8 years ago, I came overseas to teach. It was well before then that I decided I wanted to travel. My parents were travellers and had exposed me to the world. Although I did not actually travel a lot as a child, I heard all about various places in the world. When I started my career as a teacher, I wanted to go overseas but I knew I needed some experience first so I started teaching in Canada. Only 1.5 years later, I was preparing for my first teaching assignment overseas in the Middle East, in Kuwait. I remember landing in the airport in Kuwait and that is when it really hit me. Oh no, what did I just do?
The first few days in a new country are the hardest. It is exciting but it is overwhelming. In Kuwait, I was shown my new empty apartment. There were a few basic necessities in it and it was minimally furnished but it felt empty and lonely. I was exhausted after almost 24 hours of travel and I was jet lagged. I was also hungry but I did not have a way of getting food. Luckily a couple of new colleagues helped me get some food and then I settled in for a long sleep.
Eventually I was settled in to my new apartment and I was starting school. It was hot, hot, hot all the time. The sun beat down constantly. It was new to me. I was used to have at least a few “bad weather” days in a month where I would close the curtains and stay inside for a day. My Canadian blood was telling me to get outside and enjoy the nice weather. But there were a few days where, even though it was sunny, I closed the curtains and pretended it was raining and stayed inside!
The school I worked at had 11 PE and Health teachers from elementary to high school. My first year there, I taught grade 6 and 7. My second year there I taught grade 9-12. All the PE teachers were housed in one office. My desk was under the air conditioning unit and I slowly became accustomed to extreme changes in temperature, which were worse than in Canada! Our classes took place mostly outside in the extreme heat for the first few months of the year, then extreme cold for the middle few months of the year, and a few months each year between the cold and the hot was the most beautiful temperature you could find. That time was worth the extremes of the rest of the year!
In the two years I was living in Kuwait, I travelled a lot. I went to Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, China, France, Switzerland, South Korea, Jordan, and Egypt. Thus began the life of going to a different country or destination each holiday in the school year. Who does that!?! Well, international school teachers do that! It is still something that I marvel at often.