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What to Pack for Thailand: Packing Tips for ESL Teachers

What to Pack for Thailand: Packing Tips for ESL Teachers

Preparing to take your TESOL course and teach English in Thailand is not a one-step process by any means, but it can be simpler than you might realize. For chronic over-packers, there is the 3-pile process: one of necessities, one of maybes, and one of wants. What to pack for Thailand? One suggestion is to pack only the first pile and scrap the rest. 

I never abided by that rule because I could never decide what would go in which pile. So instead, here are some my packing tips (and tips from others!) on how to prepare for your adventure abroad teaching English in Thailand:  

 

1. Don’t forget these important items:

  • Passport, License, and Visa (and copies), teaching documents (official degree certificate and transcripts), and extra passport photos
  • ATM/Debit/Credit Cards (let your bank know you’ll be in Thailand!)
  • Cash to exchange (roughly $200-600)
  • Any daily medication (with copies of prescriptions), bug spray, sunscreen, and lotion
  • Laptop and chargers (with converters/adaptors –Thailand uses 220V, and the plug-in style is the same type you would bring to Europe and North America)
what to pack for Thailand

2. For teachers, bring at least two formal outfits.

Here are more teacher suggestions on what to pack for Thailand:  

Women:

  • 2-3 longer skirts that cover the knee
  • 2-3 blouses that cover the shoulders and chest
  • 1-2 dresses that cover the knees, shoulders, and chest
  • Closed toe shoes

Men:

  • 2-3 dress shirts
  • 3-4 pairs of dress pants/trousers
  • 1-2 ties
  • 5-7 dress socks
  • 2 pairs of shoes (1 brown, 1 black)
Teaching Tip

When teaching English in Thailand, presenting a small gift from your home country to the school makes a fantastic first impression and can help you create some lasting friendships right away. Consider these gift ideas:

  • Treat: chocolate, maple syrup, or cookies
  • A travel book with pictures of where you’re from
  • School supplies: children’s books, magazines, colored pencils, construction paper

3. Bring a small duffel bag or backpack for weekend trips

This was a definite necessity when I studied abroad, and one of the first things I put in my suitcase. It’s so helpful for shorter weekend trips, and I guarantee you’ll be making at least one or two trips while teaching in Thailand! 

Culture Tip

Sizes in Thailand tend to run on the smaller size, and finding larger Western sizes can be challenging in small towns. Regardless, it is still possible to find these larger sizes at bigger shopping malls in cities. Also it’s important to recognize that Thai culture values modesty, so remember that when packing clothes. 

what to pack for Thailand
what to pack for Thailand

4. Bring a rain jacket, sweatshirt, and good walking shoes

These items were not forefront on my mind when I was wondering what to pack for Thailand, but you’ll definitely be grateful for them once you’re in the country. Bus rides and airplanes can get chilly, and broadly speaking, Thailand’s rainy season can run from May/June to October.     

There are some gorgeous national parks all around Thailand, and you’ll want to bring some comfortable walking shoes for hiking and exploring.  

Culture Tip

For women, a long scarf to cover your shoulders or knees can be useful when visiting a temple or the Grand Palace.  The one I brought became one of my most essential items: I used it at the beach, as a cover-up, and also as a blanket on some very chilly bus rides.

What to pack for Thailand: Helpful Items

  • A Kindle: English books aren’t as easy to come by, so if you’re a big reader, having a Kindle is wonderful for traveling.
  • Consider bringing an extra inexpensive, unlocked phone with you to Thailand to function as your Thai phone. It’s simple to buy one once you’re in Thailand, but it’s sometimes nice to know that you already have one you can use.
  • A small coin purse for loose change, and a money belt for weekend trips.

______________________________________________

I had the chance to sit down with Tara, one of our TESOL Course participants, and chat about how she prepared for taking the TESOL course and for her adventure teaching in Thailand:

What are some things that you didn’t think to pack first but are grateful for now?

Photos from home. It’s not something that I thought I’d want once here in Thailand, but just having a few photos from home can be so comforting. I also brought a travel journal that I’m looking forward to filling with thoughts and memories from my experience.

What is one item that you wish you’d brought to prepare you for teaching in Thailand?

More skirts! I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find longer black skirts that are light and breathable. Most of the skirts I’ve found here in Thailand are made of heavy material and are pretty expensive. I also wish I’d brought more breathable, light blouses for teaching.

You only brought one backpack on this trip. That’s pretty impressive! What advice do you have for anybody that’s worried about over-packing?

Roll all of your clothes. It saves so much room. And invest in some zip-up cubes. I swear by them. It makes my bag so organized, and it helps me keep track of what I have. Another tip I’ve learned is to bring a separate bag of dryer sheets to keep your clothes smelling fresh!

Generally, just remember to bring what’s necessary and don’t worry too much about bringing duplicates.

What is one thing you wish packed more of?

Bug spray! I use it so much here. I’m almost out. It’s not too easy to find great bug spray here, so I definitely wish I’d brought a couple more bottles. Another important thing I brought was electrolytes. They’ve been super useful here because it’s so hot, and you’re constantly sweating. I’m almost out of them too – it would’ve been nice to have more.

Thank you so much, Tara! You gave us great input on what to pack for Thailand. We’re so excited for your adventure teaching English abroad, and we can’t wait to congratulate you on finishing your TESOL Course!

I’d love to hear from you: What to pack for Thailand? What are some of your packing tips? Have any of you traveled to Thailand before? What are some essential items you always bring with you when traveling abroad?

Ready to start your adventure living and teaching abroad? Sign up for one of our amazing TESOL Course and teaching programs today! 

Read Our Program Reviews!

Donald Trump: What He Might Have Learned if He Taught Abroad

Donald Trump: What He Might Have Learned if He Taught Abroad

Make the World Great!

Although no one can argue with a desire for America to be a great country, in today’s reality, being a great country means working to make the WORLD great, not just America. Donald Trump does not seem to understand this fundamental reality. However, if Donald Trump had spent some time teaching English in foreign countries, we are sure he would have acquired the understanding, skills, and information necessary to make the world great. Teaching English overseas helps develop the character traits essential to making the world great – compassion, cultural awareness, and respect for diversity. These are traits that an American President should embody. But sadly, they are not apparent in our current President.

Compassion may be defined as a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress combined with a desire to alleviate it.” Teaching abroad promotes compassion because the teacher often is exposed to students and families with varied needs due to poverty, homelessness, disabilities, or lack of sufficient nourishment. To meet these needs, the teacher must have sympathy for the children and want to help them overcome the adversities they face. A compassionate person makes the world better because awareness of peoples’ problems drives them to do something – not just assign blame. Trump’s statements and actions with regard to “shithole” countries, protections for Dreamers, and response to the devastation of Puerto Rico would have been quite different if he had learned compassion.

Donald Trump face

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.

Albert Schweitzer

Donald Trump face

Culture makes people understand each other better…they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.

Paulo Coelho

Teaching abroad also promotes cultural awareness, another obvious “missing part” of Donald Trump’s world view. An educator overseas comes to understand the critical aspects of culture not only in the country in which he or she is teaching, but also in other countries. Educators overseas learn that a culture is not “bad” or “good.” It is not something to be jeered at or “banned.” Culture represents the values and traditions of a people over centuries of history. Educators come to understand how culture influences the children and families they work with and the value of that culture to the country. In this way, educators learn about community and the importance of working in a community. The world is now a community and, although it has many different cultures, it is only through working in a community that we can make the world great.

