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?


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/

Top Ten Thai Films To See

Top Ten Thai Films To See

What movies to watch in Thailand

Why Thai Films?

Life in Thailand can be exhilarating and constantly on-the-go, causing downtime to be ever so delightful. When the weather in Thailand is wet and rainy, you made be forced to cozy in your accommodation. Thanks to the compelling Thai movie industry, those moments of relaxation can be as entertaining as the rest of your experience. Thailand’s film industry is one flavored with quirkiness, wit, history, comedy, unconventionality and romance. Below is a list of ten must-see Thai films for you to indulge during your spare time.

One might ask why these films are important for the working expat to watch. These films (and other Thai films in general) can be a great tool when learning about various aspects of Thai society. Depending on the genre and target audience of a particular movie, we can gain valuable insight into the respective Thai history or contemporary art/music and how they play out within daily life. Certain movies also have plot lines based in schools and universities which help give a better understanding as to how Thai schools function in general.


Description: R | 1h 45m | Action, Crime, Thriller IMDb rating: 7.2 Synopsis: In Thailand, the impoverished village of Ban Nong Pradu has its most precious Buddha statue stolen from the temple. Luckily the small town also has a very skilled fighter in the form of Ting (Tony Jaa), who sets out on a quest to recover the cherished figure. His journey leads him to Bangkok, where he must wrangle the statue from Don (Wannakit Sirioput), a volatile drug dealer. Meanwhile, the village is suffering a severe drought and needs the Buddha to restore vitality.

If you like action-packed Jackie Chan type movies, this is definitely a must see. There have been many sequels but the first one is by far the best.

Tropical Maladay

Description: Not rated | 1h 58m | Drama, Fantasy IMDb Rating: 7.3 Synopsis: Keng is a soldier stationed in a quiet Thai village where the days progress with methodical slowness. Not much happens of interest until Keng encounters local boy Tong, and the pair begin a tentative romance. Then, in a surreal move typical of director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the film splinters into a story about a soldier searching for a lost boy in the jungle and meeting a vexing spirit.


Description: No Rating | 2h 10m | Comedy IMDb Rating: 7.6 Synopsis: Ped had never listened to music until introduced to the music world by a classmate Ern , whom Ped had a crush on. Unfortunately soon after Earn left to Bangkok for good. Years later they meet again, when Earn moves back and starts to attend the same high school. At the same time, Ped’s best friend Khung decides to make a band Khung & Friends to pick up girls and one-up his popular twin brother Kae. Things get serious when Khung also fells in love with Earn, who has amazing guitar skills, and upcoming is the biggest youth band contest.

If you like music and you are a school teacher, you really need to watch this movie! Many Thai rock legends make cameos in this movie as the high school rockers have visions from their rock idols. Great acting and romantic element to the movie.

Teacher Diary

Description: G | 1h 50m | Romance, Comedy IMDb Rating: 7.9 Synopsis: It follows the story of two lonely teachers, a male and a female. They were assigned at the same rural school but a year apart. The girl being assigned first, attempted to write her thoughts on a diary, being stuck out in boonies. One day she has to be transferred to another school and left the diary. The male teacher came by as a substitute and saw the diary, thus, falling in love with the unacquainted writer. He also wrote his thoughts on it. The guy also left and the lady returned and saw that there are added articles on the diary. She also fell in love with him but now having a hard time looking for the boy. Will the two ever meet?

If you enjoy romantic comedies as well as teaching English in a Thai school, this film is for you! 

The Legend of Suriyothai

Description: R | 2h 20m | Action, Adventure, Drama IMDb Rating: 6.6 Synopsis: During the 16th century, as Thailand contends with both a civil war and Burmese invasion, a beautiful princess rises up to help protect the glory of the Kingdom of Ayothaya. Based on the life of Queen Suriyothai.

If you are interested in Thai history, this is a ‘must watch’! It depicts the Thai monarchies of 500 – 600 years ago, chronicles the intra-empire machinations between competing families to become the king of Siam, along with some epic ‘300-style’ battle scenes between the Burmese and Thais.  It is hard to find this movie with English subtitles. One of the most expensive movies ever made in Thailand, Suriyothai featured all of the famous actors of the early 2000s and had to be approved by the monarchy before release to make sure they were depicting history in a favorable light.

