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What a strange life I lead

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by dumbbells66, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Reading a few of the threads that have come up lately it got me thinking. My experience of international teaching has been fantastic, and I am one of those that “will never go back”. I have however, had quite a few bizarre moments throughout my time abroad. I am not talking about the bad schools, rubbish packages etc, but the things that I now find completely normal, but would quite frankly, totally freak teachers out back home. The rules, regulations and laws that strangle the teaching profession back in the UK that really do not apply when working abroad. Here are a few things that I have experienced:

    · Watching a Spanish teacher lining up his students on the first day of back to school to kiss each one of them to welcome them back.

    · The mains electrical power cable sticking out of the middle of the playground that the primary kids tripped over every day.

    · Having my private mobile number published to the school community (parents and pupils) so they could contact me if they had issues turning up to sports I coached.

    · Not having a separate toilet for staff, and having to pee next to the kids.

    · Being sent on an international sports trip with ten 15 – 18 year old girls of my football team with no female chaperone, but with the other male coach of the boys team. Why would you, there will be female teachers at the host school !!!

    · Being actively encouraged to take photos and videos of the kids and post them on the Internet. No censorship here, happy smiling faces are a must.

    · Having the parents forcing alcohol on me, trying to get me drunk at a whole school “International Evening” with the kids there.

    · My sister, whilst working in Kenya went camping with the 20 kids, only to wake up with 8 lions sleeping by the campfire surrounded by the kids tents.

    Any other bizarre things out there?
    aussie_teacher_nt likes this.
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    A great life, it seems to me!

    Best wishes

  3. gendojones

    gendojones New commenter

    • A parent asking if I was single, as I would make a good boyfriend for her 21 year old daughter
    • Giving kids a life to places in my car (and being told by leadership that permission wasn’t necessary from parents)
    • Having a dead pigeon stuck on a ledge outside my classroom window for months (it was a window that couldn’t be opened thankfully)
    • Missing a day at school because there was an armed siege at next door’s apartment (not strictly school, I know)
    • Having planning meetings at the house of one of my students for the school MUN event
    I wouldn't change any of it for the world!
  4. gendojones

    gendojones New commenter

    A 'lift', rather than a 'life'. Forgive me, it's Friday night (although the vino has not flowed).
  5. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    • Transporting Primary aged children to and from a sports club for PE lessons, every lesson, including equipment. Seatbelts missing and/or ill fitting on the bus and being told 'just ask them to hang on tight, they'll be fine'.
    • Parent/staff quiz night where first prize was a luxury Nile cruise for each member of the winning team. We came third and won an iPod each.
    • One of the pupils coming to school every day in a motorcade with armed guards as his Dad was Minister of the Interior.
  6. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    Having to ask the principal to call the parents of one of my 12 year old students to ask that the child not drive himself to school in a brand new Mercedes. Lovely kid otherwise.

    I currently have to endure four of the above scenarios. I am leaving in June.
  7. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Too many to list but the transportation theme jangles some bells:

    Seeing a five-year-old, sitting on Daddy's knee, steer the 4x4 into the crowded primary school car park.

    Trying to explain to a seventeen-year-old why he would NOT be allowed to land his helicopter on the football pitch.

    Looking out of a small aeroplane at hordes of wildebeeste sweeping across the African plain, a sight not often seen in Torquay, as Basil Fawlty remarked to Mrs Richards.

    Eyeballing a querulous pod of hippos at too-close-quarters from a small, battered boat (think African Queen) on a tributary of the Zambezi.

    Politely asking a Central American noncom to 'kindly remove his tank' which was blocking our garage.

    New Year's eve in El Salvador: bangers as big as thunderflashes, rockets fit for a moonshot and luminous green tracer arcing across a dark blue velvet sky.
  8. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    Pretty much everything, or something similar. already mentioned has happened to me at some point or another.


    ...wasn't 21 but was in the ballpark......and when I thought saying, "she's too young for me" might end the conversation the mother shrugged and said, "how about me?". All I could say was "nice idea" while thinking "nice idea". Never had "nice idea" had two such very different meanings.
  9. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Great thread.

    Driving from the airport to the hotel after arriving at our first overseas posting in Alex (Egypt) at 4:00 in the morning and wondering what the hell we had done. Finally venturing out to buy some bottles of water and basically just holding out money for the seller to take what we owed (and figuring out later that he hadn't cheated us).

