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Location advice please!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by shauna90, Sep 29, 2018.

  1. shauna90

    shauna90 New commenter

    Hi all,

    I need advice for possible locations for a career break.

    I'm planning on applying for my career break in the next school year. I want to experience teaching abroad. It's something that I always had a major interest in and I know I will always regret if I never did it.

    I was very fortunate and got a permanent job early in my career 6years ago, in a school that I love (even though it is extremely hard work). I relocated within Ireland for this job and it was really really tricky making friends and finding roots in a new city where everyone seems to know each other already!! One of the reasons I put off going abroad was because I've worked hard to establish myself here I was scared to give it all up. But I want to do things that scare me. I would hate to be that teacher that's been in the same job from NQT to retirement.

    Basically I'm in my late 20s and single. And I'm majorly unsure what area of the world would be best for me. I want to go to a part of the world that has a decent expat community that would make socialising and traveling a major part of the lifestyle. But I also know I need to be careful not to take a job in a school that doesn't treat it's staff well.

    Word of mouth has me considering Middle East as an obvious option as I know so many people that have been there but I feel like it's also got a negative side .Brief scanning of the forum shows me China mentioned a few times, although I know nothing about it.


    Thanks so much for anybody that took the time and interest to read the post and I'm very grateful for any replies.
     
  2. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I have sent you one of those TES Conversation things.
     
    shauna90 likes this.
  3. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    Having a career break for a year and hoping to get a job overseas, probably isn't going to happen for the following reasons:

    1) Most schools have minimum 2 year contract
    2) If a school picks up that you simply want a career break and see it as a temporary 'fix', then you are unlikely to get picked up

    I would suggest that you consider the possibility that you may stay longer than the 2 years and mentally approach it from this mindset. Also, for many areas/many schools, there is a lot of competition for vacancies, so you will need to ensure that you stand out.
     
  4. shauna90

    shauna90 New commenter

    Thank you! I didn't mean to give the impression that I was only interested in a year. I am aware that 2years would probably be the minimum and I can take up 5years with no problem. If I wanted to stay anywhere longer than that then I'm sure giving up my permanent role wouldn't be such a hard decision.

    I would work hard on trying to stand out and get into the best schools, once I focus in on which country would be best for my circumstances: Single female looking for travel experience alongside easy(ish) socialising and opportunities to meet friends.
     
    stopwatch likes this.
  5. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    As above you need a minimum of two years for a decent school to take you on, unless you plan on leaving a contract half way through. The reason is that a school invests a lot of money in hiring new staff and don't want to have to do this every year.
     
    shauna90 likes this.
  6. shauna90

    shauna90 New commenter

    Thanks! I would be happy to commit for two years. My career break can be unto 5years long.

    I'm just wondering what part of the world people would suggest I focus my search on? Any advice?
     
  7. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    Good thinking. The TES Overseas forum is a great starting point to get help and information. As teaching in the UK is getting increasingly harder and less desirable, there are literally hundreds of people looking to move overseas to teach. Not so long ago, anybody looking to move overseas was seen as a bit of an oddity and quite rare. As the global community has grown and the world has become a, comparatively, small place, moving and working overseas has become more of a common alternative.

    I am assuming that by 'once I focus in on which country would be best for my circumstances' you also mean countries which you would be best suited for. There are a myriad of different types of countries with varying salary packets, teaching conditions, cultural experiences, opportunities for enrichment etc.

    What would be, say, the 5 top things which you would hope to get from an overseas posting?
     
    shauna90 likes this.
  8. shauna90

    shauna90 New commenter


    I have noticed that. I do not teach in England, but Northern Ireland - where the workload and stress is not easy however it does seem even more undesirable in England. The main issue with our education system is newly/recently qualified teachers cannot find a permanent position and job security.

    I worked hard and was in a fortunate position that this lack of security wasn't an issue for me. I was able to get a permanent position in a school that is very tough to work in but a very positive place to work.
    However, this was in a city that I had never lived in before and although things seemed to be falling into to place perfectly in my career. My personal life wasn't always what I imagined it would be.

    I found it tough relocating. Something I didn't think I'd have an issue with. Not due to homesickness but there were very limited opportunities to socialise. I put myself out of my comfort zone several times to overcome this and I now feel very much at home in my new city. So much so it's difficult for me to make the choice to leave.
    I'm giving you all this background as it may help highlight why I'm looking for these 'top 5'.

    - Community of people in similar situation to me
    - Opportunity to have a busy and engaging social life
    - Traveling opportunities during school holidays
    - Schools that treat employees with respect and autonomy
    - Schools that are good or better where I can also grow professionally.

    Although I didn't number the 5, I notice that the first 3 to enter my head were all personal. And I don't apologise for this, I've spent 6 years doing what I thought was the right thing for my career.
     