Pee Mak

Description: No Rating | 1h 55m | Horror, Drama, Romance IMDb Rating: 7.4 Synopsis: Mak served in the war during the beginning of the Rattanakosin Dynasty. At war he became friends with Ter, Puak, Shin, and Aey, whose lives he saved. Once the war was over, Mak invited his four friends into his home in Phra Khanong town and introduced them to his beautiful wife Nak and his newborn baby boy Dang. A rumor was going around in the village that Nak had died giving birth to her stillborn baby, Dang. The source of this rumour; Aunty Priak, owner of local liquor store was found dead floating on the river a few days later. The four friends felt it’s time to tell Mak the possibility of Nak and Dang could be dead and lingered as haunting ghosts and risk their lives. It’s up to Mak to choose love or reality.

I Fine, Thank you Love you

Description: G | 1h 57m | Comedy IMDb Rating: 7.1 Synopsis: A young man loses his girlfriend when she goes to work overseas. He then signs up to learn English with a teacher to better his skills and win her back. An unexpected twist of fate puts a spin on the romantic comedy. 

The Protector

Description: R | 1h 51m | Drama, Crime, Action IMDb Rating: 7.1 Synopsis: A young fighter named Kham must go to Australia to retrieve his stolen elephant. With the help of a Thai-born Australian detective, Kham must take on all comers, including a gang led by an evil woman and her two deadly bodyguards.

My Girl

Description: No Rating | 1h 51m  | Comedy, Romance IMDb Rating: 8.1 Synopsis: Jeab hears that his childhood sweetheart Noi-Naa is to be married, so he makes the trip back home to his provincial village. As he does so, the memories come flooding back to his childhood in 1980s Thailand. He remembers always being late to school, so his father would have to give him a ride on the back of the motorcycle. After school, he would always play with Noi-Naa and her girlfriends while the neighborhood boys rode their bicycles and played football and Chinese fantasy characters.

This is definitely one of the best Thai movies ever produced. And the amazing thing is that it was directed by three Thai directors. Somehow the movie hangs together nicely. Set in the 1980s in Thailand the film is famous for bringing back a nostalgic time for may Thais and includes music, food and dress from that period. Definitely a must see for anyone interested in cinema and in Thai contemporary culture.

Pheuan sanit

Description: No Rating | 1h 30m | Drama, Romance IMDb Rating: 7.9 Synopsis: A shy young man from Bangkok, Khaiyoi develops a friendship with a girl with strong personality called Dakanda. Later, they both realize of their changing feeling far more than the ‘best friend.” Thus, after graduation, Khaiyoi moves to work in the South where a nurse Nui develops a crush on him. But Khaiyoi wants to keep their relationship as only ‘the best friend.’

This list makes up just some of Thailand’s popular local movies. You can also visit your nearest cinema to watch more recent western movies. Many Thai cinemas have a VIP section for the ultimate comfort experience. Remember to take something warm as cinemas can get really chilly in general! Also remember to remain silent when standing to pay your respects to the King (an occurrence before every movie in Thai cinemas).


One can can see other popular Thai movies here



Sabina Qader: Teaching in South Korea

Before joining the XploreAsia staff as the South Korea Program Manager, Sabina Qader was a teaching in South Korea, in a province called Bullo Dong. Recently, Sabina was able to clear her demanding schedule and sit down with us to shed some light on what it is like to live in South Korea. Sabina shares some insight on the culture of Korea, her experience as a teacher, and her hobbies during her downtime.

What inspired you to make the decision to teach in South Korea?

I wasn’t using my teaching qualifications in Australia, so I wanted to get back into the classroom. Teaching in South Korea gave me the opportunity to revitalize my teaching skills and experience a new culture at the same time.

What are some of the challenges you experienced teaching in South Korea?

The main challenge that I experienced while living in South Korea was shifting my mind into the Korean way of doing things. Koreans have a very intense work ethic about the way that they do things. Initially, it can seem intimidating and overly-disciplined. But the more that I immersed myself into the culture, I gained a huge respect for the discipline the Koreans executed on their daily lives.

Sabina: Teaching in South Korea

What were your accommodations like?

I had a lovely one bedroom apartment in Bullo Dong, Daegu. Main furniture and appliances were included. It was only a ten minute walk away from my school and a 15 minute bus ride from the nearest train station, which made it easy to travel through South Korea.

What did you do in your spare time?

