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駐妻キャリアnetは、今と未来のキャリアを考える世界中の駐妻・元駐妻・プレ駐妻を応援し、共に成長するコミュニティです。

Expat Wives Career Network

【interview / vol.22-English】Try to communicate with your partner and take action!

Interviews with career-oriented women from all over the world!
This time we have interviewed with Sally.
Please click here for the article in Japanese.
 

ー Tell us about yourself

I’m Sally. I currently live in Penang, which is my 3rd time following my husband for his overseas assignment, following our stay in Shanghai and Hong Kong. In 2002, I obtained the First Class Bachelor of Education Honours Degree at the university in the UK, which enables me to teach children aged 3-11. After graduating from the university, I taught for a number of years and held additional positions of responsibility such as Year Group /Department Leader and Deputy Head Teacher in the UK. In 2009, I left the UK due to my husband’s job and have been living in Asia ever since.

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I worked full time during the first 7 years of my time in Asia but stopped working 3 years ago when I had my son. When my son turned 3 months old, I started working again as a supply teacher at the school where I was previously employed and continued working for about a year and a half part time. In August this year, I returned to work full time as a teacher and Year Group leader at the international school in Penang, Malaysia. My husband has been working very long hours since we came to Penang. The earliest he comes home is around 20:30, which means that I am the sole carer for our son during the working week. To help with this, I have a part-time helper (10 hours per week) and our son attends daycare part-time so that he can socialize with others. Before working full time, I used to spend my day doing household chores, shopping and cooking. After my son came back home from daycare, I used to take him to different activities on playdates or to the playground / pool. When I had more free time I met with friends, for example going for a hike or for lunch.

ーYou were able to be reemployed overseas. Having the Education Degree of the UK allows you to work outside of the UK quite easily?

Yes, I am able to teach at an international school in different countries with the degree I have. Basically, there is a job opportunity where an international school is located. It allows me to work outside of the UK quite easily.

ーYou started working when your son was three-month-old, didn’t you? How did you approach the school?

When I was pregnant, I already had a plan to go back to work. For that, I tried to find a full-time nanny to take care of my son while I was still pregnant. I knew the school needed a supply teacher, so I approached them. Since it was the school that I used to work full time and there were some teachers whom I worked with before I got pregnant, I would say it was beneficial even for the school to hire me.

ーDo you have a future career plan?

Yes. It was always my aim to return to work full time when my son turned 3 years old and started to go to school full time. I am fortunate that my career and experience up until now enabled me to achieve this objective even though I’m in Asia. I am very delightful that I was able to start working as a full-time teacher and also as a leader managing other teachers from this August.

ーDid you do something for your aim to work full time?

Yes. I try to keep up with today’s education by reading an article online and getting current school information from my teacher friends. Also, I did English teacher when I had time to keep my teaching skills current.

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ーHow do you maintain your work life balance?

In Asia child-care is much more affordable than in the UK so I have a good work-life balance by employing a helper. She assists with not only childcare but also household chores, which allows me to spend more time with my family and gives me more time to do my things. Since we do not have an extended family close by, this kind of help is necessary.

ーDoes your husband support your career?

Yes. My husband and I have always been very focused on our careers and have supported one another over the years, especially during our time in Asia where we have moved to 3 different countries. Stopping to work to raise our child was always a temporary measure of which my husband supported, but equally he fully understood and supported my desire to return to work from this August. We are very fortunate that my career choice allows me to work all over Asia which makes it much easier for us to fulfill our career aspirations together.

ーYou have a very good relationship with your husband. What do you think is important to maintain such a good relationship?

I think it’s important to have family time. For example, we try to have time to talk everyday although my husband works till late. I always wait for him to come home and have dinner with him and discuss daily things, things about my son, my concern and so on. We enjoy the moment with a glass of wine. This communication time helps us to make our life decision easily. For example, recently we have moved to a new unit nearby the school where I work. It helps us to reduce a commute and pick-up and drop-off times for my son. I believe that it’s important to discuss even small things and solve the concern that you have together with your husband.

ーWhat do you think is important to do while you’re away from your country and live your life as an expat wife?

It is important for me to develop my career for both now and my future in a situation where the expat life is expected to last long. My husband has an ongoing renewable contract so we don't know how long our expat life will be. I would have struggled for many years if I was unable to ever work during my husband’s overseas assignment. Irrespective of the nationality, I think there are a lot of people who are struggling with their careers while they are following their husbands for their assignment overseas. It is true that teachers can find opportunities fairly easily even in other countries but it’s also important that you do something yourself. I always find it important to keep up to date with the UK curriculum and initiatives as an international school teacher.
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