This time last year, I’d just been offered my current job here in Malta. A lot of people ask how I found it, what the move was like, what it’s like to teach here and how/if they should try it themselves. Although I’d be very hesitant to offer advice on the latter, what I can do is share my personal experience. So, I thought I’d split it into a few significant parts. Here’s the first!
Firstly, teaching abroad isn’t something I’d thought about. I’m not sure why - it’s a great fit for us! I don’t think I ever realised how easy it could be. I was just flicking through Facebook (as you do) and I happened across a post from an ex-colleague. She’s half Maltese and had moved to Malta a few years earlier. She just posted that there was a potential position at her school if any of her teacher friends fancied teaching in the sunshine! I flippantly typed ‘don’t tempt me’ and, here was the twist of fate, read her post to my husband (then showed him a picture of a turtle wearing a funny hat!). I’d like to clarify that sitting at home reading Facebook posts to my husband is just not something I do! I don’t know why I read this one. He then uttered the two words that changed everything. Why not? Damn good point.
After messaging back and forth with my Maltese friend (okay, being honest, ‘friend’ was a stretch at this point - we’d never so much as been for coffee), I established that English was an official language of Malta and that knowledge of Maltese was not necessary for the job. She then put me in touch with the SLT, who gave me some more information.
It was great having someone I could ask questions of. Unlike the UAE or other places, there are not hundreds of English teachers in Malta and it’s a tiny country. Therefore, there are no Facebook groups etc where I could find information for expat teachers there.
Within a few days, I had a Skype interview lined up. At this stage, I made my husband do a trial Skype call, as I’d never done one before!!
The Skype interview was worryingly short! We chatted about the school and a bit about my experience and then I was told that they’d be in touch. I then didn’t hear for a few of weeks! I have since learnt that this was due to the illness of the staff member in charge of recruitment, but needless to say it was a very looooong few weeks! We didn’t know if we were staying in the country or not!
As soon as I was offered the interview, I told my head teacher. Every school and every head is different, but I loved my school and the staff there and I had been there since the day the school opened, so I wanted to be completely honest from the start. Plus, it’s far easier to have that conversation when you’re considering a move abroad than if you’re just moving schools in England: you’re leaving your whole life in England.
After a few weeks, I got the email with the offer! Yay!
Now, the pay here is very low. It’s almost half what I was on in the UK. I knew this before the offer came through, so while I was waiting to hear, we did some serious budgeting. This is absolutely essential. Moving to another country requires money. (I’ll talk a bit more about this in the next post).
I was in a great position to move abroad: I’m lucky to have a husband who owns his own business and works online and over the phone (recruitment). This means that he can work from anywhere. In theory. In reality, the tax laws and social security contributions in each country make a HUGE difference, especially to his salary. Definitely look into this for your own salary and your parnter’s if travelling with someone.
So, all that remained was to revisit my husband’s initial reaction: why not? He could move with his job, we have no children, we have no major financial commitments and our family are in reasonable health. We were just approaching 31 and have been together since we were 16, so we know how to handle pretty much anything together! Our friends and relatives are having children, which is not something we want so we decided to have our own adventure!
In my next post, I’ll write about preparing to move, clearing out the house, bits of financial info that might be useful if you’re considering a move of your own and basically everything that happened between being offered the job and making the move.
Hi! I'm Mrs P: passionate primary school teacher!