Bronwyn van Leeuwen
- Age: 33
- Address: Tonbridge, Kent
- Work: Secondary Science Teacher
- From: Nelspruit, South Africa
What kind of experience were you looking for in the UK and did you get it?
I think I am still looking. I have gained, so far, excellent experience from observing different teaching styles. I have more time to spend with my family, which is a bonus and something I was looking for.
What helped you settle in once you arrived in the UK?
First thing was to secure a bank account, then a home, organise utility payments, find the local pub, and then have a drink.
What do you wish you had brought with you?
Definitely my teaching notes. My mum is forever emailing me worksheets I left behind. However, a lot of the work is on-line over here. The lessons are basically done for you and a lot easier than you think.
What do you wish you had left at home?
Transparencies - luckily I didn’t pack mine. Most classes have computers and if you are lucky, interactive white boards. Students look at you strangely when you talk about chalk and transparencies.
What were the major differences you encountered?
The Brits also have no idea how to braai. We were invited to one the other night and for us it would be ‘chop ‘n dop’. Not here, it’s hamburgers and chicken. So I have decided to invite my new colleagues round for biltong and boerewors braai.
Are there any British words or phrases you’ve adopted since moving to the UK?
Hiya. You alright? Yeah.
Did you come to the UK with a family? What advice would you offer?
Be patient, my husband didn’t get a job for a few months as it took a while for him to register etc. That can put a strain on one’s relationship. If you have children, the best way for them to settle in is to join a school ASAP.
What tips would you give teachers to help them make the most of their British pounds?
NEVER CONVERT – it may seem expensive at first but the pound goes so much further. You actually have money left at the end of the month. You can afford to eat, buy clothes, luxuries and still have enough to save or go on a road trip.
What are your favourite inexpensive things to do in the UK?
Drive around and look at the castles and different beaches – brilliant way to spend a Sunday.
What do you miss about being away from home?
Obviously my parents and friends…Here the countryside and sights are beautiful, coming from the Lowveld, nothing beats the bush and those African sunsets.
What did TimePlan do well?
They were always friendly and helpful, no matter the time or place. They kept me well informed and always had my best interests at heart. They came to see me at my school and spoke to my HOD to see how I had settled. It was great to know that they did care.
What advice would you offer to other teachers interested in teaching in the UK?
Go for it! You will never know until you try, but I mean REALLY try. When looking at a specific school, look at their ‘OFSTED’ report. This is an inspection done by the government and will give you a good idea of what the school is like.