Let me take a moment to compare countries and schools
With recruitment season upon us and many trying to make the best decision for themselves and their families, I am going to share some information.
to pay or not to pay that is the question. Am I getting my monies worth? Why am I paying? Who am I paying? Can’t I just apply directly to schools? This all depends. Schools pay for their membership and they are cracking down on applying directly to them. If you take the time to fill out all the details on these sites and pay the fee they know 1. you have patience 2. you probably are taken more seriously 3. the recruiters have done all the hard work for them and have said “hey we have vetted this person and they will be a good fit” With that being said. I know people who have paid and not paid. I personally have paid and not paid.
Middle East vs Asia
This depends on the person and both are two very different places. I worked in Kuwait. I liked Kuwait. Kuwait had more black people. Kuwait didn’t have people gawking at me. Kuwait didn’t have 4 seasons. Kuwait was easy. While in Kuwait I could dating easily. China people gawk. China doesn’t have a whole bunch of black people in one city. We are here but we are spread across this country. Black people and blonde hair people get gawked at. Children get gawked at. You smile, nod, say hello, and move on. I make more money in China.
Money/savings potential/cost of living
China: now this is will depend on where you are placed. I happen to be in a tier 2 city. Which basically means the population is not a huge as Shanghai. Shanghai has like a billion Wuxi has like a million (totally exaggerating the numbers but you get the point) My rent is under 900 USD for a 4 bedroom 2 bathroom flat. It came fully furnished. I bought things for the kitchen and bathroom. I packed sheets and blankets. 3 of the 4 bedrooms came with a TV. I send home 50% of my salary to my US bank account I put money aside in Elise’s bank account. The little bills I have I pay them. Once I figure out how and who to save with I’ll update that process. Thing is being an expat is becoming increasingly complicated to just throw my money at say Fidelity to save. I have to prove I live stateside or at least have a stateside address. Which I do but it still comes with complications. I still travel. My utilities are less than 100 USD every other month. I get a housing allowance that covers rent and utilities and I still have half of it left over. I live pretty darn comfortably.
Kuwait: the school provided housing so I have no clue how much rent was or utilities. I had a two bedroom 2 and half bath fully furnished flat. I paid for a live out nanny. I found the cost of living to be more in Kuwait. By the time pay day rolled around I was down to my last dinar. I sent home about a third of my salary. I traveled but I still felt the pinch to my wallet.
The first month of settling in I would have said Kuwait was better at this work/life balance thing. Now that I have been here 4 months I say it’s an even tie. The major thing is finding things to do in your host country and having the energy at the end of the day or week to actually do something. I will say there are more black people in Kuwait…let me explain. Kuwait is small where China is massive. There are black people here but we are spread so far apart it is ridiculous. English was spoken more in Kuwait and you could navigate is easier around the country with limited to no Arabic. China is not English friendly nor do I expect them to be. Hell I’m a visitor Chinese is their language. I live and work here, then I will learn Chinese. But it does pose a challenge when you are confused or lost and do not speak or understand the language. Lucky enough I have co-workers who will help in a bind. There are more things to do in China than Kuwait. I can book a train ride and hop over to the next city. I can go out to western places or even local places have fun and go home. Places close around 10pm around these parts which takes some getting used to. I still leave work at work. I do stay longer at work but it’s mostly because I am waiting on Elise except Tuesdays when we have staff meetings she waits on me.
Okay lets start with I switched curriculums. I went from the American common core standards to the UK standards.
1. I have fewer numbers at my current school. The ratio is 3 teachers to 15 students. 3:1 pretty darn amazing
2. play based is encouraged and basically what we do. I don’t have to stress my nerves about ensuring these kids are reading and writing by the end of the school year. Plus they are 4 turning 5 so technically I teach pre-k according to US standards.
3. we have a quiet/nap time most of my kids sleep
4. co-curricular is built into the school, meaning after dismissal kids from KG3 up attend extra curricular activities/clubs. Now this is wonderful on the surface until you realize as a teacher you are required to teach/run 2 of these things a week. (this goes back to work/life balance) *KG to grade 3 dismiss at 3:30 and their CCA run from 3:30 to 4:15. Grade 4 and up dismiss at 4:15 and their CCA run from 4:30 to 5:30. I have a kid in grade 5 so even though I get off at 3:30 I am on campus until 5:30 at least 3 days*
4. I actually work with people that understand pedagogy and my career is better off.
If you want an easy life and barely work head to Kuwait. You wanna work and grow head to China.
Whatever you do, whatever country you decide on PLEASE stick to international schools. DO NOT sell yourself short. Know your worth as an educator. Don’t fall for these TEFL traps and low pay. Your degree and expertise will be valued abroad. GO for it.