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XploreAsia Update – August, 2020 – When Can You Teach Overseas?

XploreAsia Update – August, 2020 – When Can You Teach Overseas?

XploreAsia Update – August, 2020 – When Can You Start Teaching Overseas?

Many of you are wondering when you will be able to travel overseas to begin your teaching adventure, well, here at XploreAsia, we have been closely monitoring the situation on a daily basis. As the situation progresses, we wanted to provide an update on international travel to our program countries and a discussion of the impact and plans for resuming programs. We also include our current planned intake dates for each country for TESOL + Placement programs.

Thailand

Things are looking good in Thailand. Thailand continues to manage COVID-19 well; there have zero domestic cases over the past two months. The country is now open to those with work authorization, but the visa process and entry procedures are taking longer than normal, and vary greatly from one embassy or consulate to the next, making it difficult to have everyone arrive at the same time for a TESOL course. Therefore, we’ve altered the format of our September 28 intake, switching to a ‘TESOL Extra’, partial online and partial in-class format, specifically designed so that participants can arrive on any day and still begin their in-country orientation and course without delay. Demand is strong for next term, which starts at the end of November. We have a comprehensive pre-placement program in place that will ensure every teacher has a job prior to arrival. 

Next Available Intake for Thailand: 

  • October 26

Click here for full program information

South Korea

Korea has managed COVID-19 well, weathering several large and small outbreaks, and now has a daily case count of 30-50. Life in the country has returned to new-normal and schools across the country are in session. The country continues to be open to those wanting to come and teach. We’ve brought in dozens of teachers since COVID-19 began, and dozens more are preparing to come over in the next few months. In-class TESOL courses are difficult to run at the moment due to the limited quarantine options: State managed facility, which is quite expensive, or private residences. Our in-class TESOL participants would need to be able to stay in a hotel. We are waiting for these requirements to loosen a bit before we can realistically offer in-country TESOL courses again. Demand for teachers remains strong and there are no quarantine costs, since teachers complete their quarantine in accommodations provided by the school free of charge, and which serve as their permanent residences. 

Next Available Intake for South Korea:

  • October 26

Click here for full program information

Vietnam

Vietnam remains largely closed to all foreign travelers except those returning to Vietnam with work permits in hand, and even then, only those considered VIPs can currently enter. There has been a recent surge in new COVID-19 cases supposedly tied to an illegal worker trafficking ring, which has the entire country on edge. There is talk of another either partial or full shutdown to combat the outbreak. This is particularly disappointing as Vietnam was the poster child for how to manage COVID-19 and had gone 99 days without a single case before this new outbreak emerged. Our optimistic outlook for Vietnam is that we would only realistically be able to bring teachers over in the fourth quarter of the year.

Next Available Intake for Vietnam:

  • October 12

Click here for full program information

Myanmar

Right now, Myanmar is in a bit of a strange situation. It seems that teachers can enter the country. We’ve just had one arrive successfully on a repatriation flight from the UK and it was surprisingly easier than we thought it would be. The problem is that even if we can get teachers in on a larger scale, very few schools are hiring at the moment due to the continued government suspension of in-person school activities for children. We expect the government to allow the opening of schools for children sometime in August, but it may take longer than that for Myanmar parents, who have been very concerned about the risk of COVID-19, to be comfortable sending their children for in-person classes again. This will have an impact on hiring. Our best guess is that school hiring will reach high enough levels to start bringing in foreign teachers around November or December. 

Next Available Intake for Myanmar:

  • January 18, 2021

Click here for full program information

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has seen a recent spike in cases, but despite that, the country is gradually opening up to foreigners in August from the UK and EU. However, Americans are not included in the list of countries. Initially the volume of inbound international flights will be less than 5% of pre-COVID-19 levels. We are concerned that hiring may be slow initially as most positions for native speakers are at schools that focus on English for Costa Rican adults with jobs in the tourism sector, which has been devastated by COVID-19. We expect the sector to take a while to bounce back and by extension for hiring of native English teachers to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Next Available Intake for Costa Rica:

  • November 23

Click here for full program information

Moving Forward

We believe Thailand and South Korea are the best programs to join if you want to signup in 2020. Demand is strong, the countries are open to foreigners holding work authorization, and the case count of COVID-19 is low.

Furthermore, we are building our knowledge of the new visa application procedures and quarantine process through conducting interviews and surveys with those who have recently completed the process, and contacting relevant government agencies and travel agents. We will incorporate those insights into our coordination program to make the way smoother for future travelers.

As always, we are monitoring the situation in each program country closely and will update you as we get more information.

If you have any questions about our programs or program countries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

What is it Like to Quarantine in Thailand?

What is it Like to Quarantine in Thailand?

Quarantine in Thailand

An XploreAsia Teacher Experience

What is Quarantine in Thailand Like?

As we adjust to the ‘New Normal’, teachers from all over the world are now able to return to their schools overseas, as well as new teachers can begin their life-changing overseas teaching experience with XploreAsia! However, there are a few hurdles and processes that need to be navigated in order to return.  One of the most common questions we are asked is, ‘What is quarantine in Thailand like?’. Well, we have first-hand accounts that we will be presenting to you over the coming days and weeks, detailing the planning, arrival, and quarantine processes both in Thailand and South Korea!

First, we hear from Lucy, 24, originally from Wiltshire in the UK but has been living and teaching in Thailand since December 2018. After returning home, and now back in Thailand, Lucy writes to us from quarantine in Bangkok, Thailand.

Which Program were you on, and how did COVID-19 Impact your Experience?

I did my TESOL course with XploreAsia in Hua Hin, January 2019. After traveling around and falling in love with Southeast Asia in 2017, I knew as soon as I finished university, I needed to get back out for a longer amount of time, and teaching seemed like the perfect way. I initially only intended to stay out here for around 6 months, but that quickly changed as I got settled into my new Thai life. Having not seen loved ones for over a year, I had planned to go back to the UK in the March/April school break to see my friends and family. I arrived home on the March 21. 3 days later, the UK went into lockdown, followed by Thailand about a week later. The international flight ban was originally until the end of April, then May, then June and with no definite end date, I had no idea when I could get back. I can’t explain how stressful this time was as there was so much uncertainty, yet so much speculation and false hope online. I was checking the news every day for if and when I would be allowed in, and as soon as they said work permit holders could apply to return on repatriation flights, I began the process, and prepared myself for my quarantine in Thailand experience.

