Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Go with the flow: how teachers travel to London to live and work

I was reminded this week of the incredible traveling spirit that our teachers have. First, Zoom Airlines shut down, right in the middle of the busiest time of year for our teachers. One of our teachers was actually on her way to the airport in Montreal in order to fly to London when she heard the news. Let's call her Sarah.

She was incredibly calm and collected during this nightmare. Sarah's dad was with her, and the two of them put their heads together to figure out what to do. Should she stay another week or so in Montreal? Should she fly to London with expensive Air Canada or British Airways? Or could there be another way?

Well, it turns out that there was another way. Sarah went to the airport and visited each ticket counter until she found the best deal as close to London as possible. A few hours later, she was on a plane to Paris, France. She knew once she got to Paris, she could at least take the Eurostar across to London and still arrive the next day. All told, it took her about 24 hours to finally arrive in London, but she did it!

But the saga wasn't over sadly. When she arrived at the accommodations, the office staff had left for the day. So Sarah was stuck with a security guard who was trying to find her keys to her new flat but wasn't able to find them. And this is where our incredible teachers come to rescue Sarah!

Sarah didn't actually know anyone in London. But she used her social skills and go-get-'em attitude to make sure she was in contact with our other teachers already. So when she needed a friendly face, an understanding smile and a bottle of wine, our other teachers were there with big broad smiles and plenty of laughter. Sarah was able to get into her flat in the end. It was frustrating and she was exhausted to say the least, but it all worked out.

So, Sarah left Canada on Thursday and arrived on Friday of last week. School started in the UK yesterday, and just like we had hoped would happen, one school called in a panic that they needed a teacher to start ASAP! Sarah arrived just in time for this kind of last minute crisis, where a school needs a teacher and the teacher is ready to work right away. She went to the interview and learned more about how London schools work. All of this happened in just a few days of her arrival. Amazing!

Sadly, she didn't get the job as someone else with UK experience got the position. But, Sarah is still smiling, laughing and calling me from the London Eye with the other teachers. She'll get a great job, I know it. With that kind of resilience and positive attitude in a crisis, how could she not?

Moving to a new country can be hard and very frustrating. I've traveled and worked in much less familiar countries (Bangladesh and Guatemala for example) and know the dificulties with language barriers and cultural clashes. But most people think that moving to London will be easy.

"They speak English!!!" is what I hear all the time.

Yes, they do. But that doesn't mean you won't need that same flexibility and "go with the flow" attitude that you need in the developing world in your travels. If anything, you need it even more!

So thanks to Sarah and all the teachers who opened their arms to her this weekend. This is why I do what I do, to help teachers like you make that not-so-easy transition to life in London. You always make it worth it for me with your laughter and stories about your year in London.


  1. Great post :)
    I mentioned on my blog that you are more than welcome to link this blog and my own blog. Only 13 days to go!

  2. Thanks! Your link is up now. I'm excited to read your thoughts on teaching in London.

    Give me a shout before you depart for any last minute stuff. Have fun in these last couple of days with your family & friends!


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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