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We Decided to Teach English in Myanmar

We Decided to Teach English in Myanmar

Did you know that in addition to five other diverse destinations, XploreAsia offers the chance to gain an accredited TESOL qualification in Myanmar? We’re always interested in hearing our teachers’ experiences and invited one of them to share their story. Read below an account of one of our TESOL graduates teaching in Myanmar and their first impressions of the country.

The anxiety and excitement leading up to this adventure has been overwhelming. It was scary not knowing what to expect, but thrilling to finally see our plans to teach English in Myanmar coming through after so much hard work and preparation. Upon arriving in Yangon, the first thing I noticed was the sincere display of kindness, warmth and welcoming, a characteristic I expected, but not to such a degree. The next thing I notice is how diverse the place is. With a demographic consisting of over 130 different ethnicities, religions and cultures, it has a very different vibe to many of its neighbours.The city itself has a lot of character; the beautifully unique buildings give clues to Myanmar’s colonial past.

The city of Yangon offers limitless possibilities for exploration.
Explore the streets and find hidden gems whilst living and working in this secluded country.
Get an unincumbered look into authentic Myanmar culture when you teach English in Myanmar.
Teach English in Myanmar and create lasting bonds with local people.
You will be making a difference to the local community if you teach English in Myanmar.
Live like a local. Eat like a local. Shop like a local. Really soak up the culture in Myanmar.
Explore the city via public transport.
"They were regilding this building."
You never know where your journey will take you.

As soon as we arrive, Liam and I are curious to know more about the people and how they live in Myanmar. So, we take the circle line train around Yangon and engage with the local commuters. The train itself is old and rickety, moving at slow speeds. It has no doors which allows us to stand half way out the train and watch the daily life of Yangon roll by. Yangon is a very unconventional city, which allows for travelers to really gain a brand new experience, and allows for some unique inner-city adventures. It’s not difficult to find your way around and the public transport is very cheap, which means you can explore the city without fear of getting completely lost. It’s great to be able to hop on and off the circle line train at any platform and just walk in whichever direction you feel like exploring.

Teach English in Myanmar and experience life like a local.
Explore the fascinating landscape of Myanmar.
Immerse yourself in the culture; teach English in Myanmar and become part of a new community.

Coming to teach English in Myanmar has been a fascinating adventure. If this is any indication of what the rest of the journey holds, it’s sure to be memorable. Throughout our time here, we’re looking forward to finding out out what the people here are all about and discover all this country has to offer.

Does Yangon sound like the place for you? Here at XploreAsia, we offer training, lifetime placement support, and an orientation week to prepare you for life in a new culture so you can teach English in Myanmar with confidence. You can also catch up with XploreAsia and find information on all our programs through our Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Kyle’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

Kyle’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

The Jersey Boys

"He wanted to know about my home as much as I wanted to know about his."

Making the move to a new country can be difficult. It’s daunting to leave friends and family so far behind to start a new adventure. However, moving abroad is just that- an adventure- and there are lots of new friends waiting to be found. In this blog series, some of our teachers in Thailand who’ve just graduated from our most recent TESOL course in Hua Hin are sharing the most memorable connections they’ve made with Thai locals during their training. Read on to find out about Teacher Kyle’s chance encounter with a musical couple.

Teachers in Thailand get the chance to make lasting international friendships.

One day, as I walked to explore Hua Hin and find a new place to eat, a friendly Thai man exclaimed “New Jersey”, the state I come from, as he passed me.  I was confused and turned around to see him looking at me and telling his wife something but I only understood “New Jersey” and “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons”.  I didn’t even realize the shirt I had on that day was of the summer camp I worked at called Camp Nejeda.  I tried to start a conversation in Thai with him and they laughed with me before he started speaking above average English.  The man told me his name but said to call him “Ant” because I’d have trouble anyway, sure enough I forgot both him and his wife’s Thai names.  I am pretty sure the man was more eager to talk to me than I was to him.  He asked me question after question about my state and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, his favorite musical group.

I sat with him and his wife for a half hour over breakfast. He was ecstatic that people in my generation had a sense of adventure and an open mind to work in his country. Ant told me he spent a few months working in Washington DC but was never able to make it up to New Jersey which always disappointed him.  I tried to reassure him there was nothing special about it.

Ant, his wife and I were only together for about an hour and a half and I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time. I have never even felt so welcome, even in my own home. The generosity and curiosity was new to me and it was shocking in the best way.

Kyle- TESOL graduate

After sharing music from our home countries, we were heading in the same direction once we left breakfast and he asked if I had ever tried khanom khrok (a Thai dessert made with coconut milk).  I said no and he bought some for us to try. I loved it and tried to offer him money for the share he gave me. His wife and him both laughed at me as I insisted. Then I realized how American I was being. Local’s kindness can be a surprise for new teachers in Thailand.