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - TESOL Course in Hua Hin!

I was checking the news every day for if and when I would be allowed in, and as soon as they said work permit holders could apply to return on repatriation flights, I began the process.  

What Preparations did you Have to Make for Your Return?

For me, the process was a lot more stressful and confusing than it is now, as when I started to apply the system was very new and no one seemed to really know the proper procedures. There was however a clear list of documents that you needed to provide to the embassy to be considered for a certificate of entry. These are:

  • Copy of work permit
  • Copy of passport and visa pages
  • A letter from your employer stating they wish you to return
  • Health Insurance policy covering you for over $100,000 and any COVID costs
  • Fully completed declaration form that the embassy will send to you

Once you have all the required documents you have to send them to the embassy. When I applied the process was that the embassy would forward your documents to people who in Bangkok who would make the decision. Despite emails from the embassy that said it would take about 2 weeks, it actually seemed to be taking 4 weeks until people heard back with confirmation of a place on a flight. However, the night before the 4-week mark for me I received an email to say that the process had changed and the embassies were now able to issue a certificate of entry. It also said that to be considered for a repatriation flight that month, to reply to the email. So I responded to the email as soon as I saw it on Thursday evening, I didn’t find out I had a place on the flight until the following Monday and the flight was that coming Sunday. So once you find out you are able to fly there are more documents to prepare:

  • Flight booking – through the embassy
  • Quarantine in Thailand – ASQ Booking (all non-Thai nationals must book alternative state quarantine, prices ranging from 28,000 baht to 144,000)
  • Negative COVID test with a result within 72 hours of flight departure and with a full lab report

For the COVID test, I ordered a home testing kit from Randox the week before in case I got a place on the flight. The test costs £120 and is delivered the next day if ordered between Monday and Thursday, but they don’t deliver on weekends. I then had to arrange a collection through Polar Speed a UPS company, which costs an additional £16.99. The test takes 2 days to arrive at the test facility, but once it arrived I got the results within 8 hours, less than 24 hours before my flight.

  • ‘Fit to Fly’ Certificate from a doctor to say you are free from COVID symptoms

For the ‘Fit to Fly’, I used Freedom Health who do a virtual consultation over Zoom and it was super easy and cost £55. It took about 10 minutes max for the consultation. Once I had my negative COVID-19 test results, I forwarded them over and then they sent me my Fit to Fly Certificate. 

  • T8 form from the embassy you must fill out
  • I also had a form from EVA airlines to fill out

It’s a bit of a logistical challenge trying to get everything done in the right time frames, but once you have all these things will you be able to get on the flight.

What was Your Arrival Experience?

Arriving in Thailand now feels like something out of a movie. As you walk from the plane into the airport you’re met with people wearing full-body PPE who ask you where you are staying. They then direct you to a row of chairs where people come along and check your documents. Once they have done this they send you off to wait in line to get your temperature checked, documents checked again and temperature checked again, the second time in your ear. If your temperature is too high for their liking (like mine was on the second test) then they give you water and make you sit down in a separate area for 10 mins before checking again. After all these points you are then able to go through to the waiting area to be taken to your ASQ transport. All the ASQ hotels will have a specially arranged van and you will be taken out to meet the driver who then takes your straight to your hotel to begin your quarantine in Thailand.

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Waiting for Testing at the Airport

Arriving in Thailand now feels like something out of a movie.

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Testing Area at the Airport

How About Quarantine in Thailand, What are the Conditions Like?

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Quarantine Hotel in Bangkok

Minus the plastic screens on the check-in desk, and checking in with the nurse, it was a pretty normal check-in experience where I am staying

Arriving at the hotel, they check your temperature before you are allowed to enter. Minus the plastic screens on the check-in desk, and checking in with the nurse, it was a pretty normal check-in experience where I am staying – Three Sukhumvit Hotel. The quarantine in Thailand package at this hotel costs 40,000 baht and provides you with 3 meals every day, 2 COVID-19 tests, transport to the hotel, and 24/7 nurse contact. They also allow you to order food delivery services which is amazing, as the hotel menu options daily are pretty limited, so if you fancy something different it’s nice to have the option! Each room has a little table outside the door where they will place any food or orders you have or any rubbish you have to be taken away.

On one of the first few days you have a COVID test, which, if negative, you are then allowed to book 1 x 30-minute slot outside your room per day in a designated area. You are also given a bag of masks, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer on arrival. Whenever opening the door you are required to wear a mask, as well as having to take your temperature morning and evening each day to send to the nurse.

What are you Doing to Keep Yourself Busy During Your Quarantine in Thailand?

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Keeping Busy During Quarantine

I was obviously aware I would have a lot of spare time during my quarantine in Thailand, so I tried to get some things to help kill the time. I bought a scrapbook and printed off a whole bunch of photos from my Thailand experience so far which has been really nice to put together and reminisce some amazing times I’ve had in Thailand from the comfort of my quarantine home. I also bought a couple of books and magazines to read and I’ve been reliving my childhood playing The Sims. If you can’t go about your normal life, at least you can live vicariously through an animated Sim!

Looking Back on the Experience so far, have you Learned Anything From it?

I would say there are two main things I learned from this journey; patience and persistence. Being stuck somewhere and not knowing when or how you can get back to where you live is stressful to say the least, especially when everything is so unpredictable right now. I had to learn to be more patient with things as there was absolutely nothing I or anyone else could do about it, and stressing out wasn’t doing me or my family (sorry mum and dad) any favors.

Secondly, I had to learn to be more persistent. I’m the type of person to feel guilty if I have to ask about something more than once or send a second email out of fear of annoying someone. However, I am sure there are several people out there who never want to hear my name again due to the number of emails and calls I made to try and get everything sorted in time. But, had I not done all that, I doubt I would be sitting here in quarantine in Thailand writing all this now!

What are you Most Looking Forward to?

