By Liz Jones
Posted 10 September 2019
‘There’s a sick parrot in my garden, What should I do?’
Just one example of the type of question that a new international colleague might ask. Not necessarily the type of question that you will find an easy Google answer to.
When an individual makes a decision to move to a new role, many steps are involved in the process. It is not just a case of exploring an obvious career path. One has to consider personal goals, location, opportunity and challenge.
Moving internationally has an extra set of steps and choices. Like a TV show, where families consider a move to Australia, the experience is a not just a leap into the unknown, but involves consideration of many life elements.
According to The Migration Observatory (University of Oxford) 339,000 people migrated from the UK in 2016.  The choice to move can be motivated by many different reasons.
It isn’t easy
When seeking the perfect role, you and the organisation need to be a match. When seeking the perfect international role, add location, language, climate, and distance from current home, culture, food, schools, accommodation, travel, friendships and family links. It is also a big responsibility when we look at the impact on each person’s own ecosystem. All of this makes the choice important, significant and high impact.
There are plenty of tools to help you move, though it is important to be aware of expectations and requirements that your new country will have. There will be different systems for health care, registration, working entitlement and social security.
An organisation needs to ensure that the individual has made the right decision. In the context of so many new life elements, that employer’s responsibility is more than just salary and a desk. As an International not-for-profit organisation, the British School in the Netherlands (BSN) recognises that the individuals who choose us, deserve a gold standard Induction Programme as one aspect of their journey towards a successful move. This is important because we need to ensure that the individual will thrive and that they can do their work effectively from a settled positive context.
In some contexts, Induction might consist of a two-day event where a badge, a desk and the employee code of conduct are shared. At the BSN, we prefer a more dedicated format. Induction takes place over a one-year journey that may start with practical tools but that has the ethos and values of our school embedded at its core.
Core Induction has key milestones and signposts during the year. Whether a new colleague starts in September, January or April, we want them to know what the organisation represents from the very beginning. It is also essential to welcome people into our community so they know they will find friendship, support and trust here.
- Positive atmosphere
- Feeling of belonging
- Organisation knowledge
- Mission vision and values
Our Induction programme reflects these key goals and includes Safeguarding training at the start. This training ensure that there is a shared understanding which will protect our students and staff together.
The team responsible for this welcome is important too. They represent a cross section of the men and women working here already. They embody the core values of this school. They have a range of service, roles and understanding of the company and the country in which we live. This gives a unique opportunity to offer guidance and to nurture our newest members.
A Great Start
Some top tips for moving internationally.
- Enjoy the Moment
In the future, you will see how much you have achieved. Remember to make the most of this new experience.
- Take it Steady
The impact of a move like this will be large and at times may seem overwhelming. This is normal. Tackle the processes one at a time, systematically. There may be ups-and-downs along the way.
- Take time for Yourself
There will be times when you feel overwhelmed but remember to give yourself a chance to enjoy your new location. Take a walk. Enjoy new sights, sounds and foods.
- Focus on your Strengths
Make sure that you recognise your existing skills and that you are applying them in a new context. Are you teaching at your normal level? Can you cook something great for a friend?
- Reach Out
There are many people in the same situation who can understand what you are experiencing. Your new colleagues are there to help you and are keen to support. They may hold the key to finding a dog walker or an electrician. You are not alone.
In your new country, there will be organisations that can help you to settle in. Your employer will be able to direct you towards a range of services. There are great checklists online to help you get started too.
Here in the Netherlands, Access is a great resource. There are also groups for new arrivals based on either their nationality or interests. Joining a social club or group will help you build a new network.
Social media also has a range of groups that do the same and can give advice in your new country.
I moved countries 21 years ago, in a time where Hong Kong was transferring back to China, Tony Blair was Prime Minister and Katrina and The Waves had just won the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK.
Living in The Netherlands has become permanent for me. Leading Induction for the BSN is challenging and rewarding. I try to harness the memories that I have of that time where it was not possible to ‘Google it’ and mobile phones were rare, which made moving a challenge. I use this awareness to support my new colleagues and guide them in their first year with us.
(The parrot is doing fine.)