You’ve arrived! Now what? Finding your feet at your new international school

Published on 6th August, 2019 by Gemma McSweeney. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

You’ve packed up your life, said your goodbyes, and arrived in your new country. No doubt you’re feeling a mixture of emotions; excited but also a little overwhelmed. To help you, the team at TIC has put together some advice so that you settle into your new location quickly:

Be proactive

Most international schools will have an induction programme to help new teachers learn about the school and help you settle into the life of the school. You can speed up the settling in process by being proactive too. Ask your school if they can match you up with a teacher who was new to the school a year ago. This person will have been in your exact position recently and will be able to relate to some of the feelings that you’ll have. They will be able to offer you advice, answer questions, and talk to you about some of your concerns.

Socialise with new colleagues

Make the effort to talk to as many teachers at your new school as you can. Say ‘yes’ to social events organised by the school. This is particularly important during the first few weeks, as people are particularly open to making new friends at this time. If you are moving with a partner or family, encourage them to join in; many of the events run by international schools are family friendly. 

Engage with the expats

Most big cities will have an expatriate community that organise events, clubs and activities, and are very good at welcoming people who are new to the city. Research the expat groups that you would like to be a part of, and ask advice from the expatriate colleagues at your new school. Let people at these events know that you’re new; most are very happy to help because they’ve been in the same scenario. This can widen your social circle beyond the school community and will introduce you to more like-minded people who enjoy the same sports, activities and/or interests as you.

Integrate with the locals

TIC teachers often speak about the benefits of making friends with locals and we definitely encourage you to do this. It helps you to integrate fully into your new neighbourhood as well as helping you acquire some language skills, introduce you to the culture and customs, and, of course, locals know some of the best places to eat, drink and visit!

To make friends with locals, introduce yourself in shops, join local clubs, and learn as much of the language as possible to show that you’re trying to fit in to the new community.

Sort out the essentials

It may be tempting to do some sightseeing as soon as you arrive, but you’ll have plenty of time to explore over the coming weeks. Dedicate the first week to getting connected and to organising your personal logistics: set up a bank account, work out your best travel to and from work, ensure you have all your communication needs sorted out including mobile phone, internet, social media channels that work in the country, and that you have your accommodation needs addressed. It’ll make adjusting to your new country much easier.

Respect the culture

There may be values and expectations within your new country’s culture which you may not be used to - or even agree with. Remember that you have made the choice to move to this country, so prepare to respect their differences and try to embrace as much of the culture as possible.

Be open-minded

This is perhaps the most important advice: be open-minded. Expect your country and school to be different from home, and be patient. The experience will not all be smooth sailing; do expect bumps in the road. Try to remain positive during the challenging times, and enjoy the start of this exciting journey overseas! 

You may find it helpful to read how other expat teachers are making the most of their time living and working in another country here

If you are interested in teaching internationally, register with TIC here for free.

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Gemma McSweeney

Gemma is our Associate Director, having joined TIC in 2009. With over 15 years experience of recruitment and selection methods, she specialises in matching teachers and leaders with our international school partners. She has attended many international education conferences and has visited a number of international schools over the years. She uses this experience to best advise our teachers, leaders and schools and manage our team and UK operations.