I am most looking forward to seeing my friends with who I work and spend most waking hours together, as well as getting back to work! I have missed all my students and colleagues so so much, and I am beyond excited to get back in the classroom and start teaching again! A lot of people in England were asking me if all the stress and money was worth it, but sitting in quarantine in Thailand looking forward to getting out, I can safely say it was definitely worth it.

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Looking Forward to Seeing These Guys!

If you want to learn more about how you can get started teaching overseas, contact us for more information! We are always on hand to help.

Written by Lucy Frobisher. 

XploreAsia Update – August, 2020 – When Can You Teach Overseas?

XploreAsia Update – July, 2020 – When Can You Teach Overseas?

XploreAsia Update – July, 2020 – When Can You Start Teaching Overseas?

Many of you are wondering when you will be able to travel overseas to begin your teaching adventure, well, here at XploreAsia, we have been closely monitoring the situation on a daily basis. As the situation progresses, we wanted to provide an update on international travel to our program countries and a discussion of the impact and plans for resuming programs. We also include our current planned intake dates for each country for TESOL + Placement programs.

Thailand

Things are looking good in Thailand. The Emergency Decree has been extended through July 31, 2020, as a precautionary measure, in case of a second wave due to having the freedom of movement within the country, as well as schools now being open since July 1. As of writing, domestic cases are down to zero, and have been for well over a month now! This is great news and is a great sign for programs being able to run in the near future. Foreigners with work permits and/or contracts in place are able to apply for a “permission to travel” letter from their local Thai embassy, meaning that non-Thai professionals with work-permits and/or pre-approved visas are able to return, with a mandatory ‘alternative state quarantine’ in place. 

Next intake for Thailand: 

  • October 26

Click here for full program information

Vietnam

Vietnam’s borders currently remain closed to foreign visitors. We are expecting that throughout July, further updates will be given and that Vietnam will gradually start to open its borders to a wider group of international travelers. This may start with business visa holders first, with those traveling for tourism being allowed in later. 

Next intake for Vietnam:

  • October 12

Click here for full program information

Myanmar

Cases remain very low and things are definitely starting to open up inside Myanmar. Schools are supposed to open at the beginning of August but there is no definitive news yet. We are waiting to hear when borders will reopen. As soon as they do, we will work closely with placement participants to assist them in traveling to start their teaching jobs. 

Next intake for Myanmar:

  • January 18, 2021

Click here for full program information

South Korea

Teachers can now travel to Korea and we are in the process of placing teachers now and once they have their placements and visas, they can fly and we can support them in the country. Most private schools are open and operating and public schools have started going back at intervals over the past few weeks. Korean immigration authorities open and processing visas so teachers who are able to complete their visa documentation are able to apply for their visa and come over to South Korea to start teaching (after the mandatory 14-day quarantine) either at their residence or at a government-designated facility. 

Next intake for South Korea:

  • October 26

Click here for full program information

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has around 1000 cases of COVID-19. It has been praised for its handling of the pandemic and many of its regional neighbors have fared far worse. The country is currently closed to international travelers. Due to this, things have been relatively contained and there have been low numbers of new cases. 

Next intake for Costa Rica:

  • November 23

Click here for full program information

The team at XploreAsia is excited to begin welcoming new teachers, as well as existing alumni back to their placements! We will continue to update and monitor the situation, ensuring that we provide the most up-to-date information, clear processes, and guidance to enable your life-changing experience as a teacher overseas. 

If you have any questions about our programs or program countries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

XploreAsia Update – When Can You Teach Overseas?

XploreAsia Update – When Can You Teach Overseas?

XploreAsia Update – June, 2020 – When Can You Start Teaching Overseas?

Many of you are wondering when you will be able to travel overseas to begin your teaching adventure, well, here at XploreAsia, we have been closely monitoring the situation on a daily basis. As the situation progresses, we wanted to provide an update on international travel to our program countries and a discussion of the impact and plans for resuming programs. We also include our current planned intake dates for each country for TESOL + Placement programs.

Thailand

Things are looking better in Thailand. Domestic cases are down to zero and the country is starting to open up. The Emergency Decree has been extended through June 30, 2020. However, there are less restrictions on freedom of movement within the country. Many more businesses have been permitted to reopen. Strict social distancing measures are still in place. Currently, only Thai nationals are permitted to enter Thailand with a required 14-day state quarantine. Foreigners with work permits and/or contracts in place are able to apply for a “permission to travel” letter from their local Thai embassy. We expect that the ban on international arrivals may expire at the end of June, meaning that non-Thai professionals with work-permits and/or pre-approved visas will be able to return, with a mandatory state-quarantine in place. Thailand is preparing for a staged reopening. We expect June to be update-heavy regarding plans to resume international travel and we’re putting in place a plan to manage groups smoothly even if there is a quarantine requirement in place. We are  confident that we will be able to run our August 24 course.

Next intake for Thailand: 

  • August 24

Click here for full program information

Vietnam

Vietnam has experienced some of the lowest rates of COVID-19. When the COVID-19 issue emerged, the Vietnamese government moved very quickly to bring in measures to prevent the spread of the virus. As of June 1, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health’s tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 remained at 328. There have been no recorded deaths from Covid-19 in Vietnam. 279 of the aforementioned affected patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals. On May 29, the government announced that it will begin allowing some foreign experts to enter Vietnam. The government outlined plans to allow experts, business managers, investors, high-tech workers who are foreigners working in investment and business projects in Vietnam to enter Vietnam to maintain production and business activities. Specifics on what will happen when things reopen have not been outlined, but it is expected that a limited number of experts will be allowed to enter Vietnam in June. At present, it does not appear that this will apply to foreign teachers. Another positive step towards reopening was announced recently. The Vietnamese government outlined that Vietnam will grant e-visa to citizens of 80 countries from July 1, 2020. This is a positive step towards things reopening, however, the announcement only related to the resumption of visa issuance, and did not specify when Vietnam’s borders will reopen and those with visas will be allowed in. Vietnam’s borders currently remain closed to foreign visitors. We are expecting that throughout June, further updates will be given and that Vietnam will gradually start to open its borders to a wider group of international travelers from July onwards. This may start with business visa holders first, with those traveling for tourism being allowed in later. We are confident that we will be able to run our September 7 course.