Ant, his wife and I were only together for about an hour and a half and I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time. I have never felt so welcome, even in my own home. The generosity and curiosity was new to me and it was shocking in the best way. He wanted to know about my home as much as I wanted to know about his. However, what stuck out the most was that he’d drove four hours to Hua Hin that day to replace a car battery for someone in his family. My family care for each other too, but instead of making a 4 hour drive we would probably help them over the phone. Ant, on the other hand, was excited to make the journey to help his family. It was an excuse to come see them and have dinner. He also was fine taking time out of his day to hang out with a stranger from America. I truly could not see anyone doing that in the States. Unfortunately, I forgot to get any contact information and now that I’m writing this I wish I could stay in touch. He was my first Thai friend. At least I got a selfie, though!

What do you think of Kyle’s story? If experiencing a different culture sounds good to you, head over to our website to learn more about our TESOL course which we offer in six amazing locations. Teachers in Thailand can earn a living and make a huge difference in your community. Who will you meet during your time abroad?

Keep an eye on the XploreAsia blog to hear more stories from our teachers in Thailand and the cross-cultural friendships they have made. Also, head over to XploreAsia’s Instagram and Facebook pages to see what our teachers all over the world are getting up to after gaining their TESOL with us.

Teaching in Myanmar- Noah’s Experience

Teaching in Myanmar- Noah’s Experience

Teaching in Myanmar: Noah’s Experience

“This country offers the adventure of a lifetime. Everyday will be different from the last; you truly never know what lies around the next corner in Myanmar.”

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is among the most recent countries to open its doors to westerners. Due to being untouched by western influence, it offers a unique chance to dive into a completely different culture. Additionally, the eagerness of the locals to learn English and better themselves makes it an ideal place for TESOL teachers. Check out our interview with current teacher Noah about his experiences in the city’s old capital city, Yangon.

What made you decide to start teaching in Myanmar?

After teaching in China in 2017, I moved to Australia for a year and whilst I was there, I had the longing to go back to Asia and teach. My girlfriend and I looked into the available programs and found we were extremely curious about Myanmar.

The thought of being able to witness a country that had only recently opened its borders grow, and knowing the people of Myanmar really needed English to help them with this, was just too enticing to miss out on.

Q: What’s a normal school day like?

A: Monday to Wednesday I teach pre-school classes in two different schools.  My school day starts at 9 o’clock with gate duty. It’s a fun way to start the day by standing at the front and greeting all the students and parents as they walk in. Myself and the other teachers help the students with their school bags and lunches whilst guiding them to their various classrooms. After this I begin teaching; every day is different with this because I rotate between every class the school has to offer. While the levels change every day, I have the same amount of teaching each day. Once I have taught the children and had my lunch at my favorite little tea shop down the street its time to see the students off.

As the students wait for their “ferries” or parents to pick them up I begin preparations for my last class of the day. Once all the students have been safely sent home the teachers and assistant teachers all meet in one class and I begin my lesson for them. In this class we work on different aspects of English such as speaking, writing, grammar and various other learning points the teachers feel they need help with. My day finishes around 5pm. Then, on the weekends, I teach young learners, the students ages range from 6-16 year olds. I start earlier, at 8am, but I also finish earlier, at 2pm. I teach four classes a day rotating through the various levels; due to the children being older they don’t require the constant attention/care the pre schoolers do, so my weekends are more focused on teaching. 

Q: With already having taught before, how different have you found teaching in Myanmar?

A: When I taught in China I was teaching University students, so coming to Myanmar and having the complete opposite was a challenge. Adjusting to teaching pre-school students took it’s time and even though I still prefer teaching older children/adults, I have built an amazing bond with my students and I have so much fun teaching them.

Q: How was finding an apartment in Myanmar?

A: Finding an apartment in Yangon was a very simple process. There are many ways to go about it but the best I’ve found was using Facebook’s Yangon Connections page. I placed an ad for myself asking if anyone was looking for renters. Immediately, I received a ton of listings. It took me no time at all to find the perfect place to call home in this awesome city. My land lady is a very kind woman who is always asking if I need any help and is very quick to fix anything that happens in the apartment.

I live in a very cosy modern loft. The apartment came fully furnished and even had a TV. It’s not hard to find a perfect new home in Myanmar like I did.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: The teachers have a great community built up in Yangon, so there is usually always someone willing to hang out and go on an adventure.Whether that’s going for a bicycle tour around the village of Dala across Yangon river, taking a boat and then a 45 minute tuk tuk to see a snake pagoda (a pagoda that is home to over 30 pythons) exploring the abandoned amusement park, going bowling, or simply meeting up for some BBQ, beers and a good old chat. I have also recently got involved in playing volleyball with a group of expats and locals on Monday and Wednesdays, it’s nothing too serious we just meet up for a few games and a laugh, hopefully soon we will start up some training sessions for beginners that want to learn.

Q: Any advice for someone coming to Myanmar?

A: Myanmar is an amazing country that has only recently been opened up to the rest of the world. My advice for someone who is looking to start their adventure here is that this is not like any country you’ve ever been to. There is next to no western influence and should not be seen as an easy country to live in.

With that being said, this country offers the adventure of a lifetime. Everyday will be different from the last; you truly never know what lies around the next corner in Myanmar. So my advice is this; for anyone looking to make the commitment to live and teach here you must come with an open mind and a determination to not be frightened by the unknowns but take it all in stride as just another day another adventure. This county and its people can give you the experience of a life time, you just need to be ready to accept everything that it offers.