  9. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    Looking at your comments in order, I would comment as follows:

    1) By similar situation do you mean - age? first time overseas? single? Most schools have a variety, from young newbie singles/marrieds to older more experienced expats. I would suggest that most overseas schools would have people who are in similar situations to yourself (unless for example you go to work in a 'local' school some where in the Middle East or similar)
    2) Most places have the opportunity for some kind of social life. What do you most like to do with your social life? Is it a cultural/personal development kind of social life or do you mean partying social life? I would think that almost all places overseas have the latter, but not always the former
    3) Depends what kind of things you want to do in your travel - beach and beer or cultural development (or both!)
    4) I don't think that this can be tied down to a particular geographical location. Most countries have good and bad and it is mainly a case of doing your homework (and/or signing up to the ISR)
    5) Ditto above

    Further to your final comment, I would seriously suggest that personal development is at least as important as career development when moving overseas (or even staying in UK for that matter!). However, being overseas provides many more opportunities for personal development that remaining in UK.

    I am happy for you to PM me if you want to ask any specific questions (or indeed to remain answering them here)
     
    shauna90 likes this.
  10. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    Remember that taking a career break can mess up things back home. I went abroad early on in my career and it basically made things a bit messy. If you are planning to return to the UK in a few years, you need a plan.

    So, with that in mind:

    - What provisions do you have for a return to the UK? Is your pension solid? Do you have property? If not, leaving at this stage in your life is likely to make getting a foot on the property ladder impossible: by the time you return to the UK and set things up, it's going to be hard. The only possible counter to this is if you plan to live and work somewhere where you can save a lot: enough to help you get a mortgage when you return.

    - This break is likely to reset your status in the UK. When you come back, you will be competing with NQTs and those with more recent, local experience for work. If you do gain a position (which can be hard when living and working abroad: UK schools don't tend to do skype interviews) you will not have much to really negotiate with. You may find you have to take a paycut.

    Now, looking at your points. Moving abroad always involves pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You have relocated once already: moving to live and work abroad is the same again. You will find you face a lot of the same things again, but in a foreign country, with a different student profile and demands on yourself.

    I am sorry to be sounding so negative, I just want to make sure that you are aware of the possible consequences. If you want to travel and experience different cultures, perhaps a year out as an EFL teacher would be more suitable (and less heavy on the commitment), or doing charity/volunteer work during the summer holidays (which former colleagues of mine have done).

    I am also privately messaging you with some more details on my personal experiences if it helps :)
     
    stopwatch likes this.
  11. shauna90

    shauna90 New commenter


    1) I probably say similar situation as in my current job most/all of the staff were married with growing families so socialising was difficult as they always seemed to have other priorities. So I guess I'm looking for people who are also single or also around the same age as me that would be looking to make friends also.

    2) I a looking for parting type thing but also what to develop cuturalcul as it's not something I've done much of.

    3)Travel would be both. Beach/beer and cultural. Most of my travel so far have been focused around seeing the world and not beach holidays.

    4/5) I know all countries will have a mixture but I don't want to find myself heading somewhere that is hard to find the good and only few people do.

    I understand that moving overseas provides personal development and that's excatly the reason I want to do it.

    Have you any suggestions as where abouts in the world might suit what I'm looking for?
     
  12. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    Some really good pointers Nelly. Totally agree with much of what you have said.

    Further to this:
    • The first school I worked at when I went overseas was very good overall. However they fell pretty flat when it came to explaining some of the financial consequences of moving overseas. As a result I a) missed out on contributing toward my TPS as I didn't find out until after the 6 month deadline (you can no longer do this anyway by the way). I missed on 5 years contributions which, in turn, now means I am receiving around £5,000 per year pension less than I could have been. Also, voluntary contributions towards the State Pension (at around £12.00 pcm bargain!) was not explained and I missed out on 5 years as I didn't find out until I moved to my next posting. I now find myself 4 years away from a full State Pension with little opportunity to make this up over the next 4 and half years
    • Although you may miss out on buying a UK property, you could well be earning a salry which enables you to do this - and then some. Many schools/countries pay up to and over £4,000 per month NET, which would enable you to purchase whilst overseas (and then rent out until you came back - providing either income or payment towards a mortgage)
    • Regards coming back to UK, you are likely to find many schools who hold your overseas experience as a negative, but there are also schools who will, rightly see this as an enrichment experience making you a better person and a better teacher. This is particularly the case in UK schools with a multicultural make up. One of the key things is to ask about CPD opportunities at any school you apply to.
    • Moving overseas DOES push you outside your comfort zone but, potentially and ultimately, can make you a more resilient, confident, worldly and adaptable person. I moved overseas at 44 years old and, despite 21 years teaching experience, I was extremely anxious. However, the following 18 years did me nothing but good from a personal development perspective.
    However, to put it back into perspective, listen carefully to the points that Nelly and I have made. Only you can make the right decision for you. My bottom line for any young teacher would be to do it.
     
    edmundstavros, shauna90 and Ne11y like this.
  13. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    What kind of cultural experiences do you want to have? The Middle East has multiple opportunities as does the Far East and, on the other side, South America. Are there any cultures which particularly appeal to you\.

