Settling families into new homes, schools, languages and cultures can be a challenge.
When Dan Roberts moved from Britain to the Seychelles to become the headteacher of a British international school, he was dropped off at a filthy, poor house and received an inadequate induction as the staff waved goodbye. “I spent the first eight hours cleaning it before my family arrived – not the start you would want,” says Roberts.
Although immaterial, the problem highlights a big challenge international school teachers face moving from the UK overseas: settling their families into new homes, schools, languages and cultures.
Finding a suitable property, learning the local language and registering as a resident are all challenges that new international school teachers can face, says Barry Guy, an economics teacher at International College Spain, a Nord Anglia Education school, who moved there after teaching for 27 years in the UK.
The support of your new employer will play a critical role in making the transition to a new nation smoother. Many schools offer induction programmes to help staff get settled, which can include language lessons, city and shopping tours, even financial aid. Some schools also help find spouses jobs and children places at local schools.
“New staff can feel overwhelmed with their move, and dealing with a different city far from family and friends,” says Niki Meehan, vice principal at The British International School Shanghai, Puxi.
“It is also important to keep looking after staff throughout their first year and beyond,” she says. “After the initial excitement, new teachers can experience a dip and feel homesick. We need to be attentive and help them remember what a fantastic professional and personal life they have in their new home.”