If Noah’s story has inspired you, then check out our in-country TESOL course including a cultural orientation week that will give you all the tools necessary to start an amazing new journey teaching in Myanmar. We also offer placement assistance as well as lifetime support following the course.

Don’t forget to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages to see more from our teachers in all six of our placement locations.

Teach in Costa Rica and Live the Pura Vida

Teach in Costa Rica and Live the Pura Vida

If you’re all signed up for our new TESOL course and ready to teach in Costa Rica, you might want to know a little bit about the fascinating new culture you are going to be part of. In Costa Rica, the motto “pura vida”, roughly translating to “pure life”, is very important to the Costa Rican people. This phrase can be seen as similar to hakuna matata and is about living a relaxed, healthy and balanced life. Read on for a further look at this enchanting culture and, if you haven’t already, maybe even consider making the move with our course to prepare you to teach in Costa Rica.

One of the Happiest Countries in the World

Did you know that Costa Rica is one of the happiest places in the world according to the Happy Planet Index? Residents not only enjoy a stress-free lifestyle, but also the health benefits of a more relaxed way of life. Costa Rica has one of the longest life expectancies, with an average of 78.5 years, longer than that of the USA.

Costa Ricans are very generous and welcoming people and take pleasing their friends and guests very seriously.

Teach in Costa Rica- the happiest country in the world!

If you teach in Costa Rica, you will be a valuable member of the community as education is highly regarded in this Central American country and lots of people will want to welcome you. As with other Latin cultures, it is customary to greet close friends with a kiss on the cheek. Culture tip: remember to greet and say goodbye to everyone whenever you leave your new Costa Rican friends’ houses. Even if it might take you an extra few minutes to leave, they will definitely appreciate it.

Teach in Costa Rica – A Country of Diverse Natural Beauty

Costa Rica has lots of natural wonders to explore!

Costa Rica is one of the top five greenest countries in the world, the only one of the top five outside of Europe. Despite only occupying 0.03% of the earth’s surface, it houses 5% of the world’s biodiversity. For nature lovers, there are hundreds of species of birds, over one-hundred and fifty species of mammals, 9,000 species of plants, and 1,000 species of butterflies. As well as having a plethora of wildlife and plants, the locals are also passionate about protecting it. Did you know that more than 90% of the country’s energy comes from renewable energy sources? It’s great that Costa Ricans are so devoted to preserving their land, and there are lots of conservation projects you can get involved in whilst you teach in Costa Rica too.

Food for Thought

As well as nature, another thing close to Costa Ricans’ hearts is food. Most food is cooked from fresh ingredients with little to no added preservatives or salt. Dishes tend to be made of fresh vegetables, fruit, beans and rice. Whilst living in Costa Rica, you can chow down on Olla de Carne, a hearty beef stew with a variety of vegetables, or vegetarians can enjoy dishes such as Patacones, deep fried plantain, with dips and sides. There is a lot of choice and lots of chances to tickle your taste buds.

Enjoy a healthy diet of local dishes
Try lots of authentic Costa Rican meals

Being such hospitable people, Costa Ricans are always keen to offer their guests some food and or refreshments. However, they also appreciate honesty so politely let them know if they give you something you can’t eat or drink.

In this country, sharing a meal is about spending time together with friends and family and often forms the base of social events and gatherings. So, dig in!

Join the Festivities

Teach in Costa Rica and have fun with new friends!

The people of Costa Rica enjoy celebrating national holidays in a big way. On Independence day, there are traditional outfits men and women will wear to celebrate the occasion, with clothing all decorated in red, white and blue, the nation’s national colours. Another big celebration in the country is Semana Santa, usually happening in April, in which people will gather together to celebrate the Holy Week with parades and processions.

As Costa Rica’s main religion is Christianity, there are also a heap of things to do around Christmas time, including more parades, tree decorations, and traditional snacks. It may not offer sleigh rides and snow, but you can have a very merry Christmas when you teach in Costa Rica.

Get Active

Teach in Costa Rica and get healthy too!

Another big passion for Costa Rican people is football (or soccer). There are various teams in Costa Rica, each with their own devoted fan base, and people love to cheer on their team at a stadium or get together to watch matches on TV. Hiking in the country’s many mountain ranges is also very popular and with the wonderful weather it’s a great place to get outside, stay active and feel healthy.

Joining a sports club is also a great way to meet new friends and will help you to feel at home. With health and social benefits plus plenty of opportunity, there really is no excuse not to be a healthier you.

Want to Teach in Costa Rica?

How does the pura vida lifestyle sound to you? If you’re intrigued by the small glimpse into the culture provided by this blog, why not check out our in-classroom TESOL course based in this amazing country? Not only will you get an accredited teaching certificate opening up possibilities for you across the world, you will also have access to our placement assistance and ongoing support network to help you get the most out of your time in Costa Rica. We also provide an orientation week to get you ready for your new adventure. What are you waiting for? Come and join us in the sunshine!

Catch up with XploreAsia via our Instagram and Facebook to see pictures, videos and updates from our teachers.