To recharge, I would walk around the lake after work and on weekends, go hiking some weekends, and climb the ancient tombs two minutes from my house. I would often sit in one of Korea’s numerous cafes, reading and occasionally glancing up to watch the world go past. Dinner and drinks with my friends who taught at nearby schools on weekends became a fun ritual. There was also the occasional swing dance lesson and travel to different provinces around South Korea.

Sabina: Teaching in South Korea

What was the most fulfilling part of your experience?

Teaching those gorgeous children who would always take the time to run across the playground and say hi. I miss the daily hugs! Meeting the lovely Korean teachers I worked with was also a fulfilling experience. I am still in touch with them, they are such wonderful people. I always felt very well taken care of.

What did you like most about South Korean culture?

It’s a very communal culture, family is so important to Koreans. This is what makes the separation from North Korea even more heartbreaking. Koreans also truly value education.

Temple: Teaching in South Korea

If you had to make a recommendation to someone considering teaching in South Korea, what would it be?

Don’t hesitate! Come live in South Korea. You get paid really well to do a fun job!

Get in touch to begin your adventure teaching in South Korea

Living in Vietnam: Small Town Experience

Living in Vietnam: Small Town Experience

Jace moved to Vietnam in May,  from Australia. Teaching in the southern province of Binh Duong, Jace located about an hour away from Saigon,  Jace teaches a wide variety of ages at his private language center. On a recent trip to Vietnam, we met up with Jace to hear firsthand about his amazing life in Vietnam. Check out the interview below to learn more about what it’s like to teach and live in a smaller city in Vietnam.

To find out how you can begin your life in Vietnam click here

 Life in Vietnam

Jace's Life in Vietnam

What was the sequence of events that led you to come and teach English in Vietnam?

I was looking to come and teach as an adventure and to go somewhere different from Australia; working with kids has always been an interest of mine as well.

Why did you choose Vietnam?

I liked the look and feel of Vietnam, and that it had all modern amenities. You have to brush up on Vietnamese, but it’s still quite rewarding living in Vietnam with all of the shops, cuisines and people.

Where did you live in Vietnam?

I lived in Binh Duong which is about 25 kilometers from the center of Saigon, the capital city of South Vietnam. That makes for a 50 minute ride in a cab or motorbike ride given the traffic. It is north along Saigon River, which flows right past Binh Duong. It is considered a satellite town of Saigon. It’s close enough to Saigon that you can travel there and back in a day if you need to for work.  A lot of people and facilities are still based in Saigon, but we have a lot of new hospitals and facilities here too.

What were your impressions of Vietnam?

The people are very friendly and eager to practice their English with you. I have had many experiences with people being very friendly and wanting to take me out to dinner.  Saigon itself has pretty much met every expectation:  crazy traffic, hectic, but that’s what makes it really fun.  There are many interesting things to see for particularly the markets and food. Binh Duong has a little bit of the provincial flavor I was looking for. You do have to make little effort to get out into the countryside, but there are plenty of places to see.

In terms of where you stay and friends you can make how has that been?

It’s been great living in Vietnam, especially in the expat communities, but more so I love the local communities.  That’s where you get the real Vietnamese flavor hanging out with the locals. A lot of the staff- the managers, receptionist, teaching assistants are all Vietnamese. They are all young, energetic, and love to show you around. The Vietnamese locals are proud of their culture, so that’s been one of the highlights of living here. Binh Duong is a flourishing and developing city, where I live are great new apartments. There are also great food including, international food, Japanese, American BBQ and Indian. It’s quite comfortable and not a major culture shock here like I was expecting. We even have Australian beef so I can’t ask for more.

How often do you get to go into the city?

I have the opportunity to train in the city at least once a month with my school. Otherwise, I go there at least every two weeks to have dinner, meet friends, take photos, and to be a tourists and see the sights.

How did you find your accommodation and what is it like?

When I first came here my school set me up for a week.  I found my accommodation just by speaking with people at my center, and they showed me around.  My apartment is a fully furnished studio with a bedroom, kitchen, and a balcony. I can see Saigon on a clear day. There are 3 convenience stores on the bottom of the building and a massage parlor. My building has a gym and there are local pools that are quite good.

What do you do when you are not working?

That depends, sometimes I visit Saigon as it is quite close, and cinemas here are also quite good.  It’s quite easy to make friends with the TAs here so often we are eating out for lunch, dinner and after class. What else do I do here? Be a little bit of a tourists visit pagodas, temples, walk along the river, drink caphe su da of course (Vietnamese coffee) and lots of pho.

