Helen Peacock - Year 2 White
I've really enjoyed my first year at BSA, teaching in Year 2. The school is easy to settle into and I've felt at ease and supported throughout the year. It is certainly very different to where I've taught before (Qatar and Dubai). The school isn't purpose built and whilst there are things you may not have here, it's quite easy to get by. You just need to think ahead to plan resources and things for future topics and you'll be fine!
This was my fifth year teaching abroad, but my first year in Egypt. I had visited Alexandria and Cairo for 4 days beforehand and loved it for a holiday. Since living here, I've been able to explore a lot more and I have loved seeing more of the country - including many areas I didn't even know existed. Some months, I haven't spent a single weekend in Alexandria, as it's cheap to travel to nearby places (Cairo, Marsa Matrouh, El Alamein) and I definitely recommend this. I've also had a weekend in Hurghada and a long weekend in Sharm El Sheikh.
As for living here, of course it's different to the UK, but as long as you're a bit adaptable and understand that some things might work differently and at a different pace, you'll soon feel at home. Though I remember our tour on the first day feeling like an absolute mind-boggling walk, you soon realise how easy it is to find places in the local area (Kafr Abdou). Within a five minute walk from my house, I can be at a shop, a salon, a mini supermarket and a few cafes. Within ten minutes (I do walk quite quickly), I can be at the sea, which is great!! Also, school is a ten minute walk, along with more shops, (clothes shops, salons, restaurants). To go further afield, you can choose the easy option of using Uber, or if you enjoy bartering, use the black and yellow taxis. For longer journeys, we can give you recommendations of taxis (it's around £30 to Cairo) or there's a train.
Having lived abroad before, I can honestly say, the size of the accommodation here is fantastic. I have two bedrooms, two living rooms, two toilets (one in bathroom), a kitchen and a dining room. The decor is a little unusual - but as it's free, I wouldn't complain! Just bring along some photos/homely bits and you can make it 'yours.'
For the social side - there are not a lot of other Brits living nearby, but with all the teachers at school, you'll always have people around to socialise with. There is a social events coordinator, who plans trips and events, such as beach trips, Easter egg hunt (for kids), a Christmas meal and more. There's a nice mix of ages of teachers and many with families.
For me, the biggest challenge here (though there is a great range of food), is missing treats from home. Some things come and go, such as baked beans/tortilla wraps, so bring along things that you will miss. Feel free to send me an email if you have any more questions :)
Nichelle Jackson – Head of Senior School
I have worked in Alexandria for over 10 years and can say it is a fantastic experience. The students at the school are eager to learn, want to do well and rarely present any serious discipline problems. Students have a high standard of English and we aim for native speaker level – all students leaving the school will have achieved IGCSE First Language English. Small class sizes enable teachers to personalise learning and to get to know their students extremely well. In addition, in the English department we have the flexibility to formulate our own curriculum and to expand our creativity.
Life in Egypt can be challenging at times but it presents wonderful opportunities. As Alexandria is a much more manageable city than Cairo, one can really get to know the place well. There are many sightseeing opportunities, together with excellent fish restaurants and a number of bars. The school holidays enable teachers to travel to other parts of Egypt such as the archaeological sites of Luxor and Aswan, the oases of the Western Desert and the Sinai peninsula. In addition, Cairo is only a 2½ hour train ride away and is a host to far too many sights to mention!
Although Egypt is not for the faint-hearted, I would thoroughly recommend coming to live in Alexandria and to join our friendly and professional staff.
Aimee Evans – SENCO
Alexandria is a lovely place, which is very different from Britain. Alexandria is made up of different areas, which differ to shopping places, eating places or "ghettos" (the poorer parts). I live in the same area as the school which is Kafr Abdou, and it is considered the nicest, most afluen part, and is really nice in comparison to others. Life here is good, I don't feel like I miss out on anything major from home as there are cafés, shops, restaurants, bars and hotels to fill your free time, as well as the people you meet through the school. You have too many social gatherings to choose from! The place is busy, always full of people working and enjoying! There are certain things to follow when walking around Alex such as clothing but you are well informed and supported by the school in knowing this. There is a great support to help with the language differences too! I'm learning Arabic slowly on my own and am currently booking Arabic lessons through the school!