Teach in Costa Rica

Teach English in Costa Rica with XploreAsia

Teach English in Costa Rica with XploreAsia

Xplore Costa Rica with XploreAsia!

Learn About Our New TESOL Course in Costa Rica

Teach in Costa Rica and Change People’s Lives for the Better 

Here at XploreAsia, we are pleased to announce the opening of our brand new TESOL course location. In addition to the five countries in Asia, we have now expanded our reach to Central America and offer an in-classroom TESOL and placement service in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. In this blog post, we hope to give you a window into this unique culture waiting to be explored. 

 

Why Teach in Costa Rica?

English teachers make a huge difference to the community and to people’s lives. Many locals have a huge motivation to learn English due to the rapidly growing tourist industry in the region. This creates a huge demand for for the English teachers in many parts of the country.

Teach English in Costa Rica and change the lives of the community for the better.

Being able to speak the language will open up more opportunities for local people to get higher paid jobs, communicate with more people, and be able to lift themselves out of poverty. Teach English in Costa Rica with XploreAsia and you won’t just be supporting yourself and having fun exploring a new culture. You will be impacting the lives of local people, and providing them with a vital chance to gain an authentic learning experience from a native English speaker.

There’s No Shortage of Sunshine

As a quick glance will demonstrate, Costa Rica has wonderful weather and great beaches. Costa Rica has two distinct seasons: the high season and the green season. The green season is also known as the rainy season, whereas the high season is much dryer. The heat doesn’t vary greatly, but you can expect the highest temperatures between February and May, although the average highs reach around 27 degrees throughout the year. Additionally, with Costa Rica being a tropical country, you can take advantage of twelve bountiful hours of gorgeous sunshine per day… every day. What’s not to like?

Make Friends with Locals

Costa Rica is known for its friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The locals enjoy welcoming new people into their communities and there will be plenty of chances to bond with them. Sometimes even the smallest familiarities with the local coffee shop staff or people working at the markets and stores can make a new destination feel more like home. You can easily build this sense of community if you teach in Costa Rica.

Outside of work, Costa Rica offers a relaxed lifestyle far removed from the hustle and bustle of an American city. In Costa Rica, people take their time and enjoy the moment. If you want to live a stress-free life, this is a perfect place to do it.

Make lasting bonds with the locals you've met while teaching in Costa Rica
Explore what Costa Rica has to offer with the new friends you've made with XploreAsia

Learn Spanish Whilst Teaching English

The native language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Living in a country that uses a different language gives you the opportunity to soak up new vocabulary like a sponge. Luckily, Spanish isn’t necessary to be able to get around, but you will probably find yourself learning quickly. If you want to become more fluent, there are plenty of tutors for you to find. Learning a new language is both great for making new friends and feeling more settled, but also looks great on resumes and study applications.

Never Be Bored Again!

Costa Rica is full of bars, restaurants and activity centers, allowing you to make the most of your leisure time. Locals like to listen to and play music and there is a big live music scene. There are also many chances to learn new sports such as gymnastics and water sports. The national sport is soccer, so you may find yourself bonding with the locals over cheering on their home team in the many stadiums across the country. Remember that you will not only teach in Costa Rica, you will live in Costa Rica and moving abroad can be a great chance to start a new life and try out new things.  You will not be short of chances to learn new skills, meet new people, and have fun.

 

Explore new heights while teaching English in Costa Rica
You will have lots of bonding time with the other teachers while working with XploreAsia

We Look Forward to Welcoming you to Costa Rica!

If you’re interested in starting a new life in this tropical paradise, check out the full program page on our website As well as offering an internationally accredited TESOL teaching certificate, we offer lifetime support in finding placements in six different countries. Additionally, our support network doesn’t close when the certificate is handed over to you. XploreAsia supports clients for life, meaning that if you are struggling with anything, a member of the team will always be there to help you out. Teach English in Costa Rica with XploreAsia now and start the adventure of a lifetime!

Catch up with XploreAsia via our Instagram and Facebook pages to see pictures, videos and updates from our teachers.

Which Teach English Abroad Program is Meant for You!

Which Teach English Abroad Program is Meant for You!

Teach English abroad and embrace a new culture

Thinking of teaching English abroad in Asia, but don’t know where?

We’ve got the quiz for you! We currently offer teach English abroad programs in Thailand, South Korea, China, Myanmar, and Vietnam (and soon to be Costa Rica– watch this space, 2020!). With five amazing countries in Asia to choose from, it can be hard to choose the perfect place for you. Do you want to experience ancient temples in Thailand? Try authentic pho in Vietnam? Wear hanbok in Korea? Take your first step into your new career change by exploring your options. Take the quiz now to find out where could be the perfect backdrop for a new chapter in your life.

What was your result? Let us know in the comments! Has this quiz made you curious about how you could start a new life and teach English abroad? As well as moving to a new country and earning a sustainable income, you can also positively impact the community by giving the locals the chance to learn English and lift themselves out of poverty, get into better schools, or find better jobs, depending on the country. When you teach English abroad, you can also truly embrace the culture rather than merely observing it like a tourist. With our internationally accredited TESOL qualification, you can teacher wherever you want to go and our course will give you all the skills you need to be a confident and effective teacher!