What type of food do you eat in Vietnam?

I really love a dish with Chinese pork and noodles.  That is my absolute favorite, so I go any chance I get. I also eat the staples which are pho, beef noodles or, beef stew, or bahn mi the baguette style sandwiches you find on every corner.

Life in Vietnam: Food

What are some day trips from Binh Dong?

The Cu Chi Tunnels are 20kms away, I really enjoy just driving along the countryside seeing nature, and walking along the river. Saigon is really the main destination. Dalat, Da Nang, and even the Mekong delta are quite easy day trips.

Life in Vietnam: Cu Chi Tunnels
Life in Vietnam: Trap

Have you experienced culture shock in your town?

My first culture shock came when I was in Saigon during my first week of training.  It was the pace of the city and how people are sort of attracted to you as a westerner. It is still quite common for me to walk in and order a coffee and everyone turns around and looks at you.  Unfortunately everyone thinks I am American but I won’t hold that against them (Jace is from Australia). It is quite pleasant for everyone to be interested in you and want to practice their English, everyone is quite friendly.

Do you save money living in your town?

It’s very financially comfortable living in Vietnam; things are definitely a bit cheaper than in Saigon. You can certainly save a lot of money especially being a foreign English teacher.  You are paid quite well for the job that you do. There is also the opportunity to do over time and take on extra classes to earn extra money. It is quite easy to save whether that is for travel or other personal reasons.

South Korea: Places To Go In Seoul

South Korea: Places To Go In Seoul

Seoul is an exuberant city in South Korea. It is jampacked with ancient historical landmarks conjoined with the offerings of an established megacity. When traveling in Seoul, you will have the opportunity to visit palaces, temples, historical museums, markets, shopping malls, unique eateries, and a lively nightlife. These wonderful places to go in Seoul not only make it a great place to live, but also a great place to teach. XploreAsia offers its TESOL training in a province near Seoul. With that thought in mind, we have compiled a list of places to go visit in Seoul.

Gyeongbukgung Palace

places to go in Seoul - Gyeongbukgung Palace

Built in 1395, Gyeongbukgung still stands as one of the most popular places to go in Seoul. The grand palace was built during the Joseon Dynasty. It is known to be one the largest palace of the five in South Korea. Gyeongbukgung is also home to the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea.

Jogyesa Buddhist Temple

places to go in Seoul - Jogyesa Buddhist Temple

Jogyesa Temple is the symbolic emblem of Zen Buddism, and the most important temple in all of Korea. The marvelous place was also originally built in 1395 by the Joseon Dynasty, but rebuilt some 150 years ago. One of the most spectacular attractions in the temple is the kaleidoscopic ambience. Equally lovely is the courtyard, which is filled with vibrant lanterns and trees more than 500 years old.

War Memorial and Museum

places to go in Seoul - War Memorial and Museum

Stunning exhibits, war recollections, art works, and military equipment make this a perfect place to learn about Korea’s history of war, most notably with North Korea. Actual airplanes and tanks used during war can be seen at the museum. Admission to the museum is just around 3 US dollars, making it a ubiquitous destination. Tourist are frequently emotionally stunned by the military history of Korea.

Namdaemun Market

Places to go in Seoul - Namdaemun Market

This is the largest market in the entire province of Seoul. Almost anything imaginable can be found at the market including purses, shoes, clothes, souvenirs, food ingredients, food vendors, electronics and many idiosyncrasies. The hub of consumerism is open nearly all hours of the day, which makes it a popular night-time destination.

Han River

places to go in Seoul - Han River

The Han River is one of the largest of all of Korea and it goes right through the center of Seoul, making it a very attractiveSoS place to go in Seoul. It is located away from the boisterous highway which make it safe to rent a bike cycle and ride up on the lengthy river. Nighttime boat tours are an exciting way to get acquainted with the scenic river. A tranquil walk is also a nice tour of the river.

After providing free airfare into South Korea, XploreAsia offers 120-hour onsite and offsite training to prepare for school placement. Accommodations are provided during the TESOL course as well free furnished housing in placement location. The program also includes Korean language class and cultural excursion. Not to mention, holidays are paid and health insurance is covered. Come visit the many unique places to go in Seoul while simultaneously changing lives through education. 