Finally, it is impossible to teach abroad without coming away from the experience with a strong respect for diversity. Again, Donald Trump has not displayed respect for diversity in any way. Anything that seems to deviate from his professed religion (which he claims is Christianity), his value of money above all else, and even his gender is fodder for his ridicule and derision. Educators overseas are exposed to an array of religions, ethnicities, sexual orientation, and family roles that differ significantly from their own. Through this exposure, educators learn to accept and honor these differences as they work with students, fellow teachers, families, and communities.

Donald Trump face

Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.

Jacqueline Woodson

What if Donald Trump had taught English abroad?

If Donald Trump had taught English abroad at some time in his life, he might have learned how to make the world and America great instead of ushering in a period of unprecedented divisiveness that has resulted from his statements and actions. Maybe that is what the world needs. More and more people taking the time out to teach abroad so that the traits of compassion, cultural awareness, and respect for diversity spread throughout the world.

Taught abroad and agree? Disagree?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

4 Things To Do On Your Summer Break Abroad

4 Things To Do On Your Summer Break Abroad

4 Things To Do On Your Summer Break Abroad

What are your Options?

Like any other teacher in the world, instructors abroad are not immune to the summer break countdown. The cramming of finals, make ups, and sporadic graduation events leave an individual aching for the oasis of “me time.” Therefore, as the calendar fills with slashes crossing off days completed, he or she may ponder on what voyage to embark on next. Alas, multiple opportunities are available to quench wants and needs. An educator overseas has access to many activities for their summer break abroad, but there are four main categories to choose from: travel, volunteer work, retreats, and financial prosperity. Each element encompasses a branch of desired bliss. Unsure on which one to “pencil in?” Keep that calendar on hand, because you are about to find out.

Travel

 

The substantial amount of time allotted during summer breaks abroad easily cures the “I want to go there” plague. He or she has access to an array of countries that may have been difficult to visit back home; as a result, an individual can construct an itinerary with flexibility due to the granted recess. If a person wants complete immersion in only one country, that can transpire. If a person craves excessive passport stamps from all different countries, that can also transpire. This rare pliability truly allows an individual to have free reign in regards to travel. Also, another bonus about traveling during summer breaks abroad stems from the coincidence of summer break with other schools. In other words, a person can obtain “travel buddies” through fellow educators or simply ask colleagues where they have visited during their time off. This hidden component of guidance can be extremely beneficial to novice and expert travellers. Ultimately, the adventure is solely up to the inquirer; thus, the rejuvenation period provided by schools accommodates any wanderlust stricken soul.

Traveling is an excellent option for you during your summer break abroad

If a person wants complete immersion in only one country, that can transpire. If a person craves excessive passport stamps from all different countries, that can also transpire. This rare pliability truly allows an individual to have free reign in regards to travel.

Volunteer Work

 

Volunteer at many different organisations during your summer break abroad

For example, an amazing organization named “Rescue Paws,” located within Hua Hin, Thailand, supplies multiple opportunities for individuals to work with adorable pups. 

If he or she does not want to break the bank but still lusts after a different setting, volunteer work is the perfection selection. Volunteering is comprised of two broad genres: animals and people. The compassion and intellectual stimulation subsequently provided from both categories reveal no “wrong” decision exists. For example, an amazing organization named “Rescue Paws,” located within Hua Hin, Thailand, supplies multiple opportunities for individuals to work with adorable pups. Walks on the beach, soaking bubble baths, and lively playtime soothes any unwanted stresses gained from teaching. This furry fun is also combined with extensive knowledge on “man’s best friend.” Behavior patterns, sterilization, and animal care in general are all important topics explored when volunteering at Rescue Paws. If animal maintenance is not the desired route, there are many chances to assist struggling groups of people. Orphanages, homes for the elderly, and underprivileged areas are always in desperate need of volunteers. Working alongside such inspirational individuals will result in a life altering experience. The consistent compassion, empathy, and love demonstrated leaves a volunteer with more than he or she could have bargained for. Therefore, if a new atmosphere, awareness, and humanity are attractive elements to you, then volunteering during your summer break abroad is an excellent choice.

Retreats

 

Many individuals wish he or she had the chance to improve a skill or learn a completely new one. This common aspiration can be fulfilled when one chooses to partake in a retreat over your summer break abroad. An extensive amount of retreats are available for self enhancement. Yoga, meditation, martial arts, and more all exist to transform pipe dreams into a reality. For example, Muay Thai is a popular sport across the globe. There are an excessive amount of Muay Thai retreats around Southeast Asia. These learning hubs assist all ability levels, expose crucial self-defense techniques, and also incorporate rigorous amounts of exercise. The items achieved above allow an individual to undergo a holistic wellness metamorphosis. To add to the healthy transfiguration, friendships will also be established! Multiple participants from around the world occupy Muay Thai retreats. The inevitable new connections born from sweating pores and never-ending front kicks are an added bonus. The friendships, self-improvement, and useful intelligence available from retreats make this option very appealing. Still uncertain? Not a problem. This final option is for you!

Go on a retreat to improve your skills or gain a new one!

An extensive amount of retreats are available for self enhancement. Yoga, meditation, martial arts, and more all exist to transform pipe dreams into a reality.

Financial Prosperity

 

Line your pockets during your summer break abroad by teaching, being a camp counselor, or maybe even doing something else!

During school break, an individual can earn extra income through tutoring, blog writing, swim lessons, and more. These diverse professional employment opportunities can lead to a lucrative bank account.

After completing a term, he or she may want to keep working for financial prosperity. During your summer break abroad, you can earn extra income through tutoring, blog writing, swim lessons, and more. These diverse professional employment opportunities can lead to a lucrative bank account. For instance, the demand of available educators during the school recess is extremely high. The long duration of no school, 1-2 months, means students will not be receiving any instruction. This lost period of school time inclines parents to hire available educators for tuition. The guardians may want their child to improve weak subjects or just maintain an intake of education. This interest of stationary teachers conclusively provides an individual the opportunity to obtain that “extra cash.” In turn, these multiple financial gains allows one to save money for future expenses, pay off unwanted debts, or simply splurge on luxury items. Regardless of reasoning, the chance to earn more currency is always a strategic decision.

Summer breaks abroad supply teachers abroad with many different opportunities. Adventurous travel, rewarding volunteer work, refining retreats, and financial gain, are four divergent choices waiting to be summoned. The appetising spread of options permit one to evaluate and then feast. So grab your pens and start planning all over those empty calendar pages!

Written by Chelsea Cullen. Follow her adventures at educatedexplorer.blogspot.com  

Which summer break opportunity sounds the best to you?

Comment below and tell us!

In-Class TESOL vs Online TESOL Courses

In-Class TESOL vs Online TESOL Courses

In-Class TESOL vs Online TESOL Courses

Which one is right for you?