If you’re still undecided, head over to our Instagram and Facebook pages to see what our current teachers in Korea, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and China are up to. At XploreAsia, we’ve placed thousands of teachers and helped them start the most amazing journeys. If your mind is already made up, head over to our wesbite to find out more about teaching overseas.

What You Need to Know Before Moving to Asia

What You Need to Know Before Moving to Asia

Find out all you need to make moving to Asia as smooth as possible.

So, you’re thinking of moving to Asia? That’s great! That’s what XploreAsia is here for. We facilitate and support your adventures teaching English abroad. However, it helps to embark on your journey with some of the facts already in hand so you are well-prepared to settle into your new home. In this blog post, we run down some information we wish we’d known before moving to Asia from the west.

Why Can Moving to Asia be Challenging?

If you come from an English speaking country, there’s a high chance you’ve been accustomed to an individualist culture. To name a few, the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia are all countries that have an individualistic culture. Collectivism is vastly different than individualism, and adjusting to the differences can be a challenge. Culture touches every part of life. It can determine how you perceive relationships, how you evaluate yourself, and what you may prioritize. Knowing the differences between the two cultures helps avoid the surprise.

Moving to Asia can be a rewarding challenge for travelers.

What is Individualism?

Individualistic cultures focus on individual journeys.

Individualistic cultures favour independence and self-reliance. The right of an individual precedes that of the group. There’s an emphasis on being unique and standing out. As independence is highly revered in individualistic cultures, many people believe that you should be able to solve your own problems. It can be seen as embarrassing if you need to ask others for help rather than “just getting on with it” on your own.

Moving to Asia can make you rethink the values of your home culture.

What is Collectivism?

In collectivist societies, the needs of the group are favoured over that of the individual. It is seen as a no-brainer to sacrifice your comfort for the greater good. As collectivistic cultures place importance on their community, it’s common to find people reaching out to family and friends for support, and relying on each other during difficult times. Social-cooperation is also very important. People prioritize harmonious relationships and avoid confrontation. Conversely to individualism, people from collectivist cultures hold self-concepts that are centered around interdependence and their roles in groups.

Collectivism values the needs of the group over the needs of the individual.
Learn about collectivism before moving to Asia to dampen the effects of culture shock.

What Can You Expect?

Moving to Asia gives you a chance to experience a whole new social system.

Upon moving to Asia, you will come to interact with the locals. At first, you might not notice it, but you will gradually come to understand what it means to hold collectivistic views. This can be an eye-opening change for someone who has only had experience with an individualistic culture. In many Asian countries, people are more attentive to other people’s needs and opinions. They are focused on maintaining a good image of themselves and fulfilling a social role within their community. Therefore, you might meet people who value social gatherings to a great degree.

Social gatherings are known to strengthen bonds between colleagues or friends, as they are seen as important events that can help build a stronger community. Community plays a big part in collectivist cultures and people feel obligated to fulfill social roles in their community. Whether it is to be a good daughter to your parents, or a loyal friend.  After moving to Asia, you may find yourself getting involved in these social events and becoming attached to your new community in your new home.

You can see the clash between individualism and collectivism clearly play out in a work setting. In an individualistic work setting, creativity and individual achievements are valued, and a lot of times, people are awarded bonuses based on their performance. However, in a collectivistic work setting, teamwork is valued. It is frowned upon if someone disrupts the group harmony. More importantly, hierarchy is very prominent in a collectivist work setting. A lot of people try and read the atmosphere to avoid upsetting anyone, especially their superiors. So when you get placed in a new work setting in Asia, you may find it hard to understand the significance placed on group work and might think it’s odd how a lot of people may tiptoe around their employers. However, being armed with this prior knowledge of how collectivism operates will hopefully make it easier to assimilate after moving to Asia.

Enjoy Your Adventure in Asia!

Moving to Asia will surely be quite the adventure! Understanding the collectivistic values in many Asian countries will save you some of the confusion you might experience during your time abroad. Don’t get too caught up on thinking like a collectivist, though! This post is just meant to help you become aware of the differences between each culture. Keep in mind to respect the social etiquette in the country you are staying in and enjoy your adventure in Asia!

5 Things No One Tells You About Teaching in South Korea

5 Things No One Tells You About Teaching in South Korea

Picture This:

You’ve decided to start teaching in South Korea, and the first week you’re here, everything seems fascinating. You’re trying out new food and visiting new cities. However, a month goes by and you’re starting to miss home. It’s harder to communicate with the locals and understand why they act the way they do. Feelings of frustration are rising. What’s happened?

 

 

This is a perfect example of a “honeymoon phase” ending. It’s something that people experience when they live in a different country for an extended period. Of course, this is no exception to teachers who move to South Korea to teach English. This post isn’t meant to scare you off, though! It’s meant to teach you about the hidden facets of South Korean culture in today’s modern society. Knowing this beforehand will help you combat the culture shock you will experience living in Korea. 

1. Age Importance

Teaching in South Korea gives you great cultural insight.

