John Hrycak,
from the UK,
teaching in Amman, Jordan.

John is currently teaching at the International Academy of Amman, Jordan

John is currently teaching at the International Academy of Amman, Jordan

Which School did you previously teach at and in which town/country was it?

I taught at a school called Brockholes Wood Primary in Preston, Lancashire until July 2009 before taking some time out from teaching. During Sept to Dec 2009 I did a month teaching in Ghana in Africa and a month teaching in Thailand. Neither of these foreign positions was paid but allowed me some time to reflect and consider my future.

What did you teach and to what age group?

I taught the UK primary curriculum to Year 5.

What gave you the idea to teach internationally?

My ‘disillusionment’ with teaching in the UK coupled with my brief time in Ghana and Thailand.

How difficult was it for you to find a job and what route did you take?

It was hard in the UK to secure a job but applying internationally in January allowed me a ‘foot in the door’ as most teachers would be employed in positions at that time of year. The process to apply and get the job in Amman via TIC was very easy.

Did you move abroad alone or with a partner/family and how did this impact your move?

Alone. This wasn’t easy as I left my home, friends and a very annoyed girlfriend back in the UK!

How was your first term at the International Academy Amman?

I met a lot of people who had been teaching overseas for a long time. They guided me somewhat by their knowledge, attitude and experience. As such it was a bit of a shock but very enjoyable and a real eye opener. The school has its issues and I absorbed as much as I could as quickly as I could in order to best manage the situation on a personal and professional level.

What age group do you teach in Jordan?

Grade 5 or Year 6 in English ‘money’.

What kind of curriculum do you follow and is this any different in the way you taught before – if so, how are you coping with this change?

UK curriculum for Maths and English but we have changed to the International Primary Curriculum which encompasses History, Science, Geography, Art etc. This is different to the UK but a good experience. The change has become manageable and is a real learning experience for everyone.

What are the children and staff like at your new school?

They are not as international as I would have thought. There are very few international students except for staff children. They come to school because it’s the Queens school. The staff are great. I had some real issues with the adults I met in UK teaching but the open minded, adventure seeking teacher I have met here is exactly what I was looking for.

What have been the best and worst (if any) experiences you have had over the past few weeks in school?

I can simply look out of my window, whether in my apartment or in a taxi, and see something different. It’s not the UK [I love the UK but I don’t need to be there all my life].  I think that some of the chats I have with the children are always my favourite part of the job. They are great, you just have to get used to how they are different. I think I have seen some wonderful sunsets, been to the Dead Sea for a float, Petra and had a few beers at friend’s houses.

The worst is that not all the children see things the way UK children see things and it’s frustrating. Sometimes they don’t see the link between effort and reward and they forget things even more than children in the UK.

I don’t think I have had a ‘bad’ experience as I genuinely love it here and even the negative aspects mentioned above are just part of the deal, part of the adventure.

What has the experience been like for you socially – have you made friends out of school and if so how, have you joined any groups or social activities, what are your favourite things socially about this new experience?

There is always something going on and I live in a block of 16 where almost everyone is from school. You can join in or opt out. There are pubs if you want pubs but they’re expensive so I guess I opt for ‘parties’ at people houses which I prefer. I have lots of friends at school and I know that if you make a bit of extra effort you can meet lots of expats if you choose to.

What are the most striking differences about living and working in Jordan?

School has differences and similarities. I get free time during Arabic, PE, RE and Music so I can do all I have to do and still leave at 4pm. I do enjoy it and feel I am getting somewhere which would take a long time to achieve if I were in the UK.

Just being in Jordan is great. I get woken up by the call to prayer [sometimes far too early] in the mornings. The Muslim people are great but different and you have to be careful how you behave, what you say and what you use or talk about in class. The children are a lot of fun and make me smile, but they are different.

What advice would you give to people in the same situation as yourself who are considering teaching internationally?

I think if you are someone who gets wound up or likes things the way you like them then maybe it’s not for you. Coming in Jan put me in a very unique position because I experienced everything about 6 months before the new recruits in Aug did. Some get it quickly, some don’t. Some get frustrated and others don’t. I guess if you think you can adapt then it’s better than MY personal experience in the UK.

Then again I have always found something special about being abroad. You can save a lot of money here and the life is good but not perfect. If you want perfect then maybe it’s not for you. If however you think you want a change, think you can adapt and want to experience something very different then I would recommend it without reservation. If you are going to moan, complain, be a whiner or come with all your UK attitudes without the idea that you can learn or change as I person then I’d say maybe it’s not for you.

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