After making the invigorating decision to teach abroad, you usually need to pursue a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course. Two options for the class are available: in-class and online. The abundance of opinions on which course is better can prove helpful, but overwhelming.  Overall, both options present countless benefits, but the best way to choose which course will be the best for you is to think about it is you need from the course. An in-class TESOL course offers learning through observation, invaluable time practicing teaching, and deep-rooted friendships, while an online TESOL course supplies nomadic freedom and exposure to fundamental teaching strategies. There really is no wrong choice! So which one works for you?

In-Class TESOL Advantages

 

A participant practices teaching in his in-class TESOL course

When you observe a class, you often can spot issues others may be having while teaching before they even know it themselves, allowing you to perfect your teaching strategies.

It may sound obvious, but watching others teach can make you a better teacher. When you observe a class, you often can spot issues others may be having while teaching before they even know it themselves, allowing you to perfect your teaching strategies. Observation is a key element in learning how to teach; it allows you to watch, understand, and review yourself on what is done well and what needs to be improved, even before you stand up to teach yourself. And when you do practice your teaching skills in front of the class, you can put into play the observations you made and adjust accordingly. Plus, you are an extra person for others to observe and improve their own techniques from. Observation is the first element in everything humans do, whether it be learning how to walk, learning a skill, or learning how to play a sport, so why should it be any different in learning how to teach? It may seem a bit awkward at first, but awkwardness will soon turn to insight and improvement for not only yourself but your peers in the course as well.

The other most helpful element within an in-class TESOL stems from practicing your new skills in a real school environment. Participants of XploreAsia’s in-class TESOL course are given an opportunity to instruct a group of children in a school setting. This aspect of the in-class TESOL course proves extremely valuable for both veteran and non-veteran teachers. After learning instructional techniques, behavior management strategies, cultural “do’s” and “don’ts,” and lesson plan construction, you are able to gage your ability level by instructing in a classroom. Additionally, when you practice teaching in a school, monitoring from the TESOL professor and your peers will ensue. This allows for constructive critiques and assistance if needed. The opportunity to be critiqued while actually teaching during the in-class TESOL is clearly one word…awesome! Successful teaching takes practice! This component of an in-class TESOL adheres to this; no one is perfect. Therefore, the in-course TESOL helps you practice, practice, practice!

A participant practices teaching at an English camp during her in-class TESOL course

The opportunity to be critiqued while actually teaching during the in-class TESOL is clearly one word…awesome! Successful teaching takes practice!

A class graduates from XploreAsia after successfully completing their in-class TESOL course

The common thread of actively pursuing a teaching career abroad seamlessly sews participants together.

The last distinct advantage that comes from an in-class TESOL course is the friendships that come from it. The common thread of actively pursuing a teaching career abroad seamlessly sews participants together. Like-minded people join this course, and after spending so much time together and dealing with the struggles and accomplishments in the course with each other, you will create strong friendships that last throughout not only your time teaching abroad, but beyond. Shoulders to cry on, future weekend excursion partners, and travel buddies are created during the short time you are together on the course. Meet ups, social media, and sometimes even placements near one another cement the comforting bonds created within the in-class TESOL course.

The friendships, the practice teaching in an actual school, and observation are the elements of an in-class TESOL course, but another option does exist; the online TESOL course.

Online TESOL Advantages

 

An online TESOL provides countless positives, but the nomadic freedom accompanied with this option unveils the true definition of convenience. Like many people, you might find yourself constantly busy with prior obligations. The lack of leisure time may forbid you from enrolling in an in-class TESOL or you might just enjoy learning from the comforts of home. Whatever the case may be, the ability to enter the virtual classroom from any place in the world accommodates any sort of wanderer lifestyle.  Airports, coffee shops, and your own home transform from ordinary places of habitation into an enriched classroom at the click of your fingertip. This ability to pick an online TESOL that fits into your schedule provides accessibility to anyone and everyone in the world. The convenience of constant availability paired with flexibility from an online TESOL course appeases anyone’s calendar… so grab any electronic device and go!

A woman completes her online TESOL course at a coffee shop

Airports, coffee shops, and your own home transform from ordinary places of habitation into an enriched classroom at the click of your fingertip.

a participant completes the online TESOL course from home

The differentiated instruction mentioned above helps all learners succeed. And if you still need extra review, no problem! The materials are available online whenever you want them.

To become an accomplished educator, you must learn, comprehend, and implement the fundamentals of teaching. These important strategies are explicitly taught, tested, and reviewed within an online TESOL. The written details, videos, and resources assist an individual during this process. The differentiated instruction mentioned above helps all learners succeed. And if you still need extra review, no problem! The materials are available online whenever you want them. The continuous access to all materials helps you construct a sturdy base upon which to build your knowledge of teaching abroad. The foundation you build will ultimately assist you throughout your teaching career. This benefit paired with nomadic freedom makes the online TESOL course undoubtedly desirable. At the end of the day, each journey usually starts with one step, but you can now begin yours with one click!

Overall, choosing a TESOL course is an exciting start towards career advancement and adventure. There are many advantages available from both courses; the important observation, the invaluable practice teaching, and the deep-rooted friendships developed from an in-class TESOL course helps an individual flourish in multiple ways, while an online TESOL course allows the desirable nomadic freedom and vital exposure to fundamental teaching strategies. So which one should you choose?  Future teacher, the choice is yours!

Online TESOL or in-class TESOL? Which do you think is better? 

Comment below!

The Top 5 Reasons to Teach in Vietnam

The Top 5 Reasons to Teach in Vietnam

The Top 5 Reasons to Teach in Vietnam

Wake up at 6:00 a.m., frantically rush out the door, seize a cup of liquid fuel, articulate commuter grumbles, hypnotically complete mundane tasks, remain idle in standstill traffic, nuke 2 day old pizza, sink into a fluffy oasis, and then repeat. Sound familiar? Is this what you thought “adulthood” would be? The idea or notion that  “this is what adulthood is” falters when one teaches in Vietnam. When an individual teaches in Vietnam, he or she departs from solely “existing” and truly embraces the full meaning of “living.” There are 5 main reasons why a person should teach in Vietnam: passionate community, stunning scenery, delicious food, unquestionable safety, and an expat faction.

Passion for Education

 

A boy peeks around a fence. Teach in Vietnam

When one accepts the calling to teach in Vietnam, the passion for education is palpable.

When one accepts the calling to teach in Vietnam, the passion for education is palpable. Both the community and students view the English language as an important skill one needs to acquire for professional advancement. This mindset demonstrated by students and the community permit an educator to flourish when teaching in Vietnam. He or she can solely focus on providing the best instruction possible without the added weight of needing to “prove one’s worth.” This unspoken cultural acceptance acts as a major alleviation for first time instructors. When I taught in America, the language teachers, faced the stigma of “unimportance.” The value of learning a second language is not truly embedded. My coworkers constantly needed to “prove” their subject’s worth to students, parents, and society in general. This added task on top of teaching is an undesirable element. Luckily, teaching in Vietnam eliminates potentially unforeseen under value; therefore, the vigor witnessed in other subjects floods your classroom as well.