South Koreans place great importance on your age, especially in an office setting. When you enter a new workplace and meet your colleagues, you will bow and exchange formal words. As time pass, some of your colleagues will start talking to you informally, but this doesn’t mean you can too. You are allowed to speak informally to a colleague who is the same age as you. However, when interacting with a colleague that is either at a higher position than you or is older than you, you must remind yourself to use formal words.

2. Drinking Culture

Drinking alcohol is a big part of South Korean corporate culture. It is a stress reliever for many overworked employees and also plays a big part in building business relationships. Being invited to go out for a drink with your office superior is seen as a compliment, making it hard for people to turn it down. Therefore, people who have office jobs often feel obligated to attend after-work dinners with their employers. Unfortunately, at these dinners, people are pressured to drink. In South Korean drinking etiquette, offering a drink to another person is a sign of generosity. As a result, refusing this drink could come off as a rude gesture. The extent of how much South Koreans drink isn’t a concern that Koreans seem to understand. Drinking is seen as a normal activity that can strengthen bonds between friends or colleagues.

3. Herd Mentality

South Korea is a collectivistic country, often placing a lot of importance on the group or community rather than the individual. Therefore, the herd mentality in this country is present and particularly strong, and this can be seen especially in fashion trends. Once something starts to trend, everyone seems to hop on the new fad. Whether it is hairstyles, clothes, or makeup, you will see a lot of people in Korea who have strikingly similar styles. It is almost to the point where they look alike. Wanting to conform to social norms and to be seen as a part of a group is normal in any country for most people, however, in South Korea, people take collectivism very seriously. Eating alone at a restaurant or school can be seen a bit weird and people oftentimes assume you’ve been ostracized by your peers if you do so.

South Korea is a collectivistic country, often placing a lot of importance on the group or community rather than the individual.

Speaking of being ostracized by your peers, there’s a particular way of bullying in Korea that is quite severe. It is called ‘wangtta’ where a group of people collectively ignore a person as a form of bullying. A lot of times people don’t speak to this person and associates them negative qualities. Sometimes, people who are labeled as ‘wangtta’ continue to be a ‘wangtta’ throughout most of their school year. As a collectivistic country, making a person a ‘wangtta’ would be the harshest form of bullying. Of course, once someone starts bullying, everyone collectively does it as well. This makes it hard for someone who is a ‘wangtta’ to break out of their isolation.

4. Humor & Sarcasm

Humor in each country is different and can be confusing to understand, and this is no exception for the humor in South Korea. In this tiny Asian country, making a fool out of yourself or dissing others is a common way to make others laugh. South Korean humor also includes a lot of hitting. For instance, physically hitting your friends as a joke can be seen to be humorous. It implies that you have a close relationship with your friends. Although it looks painful, it’s a lot different than bullying. If you see both parties laughing while the joke plays out, then it’s most likely that it’s just a friendly hitting! If you’re teaching in South Korea, you’ll know you’re good friends with your colleagues if you experience this energetic humor.

Sarcasm does exist in South Korea, but it is usually used between friends. Sarcasm is usually used to make fun of a person in a snarky matter. For example, one might say, “You seem to be working hard,” in an exaggerated tone that makes it quite obvious that they are making a sarcastic joke. So, if you were to throw a sarcastic comment in a monotone, Koreans will have a hard time understanding that you are joking and might take it literally.

5. Lookism

You will be surprised how much Korean people, care about looks and weight. Korea is known as the world’s plastic surgery capital with an estimate of 1 million surgeries conducted in a year alone. This prevalence allows a lot of female teenagers to be gifted a blepharoplasty as a normal middle or high school graduation present. A blepharoplasty is also called a double eyelid surgery, which allows a person with monolids to attain a bigger eye shape. This is a sought out facial feature in Asian beauty standards.

The prevalence of plastic surgery can be correlated to lookism. Lookism is discriminatory treatment toward people who are deemed physically unattractive. This includes fat shaming, which is normalized in Korea. It’s so normalized to the point that the media often portrays TV personalities who have “bigger” bodies to be ridiculed by referring to them as ‘pigs’. Often, this type of name-calling is seen as humorous. This kind of social pressure keeps Korean women thin. So thin actually, that two in ten women suffer from undernourishment according to a 2009 report by the Ministry of Health.

Experience South Korea For What It Is

We understand that moving to a new country will be a significant transition, but teaching in South Korea will give you a unique chance to embrace the culture, unlike a visiting tourist. While this blog post might provide you with useful information, it’s a different story when you arrive on new land. That’s why XploreAsia provides our soon-to-be teachers with a cultural immersion orientation course. Provided online and in-class, this course strives to help you understand multiple aspects of South Korean culture. We touch on subjects such as politics, society, life in South Korea as well as the South Korean school system. 

We also arrange in-country cultural excursions outside of the classroom so you can experience interacting with the locals and culture. These excursions are accompanied with in-class Korean language lessons so you can build your basic understanding of the Korean language. All these efforts are to ensure you experience a seamless transition into your new life in South Korea. So don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, XploreAsia is here to provide you with the support and guidance you need.

When to Teach Abroad

When to Teach Abroad

Want to Teach Abroad?

XploreAsia will help you decide when to teach abroad!

