“The main skill I have learned is co-working; at NIS, teachers work, plan and teach together”
Nataša Miljenović is a Physics teacher at the Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Kyzylorda. We caught up with her last month to see how she was getting on:
How did you settle in? Was it easy to adjust?
Although this was not my first job out of my home country, like every change it was a bit difficult to adjust. I was concerned about whether or not I would like apartment, but I when I arrived, I was very happy with it. A good thing about NIS is that the accommodation is paid for. For future NIS teachers, I would recommend bringing one set of bedsheets and towels with you.
In terms of language, if you speak Russian you will be just fine adjusting to life in Kazakhstan. English language speakers are very difficult to find among local teachers and the local population. Google translate app will be your best friend! If you are able, learn Cyrillic alphabet or at least recognise the letters.
What was your first week like in Kazakhstan?
My colleagues were very helpful in getting me familiar with the city. They showed me how to get to the market, where the exchange office is and where to get a medical check. I believe that international colleagues will be very helpful for future NIS teachers.
When I started in August, there were no students in the school meaning I had enough time to familiarise myself with the work that was expected from me. I had induction sessions with vice principle for international teachers. After those sessions, I did realise that the expectations were a little bit different.
Something that I like about the beginning of the school year is First Bell Celebration. This is a tradition that happens every 1st of September, where new students and new staff are presented to all school members. This made me feel welcome!
What is the social aspect of the job like?
International teachers co-work with local teachers, meaning that you plan and teach together. This can be difficult sometimes, especially if you’re used to doing the work by yourself. In some situations, I felt like an assistant to the local teachers.
The major problem is language barrier. A very small number of local teachers speak English, but it is possible to overcome it. Some of staff will avoid conversation, some will try to communicate, some will expect you to make the first step. All in all, they will try to be very polite.
In terms of special days, celebrations in school are organised internally, such as International Teacher’s Day, Women’s Day, etc.
How different is the teaching compared to your home country?
In my home country I worked in public school, conducting national curriculum. One of the differences is that there is no co-working in my home country, for example there was usually only one teacher per subject.
Second, the class sizes in my home country are much larger.
Aside from this, everything else is mostly the same.
Have you faced any challenges yet? Learned any new skills?
The greatest challenge is language barrier.
How to overcome it?
I would recommend using simple words, without long explanations and communicating in simple sentences. Most of the students speak English well, but it can be a problem especially at the beginning of the school year.
The main skill I have learned is co-working. Everything else is an upgrade to my current skill set.
How is your accommodation? Are you happy with the salary package?
I have to say that I am very satisfied with accommodation. The apartment is not new, but it has been renovated and it is close to the school (10 minutes by walk) and all is paid by NIS. With the salary package, I’m also very satisfied.
The cost of living is reasonable, so there is opportunity to save a lot of money.
Have you explored the country much? Many travel opportunities?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to travel around the country, because of the corona virus lockdown, so I am not able to share impressions.
However, I have heard that Almaty and Nur Sultan are very attractive destinations to visit.
How different is the culture? Are you enjoying it?
Kazakh people are very proud, especially of their rich history and culture. They like to sing, play their national instrument dombra (similar to guitar), dance and their literature is on very high level.
Food is very important to them. Traditional meals are prepared mostly from horse or camel meat.
Everything that I wrote about NIS and Kazakhstan is mine and only mine impression. Some of people will agree, some will disagree with me. This is not general, and diversity is possible from city to city, from region to region.
How helpful were TIC during your recruitment process and would you recommend them?
The TIC recruitment team was very helpful. I’m especially pleased that even after the recruitment process is done (you reached destination and signed contract), they are still interested about you and how you are getting on.
I highly recommend TIC recruitment team to everyone.
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