Living in Thailand, Self Discovery and Adventure: Chelsea Cullen

Living in Thailand, Self Discovery and Adventure: Chelsea Cullen

Meet Chelsea Cullen, a recent TESOL graduate from XploreAsia’s Teach in Thailand program. She tells us how she left her everyday routine living in New York city to living in Thailand; a rewarding and self discovering experience. 

As an ordinary woman residing outside of New York City, I religiously fulfilled the patterned ordained upon me. Monday through Friday I woke up at 5:30 a.m., drove to my job with resentful eyes, worked 7:30a.m.-2:30p.m., coached 3:00p.m.-5:00p.m., and finally exercised 7:30p.m.-10:30p.m. Everyday. On the weekends, I attempted to maintain a social life with defeated exhaustion. Sound familiar? This ritual is something many people engage in year after year. The bombardment of advertisements and hollow discussions served as excuses for me to continue living a predictable life. The false grin I displayed at public outings began to expose the deep routed wrinkles of dissatisfaction. Mortified at my contentment and unhappiness, I realized a change needed to occur.


Living in Thailand
Living in Thailand
Living in Thailand

As a child, I expected adult-life to be full of adventure and freedom, but these false commercials only sold pipe dreams. Refusing to accept dissatisfaction at the age of 24, I began researching careers that bred expression of individuality. After months of wondering what I wanted out of life, I realized on a boat in Portugal that I was a wanderer; I did not fit in with any societal job description. Acknowledging my black sheep desires, I questioned where to go from this epiphany. I searched for fellow explorers to fuel my step of aberration from conventionality. I discovered a program called XploreAsia from a long lost friend in college. She exposed the same inner turmoil that I was experiencing. Convincing myself that I was not alone, I applied for the blind journey of self-discovery and abandoned the knowing regiment of hypnotic living.

One year later, I kissed my tearful younger brothers, mourning mother, and apprehensive father goodbye. I would be lying if I said it was an emotionless process because it’s not. It is hard. I had second thoughts, struggles, confusion, anger, and sadness. Amidst the roller coaster of self-critique, I discovered how strong, powerful, fearless, inspiring, and beautiful I am. The difficulties listed above are temporary emotions.

The unearthing of individuality remained and continues to remain a permanent component of my life. While living in Thailand, I learned a different language, culture, acceptance, love, determination, selflessness, and happiness. Do not be afraid of the unknown, greatness blossoms through undetected storms… so why can’t you?

For more from Chelsea, read her blog here

XploreAsia offer a 120-hour combination of onsite and off-site training to prepare teachers for school placement, a unique cultural immersion orientation week, and lifelong memories. Our placements allow teachers to see & experience Thailand and Southeast Asia to the fullest. Click here to begin your adventure!

Teaching In Vietnam: A Small Town Experience

Teaching In Vietnam: A Small Town Experience

Jace moved to Vietnam in May,  from Australia. Teaching in the southern province of Binh Duong, Jace located about an hour away from Saigon,  Jace teaches a wide variety of ages at his private language center. On a recent trip to Vietnam, we met up with Jace to hear firsthand about his amazing experience teaching English in Vietnam. Check out the interview below to learn more about what it’s like to teach and live in a smaller city in Vietnam.

To find out how you can begin to teach English in Vietnam click here

Do you think there is a need and demand for people to teach English in Vietnam?

There is definitely a demand for teaching English in Vietnam, as people recognize it is the global language. I am quite surprised actually how many people want to learn English and at all different levels. It is also quite good in Binh Duong, because a lot of parents come from Saigon and have an expectation of quality English. They can tell when a language center is teaching substandard English so there is a need for westerners to come teach in Vietnam.

Teaching English in Vietnam

Tell us a bit about your school?

My school is the newest branch and also the smallest. We still need new teachers to grow the center. Class sizes range from 6 – 15 students. I also have a teaching assistant or two in each class. There is a lot of room to get to know the students. Parents are here before and after every class. Getting to talk with them is very rewarding.

Teach English in Vietnam School

Why do parents send their children to your school?

They come here because they see it as a place where their students can be global citizens and have that sort of formal higher end language training. We work hard to deliver that to the students. The kids are fun, energetic crazy, really sweet and genuine. When you give them the attention it is extremely rewarding. One of the best things that has happened only in three months is seeing my students pass exams, have fun, and use a bit more English.