Deciding to teach abroad is already a big leap, but if you’ve gotten this far and are now determining when to go, that in itself can be another big decision. To help alleviate some of the stress, here is a breakdown of how we like to filter our favorite places to go and when.

Semester Dates

It’s a good idea to consider semester dates when you start teaching, but it’s not vital to arrive at a specific time as many countries are continuously seeking teachers. Here is a run down of information on our top locations to help you decide what’s best for you.

When to Teach Abroad in South Korea

The academic year in Korea runs from February to March with breaks in July and August for summer and January and December for winter, similar to that of Western countries. Some private schools will still be open during holiday times, so Korea is a very flexible place to begin teaching.

Teach abroad and explore the historic architecture

Our South Korea program offers a one-year contract working at a Korean school, so you can spend time getting fully immersed in Korean culture and making friends that will last a lifetime.

When to Teach Abroad in Vietnam:

The school year in Vietnam typically lasts from September to May and the school week is usually six days, with children only attending school for half of the day. Although the weeks are longer, the hours are a little shorter than in some locations, and with contracts starting from four months, Vietnam is perfect for people who want to teach abroad for a short time… although we don’t know why you’d want to leave!

When to Teach Abroad in China

In China, the school year runs from the beginning of September to mid-July, and a school day typically goes from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a two-hour lunch break. With our placement assistance, XploreAsia can help you teach in China whenever is best for you.

Like the Vietnam program, this program is perfect for if you would like some flexibility with your time overseas. Contracts start from five months, so you can choose how long you want to teach abroad.

When to Teach Abroad in Thailand

The ideal times to take your TESOL course in Thailand are October and April as they take place during school breaks so you can start a new semester straight after your course. However, as English teachers come and go from Thailand all the time, there is always scope to jump in at a time that suits you. Check our websites for our intake dates.

When to Teach Abroad in Myanmar

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is great for those with a more flexible and adventurous schedule. Myanmar has experienced so many changes within the last century, the country is eager to increase the level of education for it’s citizens in order to keep up with the ever growing wave of globalization. So although the academic year generally runs from September through April, the steadily-developing country welcomes teachers at all times.

There are endless chances to learn whilst you teach.

Weather

Depending on where you’re from, it can be tough to adjust to a different climate. Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam all have a similarly tropical climate offering sunshine and hot weather all year round. China and South Korea offer more variety. If you’re not a fan of the heat, the temperature can fall dramatically in the winter in Korea and China. Here is a breif glimpse to help you figure out what to pack:

China

Many parts of China offer four seasons, similar to western countries. The summer is hot and humid, whilst the winter is very cold and dry. If you’re teaching in China, you will get the chance to experience the country’s diverse weather and the locals are always there to ask how best to cope with it.

If you teach abroad, you have far more chances to explore than a tourist.

Seventy-five percent of the annual precipitation is concentrated in summer from June to August, with frequent showers in July and August. The coldest month is January at an average of -4 °C (25 °F), and the hottest month is July at an average of 26 °C (79 °F).

South Korea

South Korea offers possibly the largest fluctuation in weather conditions of all six of our TESOL locations. With blistering summers and snowy, icy winters, it’s a great place for photographers as the landscape changes dramatically throughout the year. The spring and the autumn are the most mild periods and there are lots of beautiful celebrations around the cherry blossom season.

Teach abroad and experience a new culture

There is a delightful spring (April to June), a muggy and wet summer (July to August), a refreshing autumn (September to November) and a freezing cold, snowy, but dry winter (December to March). From summer highs of 37°C, the temperatures in winter can plummet to as low as -20°C on occasion in the northern regions of the Gangwon-do Province, although it can be significantly milder int he winter along the southern coast and on the holiday island of Jeju in the far south.

Myanmar & Thailand

Myanmar and Thailand both have tropical climates with three main seasons: hot (March through April), rainy (May through October) and cool (November through February). While southern temperature never drops below 16 °C (61 °F) northern mountains in Myanmar can be covered with ice-caps.

Find amazing locations

Conversely, the hot season can reach temperatures of 38 °C (101 °F) followed by heavy rainfall in late June through September and getting as much as 225 mm (8.9″) of rainfall.

Vietnam

As a country that has more than 2,000 miles of coastline, the weather in Vietnam cannot be categorized as easily as the others. Depending on where you are in the country, you will have fairly differing experiences with the weather.  In Hanoi and the north, May to October is hot and humid with high rainfall; November to April is cooler and dry. 

Explore amazing landscapes

In the far north, December and January can be particularly cold. Central Vietnam experiences hot, dry weather between January and August when temperatures can hit the mid-30°C’s; whilst high levels of rainfall can occur in September, October and November. Southern Vietnam is generally dry and hot from November to April, and warm and wet between May and October, with the highest rainfall in June, July, and August.

Holidays

Some westerners worry about missing holidays whilst teaching overseas, particularly family occasions such as Christmas, Hanukka and Thanksgiving. However, Being abroad doesn’t necessarily mean you get to miss out. Not only can you spend your holidays with new friends, you can also partake in new local ones.

You can still bring your own culture with you when you teach abroad.

