Pack Those Bags! Explore Teaching Internationally

Nilmini Ratwatte-HenstridgeBlog, Connect Better, Manage Better, Teach Happier


  • Top considerations for teaching internationally include making accommodations, networking, collaborating, building your portfolio, and more.
  • Give back to the world in a way that you never did before or never thought of doing before.

I never considered applying to teach at an International School…up until now. If you are considering International Education, here are your top considerations to reflect upon during the application process.

Things to consider prior to leaving on an airplane.

Remembering the idea that your work as an educator is important enough to be considered invaluable to others in any country you serve. Teaching is a gift, a calling, and a superpower that you need to take advantage of as you make this decision to travel out of town and out of your comfort zone. I am happy to collaborate with Ms. Shannon Egan for this blog. She is currently teaching in Brazil as an international educator. I value her input as she went through this process of working out of the United States when she applied for this position. A special thank you to Shannon for her insights on this blog to inspire others to consider International Educational opportunities.

Take out a world map, pick a country or a city, and see what adventure awaits you as you take a leap of faith and apply to your DREAM job! Click To Tweet

Ah, my list for you! TOP 10 considerations…

Home Away From Home

Accommodations that make you comfortable are everything. Ask the question of where you will be living since you are making your home in this new country. You need to be able to live a comfortable life. Most international schools offer comfortable living spaces or give you an allowance to find accommodations so you have your residence.

Let’s talk about this! 

The language spoken in the country is an important consideration. The importance of communication is invaluable. Therefore, it is important to note that you will need support from other faculty members who live in the area to translate and help until you find your bearings and routines. 


You need a support network of educators that you connect with in your home school and city. The opportunities to travel and tour are helpful if you have other teachers who are working with you and living in the same area. Establish networks for friendships and professional conversations as we develop skill sets for our best teaching opportunities.

Location, Climate, and Weather

Consider whether the community that the International School is located in “meets your requirements with climate and weather.”

Safety and security are important considerations. But being able to fit in and belong to a community is imperative as we move into a new city and country to build a life.


To be able to travel back and forth to your home country is an important consideration. I personally thought that the cost of travel is important to consider since you will be homesick or you would want others to visit you. Think about costs and location when applying for a position that is going to make you a happy teacher. Go sightseeing to get to know the community and explore with the time you have in that country.

School Climate 

Build and contribute to the school climate by being yourself once you get there. We are human and we are not perfect but we can be the best self we can be!

Consider: Differentiating Project-Based Learning

Take a Deep Dive Into Teaching 

You took this invaluable research opportunity to teach, so go be your genuine best self as a teacher! Go with your passion projects, inspire extracurriculars, and enjoy passing down the knowledge to our world’s future leaders—your students.


A key experience of considering teaching in international schools is that you have the opportunity to share your knowledge with others while you learn from them. This article and video podcast is of Ms. Shannon Egan speaking to me about the work the school in Brazil is doing currently. I loved the opportunity to share this amazing work since we as teachers globally are able to stay connected in the Travel the World series podcast.

Build Your Portfolio

Add to your resume and build your portfolio, no matter how little or how much experience you bring to the profession. You are valuable and have to see yourself from an asset point of view.

Make the LIST count!

Make “the list” of the things that you can’t live without and make it count as you think about what to pack to make teaching comfortable in another country and your home away from home.

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Stay connected through your personal journey; check out the “Travel the World Series” video podcast hosted by me! 

I would love to hear if you apply for a position in an international school. I would spotlight your work on School Rubric’s Travel the World Series produced by Dr. Wallace Ting. I would also like to spotlight your work in articles to highlight some amazing work of educators so we can collaborate around the world.

Remember each school, each country, offers something different. Research and find the best fit for yourself and your family to see how it works into your plan for the years ahead.

This blog certainly opened my heart to the warm atmospheres that international schools establish in order to ensure educators are supported as they arrive at their location.

Ms. Egan shares her thoughts:

When you first begin your journey looking into international schools, I suggest being open-minded about where you may end up. Some of my friends have had amazing experiences in countries they had never dreamed of living in.

That being said, do your research about life in a country before committing to anything. Know what you are getting into and what your personal limits and comfort levels are. When interviewing with a school, ask to speak to current teachers and members of the school community before you make your decision. You can get a better feel for what the school is actually like. Also, ask about what the social life in the community is like. Ask if teachers tend to do stuff together or if the community tends to be more people doing things on their own.

This was essential for me to know because I wanted to be at a school with a very strong social community. I would also think about asking about how integrated the expat teachers are with the local community and with local staff. One of the reasons I love my current school is that there is a large Brazilian staff that works at the school, which allows me to actually make Brazilian friends and better integrate into the local community.

In past positions, local staff and expat staff were very separate and not very integrated, and I felt outside of the local community.

This really depends on the culture of the country you are in. Brazilians are known to be warm and welcoming, so feeling a part of the local culture feels natural and easy. Once you select the school that fits your needs, you get to start thinking about all of the stuff you want to bring! Now I am a notorious over-packer (I tried to bring 7 suitcases with me to Brazil!).

So take what I say with a grain of salt, but I would examine what will bring you happiness and the comfort of home while you are away and prioritize those items. For me, that was books, classroom materials, and specialty spices. I spoke to people who worked at the school and had lived in Brazil for a while and got a sense of what I could and could not easily get while I was here. English books can be hard to find in non-English speaking countries, so I made sure to bring some for my classroom and some for my personal library. Little things like anchor chart markers, whiteboard markers, or other classroom items that are commonplace in North America may be harder to find, more expensive, or of a different quality than what you can find at home.

I, personally, also love to cook and need a large array of spices and ingredients to use in my cooking, so I brought a lot of specialty spices that I would not be able to easily find in Brazil. I brought my favorite hot sauces, seasoning packets for tacos and ranch dressing, lots of specialty spicy condiments like gochujang, sambal, harissa, curry powders, Zaatar, and specialty ingredients like arrowroot starch and nutritional yeast.

You have to find the thing that will bring you comfort and happiness, and bring some of that along.

The last thing you need to know is to go into the experience with an open mind. It will be nothing you expect, but it will be an amazing adventure.

I hope you consider packing those bags and heading right out of town for a year to teach internationally. Give back to the world in a way that you never did before or never thought of doing before. Remember each school offers its own unique package so select what fits your lifestyle and suits your needs. Take out a world map, pick a country or a city, and see what adventure awaits you as you take a leap of faith and apply to your DREAM job! 

Yours in Education,


About Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge

Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge teaches in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. She was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada with her family. As an elementary school teacher who is passionate about equity, social justice, and human rights in education, she enjoys teaching the younger generation to be global-minded citizens.

Discovering the world by connecting with others is an opportunity that we have today in our society today and she loves meeting new people! She is always learning while traveling to understand the inter-connectedness of this beautiful earth we live in! Nilmini LOVES cooking great meals, watching movies, and the latest fashion trends! Family and friends are close to her heart as she looks forward to balancing social media and navigating professional learning communities in education to network globally this year!