Stunning Scenery

After educating adorable Vietnamese children, one can savor the picturesque scenery expanding throughout Vietnam. Beautiful emerald green bays, lively cities, and tranquil country sides quench an individual’s various needs. The abundance of diverse landscapes allows one to choose what “vibe” he or she is feeling for the weekend; monotonous living is not one of them. XploreAsia graduate and current teacher in Vietnam, Hilary Tamara, stated, “every place you visit in Vietnam is very different and the range of landscapes are so diverse.” The gorgeous and various regions within Vietnam, as divulged by Ms. Tamara, permits one to experience the peaceful ripples of Ha Long Bay to the bustling adventures within Ho Chi Minh City. Instead of daydreaming about “a change of scenery,” teaching in Vietnam allows one to explore an array of captivating terrain.

Two men look off over the mountains. Teach in Vietnam

 Instead of daydreaming about “a change of scenery,” teaching in Vietnam allows one to explore an array of captivating terrain.

Delicious Food

Vietnamese food. Teach in Vietnam

Herbs, noodles, and eggs; oh my! Vietnamese food truly causes one to order “with their eyes.”

As one explores the geographical wonders of Vietnam, he or she will uncover another mouthwatering “wonder” titled Vietnamese food.  Herbs, noodles, and eggs; oh my! Vietnamese food truly causes one to order “with their eyes.” Veggies and meats speckle the streets. Each unique dish emits an aroma of gluttonous delectability. The renowned grub within Vietnam attracts people from across the globe. Blogs and “guidelines” have sprouted all over the internet as a side effect. These sites also expose another appetising proponent of the glorious cuisine: affordability.  Dishes range from around USD 1.50 to USD 2.30. The scrumptious cookery combined with the cost effective price tags manifest into a deadly, but pleasurable, concoction. Teaching in Vietnam allows an individual to devour the edible gems of bloggery wonder whenever he or she desires.

Safety

Enticing food is not the only welcoming component of teaching in Vietnam; the atmosphere generated also lends itself to a safe environment.  Traveling solo or with a friend to a vastly different country can be slightly daunting. Language barriers, cultural taboos, and functionality in general evoke uneasiness. When a person teaches English in Vietnam, a welcoming environment greets him or her upon arrival. Apprehension about safety or manipulation dissipate. One should remain mindful about surroundings and belongings as a general rule of thumb, but an individual can easily maneuver around Vietnam without fear or restriction. This sense of security applies to solo women travelers/educators as well. In regards to transportation, Uber and bicycles are great and safe ways to meander through the cities. When one teaches in Vietnam, the security supplied allows an individual to explore, thrive, and cherish all the amazing qualities the country has to offer. Upon the safe embarkment of adventure, he or she may discover the last element of why a person should teach in Vietnam: the faction of expats.

Vietnamese children run from the camera. Teach in Vietnam

When a person teaches English in Vietnam, a welcoming environment greets him or her upon arrival. 

Expat Community

A group of friends pose for a picture in Vietnam. Teach in Vietnam

Ultimately, when deciding to teach abroad, leaving friends and family “behind” can be an unfavorable aspect. The community gained from teaching in Vietnam can alleviate this initial negative by creating bonds with like-minded individuals from around the globe. 

Teaching in Vietnam supplies another important necessity when abroad: friendship. There is a large expat community within this Asian country so one does not feel alone in a foreign land. Many expats can be found within the city or through social media pages. For example, a page titled “Vietnam is Awesome,” located on Facebook, allows foreigners and locals to expose important information about the country: beautiful sites, hangouts, events, and more. Before even reaching Vietnam, an individual can join the page and link up with current teachers, travelers, locals, etc. This helpful resource permits an educator to plant his or her roots early on. The pre-establishment described above is essential and comforting when he or she transitions to a new abode. Ultimately, when deciding to teach abroad, leaving friends and family “behind” can be an unfavorable aspect. The community gained from teaching in Vietnam can alleviate this initial negative by creating bonds with like-minded individuals from around the globe. Family and friends back home are only a video chat away. One does not abandon ties from home, but instead increases connections with people near and far. The lifelong friendships obtained through the current expat AND local community supersedes hesitation.

Overall, there are an excessive amount of reasons why a person should teach in Vietnam. The value of English, Instagram worthy landscape, drool-inducing food, the reinforcement of security, and the ever growing community are just 5 highlights of why a person should cash out ritualistic monotony for invigorating adventure. So what are you waiting for? Submit that final resignation letter to predictable complacency and accept the new offering of “living.” Your new life in Vietnam is only one decision away. We will see you soon!

Written by Chelsea Cullen. Check out the rest of her adventures here: http://educatedexplorer.blogspot.com 

Thinking about teaching in Vietnam? Which reason appeals to you the most?

Share your comments below!

Travel Love: Love Stories From The Road

Travel Love: Love Stories From The Road

All you need is love…

But a little help from XploreAsia doesn’t hurt either!

We have had so many wonderful people come through our program to teach in Thailand or elsewhere, and often we get couples! Those few brave enough to pack up everything and travel elsewhere with their significant other. We also have had many people come and meet their significant other while here on course or during their placement. Just call us cupid! Here are some of our favorite love stories from the road: 

 

Andrew and Nicole (South Africa)

My wife, Nicole and I have been together for 9 years; she is my high school sweetheart. We met through a mutual friend when I was in grade 12 and Nicole was the year below me. Our relationship grew stronger over the years through school, gap years, university and work. Eventually eight years later we were FINALLY married! I worked at a golf course and she worked as an interior designer at a fancy design firm. One day, an ad popped up on Nicole’s Facebook feed which peeked her interest. Teach in Thailand? She decided to speak to me about it, and after much discussion we decided to apply and see if we’d be accepted. Very soon afterwards, we were packing up our new home, saying our goodbyes and were on a plane for Thailand. It all felt so surreal.

In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with. – Charles Schulz

We completed the TESOL course in Hua Hin (October 2017) and moved to Phatthalung. A small, very quiet province in the south of Thailand. Our experience so far has been both incredible and challenging. Fortunately, I have Nicole every day in a town where there are very few foreigners. We can talk through our frustrations and missing our families. The best part though is that we are able to experience all the many and amazing things that Thailand has to offer and we get to do it together!

Thailand has brought us closer together as a married couple. We tackle challenges together and get to experience life everyday in the way that most married couples don’t get to experience. We’ve gone from one extreme where I only got to see Nicole for a couple hours a day to going on an adventure together in a foreign country and spending every waking minute with each other. Living in Thailand with Nicole has been an absolute dream come true

Tayler and Spencer (The United States)

We met at a nature immersion camp for inner city kids in Austin Texas called El Ranchito about 5 and a half years ago. We helped show kids how beautiful nature is and how much fun it is to play in it. Eventually, we were almost at a point in our relationship when we were about to find a place to “settle down.” We had already traveled through South America together and had lived out of our truck, which we had renovated into a tiny, tiny, tiny home, for a year and so we thought maybe we should settle down? No, we decided not to and to go LIVE in a different country.

We were so lucky to have been placed in a town in the south of Thailand called Trang. It’s a hip city with lots of markets, coffee shops, places to hear live music, and no matter what road we turn down there is always waterfalls, caves, and temples to see. Living in Trang gives us easy access to the beach and the islands! We couldn’t have asked for a better placement, a better town, or a better school. We both teach primary kiddos.

