For most teachers, summer break is a time for relaxation, catching up on good books, traveling, and unwinding from a long school year. For an international school teacher, this time is spent doing these things, but it could also be so much more.
Most international schools will provide you with a flight allowance back to your home country. Our school in China bought our tickets directly for us and our school in Saudi gives us money. This gives us the flexibility to take whatever flight we choose.
Summers for most international teaching families are spent away from their schools. Simply, they go back visit family, friends, purchase Western products, see Western doctors, and regroup for the upcoming school year. Some families are moving away from one international school to another, so their experience over the summer is even more tedious with packing, moving, visas, and unpacking.
For Jamie and I, our time has been spent traveling around in northwest Georgia, southeast Tennessee, the panhandle of Florida, and southwest Georgia. Our family and vacations have been scattered there; and as we come home, we travel to see family.
Many international teachers with children feel the need for their kids to have a “home” to come back to in their home country, so their third culture kid will have a sense of what and where “home” actually is. For us, the need for our children to see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins is important especially considering the fact they may only see them once per year. We also want our children to know that they are Americans and a have sense of southern heritage even if they’ll never have that special accent.
The options for international teachers are practically unlimited. While most families go back to their home country, others spend the summer traveling and seeing the world. We know of families that have rented houses in Italy for the summer, completed a road trip around the Middle East, volunteered at an African school for a few weeks, completed round the world flights with various stopovers, or just stayed in the country where they were working to save money.
With Jamie and I bouncing around from house to house and living out of a suitcase for the last 5 summers, it has become tiresome. We are now looking into a house where family members can simply come to us. Last year, we rented a lake house for a month, which helped with all of the traveling. This summer, we’ll do our bouncing around so everyone can see our new addition to the family.
Other aspects of summers including additional trainings. Jamie had a conference in Dallas last summer focusing on the Shafer writing method. In previous summers, she had AP training conferences in Denver and Tampa. Depending on the school’s professional development funding and vision, teachers might find themselves traveling to other locations for conference and trainings. Most, if not all, of these funds will be paid for by the school.
Our summer breaks when were teachers in the U.S. were always great and relaxing. We were close to family, tried to vacation somewhere nice, and generally unwound from a stressful school year. We still can have those things as international school teachers, but they can potentially be so much more!