Starting A Dialogue
Thank you for the interesting question! When teaching abroad, or domestically, it can be a real challenge to get along with your fellow teachers. Just like any relationship it can be a challenge to bridge the gap between two people, let alone a group, even when there aren’t cultural barriers to overcome. With that in mind, you need to know that not everyone is going to like everyone, and, with any job, you should hope for collegiality with friendships being a bonus. I mean, none of you are being paid to make friends, right?
Now down to business. We could sit and talk all day about the possible reasons for your difficulties (cultural missteps, personality clashes, egos, etc…), but there is a simpler solution that you should try first. Start a dialogue. It is in your best interest to address an individual, preferably a senior teacher, and in privacy simply ask if there is a problem. If there isn’t, perhaps you are experiencing your own form of culture shock or are simply misreading the situation. Remember, not every culture or subculture behaves the same in a work environment and you may be wanting something that they just cannot offer you. Be prepared though, you might not like what you hear.
It might not be in your comfort zone to face the situation head on like this, but this may be the best way to help you to quickly recognize where your energies and emotions could be better spent. Yet, if you feel this is too direct, you might consider simply asking one of your colleagues to join you for coffee in order to break the ice before confronting your issue, if even necessary. Bear in mind that no matter what happens next, it doesn’t mean your colleagues have to agree to meet or even be honest with how they feel.
In the end it is important to consider that you might just work with a bunch of people that you simply don’t mix well with. Thankfully, as an expat teacher, you are going to have plenty of opportunities to work alongside more jerks in the future, and, if you are lucky, some that inspire you to be better.
Best of luck and keep your head up!