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How to decide where to go

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by 8Merlin8, Jan 21, 2020.

  1. 8Merlin8

    8Merlin8 New commenter

    I am curious as to how you decide where in the world it is you would like to teach. Is it that you have been to the destination while travelling or that you enjoy learning about a specific culture? Or is it based on the school itself?

    I’d love to get an insight as to why you made the choice for each country/city/school you have taught in to see what the key factors are
     
  2. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    For us - as we were moving with a young family - going somewhere new and exotic was not high on the list. Anywhere would be an adventure! Thus we looked at destinations that my wife and I knew (vaguely) from our earlier travels and therefore felt relatively confident we would enjoying living in: Portugal, Slovenia, Germany, Switzerland, France and (our ultimate destination) Spain.

    Language was also an issue: we both speak French and Spanish well, and some basic German. Therefore, we felt relatively confident we could either improve one of our existing languages or pick up a local one pretty quickly as long as we didn't have to learn a whole new alphabet or writing system: our choices reflected that.

    I did try to persuade my wife to give Tanzania a try (I'd lived there before and speak some basic Swahili).... but she wasn't having any of it! As she was originally going to come as a trailing spouse (she is now our school librarian), going places where we knew getting her a work permit wouldn't be an issue was also an important factor. Realistically, that ruled out a lot of places.

    Also important was where our children would go to school, so we were looking at schools where they could either attend for free or at locations with very good local schools that we wouldn't have objected to them attending. Again languages played a factor here: if we'd gone to Slovenia, we would have had reservations sending them to a local Slovene-speaking school, whereas we would have had less concern putting them in a local school in France or Germany. As it is they go to the same school we go to, and are becoming bilingual.

    Finally, there was a professional element. I wanted to go somewhere that would allow me to teach 6th form and wouldn't mind that I had very little experience of A levels. I also wanted somewhere that would be open-minded, was keen to advance and improve, rather than somewhere that wanted all its teachers to fit in a house-style, as it were.
     
    8Merlin8 likes this.
  3. 576

    576 Established commenter

    1. Will they give me a job?
    2. What is the climate like?
    3. What will it be like to live there?
    4. Where can I pop to, on holiday, from there?
     
    8Merlin8, rouxx and mermy like this.
  4. MsBuzy

    MsBuzy New commenter

    Different places suit different people, so have a good think about what makes you happy, and aim for that!
    Having said that, I never thought I would have liked Dubai, but early in my overseas career I spent a couple of years at the girls' school opened by the Shaikh in the 1980s. It was a wonderful school with great colleagues, fabulous students and excellent conditions. If Mr Buzy hadn't been posted to the Far East, I think I might have stayed there forever.
    On the flipside, I had always loved Spain and wanted to move there as I could already speak the language, but my experience at two different schools there was utterly miserable.
    So, who knows what will be best for you? Be brave, take the plunge, and have a great time of it!
     
    8Merlin8 likes this.
  5. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    We've always had a list of target countries. We usually apply to multiple schools in those countries and then see what response we get. Its like throwing mud at the wall, you just hope something sticks. Happily, and for the first time, we got our first choice for the next school year.
     
    8Merlin8 likes this.
  6. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    I go for the school.

    No matter how wonderful the country is, if you aren’t happy at work then you’re going to have a terrible time there.

    The UK is a beautiful country with loads to do and lots of history, close to European mainland for holidays, services work (usually), I speak the language, I have loads in common with the people who live there, family are there...all in all an ideal choice.

    Do I intend returning?…nope.
     
  7. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I go for the school.
    Having grown kids means they’re not really in that equation anymore, except avoiding countries that are literally half the earth away.
    I’ve learned that I can be happy living almost anywhere, just as there are whole cities’ worth of people wherever leading fulfilling lives. It’s not the place, it’s the life, and the life is a choice. There will always be people to befriend, meals to share, activities to join.
    So I go for the school. A place with a philosophy that matches my heart and a job where I can contribute.
     
    8Merlin8 and Helen-Back like this.
  8. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    For me it was the country. We'd travelled a lot in Spain and had started learning the lingo, mainly for more travelling. When we decided we wanted to work abroad for an extended period then it was the right place for us. Food, culture, sport, weather, scenery, language all played a part in attracting us to Spain in the first place. We came on a 2 year contract in 2006 and are still here. No plans to leave, either.
    Nos encanta!
     
    8Merlin8 likes this.
  9. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    Well, we were both fairly happy in our schools in Tehran and then an Islamic Revolution happened. Our flat-mates fled the country almost immediately but we stayed on another year until the Revolutionary Guards turned up at my school and ordered us to close immediately. Our flat-mates had, by this time already landed jobs in Spain so we went over and interviewed and we’ve been here ever since...
    It’s not the method of choosing a country I would recommend...
     
  10. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    For me, the checklist is/was:

    1) Country - Warm/Dry climate, good infrastructure, safe (although I did end up on the receiving end of a direct terrorist attack in 2003 - but still went back!)
    2) School - British ethos/curriculum/system, predominantly Western cultured cohort, good job fit
    3) Package - no less than £3,500 net per month, good accommodation, flights, gratuity, good health package

    For practical/personal purposes and out of necessity, money was one of the most major factors for me. Call me a mercenary if you like, but I wasn't.

    I ended up doing 5+years in Saudi, 3 in Egypt, 8 in Dubai. Luckily I found top tier schools each time, although the job in Egypt was 'interesting' to say the least - 'British' school - 75% Egyptian cohort. Dubai was my favourite as it fitted all of the criteria (for me at least).
     
    8Merlin8 likes this.
  11. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    It really does come down to which school likes and wants you. I once got very excited about a job opportunity in Japan as it was my favourite destination and having visited, just knew i'd love the lifestyle. Didn't even get shortlisted.

    Don't stress on it. Get some applications in and see what happens. You'll tell by your reaction to news/interview/rejection what your inner feelings thought of the opportunity. For me, getting yourself out there on the rung is what is important. Going to live/work overseas was the best thing that happened to me in my life and wish i'd done it sooner.
     
  12. englishdragon

    englishdragon Occasional commenter

    I think I can just echo @frogusmaximus:

    It really does come down to which school likes and wants you. I once got very excited about a job opportunity in Japan as it was my favourite destination and having visited, just knew i'd love the lifestyle. Didn't even get shortlisted.

    Don't stress on it. Get some applications in and see what happens. You'll tell by your reaction to news/interview/rejection what your inner feelings thought of the opportunity. For me, getting yourself out there on the rung is what is important. Going to live/work overseas was the best thing that happened to me in my life and wish i'd done it sooner.

    The school that offers you a job will more or less decide where you go.
     
    Helen-Back likes this.
  13. 8Merlin8

    8Merlin8 New commenter


    I agree, my questions was more curiosity of how other people decided on location to apply for. I don’t want this to come off arrogantly at all but I had several offers from various countries/cities and I ended up making my decision based on gut instinct about the school/location as when I was applying I didn’t have a narrow preference.

    It’s good to see what criteria everyone looks for and also how people decide where in the world to teach when it is such a vast place to explore
     
  14. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    I returned to a country I knew, although a less familiar city.

    It was partially because I knew I could hack it (language, lifestyle) and also because of the financial incentive (savings potential).

    I turned down the chance to work in a country that would have been "easier" (lifestyle wise), due to those two key points. I generally don't regret it, although when the weather is grim, I do wonder sometimes.

    In the end, everyone has different circumstances.
     
    8Merlin8 likes this.

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