Teaching and living in Vietnam

Do you have same kids for long period of time?

At the moment classes are 108 hour semesters, 36 hour chunks. Teachers teach 2 classes a week for entire time.  You have the potential to stay with your students for years if they stay with you.

One of my favorite classes is the teens class because you can have very natural human interactions with them; ask them about their lives and their culture. That’s one of the best things about being from a foreign country. Showing interest and asking the students what their lives are like, because I can learn lots from them too.

Teach in Vietnam Program

Why is it important for people to go to new countries and learn about new cultures and immerse themselves?

For me personally the sense of adventure, although it sounds a bit trite is a real one.  I think people do have a keen interest in what’s going on in the world, and the only way you can do it is to live in another country and work there. It has a completely different feel then just backpacking. To be grounded somewhere and sort of set down some roots for a period of time is really important. You learn so much about yourself. Also, escaping your usual confines and seeing things with new eyes is really important on a personal level as well. I think For me South East Asia, as it is quite close to Australia, was a key interest of mine sort of just being in the region too.

Teach English in Vietnam - Students

What would you tell someone who will soon be teaching English in Vietnam?

First I would say keep an open mind and be open to the culture. If you are open, warm and friendly you will be rewarded likewise. That has been one of the most rewarding things here, to actually be a part of the community and feel like a bit of a local. Really driving around on a motorbike and eating pho.


Thank you to Jace for taking the time to meet with us and answer our questions. We had a wonderful time getting to explore your town and see your school.  Everyone we met were extremely kind, wanted to get to know us, as well as helped us try to find our way around town.  It also makes us happy to see our XploreAsia teachers doing great and really embracing their time teaching English in Vietnam.

Life in Hua Hin: Top 5 Markets

Life in Hua Hin: Top 5 Markets

Thailand is full of open-air markets, and Hua Hin is no exception. As well as being our main location for TESOL training, the sunny beach town will soon become your home from home and there are plenty of interesting places to explore here. Hua Hin is the introduction to the country before you begin your adventure teaching in Thailand.

Here in Hua Hin, markets can be your one stop for everything you need whilst you’re preparing to start teaching in Thailand and we’ve prepared our run down of the top five you should definitely check out during your stay here.

The Night Market

Teaching in Thailand; The Night Market Hua Hin

The Night Market is located in the center of the song theaw loop meaning it’s extremely easy to find. The market includes both indoor and outdoor areas and a huge selection of dining options. The stalls spread across two streets and sell a lot of clothes, shoes and accessories and is a great place to go to buy affordable gifts for friends and family back home.

Teaching in Thailand; inside the night market at Hua Hin, Thailand

There is also a plethora of Thai street food snacks and the surrounding area is filled with restaurants. We highly recommend the desert café located in the covered area which sells some of the best coconut ice cream and mango sticky rice you’ll find in the whole of Hua Hin.

The Grand Night Market

Grand Night Market entrance

Although smaller than it’s similarly named neighbor, The Grand Night Market also has a lot to offer. Located on the main road, the market appears to only consist of stalls, but if you journey deeper you will find a hidden covered area with small bars and eateries. The place also has a more traditional Thai feel than the other markets on the main streets and you’ll likely see fewer Westerners here. Insider tip: this is the place to go for the cheapest cocktails in the whole of Hua Hin.

The Grand Night Market

Although smaller than it’s similarly named neighbor, The Grand Night Market also has a lot to offer. Located on the main road, the market appears to only consist of stalls, but if you journey deeper you will find a hidden covered area with small bars and eateries. The place also has a more traditional Thai feel than the other markets on the main streets and you’ll likely see fewer Westerners here. Insider tip: this is the place to go for the cheapest cocktails in the whole of Hua Hin.


Teaching in Thailand; Cicada, Hua Hin, Thailand

For a truly unique market experience, head over to Cicada on the weekends between 6 and 11. As well as offering clothes and shoes with a distinct artisan feel, there is also a wide mix of home goods to give your new home whilst you’re teaching in Thailand a more personal feel. There is also a big outdoor food court serving meals from many different regions of Thailand and traditional Thai and Western desserts. Depending on where you will be teaching in Thailand, Cicada is a great place to get a taste of the region you’ll be moving to after completing your TESOL course.

