Where are you from? Did you move to an international school alone, with a partner or family?

I am from Hertford but trained at the University of Roehampton in Primary Education and spent the first five years of my teaching career in London and Poole. I am currently teaching in Kazakhstan with my partner.

What is your specialist area of teaching? 

I trained to teach in Primary and the majority of my career has been spent in Early Years and Key Stage 1.  I am now the Phonics lead, implementing Read Write Inc. for my school.

Why did you choose to teach overseas?

Theoretically, each year of teaching should get easier as you gain more knowledge and experience however, I found in the UK, each year got harder and harder. The continual decline of funding in English schools meant that year upon year, my schools had fewer resources, less support within class, and classes with higher levels of need. Each day I was physically and emotionally exhausted, I loved the children that I taught and the colleagues that I worked with, but for me, that level of stress was not sustainable. I have always loved traveling so teaching overseas was a no-brainer for me.

Where has international teaching led you and what is next in your professional journey?

Teaching abroad has led me to some amazing places! My first international post was in Kathmandu for four years. I met the most amazing people and actually had a life outside of work! Although Kathmandu isn’t the best hub for flight connections, I still managed to travel to some super interesting places. In the year before Covid hit, I managed to tick off Bhutan, Borneo, Singapore, Myanmar, Dubai, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania!
My next stop was Phuket in Thailand - a complete change from the mountainous, landlocked country of Nepal! Although the white sandy beaches and crystal clear water were lovely for a little while, I found that Phuket just wasn’t for me. I wanted more adventure and to meet people with a similar mindset to myself, which has landed me in my current post in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

What is your experience living abroad? 

The biggest difference between working in a school in England and an international school is definitely the extra time that you suddenly have! Most schools will have specialist teachers for subjects such as Music, PE, Library and Languages, an incredible amount of planning and preparation time compared to the two hours you get in England.
In terms of social life, it really depends on where you work! In the places I have experienced, all teachers have lived within a close vicinity of each other, which has meant many people will go for drinks and dinner after school. I have found that you can usually find what you want if you’re willing to do a little searching and put yourself out there.
Every country is different with regard to customs. It’s a good idea to read up on these before you go to any country to make sure you are being as respectful as possible. In Nepal and Thailand, the head is regarded as the most sacred part of the body so it is important to not touch anyone there. I also found it almost impossible to order a cold drink during the winter time in Nepal and Kazakhstan as it is widely believed that a cold drink when it is cold outside will make you sick.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to work in an international school?
Start by thinking about whether where you are looking matches the lifestyle you want to live. If you enjoy going out and partying, Nepal shouldn’t be your first choice - maybe consider bigger cities such as Dubai or Bangkok. If you are more into exploring and the outdoors, perhaps somewhere off the beaten track will be more up your street.

I haven’t met anyone who regretted their time teaching abroad. If you’re thinking of taking the leap, go for it! You probably don’t have much to lose but lots to gain!

Back to Case Studies

Want to share this content?