Why teaching internationally is a dream lifestyle

Published on 10th May, 2018 by Wendy Hartrey. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

Sarah Morris is from the UK and has been teaching internationally for many years. Last year TIC helped Sarah to get her first ever overseas teaching job in Cuba, at the International School of Havana, where she currently teaches Science. Here Sarah shares her thoughts on why Havana is such an interesting place to live and work:

A multi-cultural student and staff community is a feature of international schools and I think this dynamic environment really enhances the teaching and learning experience. I’ve worked with students from many different countries, cultures and backgrounds, and colleagues who have worked in various types of schools around the world. Through teaching internationally, I’ve also developed a better understanding of the needs of EASL students and been exposed to different curricula.

Learning Spanish, salsa dancing and travelling in 1950s cars

Havana is a very beautiful and interesting city with an ever-increasing number of entertainment options; particularly with regards to theatre, dance and music. I have enjoyed the opportunity to improve my Spanish language skills and have started salsa dancing. I don't have a car so get around in old 1950's cars which serve as shared taxis, and are inexpensive. I’ve also managed to visit Vinales, which is a favourite place of mine for a weekend of relaxation, rock climbing or horse riding.

Overcoming challenges and learning to acclimatise

I think the main challenge of overseas teaching is having to adapt to new contexts in both your personal and professional life. It can all be a bit disorientating at first, especially if you have been very comfortable in your previous place. However, I find throwing myself into as many activities and social events as I can, helps me to acclimatise.

One of the main challenges I face in Havana is very slow and unavailable internet which can be a pain for lesson planning, and also for personal communication. Secondly, there really is a shortage of any kind of goods beyond the mere basics. Despite this, it has been a great privilege to have lived in Cuba whilst it is still a rather mysterious place.

Ask questions and do your research

My advice for teachers considering working overseas is to check the background of any school you are considering as much as possible. Always talk to current members of staff, other than your superiors, before taking a role. All schools have weaknesses, don't be afraid to ask about them. Once the 'honeymoon' phase of working in a new country wears off, you want to make sure that you have a job that you enjoy.

My future plans

My plans are actually to take a break from teaching for a while.  I think it is a dream lifestyle, and it is likely that I'll go back to teaching one day. First, I want to focus on a training and coaching business that I am working on; I am not sure where in the world my next stop will be!

TIC helped Sarah find her job and be selected for her teaching position at the International School of Havana. You’ll find plenty more advice about teaching in international schools in our Teacher’s Stories section. Register free with TIC now.

You may also be interested in these informative articles:
From language student to world traveller and teacher
One year overseas contracts for language graduates
Why I will continue to teach internationally until I retire!

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Wendy Hartrey