoming six weeks the Staff at ISR will focus on much needed programming up-dates to the ISR web site. In other words, we’ll be busy this summer getting the ISR Web Site in tip-top shape for the upcoming (& much anticipated) recruiting season. Of course, we’ll continue posting new Reviews every day & featuring them in each weekly Newsletter. Here’s a suggested reading list of timely topics for this week:

Recommend Reading – 6/18

Summer Vacation Dilemmas for International Educators

Teaching Abroad – Moving On Is a Difficult Road to Walk
by Dr. Barbara Spilchuk

Surviving – Looking Forward to the End of the School Year (ISR Forum)

Home for the Holidays

airlinepassenger32913056When I first moved overseas to teach in an International School, I returned home to my family and friends every winter vacation. Homecomings were a much needed reunion. But as the years passed and 3 turned into 6, then 11, I made the homeward holiday-trek less and less, opting instead to travel or just stay put. I love and miss family and friends, but holiday visits began to leave me feeling like an outsider.

While overseas I have missed the birth of my sister’s son, my dad’s battle with cancer, my aunt’s 90th birthday bash. I was in the rain forests of Ecuador when my beloved uncle passed and didn’t get the news until weeks after the funeral. I even missed my closest friend’s wedding. Through years and miles of separation I have slowly slipped into the status of distant friend and relative.

I’ve come to realize my friends and family live in different worlds than do I, both literally and figuratively. I never considered this would be an outcome of my overseas lifestyle. My sister is a corporate climber and my good friends are now mostly focused on the material pleasures their incomes’ can buy. Stories of civil wars or meditating in an ancient Buddhist temple or climbing the pyramids in Mexico don’t register with them. Sadly, the unspoken nuances of our conversation that once united us are no longer there.

By the end of a holiday visit I am anxious to return to my overseas life and it’s a bittersweet departure. Yet this year I’m making the trip “home” again because even though my loved ones and I live in different worlds, just being together at the holidays says it all.

Happy Holidays and safe travels, Michelle @ ISR

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Does Teaching Overseas Help or Hurt Your Career?

career42987091With the current academic year underway, many international schools will soon be asking teachers to declare if they intend to stay for the upcoming 2014-15 school year, or plan to move on.

Moving on can mean staying in the international circuit and advancing to a new school, or returning home to teach. From my perspective of having experienced both, I would say continuing to move within the international circuit is far less taxing than formulating plans to return home. The biggest hurdle I experienced moving home was securing employment in a public school after a decade overseas.

A colleague from the UK once told me that working overseas was a distinct plus for them when they returned home. They said employers there liked to see the overseas experience on an applicant’s CV. I did not found this to be the case in the U.S. As a matter of fact, I think to American employers, overseas experience makes you look a bit “flaky” or could this just be American provincialism? When I hear the words, “I’d love to hear about your experiences in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Romania, etc.”, I know I can say good bye to that job.

If you’ve experienced moving home after years of teaching overseas, ISR invites you to Share how the overseas teaching experience impacted your domestic career: Was it positive or negative, or of no consequence in the eyes of a potential employer back home?

If you’re contemplating leaving the international circuit and returning home for the first time, we encourage you to visit this Blog and pose your own questions as they may apply to your individual situation. Learning from colleagues who have already made the move will be most beneficial.

Teachers Keeping Teachers Informed is what ISR is All About

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Going Home to Stay

With the school year coming to a conclusion, some of us are anticipating moving home for more than just the summer recess. This transition can be both exciting and most certainly, daunting. There’s so much to consider and so many tasks to accomplish. It’s just like staring over! Fortunately, advice and comradery is not far away.

Claudia: “For me, coming home was a brand new adventure, and it’s amazing how even though family tell you how much they want you back, they have all moved on with their own busy routines that don’t include you. Even my parents! My husband and I found out about gatherings and outings we used to be included in well after the fact and we felt like outcasts. It was a weird time.”

Russ: “None of my friends really wanted to hear about my trip, or see pictures and they REALLY got tired when I kept bringing up stories and situations about how another culture solves the problem so easily. This is especially true of other teachers who don’t want to hear how great my students were, or how much easier things were.”

Edmond: “We’ve been out long enough. We have money in the bank, seen a good chunk of the world and are thinking of trying life Stateside again. It just feels like time to go home. We find we miss the football games, seasonal celebrations and the myriad of family gatherings. If we do go home and find it’s not as wonderful as we are imagining we can always go back out again. This might be easier said than done.”

ISR invites you to participate in our GOING HOME Blog to share experiences and concerns, ask questions and offer advice on this very important topic.