Arriving here was so easy. I was really nervous on the flight to be honest, but the school and agencies helped me a lot in this as they made sure I was travelling with someone else from the school, and it turned out 4 more people were on the flight and 2 existing teachers too! They talked us through arriving at the airport with our visas and customs and the Principal, actually met us at the airport. The people are so nice as they have been through the exact same thing as you previously and you are in a group of like-minded people, it makes things so much easier.
As I said, the social gatherings are great, however usually you need to make the effort and arrange them yourselves. It's been pretty easy for us as people here know the areas and what to do and we have used this info to explore ourselves. So far in the 6 weeks we have been here we have visited 2 hotels in the north coast weekly, had half term in Cairo, gone to bars and hotels in Alex, and been shopping down town! We also go locally to Kafr Abdou for food where there is lots to choose from - Thai, Lebanese, cafés and French!
I am teaching a reception class, called FS2 here, and they follow the same curriculum called Foundation Stage and in England. This is because it is a British school. It is very much the same, but honestly you need to adapt and make do with the resources you have as with any school you are in. It is difficult to receive post and deliveries here.
It was hard to leave my family and sister but as I had no other ties in Britain and am young, so I thought, "It's only 2 years and when am I going to have this experience again?" I found it the same as being away for University really. The school are very supportive in ensuring you have WIFI or access to internet to Skype friends and family so you don't really lose contact!
Honestly, there are some things that are difficult but the people and the kids in the school amongst other things make it worthwhile. I don't regret my decision to move here and never have and I don’t think I ever will!
Kevin Murphy – Year 4 Teacher
I've really enjoyed working at BSA, in Year 4. The school is campus based with different departments located in Kafr Abdou, a really pleasant and green part of Alexandria.
The school is welcoming and I've had support all year for various issues and staff really help each other out. It is certainly a very different place to where I've taught before (Qatar). The school is spread over several buildings all close together and whilst there are things you may not have here that may be available elsewhere, we are not lacking for up to date equipment. Modern resources are at hand, IWBs etc, and the school has decent although not huge outdoor spaces. Everyone works together to ensure we make the best of the facilities and resources between the separate schools. The work life balance is very good and staff work hard but have time in the school week to complete all the elements that go into teaching successfully.
This is my first year working in Egypt. Having said that, I was familiar with the country through accounts from family and friends. I have to say, it is an amazing place! Alexandria itself is big, loud, vibrant and can seem a little overwhelming at first, however the Egyptian people are amongst the friendliest and most helpful I've ever met on my travels. 'Alex' is on the coast so there are lots of beaches and local resorts nearby and places to visit in the city going back thousands of years! The locals will definitely engage you in conversation and are usually most helpful if you are lost or need directions.
A smile goes a long way here and if you can learn even a little bit of Arabic the locals will really appreciate it. It is a very safe place to live and work, and the police are helpful, friendly and very visible. I've felt really at ease whatever part of the country I've been in and there is always someone willing to show you how to get somewhere or even take you there themselves.
As for living here, the local area has everything you need, supermarkets, hair salons, DIY shops, small grocers, parks, clothes shops, the list goes on. Further afield, there are larger Carrefour supermarkets, malls, parks, cinemas, the library is one of the finest I've ever been to, and the downtown area is bustling but very vibrant. San Stefano is a modern mall with lots of western shops and there are some really impressive hotels in Alex as well.
Having worked in Qatar, the accommodation provided by school is much better and is usually to a high standard and staff live within walking distance of school. The apartments are large, spacious and most have very modern appliances. The Maintenance team is very good with most issues being resolved very quickly, usually within a day or a week, i.e. a broken washing machine for example. Bills are very cheap and internet is reliable and fast.
Living here gives lots of opportunities to travel and explore and getting around is straightforward as well. Taxis, the tram, buses Uber, are all available and most drivers speak some English. Other staff will advise on best ways and means to get around. The airport is fifty minutes away and you can also fly from Cairo.
After initially being quite nervous about coming to live and work in Egypt I can honestly say I've had an amazing time so far! The list of places to travel to is almost endless and there is usually lots of school based social events going on throughout the year as well.
Any problems I've had have been resolved quickly and I was very well supported when I first arrived. It is easy for family and friends to visit and one final thing is the cost of living, it is very, very good. Going out and socialising is much cheaper than the UK or Middle East for example and these savings can make a big difference to salary.
I have really enjoyed my first year working at BSA and look forward to many more.