    Almost colliding with a donkey cart that was also trying to cross the street and our son getting kissed by the donkey (and almost run over).

    Climbing the Great Wall in China and having a contest to see who would get the most requests to have his/her picture taken with a Chinese tourist (I won).

    Riding in a taxi in Alex, looking down and realizing that the floor board had more holes than board.

    Getting to be such good friends with our driver that he no longer would take our money, but still wanted to drive us everywhere (and would fuss at us if we used a taxi).

    Going to school functions in Japan and getting served copious amounts of saki.

    Going to a wild animal park in Egypt where you could feed a hippo, take pictures sitting on a zebra and hold a lion cub. You know it's wrong but you still have to do it.

    Many more. It's a wonderful life.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  10. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Driving in to work on the dirt road in the rainy season, car sliding sideways towards large lorry doing the same in the opposite direction - we missed each other by luck rather than any control of the vehicle.
    Armed raid on the school office.
    Discovering the school driver had never been taught about roundabouts or traffic lights.
  11. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    The bus was careering madly along a potholed, winding road with a rock wall on one side and a vertiginous drop to a raging arroyo on the other. The passengers clung on with whitened knuckles. My colleague staggered to the front and remonstrated with the driver:

    'Are you completely loco? It's bloody hairy at the back there!'
    Señorita, you're lucky, it's even worse up here.'
  12. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    Four Revolutionary Guards with AK47s coming to the school and telling us to close. We closed.

    The representative of the Revolutionary Committee telling us we had to segregate the boys from the girls in kindergarten because they had definitive proof that co-education caused homosexuality.

    Telling my mother when she called from England during a serious gunfight that the noise was from fireworks because of the fiestas in Tehran.

    Asking the school's business manager for some expenses. He pulled a huge bundle of notes out of his pocket and asked how much I'd like. He was later arrested for embezzlement.
  13. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    Not from my time working but from when I was a student in an international school. Girl in my class was complaining that her parents had invited their friends to her birthday party. Turns out the guest list included Sir Sean Connery and several royals. She also used to talk about going skiing with William and Harry.

    Another time, two kids talking about weekending in Biarritz and how one couldn't go because their jet was out for repair. The other kid offered a lift in his jet.
  14. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    At another school we had regular air raid drills and had to take cover in the school's basement.

    For foreign currency you could either visit the pistachio seller who would then take you to see the man with the golden gun who would exchange local for foreign currency, or you could go to the travel agent and purchase a flight for someone and receive foreign currency in exchange. Weird! This was a good few years ago now. What an experience!
  15. KolleyKibber

    KolleyKibber New commenter

    I actually date the older sister of two of my pupils. She's my age though (29). Luckily her dad didn't ask me if I was interested - he's a very old-fashioned Brit who has been living in Africa for years, so keeps himself to himself. It was the just the usual courtship, nothing exciting really.

    I must say, taking school trips in East Africa is always awe-inspiring. Visiting Oldupai Gorge, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or relaxing on a beach in Zanzibar is much, much better than a trip to my old usual places of Carlton Camp or Beamish museum!

    Drinking in my local bar surrounded by Maasai warriors is also something I had to get used to...
  16. reg_mcledge

    reg_mcledge New commenter

    A friend of mine working in a nearby school told me about a child at his primary school. Apparently he brought in a friend of the family for show and tell. The family friend was Mel Gibson...
  17. rachel_g41

    rachel_g41 Established commenter

    We had regular earthquake drills in Chile. Now in Nepal and hoping I won't need to put it into practice.
    Also once got a day off for rain in Chile.
    Here we occasionally get monkeys wandering through the school grounds via trees and electricity cables.
  18. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    The monkeys used to come to assembly in Mrs M's school in Malawi. And they kept a crocodile in a pen outside the library. Very few children ever stepped out of line. Where did you teach in Chile, Rachel?
  19. rachel_g41

    rachel_g41 Established commenter

    In Santiago. Not the prettiest of cities but easy to get into the mountains or down to the coast at the weekend
  20. lottee1000

    lottee1000 Occasional commenter

    Escorting a group of students round a crocodile whilst on a DofE expedition...

    A child (YEAR 10) not knowing how to blow his own nose because 'one of my nannies does it for me'...

    14 year olds driving their BMWs to school...

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