By Ms. C. Wachtler
Saudi Arabia is different than I thought it would be. It's very commercialized with many Westernized goods, clothes, places to eat,etc. Within 15 minutes of the compound & IPS, there's an IKEA, 2 malls, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Japanese 100 yen shops, the usual US food chains (Applebee's, Chilis, Outback, etc), and places like Mothercare, Zara, Zulilly, etc. It's not hard to find something, just ask. There are cheap places to get things for classrooms like the 2 riyal shop or Mishwar, souks in Al Khobar & the surrounding area, and small rug galleries. It's pretty cool to live near the Gulf of Arabia!
Getting around as a single female is challenging. There is a loss of freedom in having to pre-plan every trip out of the compound. Active and outdoor women will find very limited outlets for recreation. Life in the compound is confining and what you make of it. The time outside of school is down time, finding things to fill it depends on individual social needs and wants. It's very different in Saudi as social opportunities are quite limited; expect to see the same faces in local places & everywhere in the compound. While I anticipated it would be life in a fishbowl, the reality has taken time to adjust to.
Working at IPS
I chose IPS as it offered two things that were not available at my last school - professional development and the opportunity to complete my studies with IPS paying 1/2. IPS is transitioning to becoming an IB school. I'm looking forward to IB training and experience with inquiry teaching methods.
My IPS experiences have been similar to those teaching in the US. Each place offers it's unique challenges, IPS is no different. It's a standards based curriculum, with yearly standardized testing. The school community is small yet growing. IPS has over 100 teachers and Saudi student population nearing 40%. It has it's own color and character!