Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Norway in a Nutshell

I suppose you could say I learned an important lesson about Norway while visiting this past week during our Eid vacation.  That is, Norway will make you go broke, but it is worth every penny.  I don't think anyone in their right mind would plan a trip to Norway and negate the glaring fact that it is continually in the top 10 of most expensive places in the world.  I also think that most tourists would probably rank Norway in the top 10 of most beautiful place in the world.

So without further adieu, here is our Norway trip in a nutshell.

We flew out on a Friday afternoon, made a quick stop at the miserably confusing airport in Vienna, and landed in Oslo around 11pm.  We took a high-speed train from the airport to the closest train station and walked to our hotel.

The first couple of days were spent in Oslo.  The weather was absolutely beautiful if you are into the stereotypical fall climate of mid 50's and sunny.   The first day, we simply walked all over town, exploring the areas near our hotel.  Oslo is very easy to get around, as many of the sites are centrally located in an area surrounding Karl Johans gate, the main pedestrian/shopping district in Oslo.

The next day we spent touring the Holmenkollen Ski Jump.  It had a spectacular view of the Oslo metro area and the Oslo fjord.  We also found many awesome parks with lots of grass and gorgeous fall colors.  One of the coolest was next to the Royal Palace.

Preparing for take off down the ski jump.

View from the top of Holmenkollen Ski Jump of Oslo.

Ryker and Shanna in the leaves.

Shanna is loving the fall weather.

After our first 3 days in Oslo, we headed across to the western side of the country and to the beautiful city of Bergen.  This involved taking a couple different trains, a boat trip across a fjord, and a bus ride.   The train had a family car with it's own little play area for kids.  Ryker being the only kid in the family car, had it all to himself.  Check it out!

It was a long day, but the scenery was amazing.  We ended up renting an apartment in the city center, and because Ryker was sick, we didn't do as much as anticipated.  We did take a funicular rail car to the top of a mountain in Bergen and snap some pretty cool photos.  We really enjoyed just relaxing and trying not to spend all of our money on food!  

Please check out the slide show I created of some of our pics of the trip!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The "Good" Life

We are a couple days from our "fall break" which we celebrate here in Jordan during Eid al Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, a Muslim holiday which is in celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of submission to God, although later replacing his son with a lamb.

During our break, Shanna, Ryker, and I are headed to Norway.    We plan on hanging out in Oslo for a couple days but then heading out to the fjords on the western side of the country for the rest of the trip which we are excited about.  We will be taking the Bergen Railway which many consider the best train ride in the world.  We will also be taking the highest train in Europe and a fjord cruise along the way to Bergen.

Here is a picture from the Bergen railway.

I am hoping that we can rent a car in Bergen and drive towards more fjords and beautiful settings.  I would love to drive the Atlantic Road.  Have you heard of it?  It's supposed to be in the top 5 of most beautiful coastal roads in the world.  Check out these pics!

Anyways, I wanted to share some of the awesome "perks" about being an international educator.  It's nice to feel appreciated, respected, and rewarded in some ways for your skills in tangible ways.  The good life as I say.  Here are some of the "perks" of an international educator, specifically to teaching at ACS Amman.


-Tax Free Salary (almost everywhere in the ME)
-3 bedroom / 3 bathroom apartment free of charge.  All maintenance done by the school
-Car and all maintenance done by school
-Airline tickets for the 3 of us back to the States once a year
-Healthcare is free of charge without any premiums.  The healthcare here is very good by the way.
-Free tuition for dependents
-Matching retirement program
-Shipping Allowance


-$1100 a year for professional development.  I can choose the conference and the school foots the bill up to the $1100 amount.
-Small class sizes
-No standardized testing and attached ramifications because of success/failure
-Investment in Technology (24 iPads in fourth grade for 50 students)  I may get the chance to order more for my kids next year along with $2,000 just for apps!
-Supplies bought by school including books, resources, etc.
-Much less pressure/stress put on teachers  "Teachers can teach" because of the limited behavior issues
-Bonuses for staying beyond the 2 year contract.  2-3,000 extra each year you stay.  I can't believe schools actually pay you more to stay longer!

As I've told a few people already, it is definitely hard to imagine going back to teaching a public school setting in the US after having an experience like this.  I definitely can see how many veteran international teachers say that you will never go back to the US in the same capacity after getting "spoiled" at an international school.