The best part of traveling with your partner is having someone to share the adventure. My favorite day is Saturday mornings when we wake up and we go have dim sum and then head out on the scooter to see something new. We love to cruise and get lost. We have found so many Thai treasures hidden down country roads. It is also nice to have your partner there when you run into situations that make you feel unsure because then you always have someone there who can help or support you.

Be prepared for things that will challenge each of you personally and you as a team. But be prepared for one of the most awesome times you could ever experience together. Seriously. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have literally thought to myself “What did I do to deserve this life????” and the fact that I got to experience this with my partner in life and in love made these past 11 months ones I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Love is a gift the universe gives us and travel is a gift we give ourselves. If you are lucky enough to have them both live in their moments, appreciate every single second, and know that you DO deserve them.

Heidi and Riaan (South Africa)

Riaan and I met at school and as time went on our love only grew stronger. After I came home from working on a cruise liner as a photographer we decided to move in together. We were happy, but never truly satisfied with the “rat race” life, and my heart yearned to travel and explore again. One evening my partner came home and simply asked “When are we leaving, and to where? I am done with the rat race!”

The following day I started doing research on opportunities that we could do long term abroad, and most importantly TOGETHER. After carefully looking through all our options we decided that we wanted to do the program through Xplore Asia and we made our plans to start saving up to make it happen. That was the night my partner proposed, and three months later we were married in a small family ceremony.

 

Four months after our wedding we arrived in sweltering Bangkok. Our first placement was at the same school in a super small rural town down south called Thung Yao. It was quite an experience as we were the only foreigners! After the first semester I received a job offer from a school in Ayutthaya so we decided it might be a nice new experience so we decided to make the move. That was truly the best decision ever, as we ended up spending a year and a half there and met truly fantastic friends there! I was offered a position with an International school in Korat, and we decided to make the move yet again. Whilst there my husband decided to start studding toward a degree, as it is actually really affordable here in Thailand, and as a result we had to move to Bangkok. My school actually offered me the Art teacher position at their Bangkok campus, and I think I have found my true passion for teaching now.

Making such a big life decision with a partner is both easy and hard, because you know you have someone there with you but doubt will always creep in. The only advice we will ever have is “Just do it! Regretting missed opportunities is far worse than learning from a few failures!”

As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen. – Winnie the Pooh

Kayleigh and Pu (The United States and Thailand)

In September of 2015 I took a leap and moved to Thailand. My original plan was to stay for one term and then move on, however, I realized after my short stay I needed more time with this fantastic country.

In May of 2017 I was in a small village about 20 minutes from Prakhon Chai, in Isaan region of Thailand.  I was visiting a friend in her hometown for a school holiday.  She invited me to a party for some friends of hers that were becoming Monks.  While we pranced around the village followed by a large truck with a local band blasting music around I was introduced to Phatcharakamon, or Pu.  With my new group of friends, I spent the day enjoying the local festivities.  I was not certain I would ever meet Pu or my other new friends again.  I returned to my home in Hua Hin and as fate, or rather Facebook, would have it, Pu came up as a suggested friend.  We became Facebook friends, but I never expected much out of it. 

About a week later I received a message from her, as it turns out her cousin lives in Hua Hin and she was down visiting.  To make the world even smaller, I taught at the same school with her cousin’s boyfriend.  Our paths crossed again. . . then again. . . and it went on like that. 

Now nearly nine months after our first meeting we live together in Hua Hin.  I have continued to teach and she manages the guesthouse that we live at.  We have been able to spend the holidays traveling both Thailand and South East Asia and we are working on obtaining Schengen and American visa for future travel.  Life with Pu has been wonderful and full of fun.  Looking forward to our future adventures.

Cassidy and James (The United States and South Africa)

James is from Durban, South Africa and I am from Pennsylvania, The United States. I used to teach in the Chonburi province and James taught in the Rayong province. Both of us came to Thailand to take some time off from our home countries and to have an amazing new experience.

James and I met the weekend I went to Koh Samet with some friends and actually met him on the boat ride over to the island. At first, I didn’t really understand him because of his accent, but we got there in the end. He had come with friends who knew the friends I was with, so we ended up hanging out together all weekend on the island! We were able to stay in contact even after heading back to our respective towns and managed to see each other on the weekends. A year later, James moved into my apartment and found a school to teach in close by.

 

We loved teaching in Thailand but wanted to head somewhere new for a while. Since James is a surfer, we moved to Bali, Indonesia and I found a job teaching there. While James spent his days surfing and teaching English online, I taught at an international school, and on weekends we would spend all day at the beach surfing together. We loved living there but I decided my time as a teacher was ending. I secured a job at XploreAsia and now both James and I are living in Hua Hin together.

I really enjoy getting to live in a new country and travel with James. We like to explore new places and eat all the new food we can! For those who meet people while traveling, there is always this question as to how long it will last since you don’t know when either of you will be going home. Luckily for us, and living in two different countries together has proven this, we get on really well and as long as we are enjoying our time together and are happy, that’s all we need! (Though some surf in Thailand would definitely be appreciated!)

Love will travel as far as you will let it. It has no limits. – Dee King

Lo and Nui (The United States and Thailand)

 

I came to Thailand seeking adventure and culture, my love life was probably the last aspect of my life I thought I would end up developing! It happened quite quickly though after moving here, where I found myself the apple of a Thai gentlemen’s eye. I was on a semester break from teaching in my small town near Cambodia and was in the popular destination place, Krabi. I was the usual vacationer among many others relaxing on the beach, watching sunsets, etc. I was then approached by this rather cute man riding a 1966 vintage Vespa motorbike while sitting on a wall near the water. He came up to me and began chatting me up. He told me he ran a popular bar on the main strip. I totally thought he was trying to give me game but I decided to go check it out. He was absolutely right, and not only did he run it, he was this ‘Bob Marley’ phenom to not just all the other vacationers, but even with the local people. My five day, four night trip to Krabi turned into a 28 day stay and a true love story that continues to live on. 

This was that seeking adventure love story, where I found myself gathering coconuts and sanding a handmade long tail boat in the village he is from. It was not only an eye-opening experience but I also felt that my already once open mind was expanding even further. I found myself in prayer with this selfless guy and the people of his village. Praying in a whole different setting, in a whole different language, with people I had never met before! It has been such a wonderful ride.

 

Things got sad when I finally had to get back to teaching in my small town about 18 hours away from Krabi. On my travels back, I decided to take a leap of faith and seek a teaching position nearer to Bangkok to I could be more accessible to go back to the south. And that’s exactly what I did. I moved to Bangkok, set up my new place and we continue to see one another taking alternate trips to one another.

Since then, I have seen our two worlds collide in the best of ways. The hardest part of being here in Thailand and finding love with a non-native English speaker is much like I have learned through my students; there are certain virtues that are shown and felt nonverbally. And these virtues make good people and you never know where on the globe that person may be. It can be a struggle when there is just not the same expression in my language as his, but we make it work. We try and teach each other. Local Thai people are amazed on how well I speak Thai now, not to mention a huge plus with the students’ parents too!

There you have it! The lucky few who get to travel with their significant others and those who met theirs while teaching and traveling! Lucky ducks! So, what do you say? Ready to take the plunge and teach abroad? Who knows, you just might meet that special someone!

