Friday, June 25, 2010

Headaches of Pet Travel

I will continue on with my story about Search Associates and becoming a international teacher, but travel headaches! Now that I've finished my visa (yeah!) I am planning the big move. Realize that Henry comes first. I have no children, so the dog is my child. I purchased a kennel almost too big to get into the house (XL/500 series if you are interested) and began training. But the real headaches come with airlines and now...customs.
Good news is that there is no quarantine in Argentina. Some countries require that you leave your dog in a restricted facility for up to 6 months! Needless to say, Henry would not be going. Getting through customs should not be a problem, except for the fact that "yo no hablo espanol".
First, airlines. I went back and forth with several different airlines until I found that Continental had a pet safe program with no heat restrictions. Many airlines say that if it gets over 85 degrees, the pet doesn't fly. The problem is not the plane which has a/c, but the transportation to the plane from the airport. Continental has vehicles that are prepared for this. But, I searched the world over to figure this out. If only someone had just written a blog about this....
I could pee my pants I'm so nervous about putting Henry through it all. My biggest fear is that he has to be in a kennel for over 10 hours for the longest leg of our trip (Houston to Bs As). I don't want to mess around when we get to Argentina. I want him to get out of that kennel quickly so he can pee, eat, whatever. So customs makes me nervous.
Now, do I hire a pet mover. I had a quote of $6000 to get Henry from NC to Argentina. Not happening! I'm negotiating with a pet mover who is located in Bs As, who I'm hoping can help me through customs for a fee ($350). Now the questions I face are, is it worth it, or am I neurotic and should try and handle this on my own . More later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Teaching Abroad ~Where to Begin

I have wanted to teach abroad ever since I stepped foot in the public school classroom. At first I looked at Department of Defense Schools, but never had response from recruiters or found any music teacher positions. I had no clue there was a thing such as Search Associates (which is like a middle man connecting teachers with international schools). So, as I stated earlier, when a friend told me about his new job in Romania, I jumped right in.
Search Associates is an AMAZING asset for the international teacher. All of the resumes, references, and job searches are on-line. Super simple. You pay a one time fee for 3 years of service and at the time it was $200. You are given a supervisor (mine was Dexter Lewis whom I loved) who helps you through the entire process from beginning to end. You fill out your forms, get your references to fill out their forms (don't forget, all on-line, which is awesome), and begin searching for possible jobs. Once you are a candidate, you may even begin hearing from schools who are interested in phone interviews before the big hiring fairs. I had 3 such schools call my references asking for more information about me and then finally asked me for phone interviews.
So, here is the time line I followed for beginning the teach abroad process:
August: contact Search Associates, send them requested information and see if they accept your candidacy, get your Search Associate Supervisor who guides you through the process
September-October: pay $200 Search Associates fee, fill out on-line resume and get 3-4 high quality references (mostly supervisors, although I also used a parent of a previous student and a co-worker who was a mentor to me), book flight and room at the appropriate hiring fair (I went to the one in Boston)
November-February: contact schools that look interesting to you for future employment (usually by email)
February: hiring fair

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Making the Decision to Take an International Teaching Job

"Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days... What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I suppose I better answer the question asked the most, "why are you doing this?" My answer is, "why NOT!" I'm a performer turned public school music teacher. I LOVE teaching (surprisingly because I hated public school as a student), but miss the excitement of the performing profession. I've been blessed to blend teaching with performing the last 5 years, but it hasn't quite fulfilled my passion for adventure. I'm also not getting any younger....
A good friend took a position teaching in Romania after 10 years of public school teaching. When he told me about his new job, it was like a switch was turned on inside me. "YES" was what I kept feeling. "THIS IS IT, THIS IS NOW"!! Understand that I've NEVER been out of the country. I spent one year in NYC (which can feel like a foreign country), but that is it. So this was going to be a huge undertaking for me. Life changing.
Lets clear up a few things. First of all, my employer at the time knew I was looking into international teaching, so there was no "weirdness" and I was able to ask supervisors to be references. Also, I have had to slowly introduce this idea to friends and family, whom have had mixed reactions to this decision. Let's face it, some of them are merely tolerating this. They are probably saying I'm going through an early mid-life crisis or some ridiculous phase. They may be right!!
I've also had to downsize my possessions, refuse gigs and voice students, and leave a really good job here in the states. This was not an easy decision and once you've decided to follow through with it your life shifts in every way.
Sitting still and not moving forward has never been an option for me. That is how I have felt the last couple of years; stagnant. When life starts to feel like that, I move. That is who I've always been. That is my reality.
This blog is about my mountain dog Henry, a 70lbs lab, and I taking on this adventure together. He has been welcomed by my new employers and we are moving to a lovely, pet friendly city. I hope to explain this process (international teaching) from the beginning, offering some insight to how it works (or at least how it worked for me). I am sure this will be a beautiful comedy of errors that I hope will prove to be insightful and entertaining for you.