Next intake for Vietnam:

  • September 7

Click here for full program information

Myanmar

The Government of Myanmar has suspended all commercial passenger flights until at least the 15th of June. All land borders are shut. Since 13 May, it has been compulsory for anyone going out in public to wear a facemask. Failure to wear one will result in a fine. This requirement is being enforced strictly. Cases remain very low and things are definitely starting to open up inside Myanmar. Schools are supposed to open at the beginning of August but there is no definitive news yet. We are waiting to hear when borders will reopen. As soon as they do, we will work closely with placement participants to assist them in traveling to start their teaching jobs. We expect restrictions to ease enough so that we will be able to run our September 28 course.

Next intake for Myanmar:

  • September 28

Click here for full program information

South Korea

South Korea mostly has the virus under control with the exception of two smaller outbreaks since social distancing measures were relaxed. The South Korean government actively and aggressively tracks and traces any new cases. Most private schools are open and operating and public schools have started going back at intervals over the past few weeks. Clubs, bars, karaoke rooms, etc have been asked to remain closed as they have been identified as hotspots but all other businesses are open and free to operate. South Korean Airlines have reopened 13 international flight routes as they seek to increase international travel. Korean immigration authorities are also still open and processing visas so teachers who are able to complete their visa documentation are still able to apply for their visa and come over to South Korea to start teaching (after the mandatory 14-day quarantine) either at their residence or at a government-designated facility. If they do not have a residence in South Korea, travelers will be placed in a designated facility at their own expense. The price per day will be KRW100,000 or USD 80. Travelers departing for South Korea will have their temperature tested before boarding. If it is above 37.5 C they will not be allowed to board their flight. Teachers can now travel to Korea and we are in the process of placing teachers now and once they have their placements and visas, they can fly and we can support them in the country.

Next intake for South Korea:

  • August 31

Click here for full program information

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has around 1000 cases of COVID-19. It has been praised for its handling of the pandemic and many of its regional neighbors have fared far worse. The country is currently closed to international travelers. From midnight on 18 March 2020 until 30 June 2020, only Costa Rican citizens and legal residents will be allowed entry into the country. These categories of people, entering during this time, will be required to self-isolate for 14-days. Local measures have been put in place to slow the spread of the virus. Due to this, things have been relatively contained and there have been low numbers of new cases. We expect the country to slowly open to international travelers in July.

Next two intakes for Costa Rica:

  • August 31
  • November 23

Click here for full program information

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of our program countries opening up again to travel. There will be challenges along the way, and it may take a while for things to return to normal, but our goal is to get you started on your life-changing experience and into your chosen countries to live and work and support you with everything you need even if the process looks different.

If you have any questions about our programs or program countries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

XploreAsia Update: Programs Reopening and International Travel

XploreAsia Update: Programs Reopening and International Travel

Hello Everyone:

The COVID-19 virus has taken us all on an intense ride these past few months. Some are still experiencing increasing cases and stay-at-home orders, while for others, the dark clouds brought on by the virus are starting to clear. In many of our program countries, the virus is well under control with the number of new cases at or near zero, and societies reopening, which is amazing news, and hard to imagine given how bad things looked barely one month ago. More good news is that demand for English teachers is still high across all of our program countries.

We wanted to give an update on what governments are doing currently in our program countries and our best estimates for when our program countries will open up to foreign travel. We expect that by July, borders will reopen and international travel will resume in most, if not all, of our program countries, but it will look different than it did pre-COVID-19. 

We expect that by July, borders will reopen and international travel will resume in most, if not all, of our program countries, but it will look different than it did pre-COVID-19. 

Please note that governments have been focusing on opening up their countries’ domestic environments and have not said much yet on how they plan to open up to international travelers. With this in mind, following our discussion of the current situation in each of our program countries, we briefly comment on some options that governments may adopt as they prepare to welcome back international travelers.

Thailand

  • Cases nearly zero and country slowly but methodically opening-up
  • Emergency decree until May 31, which covers curfew, limited internal movements, venue closures, and air travel
  • Domestic airline travel has resumed
  • No news yet on strategy or timeline for easing international travel restrictions
  • Likely to reopen to international travel by July
  • Schools opening July 1 for in-person classes

Myanmar

  • Cases nearly zero and country planning to return to normal business
  • Announcement planned for May 15 on school opening
  • Border still largely closed to international travelers with a quarantine in place. May 15 further announcement on international travel restrictions
  • Likely to reopen to international travel by July

Vietnam

  • Cases nearly zero and country back to normal with social distancing
  • Schools are back in operation in face-to-face learning
  • Domestic air travel has resumed
  • Currently closed to international travelers
  • No news yet on strategy or timeline for easing international travel restrictions
  • Likely to reopen to international travel by early July

South Korea

  • Praised around the world for handling of COVID-19
  • New cases are down to near zero but a recent spike in cases has the country a bit on edge centered around an ex-pat nightlife district in Seoul, but the government is aggressively conducting testing and contact tracing
  • Borders are open with mandatory two-week quarantine in place in either a private residence or government facility
  • We are currently placing people in Korea and participants can fly now to and start teaching

Costa Rica

  • New cases are down to single digits 
  • Borders are closed until at least June 15 (by recent announcement)
  • No news yet on strategy or timeline for easing international travel restrictions. Likely to reopen by July
  • Mounting pressure to reopen borders as the economy relies heavily on tourism
  • Government developing their own test for COVID-19 possibly to help reopen borders sooner

Japan

  • A nationwide state of emergency in place until May 31
  • Saw a delayed, spike in cases but now looks to be under control
  • The country is closed to foreign travel at the moment
  • Likely to reopen to international air travel by the end of July

Some Options for Reopening Travel

Countries will likely select from a number of different options or combinations of options as they open up to international travel. This may include rapid COVID-19 tests upon arrival, short or extended quarantines, and even the new concept of Travel Bubbles, whereby two or more countries with near-zero or zero cases open up travel among those countries without quarantine or testing requirements. 

We are preparing for all possible options and have the capacity to support participants from our offices in every program country, on-the-ground staff, and logistics resources to make the transition as smooth as possible.