And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end. – Pico Iyer

Do you have a travel love story? Comment below and tell us!

4 Surprises When You Teach English Overseas in Thailand

4 Surprises When You Teach English Overseas in Thailand

4 Surprises When You Teach English Overseas in Thailand

 

Before moving across the globe to teach English overseas, I researched what to expect from my new educational abode. To quench my inner “investigator” ways,  I turned to the most reliable thing: Google. I spat questions out like a detective at their first interview, “How many students in a class? 15, 20, 25? I needed details here. Okay, now tell me about a stereotypical day… ” Google binging superficially satisfied my nervous jitters. Seeking more substantial answers, I divorced the omniscient search web and sought physical beings. It turns out multiple humans have taught in Thailand and they informed me about the stereotypical elements: nice people, unpredictability, and cheeky children. The dull descriptions forced me to discover teaching in Thailand on my own. The generalities listed above turned out to be true, but they did not encompass the most surprising things about teaching in Thailand. Here are four surprising things about teaching in Thailand: selflessness, respect, spontaneity, and attire.

Thai children working on project. teach english overseas

The dull descriptions forced me to discover teaching in Thailand on my own. 

Selflessness

 

In Thailand, the description of  “nice people” is a complete understatement.

Teaching in Thailand exposed me to selflessness in a different light and now I, in turn, have become more selfless.

In Thailand, the description of  “nice people” is a complete understatement. Nice defined by the Oxford Dictionary reads, “ adj. giving pleasure or satisfaction; pleasant or attractive.” Thai people are not just a “pleasant” group of individuals; they embody a different term: selfless. When a person moves in pursuit of the “teacher life,” acts of pure selflessness welcome him or her with open arms. I witness or hear about selfless acts in and outside of education on a daily basis.

When I decided to teach English overseas, apprehension consumed my soul. Anxiety decided to greet me first on arrival, “What are you doing!? Moving from New York City to rural Thailand? Yeah, great idea. You cannot even speak Thai!” As I entered the doors of my new school, anxiety was forced to wait outside. Thai coworkers immediately welcomed me and began gifting items completely unprovoked. “Here teacher, some lotion. Teacher, do you need anything? Let me introduce you to everyone. Are you hungry? Coffee? You like? Do you want to meet at the night market this weekend?…” the list of compassion and selflessness was/is infinite. The bombardment of positivity and kindness completely shattered any previous doubts. Teaching in Thailand exposed me to selflessness in a different light and now I, in turn, have become more selfless. I find myself voluntarily partaking in English Camps for neighbouring poor communities without a second thought; I credit the constant exposure of compassion to my new found social responsiveness. The contagiousness of selflessness continues to shock me and conjures up a daunting revelation: If more people taught in Thailand, the world would be a more accepting and empathetic place.

Respect

 

Upon embracing the Thai love, another daunting element unveils itself when teaching in Thailand: respect. Students, fellow coworkers, parents, and the Thai population in general all honour and respect an educator. If a child fails to succeed in a class, “teacher blaming” does not ensue; responsibility falls on the student. I have yet to hear or see a parent come barreling into a school questioning a teacher’s credibility. The established respect between a teacher and parents allows for the child to blossom. The lack of ill feelings permits an educator to focus on how to address issues in class instead of preparing for battle with guardians. For example, I currently have a student who continuously engages in undesirable behaviour. Multiple interventions from myself and Thai teachers have ensued but only superficially alleviate the problem. In America, this issue would evoke questions about my credibility as an instructor… “Why can’t you get him/her to focus? Are you purposefully trying to fail him or her? Did you try various behaviour interventions?…etc.” In Thailand, the questioning is presented to the child and why he or she is acting out. This cultural dynamic shift of respect is one of the best surprises when you teach English overseas in Thailand.

author and student working on a project. teach english overseas

Students, fellow coworkers, parents, and the Thai population in general all honour and respect an educator.

Spontaneity

 

 Flexibility becomes a necessity when teaching in Thailand. 

Abandon rigid structure and transform into the common Thai phrase “sabai, sabai.” (relax, relax)

The selflessness and respect provided in the Thai educational system will aide an individual with the next unexpected item: spontaneity. In Thailand, the stereotype of “things changing at the drop of a hat” is extremely accurate. Flexibility becomes a necessity when teaching in Thailand. The constant warnings of “things change” fail to justify how spontaneous situations arise. As I entered the daily morning ceremony on my second day of work, a little girl handed me a microphone and stated “Teacher, can you introduce yourself to the whole school and tell everyone about your life.” Stunned, I clasped the mic, raised it to my trembling lips, and began formulating groans resembling the English language. Parents, teachers, and other groups of civilians were taking pictures and videos of me during the spontaneous presentation. Knowing I sounded like an old man rambling about stories from 12 years past, I looked up and saw beaming faces before my eyes. Everyone clapped and thanked me as if I presented a speech at the Oscars.

Random events, presentations, and more will occur when you teach English overseas in Thailand. This is something not to be feared. The compassion and respect described earlier create a cushion for such unpredictability. After gallantly succeeding the first couple of unforeseen scenarios, confidence and patience erupt. Providing a speech does not feel as scary and the cancellation of class does not mean the end of the world. Abandon rigid structure and transform into the common Thai phrase “sabai, sabai.” (relax, relax)

Attire

 

Upon embracing the “relaxing” mindset, one can wiggle their toes in rejoicement because the “shoes are optional” agenda is in full effect. Surprise! Teaching in Thailand allows an instructor to ditch the uncomfortable footwear for little piggy freedom. All of the students line up their shoes outside of the classroom and the instructor can partake in this as well. Little sock covered tootsies instead of mud encrusted sneakers create the perfect oasis for feet liberation. The unrestricted pitter patter is accompanied with a dress code for teachers. When you teach English overseas in Thailand, male and female instructors need to sport different attire. Men need to model long dress pants and a button up shirt. Women must wear skirts to their knees and shoulder covering blouses. If one does not have the items listed above “mai pen rai” (do not worry), Thailand offers cheap and appropriate clothing.

student shoes lined up outside classroom. teach english overseas

All of the students line up their shoes outside of the classroom.

Overall, teaching in Thailand does come with surprises, like with any other career choice, but they are pleasant surprises. Selflessness, respect, spontaneity, and attire define the unexpected joys of teaching in Thailand. The secret is out. The real question is what surprises will YOU bring to Thailand?

Written by Chelsea Cullen. Follow Chelsea’s adventures here: http://educatedexplorer.blogspot.com/

Have you taught in Thailand? What surprised you the most about teaching there?

Share your comments below! 

Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions While Teaching English Abroad

Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions While Teaching English Abroad

Keep Your New Year's Resolutions While Teaching English Abroad

New year, new you. We all have resolutions for the new year and they always involve us living a better lifestyle than the year previously. Whether it be getting or staying fit, reducing stress, or making new friends, our goals are always the same: enjoy life to the fullest. Sometimes though, it’s not so easy. Everyday life takes over and suddenly that workout schedule you meticulously created has been pushed back by a few months. We tend to allow other things to get in the way of improving ourselves, but 2018 should be about you. If you’ve struggled to find ways to maintain your resolutions, why not try something different? This year, let traveling and teaching abroad help you keep those promises to yourself. Here are some resolutions that should be easy to keep while teaching English abroad.

