An interview with Tania Jo Murphy

 

Tania is a Australian secondary English teacher. She has been teaching in Brunei since 2001.

CfBT: What do you like most about Brunei?

TM: Everything! I first came to Brunei for what I was convinced would be a “2 year experience”, but even after 18 years I have no intention of leaving anytime soon. The weather is lovely.  It is so nice not to have to predict the weather for the day, as it is always the same – just sometimes wet and sometimes dry.  The culture here is so nice.  There are so many cultural activities and celebrations where we can be involved or just watch. The local community are so lovely too. They very friendly and often offer invites for ‘makan’ (shared food) or events.   The teaching is so rewarding.  I just love working with these students. 

 

CfBT: Please describe where you live.

TM:  We live in Kuala Belait, which is the township approximately 120km from the capital city.  It is located right by the border with Sarawak, Malaysia.  Kuala Belait (KB) is very flat and runs along the beach.  Our house is a bungalow (single storey house) with 4 bedrooms.  We have a large living area and kitchen.  Our compound is very big making it great for the kids to play in.  We have a nice fence and gate for safety and security.  Our house is right near the beach although we don’t use it all that often.  The location is very convenient to everything we need.

CfBT: Please describe a typical working day.

TM: A typical working day for me starts off at 5:30am when I get up.  I like to get up early and arrive early at school while it is still quiet so I can get things prepared before work.  I usually leave home about 6:15am and arrive just before 6:30am. 

I get things ready for the lessons of the day or do some marking before the bell goes at 7:15am. We have assembly a few times a week and this is between 7:15 and 7:30.

Then the bell goes, and class starts. In our school we have 10 periods in one day. I typically teach 7 or 8 periods per day. I have 4 classes to teach.  I teach year 7 students and special education needs. I have each of these classes 3 or 4 times a week.

 At break time I do more marking or preparing for upcoming lessons, or, sometimes we sit in the staffroom and have makan together.

 At 12:30 each day the classes end and the students go home. I stay at school 4 days a week until about 2pm. During this time, I do all the marking and admin work needed.  Some days I will go out to lunch and return to work for meetings that start at 2pm. But thankfully that isn’t too often.

CfBT: What school do you teach at? Describe what the local students and teachers are like.

TM: I have taught in 3 different schools over the years – 1 primary school teaching grades 4,5,6 and 2 secondary schools teaching years 7 to 10 and SEN.

 I currently teach in Anthony Abell College.  It is located in Seria (just 10 minutes from KB).

My school has 600+ students in Year 7 to year 11.  We also have a unit for disabled and special needs students. The students are wonderful. Sure, there are discipline issues but nothing compared to other countries.  Mostly the students are respectful and polite. They listen to the teacher and actively engage in activities and tasks.

CfBT: What are the teaching resources like there?

TM: When comparing Brunei to Australia there is no comparison.  I have been out of Australia a long time, but still have many teaching friends there.  My teaching life is so much better.  The admin load can, at times, be a lot to handle, but this is generally related to exam data entry or assessments. The administration are so supportive and helpful.

The times for school are much nicer.  Getting home at 2:15pm most days is so much better than getting home at 6 or 7pm when I was working in Australia.   My actual class contact time is 15 hours per week, making it significantly less that Australia. 

 Discipline is far less of a problem too.  There are occasional issues, but there is a good discipline committee and procedures in place to handle with anything that arises.

  

CfBT: How does teaching in Brunei compare to home? (e.g. discipline teaching hours, admin load, etc.)

TM: You could have a quiet or busy life here in Brunei.  My girls and I like a quiet lifestyle.  We will go for adventure drives (where the girls navigate and I never know where we will end up). These drives have meant I know just about every corner of the country and lots of short cuts too.

We watch TV and play LEGO a lot too. We go out to one of the many restaurants for lunches or dinner. We get together with others for social nights. Basically, we enjoy a relaxing life.

CfBT: What do you do in your free time?

TM: You could have a quiet or busy life here in Brunei.  My girls and I like a quiet lifestyle.  We will go for adventure drives (where the girls navigate and I never know where we will end up). These drives have meant I know just about every corner of the country and lots of short cuts too.

We watch TV and play LEGO a lot too. We go out to one of the many restaurants for lunches or dinner. We get together with others for social nights. Basically, we enjoy a relaxing life.

 

CfBT: What do you do in your holidays?

TM: Travel mostly.  We have been to so many countries for travel in the time we have been here.  Places like Japan, Sth Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong. Plus local places like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.  I have travelled solo a bit and gone further to places like China, Ecuador, Galapagos and Italy too. 

Travelling from here is so easy.  As we live in KB we usually travel from Miri in Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and from there on to wherever we like.

CfBT: What is healthcare like in Brunei?

TM: Absolutely fantastic.  I have had a few health problems over the years and I have had no complaints about the care I have received.  CfBT were very supportive and the paperwork was so easy. The insurance we have through CfBT covers so much.  We are lucky to have it.  Whether you go to the local hospital or the private hospital – you will get the care you need.

CfBT: Please describe how you get from place to place (transportation in Brunei).

TM: We drive just about everywhere. The heat can make walking quite difficult.  Driving is easy.  The roads are well marked.  We have WAZE to help us if we get lost at any time (which is almost impossible to do). The roads are pretty well kept. The highway is smooth and well labelled. Travelling from KB to the capital city only takes about 1 hr and 20mins.  That is one end of the country to the other.

CfBT: What advice do you have for teachers who are thinking about moving to Brunei?

TM: I would say “do your research”.  Brunei is a unique place.  It isn’t like other places around the world, but for us the lifestyle is just brilliant. I like to tell people that Brunei is incredibly safe.

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© CfBT Education Services (B) Sdn. Bhd 2019 | Powered By Destine Digital