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Memorial International School of Tirana, Albania
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Globetrotting Teacher



Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 24
Location: Bulgaria

PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:13 am    Post subject: a short message from Ari Reply with quote

Hi, Nesimje.

Due to extreme business and traveling, I haven't had the time to visit this site recently.

That having been said, I'm glad that "I came back here" when I did, just shortly after you posted your message here.

I hope all is going well with you and will write you a private message through this site soon.
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Globetrotting Teacher



Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 24
Location: Bulgaria

PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Nesmije -- I just (finally) sent you a Private Message through this site. Hope you get it and that you still check this site from time to time.

I look forward to communicating with you more and to working together at MIST.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12323
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The perception of Obama as a 'Roma' is common in the Balkans.
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Jamie28



Joined: 10 Jun 2011
Posts: 3
Location: United States

PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, the original poster mentioned being able to save a good deal of money...I was wondering if anyone has input on the pay offered in Albania. I know there is a lower cost of living, but was wondering what an average wage would be? I've done some google searching, but there isn't a whole lot of information available.
Thanks!
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Globetrotting Teacher



Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 24
Location: Bulgaria

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jamie --

I got offered a job at MIST back in May of 2011 and, after getting back my wholly clean state criminal background check back in the mail today, am happy to say that I am 100 % certain that I will be going there in about a month.

Anyways, the school pays well and provides different (and fairly generous) benefits; I would regard such pay as good in the States but in Albania, there is no doubt that the money goes much further,

The net (i.e. after-tax) pay is 1450 Euros per month. At current exchange rates, this is equal to almost 2100 US Dollars. The school also offers the teachers breakfast and lunch (both of which are given to the students) Monday through Friday for free.

If you finish the academic year, the school will pay for your roundtrip ticket to and from your native country; if you don't want to go to your native country, the school will give you 550 euros (almost 800 dollars at current exchange rates.)

Teachers are scheduled to work 25 45-minute academic hours per week; you will receive 7 euros net (a tad over 10 dollars) for any academic hour worked over and above that threshold.

If you commit to come back for a second academic year, you will get paid the above-mentioned monthly salary for both July and August; the money for your salary from those two months is added to your "base" salary, which means that you will get 290 euros (417 dollars) extra a month.

Official IMF statistics show that the cost of living in Albania is 49.34% of that in the US; in other words, an equivalent REAL AFTER-TAX salary in the US would be twice as much (even a tiny bit more) as your Albanian salary. According to the same IMF statistics, the average Albanian has an income of 306-307 dollars and, truth be told, the majority make even less than that, as a handful of wealthy peoples' massive monthly incomes distort the "average" upwards. As a result of the substantial income inequality that, as in the rest of the world, is present in Albania, the MEDIAN income in the country in question is definitely substantially UNDER this 306-307 dollar per month AVERAGE.

For point of reference, I compared Albanian prices to those of three other non-US countries where I have lived for considerable (at least 7 months more-or-less straight and usually more) periods of time: Romania, Moldova and Ecuador. I was in Ecuador last, the prices seemed very low to me (even lower than in Moldova, whose prices were lower than Romania's, whose prices were lower than those in the US) and Albania's comparative cost of living is, according to these statistics, the lowest of all these countries.

In short, pay and benefit-wise, MIST seems to be a great place to work.

I'll give you guys reports on my experiences there from time to time -- I have to say that I'm pretty damn excited about going there ! ! !
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giwizzef



Joined: 05 Mar 2012
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was so glad to find this post! I am currently pursuing a job at this school for the 2012-2013 school year and was very happy to hear positive things about it, especially after maneuvering the rocky hagwon waters of South Korea. I started in Asia to gain some ESL experience but it has been my goal for a very long time to go to Europe (I'm American). I don't know where I currently fall in the rank and file of applicants, but I can tell you that before they even sent me an initial list of interview questions, I had to supply scans of my passport and degree. So I know that a degree is mandatory for employment. Also, thanks for the Obama tip. If I am offered a position, I'll know not to mention his name too haphazardly. Although, since returning to the U.S., I've discovered that it's not exactly much safer to mention his name here these days.
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Globetrotting Teacher



Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 24
Location: Bulgaria

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:55 pm    Post subject: Sundry bits of info from a current MIST teacher Reply with quote

giwizzef wrote:
I was so glad to find this post! I am currently pursuing a job at this school for the 2012-2013 school year and was very happy to hear positive things about it, especially after maneuvering the rocky hagwon waters of South Korea. I started in Asia to gain some ESL experience but it has been my goal for a very long time to go to Europe (I'm American). I don't know where I currently fall in the rank and file of applicants, but I can tell you that before they even sent me an initial list of interview questions, I had to supply scans of my passport and degree. So I know that a degree is mandatory for employment. Also, thanks for the Obama tip. If I am offered a position, I'll know not to mention his name too haphazardly. Although, since returning to the U.S., I've discovered that it's not exactly much safer to mention his name here these days.


Hello.

I've been working at this school officially since September 1, 2011 (unofficially since about August 25, the day I got to Albania,) so I can provide a bunch of answers to your questions, as well as personal opinions as to the experience I've had here thus far.

1.) If you've already taught English or another subject in some country where English is NOT a native language of most of the people, then I would say -- given a decent academic record -- that you would have a good chance to find a job at MIST.

I initially applied to work there for the 2010 - 2011 academic year and, while the director of the school contacted me then and indicated to me that I was on the short list of candidates for a job, I ended up getting passed over by somebody else. After another 5 months of increasingly frantic searching, I ended up going to Ecuador, which I really loved. While the salary and conditions in Ecuador were, given the cost of living, good, here they are better still. However, all in all, I liked Ecuador more than Albania.

2.) In regards to the salary offer, you should know that the figure of 1200 - 1450 euros net depending on experience that they posted on this site is down from the offers in the past (the sum has been, for at least the past four school years, 1450 euros net, this information coming from a colleague of mine who is in her fourth and final year working at this school.) The possible 250 euro cut is due, I've understood from a private conversation with the director, to the fact that Albania is in a "Great Depression." (That was the quote in near-perfect English from the director, who is originally from Turkey; his accent is kind of funny and, being someone who has a university degree in Economics and who is passionate about following economic phenomena and developments on a day-to-day basis, I can say that he wasn't too far off from the truth.) The IMF projects 0.5% growth for Albania this year, a rate which is, for all intents and purposes, negligible; the reality might be, however, even worse. This year, the school offered us both breakfast and lunch for free (and apparently also did so in the past, too,) but next year will cut breakfast out. Things that were apparently offered last year, like once-monthly optional (but school paid-for) dinners for the native English-speaking teachers have also been cut (we've had very few things of that nature this year.)

Don't let any of this scare you -- a top of the line apartment will definitely NOT cost you more than 350 euros a month, and it is doubtful that your utility costs would ever, ever be more than 50 euros in a month (mine have never been more than about 40 DOLLARS.) Even 1200 euros net is a good salary here, enough to do more or less whatever you want, though it is clear that the material situation is getting (or will be getting) a bit less comfortable for native English teachers starting next academic year.

I could write much, much more and probably will reasonably soon, but right now, I have to make some tests that a bunch of my students will be taking in the next day or two. So, by all means apply and I hope you get the job; even with all the less-than-ideal changes which are going to be coming here next school year, Memorial International School of Tirana (MIST) is still by no means a terrible place to work.
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giwizzef



Joined: 05 Mar 2012
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Globetrotting Teacher--Thank you very much for the info! I would appreciate anything further you want to tell me or think I should know. I had a Skype interview with the Director and Curriculum Head the other day. They both seemed to very pleasant people. They also seemed very interested in me as a candidate, and I hope they are, especially since they said they had me in mind to teach secondary English, which would be my first preference anyway, although I have taught and would teach any age. I'm adaptable. They did say, though, that they are interviewing through the end of April and would be hiring candidates based on student enrollment, which sounds a lot like the teacher hiring situation here in the U.S. right now. I'm not that concerned about a slight cut in the salary, primarily because I'm pretty sure that even with a slight cut, my Albanian teacher's salary would go a lot further there than a U.S. teacher's salary goes here. It's interesting about the meals...My Korean school did the same thing right before I came on board. They had previously served the teachers lunch, but when I got there they had stopped. I'd be very interested in hearing your take on living in Albania in general. I hear and read such mixed reports that I'm not sure what to make of them. I can't say that any of them, as of yet, have affected my desire to come. In fact, I love a good adventure. I'm just curious.
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Globetrotting Teacher



Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 24
Location: Bulgaria

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

giwizzef wrote:
@Globetrotting Teacher--Thank you very much for the info! I would appreciate anything further you want to tell me or think I should know. I had a Skype interview with the Director and Curriculum Head the other day. They both seemed to very pleasant people. They also seemed very interested in me as a candidate, and I hope they are, especially since they said they had me in mind to teach secondary English, which would be my first preference anyway, although I have taught and would teach any age. I'm adaptable. They did say, though, that they are interviewing through the end of April and would be hiring candidates based on student enrollment, which sounds a lot like the teacher hiring situation here in the U.S. right now. I'm not that concerned about a slight cut in the salary, primarily because I'm pretty sure that even with a slight cut, my Albanian teacher's salary would go a lot further there than a U.S. teacher's salary goes here. It's interesting about the meals...My Korean school did the same thing right before I came on board. They had previously served the teachers lunch, but when I got there they had stopped. I'd be very interested in hearing your take on living in Albania in general. I hear and read such mixed reports that I'm not sure what to make of them. I can't say that any of them, as of yet, have affected my desire to come. In fact, I love a good adventure. I'm just curious.


Hello, and sorry for not having responded more quickly.

I'm kind of unsure as to what I should tell you.

There are, as with many (virtually all) jobs / schools around the world, both good and bad things to say about MIST.

Some of the good -- The Director of the school is, by virtually all accounts, a nice guy, as is the Curriculum Head (if we are thinking about the same person.) Even with a potential pay cut from current levels and given the plan to cut out breakfast, the school still offers, taking into consideration the relatively low cost of living here, a rather good deal in terms of compensation to its (non-Albanian) teachers. Albania has a number of pretty areas / cities (though by general consensus, Tirana isn't really one of them.) The school offers for free or for very cheap Albanian lessons and workbooks to the teachers and I've found these helpful.

Some of the bad -- Some of the kids are atrocious pains in the ass; again, I teach 6th through 12th grade and the biggest pains in the ass from my standpoint are in 7th and 8th grade, though many of the 11th graders are really atrociously behaved, as is at least one 10th grader. The upper-school dean of students is a really nice guy and he'll help you with the discipline situation if you inform him about it, but students are almost never kicked out (1 student was this year -- a reasonably bright 11th grader who almost always behaved inappropriately and who finally got the boot for spitting in the face of a girl in his grade.)

Another down is that Tirana is hardly the most happening place in the world. If you don't like sitting in cafes and drinking coffee all day or getting really drunk in the bars, there isn't that, that much to do here.

Another down is the winter weather; in short, it really sucks. It snowed (lightly) here once this winter, but otherwise it was cold and rainy for a large portion of the time. Add in the fact that it turned dark early and you had the recipe for a pretty depressing 2 or more month span of time.

I could say more (and will in a future message or two,) but want to go to sleep now.

Generally, my opinion of MIST is a good one, but just as nobody is perfect, neither is any institution or school and this one isn't either. Still, if the administration tells you they are willing to hire you, I would think -- barring you getting some other spectacularly good offer -- that it would probably be a wise move to take the job here.
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giwizzef



Joined: 05 Mar 2012
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again, Globetrotting Teacher!

I have been offered a position at MIST beginning in September and intend to take it. I'm convinced all schools, like corporations, have their ups and downs. It's encouraging to me that current staff members recommend accepting a position at the school. I will not go into too much detail because I'm one who generally believes contract details are confidential. However, I will say that the salary cut--at least in the contract I was offered--is not all that significant at all...in fact, hardly worth mentioning.

Now I'm turning my focus toward details such as where in Tirana should I live? What should I pack What should I leave behind, etc? Sadly, unlike when I moved to Korea, there isn't a plethora of information about moving to Albania available on the web.
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kevinpcullen



Joined: 07 Feb 2010
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey giwizzef,

I too have been offered a position at MIST beginning in September. Looks like we'll be colleagues!

I have the same questions as you right now, actually. I've been researching rental prices in Tirana, and the really do vary wildly. (I also suspect a mark-up for foreigners.) PM me and let's talk.

Congrats!

-Kevin
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giwizzef



Joined: 05 Mar 2012
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin,
I guess I have to write a few more posts on this forum before I can PM. Apparently posts I've written on other forums on this site don't carry over. Bummer. Anyway...