If you have any questions about traveling abroad or our programs, please do not hesitate to contact us at jon@xploreasia.org

XploreAsia Update: Programs Reopening and International Travel

XploreAsia – Our Coronavirus Response

Are you teaching in Asia? Currently, looking at joining one of our programs? Coronavirus news making you anxious? Let us fill you in on how things are on the ground, and which options are still available to you. 

 As the safety of our teachers is our top priority, we would like to offer some advice for our current and prospective teachers.

 What We Know

Currently, there have been over 80,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, worldwide, with the vast majority of cases being in China where the infection is believed to have originated. COVID-19 is from the same family of viruses as the common flu and this new strain causes sufferers to display similar symptoms. It is unlikely to be deadly to those who are not elderly or do not have underlying health problems but it is important to stay vigilant to stop the spread to those who may be vulnerable.

Safety Advice

Across all locations, we want to share the safety measures that have been recommended by health organisations to stop the spread:

  • Wash hands regularly using warm water and soap, or sanitising gel, especially before eating. It is understood that the virus spreads through droplets coming into contact with mucus membranes, so avoid touching your face with unclean hands.
  • Cough and sneeze into elbows. This way, you will not dirty your hands, which can spread any germs to other people.
  • Seek medical attention if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. The UK and USA have issued advice to call a doctor rather than visit the emergency room to avoid possible infection of vulnerable people.
  • When traveling, cooperate with airport staff who may be implementing extra health checks to ensure the safety of all passengers.

For reliable health advice, we suggest keeping an eye on the CDC website and the WHO website.

Our Recommendations for Current Teachers

We recommend that our teachers follow the steps above and share this knowledge with their students. Bring hand sanitiser to your classroom to keep your children safe. Some schools, particularly in South Korea, are experiencing closures as a safety precaution due to the virus. Please cooperate with your school’s safety measures.

We are closely following all travel advisories and will keep our teachers and students updated on any changes to current or future programs.

Final Advice

Stay alert, not anxious. Make sure to follow the safety procedures and travel recommendations from reliable sources.

XploreAsia ensures that steps are taken to keep our global family safe and that they feel supported. We’ve just welcomed a new group of TESOL students to Thailand and Vietnam, and have recently graduated two groups of students from our courses in South Korea and Myanmar respectively. Many of our teachers are first-time solo travelers- and that’s always scary- but we hope that this current situation doesn’t hinder your enthusiasm for traveling, teaching and making a difference.

We understand that many current teachers and prospective TESOL students may be anxious and we encourage you to get in touch with us as soon as possible to address any concerns regarding your course. For enquiries, you can contact the programs team via programs@xploreasia.org

Teach in Asia: Becoming Part of the Local Community

Teach in Asia: Becoming Part of the Local Community

Teach in Asia and immerse yourself in the community!

Moving to a new continent can be a tricky transition. Despite different languages and cultures, kindness knows no barriers and we’re excited to share our TESOL students’ stories of their first interactions with locals.

Coming to teach in Asia can be daunting. Lots of people worry whether they will fit into their communities despite language and cultural barriers. In this blog post, our TESOL students in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam share their stories of heartwarming interactions in their communities.

1. Sam in Thailand: “Food unites people here”

Openness is not something we’re used to from strangers in America. However, humility and openness seem to be defining characteristics of many people in Thailand. Whether they are a street-food vendor or an employee at the local 7-11, a Buddhist Monk or a songthaew driver, I feel as though I’m constantly greeted with a smile from the person across from me, as if I am meeting eyes with a friend. And so went my first interaction with Daang. As I approached his humble restaurant, he hastily produced a menu for me and motioned to a table with a view of the street. Entirely unsure of the type of food offered at this eatery, I hesitated before taking a seat on the small stool he had chosen for me. I decided to put aside any predispositions and simply find something on the menu that I might like.

To make things more difficult, the entire menu at Daang’s restaurant was in Thai. Rather than choose to leave or simply ask for ‘pad thai?’ with hands raised akimbo in the position of a clueless tourist, I stumbled my way through a conversation that led to Daang preparing me whatever he selected. As I watched Daang shuffle seamlessly back and forth across the kitchen, I was immediately impressed by the skill and efficiency of every maneuver. Daang clearly gave each ingredient respect and care. Daang’s cooking represented poetry in motion.

Sam Daniels came to teach in Asia just after the new year and started a culinary adventure!

Not only did he genuinely care about the experience I had in his restaurant, he also seemed proud that I would choose to eat there. Afterwards, we shook hands with the agreement that I would be back the following day for dinner. As I walked home, belly full and a smile on my face, I was reminded of an Anthony Bourdain quote from his first book Kitchen Confidential, which reads: “Good food is very often, even most often, very simple.” Nothing could be more apt in describing this and the subsequent meals I would enjoy at Daang’s restaurant.

The next evening, the scene before me was different from the day before. Whereas I enjoyed a simple dish of noodles and pork then, this evening consisted of several large fish roasted over an open flame, and a table full of Daang’s relatives and friends. Daang introduced me around the table several times; it only validated what we’d learned during our Thai culture lessons during orientation week: food unites people here. If this experience has confirmed anything, it is my belief in the value of winging it. Letting these happy accidents occur is what so many over-organised tourist trips to other countries miss — I’m very grateful to have met Daang and enjoy his food as well as his company.

2. Cam B in South Korea: “The friendliness was contagious”

During my second week of my TESOL course in Korea, I met a man named JunHyuk, AKA Simon, at a gym. Back in New Zealand, I was a competitive power-lifter and I am very focused on maintaining my fitness whilst I teach in Asia. Typically in New Zealand, people don’t interact much while training. However, while I was bench pressing, Simon came up to me and asked me to give him advice and help to train him to get stronger.

Cameron came from New Zealand to teach in Asia and found a local gym buddy in Incheon, South Korea.

At first, I was hesitant so I politely told him when I would be back and assumed he wouldn’t follow up. To my surprise, the next day he was in the gym waiting and immediately came up to greet me with a friendly smile and was ready to begin training. I ran him through a beginner power-lifting routine and helped him practice the correct form whilst also helping him take notes to help him become stronger. He was so thankful and willing to learn; the friendliness was contagious and I was happy all day knowing that I will be able to integrate into and enjoy the culture while I’m in South Korea. After we had finished he asked if we could meet again the next Saturday and bring a couple of friends with him.