Thailand: Eat Better

A teacher and a Thai woman make papaya salad. teaching english abroad

Som tam (papaya salad) anyone?

Eating better and healthier may be difficult in your home country but not in Thailand! Food is integral in this country and is always delicious. Imagine yourself after a day of teaching English wandering through different food stalls, all with healthy options. Fresh fruits are offered on every street corner, and dishes are made with extremely fresh vegetables and meat. Not to mention the portions are much smaller than what you may be used to, and the spice level is higher. Chiles and spices are used abundantly and cause the eater to feel fuller quicker, allowing you to eat less but without feeling like you are starving. Plus, spicy food gives you an excuse to enjoy cool beverages like Thai tea or iced coffee. These may not be the healthiest options, but we won’t tell if you don’t.

Myanmar: Self Care

Self-care is so important and there is no better way to work on yourself than to head to Myanmar. Once known as Burma, this country has recently opened its doors to the western world and as a result is still calm and quiet in comparison, perfect for someone who wants to slow down and de-stress. The locals wear traditional dress as well as thanaka cream on their faces in beautiful patterns. This cream is made from bark and provides protection from the sun and is believed to remove acne and help smooth out skin. Your commute to school could involve a walk or bike ride by ancient, quiet temples, a reminder to focus on practicing an unhurried lifestyle. Why not even try meditating at one of these temples? Teaching English in Myanmar will allow you to enjoy your day without the constant hustle and bustle like in the west. Book a flight and feel yourself start to relax in no time!

teaching english abroad allows one to teach those who need English the most

Thanaka helps smooth and protect skin. Why not try some while teaching in Myanmar?

Vietnam: Spend Less Money

Teaching English abroad allows you to take silly photos with your students

Save money, live happy in Vietnam

We know, we know. You just had to have those expensive new shoes or you had to feed your Starbucks addiction which broke your bank last month. Overspending and living above your means is an epidemic in the west, and no one is immune to it. Luckily for you, teaching English abroad in Vietnam will be a fantastic way to not only spend less money, but to save more money. The average cost of living is considerably lower in Vietnam, even in the major cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. Teachers are paid well above the average Vietnamese person, allowing them comfortable living conditions, travel money, and most teachers are able to save a ton as well. In addition, Vietnam touches Cambodia, Laos, and China, offering teachers multiple travel destinations, and when you live out of a suitcase, you tend to spend less money anyway. Plus, the Dong (Vietnamese currency) is so inflated that everyday items will cost you millions of Dong. Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?

China: Make New Friends

So maybe making friends hasn’t been as easy as it was in grade school. Lucky for you there is a solution: teaching English in China! There are some 1.35 billion Chinese people living in China, not to mention the countless expats and travelers that live in and visit this massive country every year. And each one of them is a potential friend! Teaching English abroad with fellow expats and local teachers offers you a chance to start fresh and meet people you may never have interacted with before. Plus, after your week working side by side with these new friends, a weekend travel excursion with them will allow more bonding time, and there is always a new place to explore in China. Want an experience of a lifetime you can share with some new buds? Teaching English in China is your solution.

Teaching English abroad allows you to meet the cutest students

You’ll definitely make some new friends in China, even if a few are a bit young

South Korea: Make More Money

Teaching English abroad means selfies everyday!

Make incredible memories while making an incredible salary

Are you working in a dull job wishing for something more exciting? Or are you perhaps a recent graduate who is looking for a job to help pay off those pesky debts? Want a job that is both exciting and one in which you can make a lot of money? Why not try teaching English in South Korea! This diverse and gorgeous country is always looking for English teachers and is willing to shell out for them. Not only do you make double what you might make in Thailand or Vietnam, but schools will often offer you free housing and pay for your flights to and from your home country. All that free stuff definitely adds up and will allow you to save a ton of your yearly wage. The only thing you have to do is decide when you’re going. This new year’s resolution has never been so easy to keep.

New year’s resolutions are often difficult to keep and many of us fail before we even start. But a new year means a chance to change yourself for the better, and there is no better or easier way to experience a change than while teaching English abroad. Not only do certain countries make it easy for you to keep those important resolutions, but any country you teach English in will offer chances for you to keep more resolutions. You’ll learn a new skill, travel more, and enjoy life to the fullest. So? Where will you go to create a new you?

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Where will you teach English and create a new you?

Share your ideas in the comments!

Why Teach Overseas in 2018

Why Teach Overseas - A Wanderlust Resolution

by Chelsea Cullen

Why Teach Overseas?

New Year’s resolutions occur every year in order to improve one’s current status. Healthy eating, sweat perfusing workouts, rigorous job applications, and other processes occur in order to achieve that celebratory goal: happiness. A simple concept and yet extremely difficult to obtain. ‘Why teach overseas?’, you ask. Well, teaching overseas provides one a rustic key to unhatch an array of opportunities to turn that pipe dream into a reality.

Skeptical? Let me divulge 4 main reasons why YOU should ditch the confined cubicle and embrace the nomadic educator lifestyle.

1. Culture

Teaching overseas permits you not only to witness different cultures, but be a part of them. Tossing the title “visitor” for “community member” opens up the doors to authentic “wanderlust.” Invitations to traditional celebrations, home cooked family meals, and daily activities are just some of the bonuses that teaching overseas offers. The items listed above will generate memories and experiences unparallel to anything you may have encountered before. I can personally attest to this.

Why teach overseas when I have what I need at home?

Coming from the bustling city of New York, uprooting my life to rural Thailand exposed me to interactions I have never encountered before. I am constantly invited to strangers homes for dinner, weddings, and hiking just to name a few items. A Thai friend of mine, Fah, recently invited me to witness permaculture on the outskirts of town. When I arrived, mud houses, ponds, fruit fields, etc. welcomed me with warm breezes. After filling my quench of curiosity, these strangers prepared a meal over a makeshift stove for us. We ate with our hands and drank out of reused plastic bottles. If I characterized the event as humbling, it would be an understatement. I lack the vocab to truly expose how influential this interaction was. No amount of money could buy such happiness and joy between strangers turned friends.

Teaching overseas provides you the opportunity to have such cultural experiences. Who doesn’t enjoy laughter, good food, and pure happiness on a regular basis?!

2. Educating the World’s Youth

Watching a child’s mind flourish with awe and wonder on a regular basis will be a life-changing moment. The ability to leave multiple impressions on children across the globe is priceless. Wherever you end up in life, you will have left little traces of yourself stretching across continents.

Why teach overseas if I can teach right here?

In Thailand, teachers are treated with high regard. Students immediately idolize and love their teachers. Little hands reach out for a high five or hugs daily. Being surrounded by joyous smiles infects you with something: happiness.

On the first day of school, I was like every other human being: nervous and apprehensive. “Was this the right decision? What happens if they do not like me? Did I put deodorant on? What have I DONE?!” Were a few of the blaring questions plaguing my mind. As I stepped through the door, little Thai children bombarded me with hugs and smiles. I cannot express how comforting this small act was. My anxiety received eviction and instant love became new tenants. “Teacher! Teacher! TEACHER!” billowed through the halls of my new school turned home. This interaction continues to happen. I love going to work because I know my students will be there beaming with open arms. I do not know many people who enjoy their job, let alone going to work. This concept alone is why you should teach overseas in 2018.