While stepping outside of one’s comfort zone is certainly encouraged, for some, the prospect of celebrating a traditional holiday away from  family and close friends can be daunting. However, when you teach abroad, there are lots of opportunities to make both new friends and learn about each other’s traditions.

Teaching abroad gives you the chance to celebrate the festivities like a local. You can enjoy international holidays such as Songkran (the Thai New Year), the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, or the Hung Kings’ Festival in Vietnam.

Teach abroad and enjoy the festivities

Share your culture and embrace local traditions, such as the Songkran water fight in Thailand.

Teach Abroad with XploreAsia

Although there are many things to consider when making the life-changing decision to teach abroad, we hope this information will help you feel all the more prepared for flying overseas. If you’re looking to add more adventure to your life, check out our in-country TESOL course that we offer in five locations: Thailand, South Korea, Myanmar, Vietnam and Costa Rica. To catch up with how our current teachers are doing in their new homes, check out our Instagram and Facebook pages.

 

Celebrating Solo Female Travelers in the XploreAsia Community

Celebrating Solo Female Travelers in the XploreAsia Community

This March, we celebrated International Women’s History Month by highlighting some incredible women who became teachers through our programs! At XploreAsia, over 75 percent of our participants are solo female travelers and some of them have shared with us some words of wisdom that they’ve gathered throughout their journeys abroad: 

Allison Scott

Allison Scott is an American who has been teaching English in Thailand since Nov. 2018.

“Say yes to everything.” Saying yes to opportunities has led Allison to have some amazing experiences in Thailand. Some other advice she has for incoming teachers is to learn to go with the flow, because nothing ever goes as planned as a teacher!⠀

Kate McNaughton

Kate McNaughton is from South Africa and has been teaching in South Korea since Aug. 2018. She teaches elementary and middle school students, and also has one Adult class!

“Don’t be afraid to take risks. Sometimes moving to a different country seems daunting but life is what you make of it. Enjoy every moment of your new city, your new life. Explore. Try new things, new food, make new friends from all over the world and make the most of the opportunities you’ve been given.”

Shauna Dunkley

Shauna Dunkley is a Canadian who moved to Thailand in Oct. 2015 and hasn’t left since! She teaches kindergarten at a private school in Nonthaburi, Thailand and loves it.

“Never be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

Tamryn Iyer

Tamryn Iyer is from South Africa and has been teaching in Vietnam since Sep. 2018. She teaches students from kindergarten all the way up to sixth grade!

No matter your salary, no matter your apartment, no matter the tax you pay… happiness starts with you! In any experience you choose, working abroad, packing shelves at the grocery down your road, it’s totally up to you to make it the best experience of your life!”

Lindsey Gall

Lindsey Gall is an American who originally came to Thailand in Nov. 2014. She initially taught for two years, then taught in another country and after traveling for a bit, came back to Thailand in Oct. 2018 because she missed it so much!

“Go for it! I know it can seem scary at first, but the kindness that you encounter on a daily basis from the locals everywhere, from total strangers, is both remarkable and humbling.”

Erin Jamieson

Erin Jamieson is from Canada and has been teaching in Thailand since Nov. 2018. She teaches grades M 1 and 2 (children aged 13 and 14) students in Chanthaburi.

She has had some amazing experiences while living in Thailand, and one of her favorite things about living there has been making true connections with Thai people. In her time there, she has found Thai people to be the most kind and genuine people she has ever met.

“Always expect the unexpected, and just go with whatever presents itself because it always turns out how it is meant to.”

Pearl Simelane

Pearl Simelane is from South Africa and has been teaching in South Korea since Aug. 2018. She teaches elementary and middle school students in Suncheon, a small city in the southern region of the country.

“It’s been such a beautiful journey. It’s scary at first but the little humans with genuine, heartwarming smiles make it so easy. A smile and a little encouragement every other day goes a long way and it’s so rewarding to watch them bloom with newfound confidence.”

Caroline Byerly

Caroline Byerly is an American who arrived in Thailand during Oct. 2018. She teaches English, Math and Computer to students in grades P1-P4 (first graders to fourth graders) in Chaiya, Surat Thani.

“Don’t be afraid to take a position that isn’t your ‘dream placement!’ You learn the most about yourself when you’re outside of your comfort zone. Be up for the challenge and embrace your new community!”

Jade Kelly

Jade Kelly is from South Africa and taught in Thailand from Aug. 2018 until Feb. 2019.

“Embrace the whole experience and especially the unexpected! Immerse yourself in the culture! Don’t give up and remember when things get tough that you chose to put yourself in this situation so that you would grow and learn new things! Be positive and just enjoy it all, it’s amazing!”

Amber Rondeau

Amber Rondeau is an American who teaches children ages 2.5-7. She has been teaching in Thailand since July 2018 in Surat Thani!

Travel with an open heart and accept everyone you meet. Keep your guard up, but don’t make judgements about others. Your instincts will tell you what kind of person they are.

We’d like to thank these courageous women and countless others who have taken their TESOL courses with us and who are changing lives all around the world. They inspire us each and every day! To see more from our teachers, check out our Instagram and Facebook pages.

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