Although I didn’t feel comfortable training his friends, I have continued to meet up with Simon, helping him improve and work towards his strength goals.

Simon has also begun to help me understand Korean language and customs much better through frequent interactions. Recently, we went out as a small group for a meal and had a very fun time in a different setting and talking about life. When I do find myself back in Incheon or Seoul, I would like to make time to see Simon again. What I have enjoyed most about meeting and getting to know Simon is that I have been able to help a local achieve something rather than simply being part of a language exchange. I have loved learning about the culture through someone who has lived in it their entire life. I now understand that the best way to learn about Korean culture is through meeting new people and learning first hand. I’m looking forward to meeting more locals and learning from them whilst I teach in Asia.

3. Cameron H in Vietnam: “The quest for power”

I decided to go to a café with my laptop to hole myself away until my lesson planning was done. My laptop is ailing and decrepit and it always needs to be plugged in in order to work. I had heard tell of a local café that had plug sockets, free Wi-Fi and reasonably priced coffee. I went early in the morning and nested in the corner beside one of the few functioning sockets. Slowly but surely, I plodded through my assignments, under frequent glances of some amused locals at my makeshift study camp. I assumed they felt some pity as I was there for many hours sat alone forcing myself to wade through cheesy children’s music to find the right song for a lesson plan.

Suddenly the power cut out – and my laptop switched off. My stomach dropped. I prayed to the technology overlords that my work had been saved. Other people may have taken this as a sign I should move, see some sunlight, and take a break… I felt more motivation than ever to stay until my work was done. I packed up my bags, stood up from my chair, and began to seek a new socket. The quest for power had begun.

Many countries in Asia have a big coffee culture and you're sure to find lots of places to relax whilst preparing for your classes.

I scanned the entire café trying to find a new socket. There were some sockets on the floor, but they were too loose to function. There were some multi-use sockets being shared by others, but there was not enough room for my comically large travel adaptor. I stretched above other peoples’ tables to try and use a couple of spare ones, but the lead was too short to reach the nearest free table. The entire time I was getting in everyone’s way, carrying a bag, books and an open laptop around, and moving chairs to see if there were more sockets on the floor. It’s safe to say the locals’ glances had turned into some outright stares, some giggling and some straight-up laughter.

Eventually, I deemed my mission a failure. I sat at an empty table and began to gather my things to leave. At this moment, a pair of Vietnamese men came over and plucked my laptop out of my hands. For a second I thought I may be the victim of the most brazen robbery in history. They spoke very little English so we combined languages with a lot of mime.

The pair split off, one heading in search for any sockets that I may have missed. In the meantime, his friend inquired about what I was doing by pointing at my books. I was able to respond in Vietnamese that I am a teacher, and his face lit up. I then said that I had moved from the UK to teach in Asia and proceeded to use up the few Vietnamese sentences I knew before I ran dry and we resorted back to mime. At this point, his friend returned and gave me a shrug as if to say he had done what he could.

The guy I had been speaking to then went over to where a group of people were sharing a multi-use socket and started asking other locals if anyone had enough charge to let me take one of their places.

Teach in Asia and explore the ecclectic city of Hanoi!

My British sensibilities caused me to be consumed with embarrassment at being the centre of attention and putting out a stranger at the same time. Yet this caused a ripple of conversation where other locals started chatting both to the two men and to me. Not only did someone give up a socket for me, but I was then sat at a table where I had inadvertently caused strangers to talk like old friends. There was a local woman who spoke English and we were able to have more of a chat about Vietnam. I inquired about where she was from – Ho Chi Minh City – and asked about her life. In the end, fate had forced me to take a break away from my work. My quest for power was successful due to the abounding friendliness and helpfulness of the locals. Now my work is finished, I just need to improve my Vietnamese – and get a better computer!

Teach in Asia with XploreAsia!

Do you want to start your own adventure and teach in Asia? We have in-country TESOL courses in Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Myanmar. We also offer teacher placement in China and are excited to soon be opening a TESOL and placement package in Costa Rica, Central America!

Catch up with our global family of teachers through Instagram and Facebook and share your stories of cultural immersion in the comments!

Tips for A First Time International Traveler

Tips for A First Time International Traveler

XploreAsia Intern Shares a few Tips on Traveling Internationally

Boss your first time abroad by taking tome tips from our own first time traveler Ashia!

Joining XploreAsia is all about embracing adventure and changing lives. We know it can be scary for someone who has never traveled internationally before, so as a first time international traveler herself, our marketing intern Ashia shares a few tips on getting started in your new country. 

So you want to travel, eh? Do you know the first thing about traveling? You don’t? Well, the good news is, I’m here to steer you in the right direction. In my previous blog I wrote about my first ever experience traveling abroad, and now I’m going to bestow my newfound knowledge on all of you.

The idea of traveling abroad can seem a bit scary, especially for it to be your first time. However, don’t fret, I have a few useful tips to help you get started while on your first international trip.

Research, Research, Research

My first tip is something you should do before you leave your home country. As a first time international traveler, you should get familiar with the country you’re going to. The easiest way to do this is to look at videos on YouTube. You can find anything on YouTube, you can look at vlogs, short videos or even find creators talking about their time in that country. This can be very helpful as it can give you an idea of what the country looks like, how the weather is at the time of year you’re going, and even places to visit for when you arrive.

Explore!

Speaking of arriving to your destination, my next tip is for when you have gotten rid of your jet lag. Hop onto the local transportation and explore the city. If you don’t want to figure out the local transportation just yet, then get your daily steps in and go for a nice walk around town. It’s important to get a feel for the area you are staying in, so that you know what’s close to you and what’s not. If you are a bit timid because it is a new area, and you don’t necessarily know where you are going, do not, I repeat, do not be afraid to ask questions. No matter where you are, the locals are always pleased to answer any questions you may have. If they can’t answer your question fully, than they will point you to the person who can.  

Visit the market

While getting familiar with the area, you can stop by any of the local markets and have a look around to see what you can find. In Thailand, there are two different types of markets you can visit: there are your everyday local markets where you can get a lot of local snacks and traditional foods; or you can go to one of the night markets in your area where you can get things like local food, handmade bags and clothes, electronics and more.