So, congrats to you too! Is this your first ESL job or are you a seasoned pro? This will be my second ESL job abroad. I did a stint in Korea. I thought I got a lot of wild reactions back when I first informed my U.S. friends and family that I was going to Korea, but those were nothing compared to the reactions I've gotten from telling people I'm going to Albania next. Most people don't even know what continent it's on...LOL! One person asked me if it used to be Yugoslavia. Brownie points for at least getting the right general geographic area, I guess. LOL! Have you gotten similar reactions?

I've heard that the apartment markups in Albania for foreigners can be crazy ridiculous. I'm assuming that's why the school arranges for the apartment--to minimize those markups? Not sure...When I moved to Korea, there seemed to be endless resources available. But what info I have been able to find about living/moving to Albania has been somewhat scant to say the least and all over the spectrum. The lack of information makes it very difficult to figure out how to plan realistically. I've had thoughts like, 'Will my apartment building be wired for internet/cable,' Then I'll read stories about power outages and think, 'Well, maybe I should dial back the expectations a bit and just be grateful to find a place that has power most of the time and hot water on a fairly regular basis. Then I'll find some interior photos of apartments in Albania and think, 'Well, that doesn't look all that different from an apartment here in the U.S., and it looks a whole lot nicer than my apartment in Korea.' It definitely sounds like it's going to be an adventure, to say the least...

Anyway, if you can't PM on here, feel free to email me privately. It's my Dave's user name at Yahoo.
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Globetrotting Teacher



Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 24
Location: Bulgaria

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:05 pm    Post subject: More about MIST from a current teacher there Reply with quote

Hello Yalls,

My intention with this message is NOT to be a wet blanket or to tell you not to come to MIST if you've already been hired. If you've been hired, you should -- unless you are extraordinarily lucky and get a job opportunity which seems better to you than the MIST one -- come here to MIST in Tirana.

However, the tone of this message will be more negative than the last one that, some 6 - 7 weeks ago, I left on this thread. The changing tone of my emails is based on my increasingly negative view of different aspects of the school here (this is not to say that my view has become universally dark -- it hasn't, but it is less positive than it used to be.)

One problem that has become worse and worse is that lots of students DON'T COME TO SCHOOL EXCEPT EXTREMELY SPORADICALLY.

I have students (generally in the upper grades, such as 11th) who I estimate come 20% of the time. Now when I went to high school, there were rules which stated that, barring extenuating circumstances, you weren't going to pass the grade if you missed more than 10 % or 15 % of the school days that year. Here, tons of students miss tons of days and I don't know what to do with them.

Nothing is really expected of the students; the solid majority of the teachers who speak neither Albanian or Turkish as their native language AREN'T COMING BACK NEXT YEAR. One of the ones who is is practically married to an Albanian girl. The other one who is coming back is now (along with me and the others) finishing up his first year at MIST and is as (justifiably) cynical about the absentee students and the do-nothing students (there are plenty in both of these categories) as I am, though he has decided to teach against at MIST next year mainly in order to have a 2-year instead of just a 1-year run at a single school on his resume (he personally told me this)

As I indicated in an earlier message of mine on this thread, some of the kids behave abysmally. In (the current) 7th Grade, for example, there are plenty of pretty terrible, shockingly disrespectful, monumentally irritating pains-in-the-arses, though one or two are currently kind of stuck in my head for their all-around horrendousness.

The current 8th grade is similarly monumentally exasperating (and for largely the same reasons as the 7th grade,) there being a handful of kids (at least 2, often 4 and sometimes more) who I'd like to toss out the window of my 4th (and top) floor classroom.

The 11th grade is full of kids who did absolutely nothing but act like jackasses (a lot of the boys were fine -- as long as you would let them talk about 8th-rate hip-hong songs, smoking weed and getting drunk and having sex with girls; attempting to get number of them to do any work was / is an exercise in futility, and this was when they actually came to school.)

As I don't have time now, I won't get into what I increasingly regard (the more I know, the firmer my views become in this sense) as the rather dubious religious-ideological-geopolitical perspectives and objectives of the foundation / international business empire which controls the school, nor can I mention now some of what I feel are the school's stronger points. Perhaps I'll do this in another message. Mirupafshim ! (Albanian for "so long!" for now)
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