A new international school job can be intense

It may be your first job overseas or your third, but many teachers experience a ‘new’ overload at the beginning of the new school year. Everything that was known and familiar has been exchanged for the ‘new’. Moving to any foreign country is undoubtedly a challenge. Adapting to a new culture, a new language, and new habits can cause a lot of stress. There are new sounds, new smells (not always nice!), new environments to explore, and a new way of life to discover.

The honeymoon phase experienced in the first few months of a new international school job and country can be one of the most exciting and memorable times of your life.

international school job Search Associates ANZ excited family beginning new adventure overseas

Don’t focus on what you miss

But amidst the new sights, sounds, and smells, a yearning for home can creep in. We all miss certain things – familiar foods, routines, or simply the comfort of the known. We all have the things we miss. For me, it’s sourdough bread with vegemite and a skinny cap (coffee). We spent so much time trying to find bacon and wine when we lived in Eygpt that we consumed more than when we lived at home! Whenever we returned to Egypt from overseas our suitcase was usually stuffed full of food, usually meat. Sometimes it’s the thought of deprivation that plays on your mind.

So, instead of focusing on what you miss about home and your last job, try to embrace the lifestyle you currently enjoy, for what will most likely be a couple of years. Immerse yourself in the culture, explore your surroundings, and find the positive aspects of being a local.

international school job Search Associates ANZ small truck carrying many workers

Feta and flatbread for breakfast? Yum!international school job Search Associates ANZ Western people experience Egyptian culture

Getting to school at 7:30 am? I can do it for a short while.

Hanging the clothes out from the kitchen balcony and having it dry in an hour – great!



I’ve tried to find the good in living as much like a local as I can. It is also much cheaper!

Or the differences in your new international school

Resist the urge to compare your new school to your previous one. Every institution has its own culture and practices for a reason. Embrace the novelty and learn from these different approaches. Try not to be the teacher who says, “At my last school we…” in your first 6 months. Your new school may be doing what they do for a reason. I remember Nick trying to implement a ‘no hat, no play’ rule in Egypt. The parents laughed at him and said that the locals would never conform as they had been going hatless for thousands of years without sunburn and skin cancer. He backed down and made it optional!

international school job Search Associates ANZ people working at a small market

Embrace the novelty of the ‘new’

The initial adjustment period may be challenging, but remember why you embarked on this adventure in the first place. Celebrate the small victories and milestones, moments of gratitude, and connections you build along the way. These add up to greater joy over time.

Don’t be in a rush to get home and look forward instead to enjoying your time abroad as one of many chapters in your life journey.

For more information, check out Starting off successfully


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