As a first time international traveler, visit your local markets for some tasty cuisines
visit your nearby night market and enjoy the food and and shopping all around

 Learn the Lingo

 While in this new country, as a first time international traveler, it is also important that you know some of the language. Now, you don’t necessarily have to be fluent in the language before you arrive, but it’s always useful to know the basics. My next tip is to download a language app. There are plenty of phrasebook apps that provide you a handy dictionary of commonly used sentences right on your phone, or you can explore learning software apps such as Duolino or Memrise (both completely free!). Make sure to do your research on apps before downloading, as some are less credible than others.

 

Try new food

A good way to practice your new language skills would be to go out and try new foods. My fifth tip for you is to eat at as many local restaurants and food stalls as you can. Once you get familiar with your area, you will be able to find so many delicious places to eat where you can make friends with the owners and staff, and they can also help you try something new and teach you even more words in their language.

Once you finish eating, you may even want to step out and see what the nightlife is like in your area. This is an easy way to make friends, practice the language, and have a great time all at once.

As a first time international traveler, try as many new local food as you can!

Get outside

Aside from exploring the city, my next tip for you is to try and explore the natural wonders in your area. You can visit national parks to ethically see animals in their natural habitats. You can hike over mountains or through caves- try to find our what kinds of trails are available in your area. Visit temples and museums to get a feel for the history and culture of your new home. As a first time international traveler, there is so much to explore in the new world around you, so don’t be afraid to get out and see it for yourself.

It can seem scary as a first-time traveler, but this leads me to my last and final tip.

If you read this blog and still have no idea where to start in regards to your new adventure, then you can start by joining the XploreAsia family as an ESL teacher. At XploreAsia, we place teachers in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Costa Rica, South Korea and China. We see our TESOL graduates going off to explore the world and teach English, whilst making a difference in their new communities. Our team is with you every step of the way. The course also includes a one-week cultural orientation to get you immersed and feeling confident in your new surroundings.

If you want to learn more about how you can make a difference and experience traveling for the first time, then head over to our website.

Be sure to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages to see all the updates from our other teachers. Join and explore with us now!

What I Discovered Teaching in Vietnam

What I Discovered Teaching in Vietnam

What to Expect when You're Expecting... to Move Overseas

"I cannot recommend this experience enough, if you want to push yourself in every way possible all while making amazing memories and even better friends then teaching abroad is the thing for you!"

Teaching abroad can be a big challenge, especially to those who have never taught before. However, it can also offer more chances to grow than any other career and you may find yourself learning just as much as your students. In this blog, Eugenie shares her story of how she overcame her challenges teaching abroad after completing her TESOL course in Vietnam.

Looking back, my decision to move overseas to teach in Vietnam made no sense whatsoever. My lack of natural ability in English in school caused me to dislike English class. I thought about teaching before, but never teaching English as a second language. However, signing up to my work abroad programme all seemed so easy and I thought I had nothing to lose. My original enrollment date gave me three months to get my life in order before I made the leap of faith and disappeared into the chaos that is South East Asia. However the forces that be were at work, and I had to delay my trip by few months which turned out to be the first (of many) blessings in disguise along this journey.

With her TESOL certificate in hand, Eugenie, along with her friends in her TESOL group, was ready to begin teaching in Vietnam!

Getting off the plane, I was quickly swept up into the hustle and bustle that was Ho Chi Minh City. I hadn’t traveled much before this so I had no idea what to expect, but was pretty overwhelmed  Starting the TESOL course did not help calm my nerves; with no teaching experience under my belt, to compare me to a fish riding a bicycle wouldn’t be out of line.

The second week of my TESOL course in Vietnam gave me my first experience of what it is like to teach in Vietnam. Me and my fellow student teachers got the chance to go to a language centre and teach several classes as part of our teaching practicum.

It was a disaster

I had no control of the class, it was 38 degrees, and I had no idea what I was doing. The only thing I had left was “baby shark”. By the third time it was playing I couldn’t stop the tears; I stood in the corner and cried. On the bus ride home I barely said a word. My first time in an actual classroom and it was a train wreck. I had signed up for a year, was two weeks in and felt like I already failed. A lot went through my mind for the next two weeks of the TESOL course, but I made a conscious decision to stick it out.

You need to remember you are working with kids, they get tired and moody (just like you) they have bad days too and believe me, the bad days are bad, but the good days.., they are incredible!

Eugenie, TESOL in Vietnam graduate

Looking back, the best decision I could have ever made was to teach in Vietnam.

The main thing that I learnt on my course was how truly resilient I could be. Which is a skill I never really knew I had until I travelled halfway across the world.

The teaching assistants can be a great source of support in the classroom and are a great perk of teaching in Vietnam.

While the first teaching practicum was a struggle, once I started teaching it gradually got a lot easier.. The first month was a little shaky- remembering names, running a lesson from start to finish, ensuring you are covering all the material, all while keeping sixteen children engaged. It’s important to remember you are not doing this alone; you have your teaching assistants (TA’s) in the room who are an absolute godsend! They are the single best thing to have in your classroom and I owe them all so much!

I would be lying if I said it was all sunshine and rainbows. You need to remember you are working with kids, they get tired and moody (just like you) they have bad days too and believe me, the bad days are bad, but the good days? They are incredible!

Before I started, in my interview they asked me which age group I would prefer to teach in Vietnam. I instantly answered teens. I was thinking, they are older, more developed, you can have a joke with them and they would be more interested to learn. I looked at teaching young kids as glorified babysitting.

How quickly my mind changed.

It turns out teaching young kids is easily the most rewarding age group. Not only are you teaching them a new language (when they are still learning their first language, mind you), you are also teaching them to develop as a little human.

Teaching in Vietnam can involve teaching many different age groups. Eugenie found she loved teaching jumpstarts much more than she'd anticipated.

I’ve seen my students gain confidence, learning to read and speak in English. When you walk into a young learners class, you become a celebrity. They scream your name, run to hug you and always want to be next to you. Teenagers don’t even look up from their phones when you walk in.

 My proudest moment to date is when my TA reported back to me that one of my young students, who I have taught for seven months now, is a completely different student in my class compared with his other classes. At home he hardly talks, is quiet and often keeps to himself, yet when he walks into my classroom, he is talkative, helpful, friendly and always tries again, even if he gets it wrong the first time. Knowing I have that effect on a student is incredibly humbling.