Teaching in Thailand; the stalls at Cicada, Hua Hin

There are also two outdoor performance venues: one large amphitheater offering free performances of traditional Thai plays and musicals; and an outdoor music stage complete with bean bags and its own bar serving cocktails and beers.

The Tuesday Night Market

Teaching in Thailand; the Tuesday market, Hua Hin

A little off the beaten track, but with the widest selection of clothes, shoes and accessories, if you’re looking for a market more focused on shopping than food, The Tuesday Market is for you. If you packed light, the market is an ideal place to go to replenish your wardrobe before you set off on your adventure teaching in Thailand.

Teaching in Thailand; the Tuesday market at Hua Hin

Despite not offering a whole lot in terms of main meals, there is an eclectic array of snacks and sweet treats to nibble on whilst you’re meandering around the stalls. This is another location with very few westerners making it feel like an authentic small town market, different to the ones in the bigger cities.

Plearn Wan

Teaching in Thailand; the stalls at Plearn Wan, Hua Hin

Although not strictly a market, the little hidden mock village definitely has a similar vibe with its open air cafes and shops. The prices are also a little lower than the other markets and admission is free so if you’re on a tighter budget before you get your first pay check teaching in Thailand this could be the perfect place for you. It is another place offering dining options that can’t be found anywhere else in the region and prices for a main course begin as low as 50 baht, with snacks starting at 10 baht.

Ready to Start Teaching in Thailand?

Teaching in Thailand; the market at Plearn Wan

There are so many more options for shopping, food and activities in Hua Hin that you’ll discover whilst you’re training with us and completing your orientation week.

Click here to find out more about our programs and see how you can start your amazing adventure teaching in Thailand.

My First Week Teaching in Thailand: Elizabeth Collins

My First Week Teaching in Thailand: Elizabeth Collins

Elizabeth Collins graduated from our accredited TESOL course in Hua Hin in July. Below, she writes about her experiences following graduation and adjusting to life in her placement town, Lat Krabang. To hear more about Elizabeth’s journey teaching in Thailand, make sure to head over to her personal blog.

When I first decided to start teaching in Thailand, I knew there would be a period of adjustment. Aside from the initial challenge of adapting to living on the other side of the world, I’ve also had to challenge of getting used to life in my placement town.

I live in an industrial area and there is not much close by in the ways of food; I remember initially feeling fairly isolated from everyone and everything. There is not a night market within walking distance and the closest food vendors seem to close before 5pm.  Those first couple of nights I survived off 7-11 grab-and-go food. This only compounded my feelings towards my new town and increased my feelings of homesickness. One thing that helped me feel more settled in Lat Krabang was establishing a routine.  My first task was conquering the transportation system around town.

Elizabeth exploring Lat Krabang.

Elizabeth out exploring her new town.

One thing about me, I am pretty directionally challenged. I grew up in San Diego and I still get lost going places. The idea of taking a songthaew (and there are three colors to choose from, all going in different directions, and instructions are only written in Thai), to the Airlink, and switching to the next train system, was daunting to say the least. Fortunately, another Teacher was kind enough to spend about an hour with me showing me the ropes. I spent my first weekend here taking different songthaew’s and trains in and out of the city. Not only did this build my confidence, but it also allowed me to see more that this little town has to offer- and there is actually quite a bit!  By Sunday I found myself slowly falling in love with my new home. I found a gym, a night market, and a nice area to eat every night. I still get pangs of homesickness but spending time getting to know my new area and some of the people in it was the best thing I could have done.

There are very few Westerners here, so hearing and speaking English is limited. But I walk by the same people every night and we smile, I buy food from them, and we share a laugh as I practice my Thai and they practice their English. There also happens to be an amazing coffee shop below my apartment where I spend a lot of time chatting with the owners. These are the moments I feel most at home; having a cup of coffee and chatting with new friends.

Making connections in Lat Krabang has helped Elizabeth feel more settled in Lat Krabang.

One of the most incredible things that I continue to be in awe about, is the kindness of complete strangers. There are times, especially when I first got here, where I had no idea how to order something, or I was clearly on the wrong songthaew, and a stranger stepped in to help. It can feel overwhelming in some moments to be surrounded by people who don’t speak your language, to not understand basic instructions, to have a bathroom situation that is nothing like home (side note, never leave home without toilet paper…you’ll thank me for that one day!), and in addition it is 90 plus degrees out with 88% humidity. All this whilst you are crammed on a vehicle, and the driving leaves you closing your eyes as you pass a bus with only inches to spare.  The random acts of kindness do not go unnoticed. They have brought me to tears at times with gratitude that someone who doesn’t know me is willing to let me know “hey, time to get off the bus!” It’s also great to hear a stranger striking up a conversation with me because they want to practice their English. Those are the moments, tough as they can be, that help you grow, and Lat Krabang has started to feel more and more like home. These moments also remind me that wherever I am in the world, engaging in random acts of kindness is always worth it.