‘I love going to work because I know my students will be there beaming with open arms’

3. Self-discovery

Embarking on the journey of life is not an easy task. Teaching overseas encourages you to discover “who you truly are.” At first,  excitement and a tinge of fear permeate the soul, “Can I really do this? Can I be successful? Is the hype really true?” All of these inquiries and uncertainties receive overwhelming relinquishment when you step off that plane in Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam, or wherever! When you shed the skin of self-doubt, a strange Beyonce phenomenon erupts. Empowerment and strength rise from the ashes. Leaving any comfort zone is commendable, but taking a leap of faith to achieve your dreams is brave.

Why teach overseas, outside of my comfort zone?

When I decided to teach overseas, I combated myself on multiple occasions. I did my research, read the hype, scoured over TESOL courses, and gazed at clearwater pictures but still had reservations. One day I came to the conclusion; if I did not try, I would regret stagnant living for the rest of my life.

‘Teaching overseas infuses your life with undeniable joy.  What else could you want from a profession?’

When I stepped off the plane in Thailand, I knew the following weeks would be an adventure, but I was exactly where I was supposed to be. This initial gut reaction proved to be true. I am discovering more and more about myself with each passing day. My confidence has flourished, but more importantly I am the happiest I have ever been. I tell you this without any hesitation. Teaching overseas infuses your life with undeniable joy. What else could you want from a profession?

4. Financial Stability

A topic usually evaded or brushed to the side is financial stability. All of the items listed above sound appetizing, but now you might be curious about an income. You can definitely live comfortably teaching abroad, but the level of comfortability depends on the country.  South Korea offers paid accommodations and competitive pay; while Thailand proposes less hours and a decent salary in comparison to the cost of living. If you crave more money than the salary provides, options exist to increase your income; tutoring, blog writing, or swim lessons are just a few items to expand the bulge in your wallet. To put it “real” to you, finances are not a problem and you will not be scrounging for coins. Financial security does exist abroad.

Why teach overseas if I can make more money at home?

In America, I was teaching outside of New York and making well over $50,000 yearly. This is an exuberant amount, but there was a catch. After rent, food, student loans, and exercise facilities, my income magically disappeared every month. When I relocated to Thailand, my salary was cut in half, BUT I now have more money than ever before. Rent, food, gyms, and other items in Thailand are extremely cheap. The lack of expenses has permitted me to save money. These new funds help me pay off loans and travel around the world. For example, I am visiting Penang, Malaysia in two weeks for 5 days. I average a new country every two months because of the excess amount of money. Financial stability is a basic human necessity and teaching overseas fulfills this essential need.
As the New Year rings in, think about your goals. Do you want to reinvent yourself? Does traveling mixed with a great profession interest you? Yes? Then take the plunge into teaching overseas! Acknowledge your apprehension and fear, but do not let temporary emotions dictate your happiness. We only receive one trial in this game of life. Teaching overseas has been the best decision of my life.
I do not cast out fluffed words to inflate fairy tales, but genuine realities in hopes of inspiring others to experience leisure living whisked with adventure. Join me in this wanderlust resolution or should I say wanderlust revolution!

What are you waiting for?! Your oasis awaits. See you soon! Sawatdee ka!

For more information on teaching overseas, select your 2018 adventure here!

To follow Chelsea’s journey, read her blog at http://educatedexplorer.blogspot.com/

Finding Inner Peace While Teaching Abroad

Teaching Abroad in Thailand

Finding Inner Peace While Teaching in Thailand
While teaching abroad is a major avenue to personal growth through an expansion of one’s heart and mind, it is adjoined with its challenges. A friend gave me wise advice today. I was explaining to him how my instinct during times of loss is to reach out to those affected and express my sympathy. For me it feels natural to be there for someone else. But when it comes to a loss that involves mental health issues, the need to reach out is even stronger because I feel more connected having gone through quite a few inner battles myself. I can’t remember how he put it, but he said something along the lines of, “sometimes the best way to cope with a loss that involves mental health is to figure out better ways to show up for yourself.” And it’s true; how can we expect the world to be a happier and easier place to live in if we can’t find peace within ourselves? How can we love someone else, if we can’t even look at ourselves in the mirror when we are alone? How can we inspire others, if we have a lack of motivation or are void of any passions?

Sightseeing

The moments we spend checking in with ourselves are the moments that make us who we are. The likes on our social media accounts and the grades we get in school do NOT define us. I’ve come a long way since high school when I used to fall asleep at an unreasonable time surrounded by books and opened binders. Or the time at university when I called my dad in the middle of the night crying because I was convinced that I was going to fail a class. It took me a long time to realize what works best for me, but gradually, I developed ways to practice self-care, and it has helped immensely with my fast-paced life back in New York. 

But if I’m going to be honest, it’s much more difficult to keep up with my self-care routine when I am abroad. I have a couple of reasons for this and hopefully some of you will find them relatable.

While abroad….

1. You get severe FOMO (fear of missing out) and want to be included in every activity.

This isn’t the same FOMO you get at home folks. This time, you are abroad; the world is your oyster. Not only do you have free time on the weekends to take trips, but during the week the market calls your name, willing you to explore its depths. You feel scared to close your eyes because you might miss an opportunity to see a cool temple or get dinner with the new friends you’ve made. 

2. This is not a drill. You really are teaching abroad with kids depending on you in classroom.

People are depending on you to teach English to kids, and to make it super fun. With that being said, if you’re a perfectionist like me it’s easy to find ways to be hard on yourself, especially if you feel like the kids aren’t grasping a certain concept. As a result, you might find yourself working extra hard during break, never giving your body any time to recuperate.

3. You have no idea what balance means anymore.

At home, you are comfortable with your surroundings, which makes it easier to make time for yourself. However, when you travel abroad to teach, you are constantly adjusting to an unfamiliar setting while also adapting to your new school. Everything is new, and therefore self-care gets put on the back burner.

Classroom Games

Rescue Paws

On the bright side, here are some things that have been helping me find my inner peace while teaching abroad, (Please note: I’m still learning, and adding more to the list). 

Spending time alone It’s okay, I promise. Read, write, watch Netflix, lay on your bed and stare at the ceiling, do some yoga poses, or just take a nap. Don’t beat yourself up for missing out on something because there is always something exciting going on. 

Treat yourself Get a massage or a manicure. Find that little cute puppy at the hair salon across from you, cuddle with it and never let it go.  

Take actual breaks during your breaks at school  It’s okay to take a breath in between classes. Find the nearest fan if you can and just take a moment to sit and clear your mind.

Be kind to yourself Make sure you are getting enough sleep and are eating consistently throughout the day. Don’t be so hard on yourself! Stop from time to time and think of how lucky you are to be in such an amazing place, doing something that makes you happy. 

Most importantly, check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you’re doing (maybe not out loud). 

Show up for yourself. Always.

Sophie Torres

For more from Sophie, head over to her blog here

To find out more about XploreAsia’s Teach in Thailand program, please visit https://www.xploreasia.org/teach-in-thailand/

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