Teaching is easily the hardest, most tiring, and most  rewarding and the most humbling thing I have ever done. I cannot recommend this experience enough. If you want to push yourself in every way possible all while making amazing memories and even better friends then teaching abroad is the thing for you!

If you want to challenge yourself and change your life, why not check out our internationally accredited TESOL programs? Offered in six different countries, we can help you kickstart your new adventures living and teaching abroad. For more of a glimpse into what our featured writer Eugenie is up to whilst teaching in Vietnam, check out her blog and her Instagram!

Things You Didn’t Know About Myanmar- Teach in Myanmar with XploreAsia

Things You Didn’t Know About Myanmar- Teach in Myanmar with XploreAsia

We offer our in-class TESOL course and teacher placement in the beautiful, mountainous Myanmar. Not many people know too much about this hidden gem, so, in this article, we’re giving you an introduction to a country that many don’t get the chance to see. Teach in Myanmar and experience this enigmatic culture first-hand.

 Explore Inle Lake

A famous spot in Myanmar is Inle Lake. Inle Lake is over 900 meters above sea level and has become very popular due to the Inthas, the native lake dwellers, and their unique way of fishing. They fish standing on one leg, all while simultaneously steering their boats, balancing and looking out for fish. This area of Myanmar has a population of about 150,000 people who live alongside the lake in houses on stilts over the water.

Chinlone

 While visiting Myanmar, if you pass by young kids playing in the street, or hear of a big competition going on in the city, then they might be playing chinlone. Chinlone is the national sport of Myanmar, and can be considered a mix of football and dance. It’s played in teams of six people who form a circle. The football is danced around the circle for as long as possible before hitting the ground. The purpose of this game is to showcase your technique and performance and Chinlone is not about scoring goals like in British football. The objective is to perform the best tricks. If you teach in Myanmar, don’t be afraid to jump in and show off your best moves too!

Culture 

There are many cultural habits that feel a little strange to most westerners, but, to the people of Myanmar, this is their way of life. For example, in western countries the ideal way to get a waiter’s attention is to catch their eye or by waving your hand towards them. In Myanmar, however, it’s customary to make a kissing noise in the direction of the person you are trying to gain the attention of. This is very different from western culture, and is another example of how unique Myanmar’s culture can be.

Teach in Myanmar and learn more about their cultural traditions like the longyi

Another cultural tradition in Myanmar is for men and women to wear longyi. Longyi is a piece of cloth made of cotton, worn around their waist, similar to a sarong. The men will often wear plain, checkered or striped patterns and will hold the longyi in place by tying a knot the size of a tennis ball. The longyi can be worn in many different ways; people can also fold their longyi in between their legs like shorts for certain activities.

Women also wear a form of longyi called Htamein. This piece has a black band that borders the top of the cloth which cascades down into beautiful and unique patterns.

Thanaka is used in Myanmar as a protectant from the sun and many other useful ways
While you teach in Myanmar, you will see a Thanaka paste used from small children to elders

While visiting Myanmar, as you walk through the city, you are bound to see many people wearing a clay mask on their faces. That clay mask is called thanaka. Thanaka has been used in the Burmese culture for over 2,000 years. It’s made by grinding tree bark until it is the consistency of a paste.

Many Burmese people use thanaka as a sunscreen to protect them from the beaming sun rays. It can also be used for makeup and in your everyday skincare routine. Additionally, the paste can be used for cleansing purposes, anti-acne, to control the amount of oil forming on your skin throughout the day, and for many other purposes. While you teach in Myanmar you can purchase thanaka in cream or powder form, or even the bark itself to try making your own from scratch.

While you teach in Myanmar it is important to note that the country uses the imperial system rather than the metric system. Instead of measuring distance in kilometers, it is measured in miles. Instead of measuring weight in grams, it is measured in pounds and so on. There are only three countries in the world who still do this; the United States, Liberia, and of course Myanmar. 

The country also has more than one hundred different ethnic groups, making it even more diverse than the United States of America. Of the 100 plus tribes in Myanmar, one of the most famous is the Kayan Tribe, specifically the Padaung Long Neck Women. The women wear brass coils around their neck to make their neck appear longer, starting at the age of five.

Padaung Long Neck Women can be seen walking throughout parts of the country while you teach in Myanmar

Traditional Food

Myanmar’s National dish is mohinga. Mohinga, a rice noodle and fish soup, is an essential part of the Burmese cuisine. Considered by many as the national dish of Myanmar, it‘s made up of at least three species of fish: ngaiji (a small freshwater catfish), ngakhu ( another type of small freshwater catfish) and ngapali ( a snakehead fish). This dish can be eaten at any time of the day, but is usually eaten during breakfast time. If you pass by a street stall, you are sure to find mohinga. The sellers often carry a long wooden pole on their shoulders with two pots on the end, one pot for the broth and the other carrying the noodles. You can find all the ingredients from the sellers as well, making your dish complete.

Another traditional meal you can find in Myanmar is laphet thoke. This dish is considered a symbol of generosity, sharing and loving. Laphet is fermented tea leaves, accompanied with crispy beans, fried chickpeas, fried garlic, roasted sesame seeds, roasted peanuts and dried shrimp.

Make an impact on the lives of the community like the children at the Orphanage.

Help the Community

Pala-U Orphanage in Thailand is also home to Karen children. Located in Pa Deng Village in Petchaburi, close to the border of Myanmar, it was founded about 16 years ago by a 19-year old volunteer teacher. The children in his care have no relatives to take care of them and they don’t have access to education or medical help. XploreAsia are proud to support the orphanage and if you would like to volunteer or donate to help, please contact our CEO: m.volpe@xploreasia.org.

If you’d like to experience and explore this beautiful country, then join XploreAsia as an ESL teacher. We provide a one month in-class TESOL course, accompanied by a cultural orientation week. Upon graduation, you will receive an accredited certification and our lifetime support. It is sure to be the experience of a lifetime. For more information on our TESOL course visit our website, and don’t forget to check out our  Instagram and Facebook pages to see what our teachers in Myanmar have been up to!

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