    I would suggest that, if you are going to move overseas, you find an area which appeals to you and then find the one which pays the most. The ME pays good money if you find the right schools, China (I believe) pays well and I know that Dumbbells (another contributor on this thread) says that Africa pays him £70,000 pus some great benefits.

    I would suggest that any country you work in would/could provide partying (even Saudi Arabia)
     
    Ne11y likes this.
  14. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    I would also like to add that I have never felt regret for working abroad and constantly tell all I meet to do it :)

    Just be aware that it has consequences and if you want to return to the UK, you need a plan.
     
    edmundstavros, shauna90 and stopwatch like this.
  15. shauna90

    shauna90 New commenter


    With my career break I don't know the details but I know I can opt to continue to pay something to kept my pension in tact.
    I don't have property, but that is not a majority pioripri for me. I think if I did have property it would hold me back from making the move. I'm happy to worry about find property whenever I cross that bridge. If I do find myself somewhere with a good salary I will then consider saving it for a mortgage. But I wouldn't put that on the top of my things I'm looking for in an overseas job.

    Regarding 'resetting my status' this isn't the case. The department of education in Northern Ireland have a career break scheme for teachers with permanent jobs. If I decide to stay away upto a maximum of 5 years I would be anlr to come home to a permanent role again in the same school.

    I know I pushed myself once and I continue to want to push myself. But I am aware that I'm trying to research for an area that won't require as much pushing. I'm sure moving to a remote location in Centra America would have different demands to moving to Dubai that has a huge community of teaching expats.

    I really appreciate your concern for my decision to go in the first place and appreciate your thoughts on this. However I am still looking for specific suggestions on location. Even suggestions of pros and cons to locations, rather than pros and cons to my decision to move. Without sounding ungrateful to your previous post.
     
  16. shauna90

    shauna90 New commenter

    Again I'm not sure if my question is getting lost. I appreciate all of these concerns. And I love that your lasting advice was '''to do it". But this thread wasn't started because I am unsure. I am quite sure I want to do it.

    I'm just not sure where I want to do it. I know that's my choice but I was looking for views of different locations to help me 'zoom' into different ideas.
     
  17. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    Different locations? I have worked mainly in the Middle East, but have knowledge (to varying degrees) of other places.

    As follows:
    • Middle East. Dubai - very popular, great infrastructure, varying salaries, best pay up to £4,000 pcm net + accommodation, health care and flights. Lots of opportunities to do sports etc and close enough to Asia to travel. Can be very superficial and shallow. Saudi - a lot more controlled and less nice to live in. However, a thriving social life and lots of opportunity to save big money Only a few decent schools to work in. Kuwait, similar to Saudi, but slight less controlled. Doha similar. Egypt - good social life, less pay, some negatives to living there - Marmite.
    • Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia etc). Lots of culture and low cost of living. Pay a lot lower than the ME and less opportunity to save big money.
    • China - I believe pay is generally good, cultural and travel opportunities good. Big range of schools, some good, some poor.
    • South America. Don't know much about this area, but I have a colleague who has just moved from Saudi to Brazil. He is having a blast! salary OK.
    • Europe. poor pay, lots of culture.
    That's about it from my perspective in a nutshell
     
    shauna90 likes this.
  18. shauna90

    shauna90 New commenter

    Thanks! Some information I had heard before but great to have that over view in one place. This was what I was kind of looking for when I first post.

    I was thinking ME but was getting concerned about some of the negative I'm seeing recently
    Comments like ''its not what it used to be"
     
  19. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    Wow, NI seems to have at brilliant thing going with the career break scheme! Absolutely take advantage of it!

    Personally, I love Eastern Europe, but that's me. I have connections to the area so the language the culture is not too alien, I love a cold winter and I find the expat community in most big cities is fine enough for me.

    It sounds like you're sort of set on the ME though, so maybe another post asking specifically about ME life would get more results?

    In a nutshell, from my own experience/word of mouth from colleagues:
    - Western Europe: great expat scene, pay can be poor (especially in the south), can be difficult to get work. Great cultural opportunities in general. Seems to be where teachers either live long term (families etc) or go to before leaving teaching (I seem to know a lot of ex-headteachers who finished in Western Europe).
    - Eastern Europe - good expat scene in the capital cities, pay can be excellent, with bonuses and relocation allowances. Popular cities can be hard to find work in (e.g. Prague) but there is a lot of work available. If you don't want to go too far, seems a good halfway point before stepping into less familiar territory.
    - ME (specifically Egypt, where former colleagues have worked/currently work): vibrant expat scene, very supportive in the right cities/schools. Language matters: learn some before you go.
    - China: apparently amazing. A few teachers seem to love it there and have lived and worked there for a while. I think if you get the right school in the right city, you can do well.
    - South Korea: as China, see above.
    - South America: I've had vague reports from a few places that seem to imply that pupils feel "entitled". I get that where I am at the moment (not South America) and it's fine, so I am not sure if that means it is worse or better.....
     
    shauna90 likes this.
  20. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    The whole world is changing. Nowhere is what it used to be,
     
    blueskydreaming and shauna90 like this.

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