Elizabeth receiving her TESOL certificate at XploreAsia.

Elizabeth receiving her TESOL qualification following completion of our in-class course held in Hua Hin, Thailand.

However, the biggest adjustment so far has been taking on the role of Teacher. My first week teaching was both nerve wracking and exhilarating. I had at that point, months of emotions built up about the first class. I had never taught before (with the exception of the two-day English Camp in Hua Hin) and this was a bit of a career change for me. I am a Therapist back home and will one day return to the field, but over the last several months I felt a tug on my heart to try something new.  I felt like I was not living life to the fullest.  I wanted to find another way to give back but I didn’t quite know how. The inspiration for this career change came after a lot of soul searching after the death of my best friend. I did some research one day and it feels like the rest is history. Everything seemed to fall into place perfectly.

My first week teaching was a whirlwind.  I teach 22 classes per week and about 20 of those classes have 50-55 students. I see all but one class, once a week for 50 minutes. And truth be told, 50 minutes is more like 40 minutes because there is no passing period.  The proficiency of my students varies greatly. Some can carry a small conversation, others struggle to understand what we might perceive as simple instructions. One of the benefits of not understanding Thai and living surrounded by it is that I now have such a greater understanding and appreciation of my students struggle with learning English.  How many times have I, like them, not understood a simple command or instruction, or not understood that something costs 20 baht when I hand over 40 baht…or even worse, I give 10 baht and they patiently try to explain I owe them more.

Something that helped me a lot during that first week of teaching, was to check my expectations at the door. With the large class sizes and the variability of proficiency levels, as well as my own fears and doubts about being successful as a teacher, I took a moment to myself before every class. I reminded myself why I was here, I took a deep breath, and focused on making connections with my students. Whether that was through sharing a smile, a short conversation, or laughing with students about any number of things that I didn’t yet understand yet. For example, where do you turn on the AC? Don’t worry, the kids will let you know.  Why do some white boards require special chalk and others a pen…and which is which? Again, the kids will let you know.   Remembering to tell the kids they can sit down after they greet you in the morning… yes, I forgot and yes, they will certainly remind you!

Elizabeth teaching in Thailand.
Teaching in Thailand

Elizabeth making connections with her class.

I reminded myself to keep my sense of humor. It is so true, if you don’t laugh you might just end up crying, so when the choice is yours, laughter is always the best medicine. There were times- there still are times (every day, actually)- when the students are talking in Thai, and no one is listening to the lesson plan I’ve worked so hard on, and someone appears to be looking at me and possibly laughing (is there something on my face??!) and that is when I take a deep breath, remember my goals, and focus on connecting with the kids. I use those tough moments, because they will come, to remember why I’m here, what my goal is, and I channel that energy into practicing English with the students that are engaged (don’t worry there are plenty of students who are very eager to learn). I do my best to reign in the students that are off task, and then I remind myself to smile and laugh with the kids.

I won’t say that the first week of teaching or living here was easy, because it wasn’t. There were moments where I doubted myself, moments I had to throw what I learned out the window and just experiment with what worked best for me and my students. But there were also countless moments where I can’t remember the last time I had laughed that hard, moments I felt such intense joy that I hadn’t felt in a long time, and excitement over being on this journey and truly feeling how this experience is changing me from the inside out.

So, if you are thinking of coming and teaching in Thailand, take the leap. It’s not perfect, and there are difficult moments, but those are the moments in which we grow. When we don’t shy away from the fear, when we face our insecurities and then prove to ourselves we can do it, that is where the growth happens. And at least for me, that is why I am here. To grow as a person, to discover a little more about myself, and to build trust with my students to ensure they can learn as much as possible from me. It can all start with just sharing a smile.

Elizabeth's class graduating from XploreAsia.

Elizabeth’s TESOL class graduating in July, 2017.

If you’re interested in starting a new adventure teaching in Thailand, check out our accredited TESOL course.

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