The international teachers stuck overseas at Christmas

With less than 50 days until Christmas, international teachers are starting to embrace the idea of a festive season overseas – which is no bad thing, says Julia Knight
7th November 2020, 8:00am

Share

The international teachers stuck overseas at Christmas

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/international-teachers-stuck-overseas-christmas
Globe In Classroom Decorated For Christmas, Christmas Resources

At this time of year, international teachers would usually be starting to think about the return home for Christmas.

But travelling is looking increasingly unlikely for many, with sudden changes to quarantine and lockdowns being implemented by governments around the world.

This will be my third Christmas abroad in a row, although the first that's not by choice. My family and I have not left Bahrain since the summer of 2019 and had planned to finally return for a visit this Christmas. 

But I am embracing the idea of spending Christmas 2020 with the friends we have made since arriving in the country.

Christmas chums

A support network of good friendships is a vital lifeline for teachers far away from home, and this will particularly be the case for teachers around the world this Christmas. 

Loneliness can be a struggle even in normal times, and so it's vital right now to have those deeper connections with people you can belly laugh with across tables full of food and drink.

Christmas in the sun

We have been in Bahrain for five years now, and as transient as international teaching can be, we have found our "abroad family" in some close friends.

There is another couple, like us, with two children and also from the UK, who we know that we can call on for anything. When we sit down in their company, it feels like sitting at home with brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

Then there's Laetitia, an experienced MfL HOD, who has become my confidante and my friend when times call for laughing or crying. She and her little family slotted into ours with ease when two of our children met at playgroup and became firm friends.

So it felt only natural on Christmas Day 2018 to sit around the table eating a traditional Christmas dinner that Laetitia and I had cooked, playing Bop It (she won) and listening to Heart FM. The only tell-tale sign we weren't in the UK was that it was 27 degrees and sunny.

Who's washing up?

We added another family to our friendship group in the last year and it has been lovely to have our bubble for BBQs and nights in.

In the next few weeks, we will decide who is hosting Christmas and begin looking forward to arguing over the remote control and who gets to do the dishes.

It may not be what we had planned and other teachers may be feeling down about the thought of being away for Christmas, but if you have a good friendship group, get together and work out how you will make the best of the situation.

After all, it's all part of the adventure of teaching internationally. It can cause upheaval and it may take a good year to settle into your new life - to find out where to shop, where to live, where to cut your hair and most importantly it takes time to curate your friendships.

But once you have them, they are worth their weight in gold.

Julia Knight is vice-principal at Eton House School in Bahrain. She has been teaching internationally for eight years

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters