The Google search, “How to Work and Travel” frequented my browser history for months. I wanted to find my golden ticket, I wanted to find how to travel for more than 1, 2 or 3 weeks a year. I always saw the common answers, work on a cruise ship, be an au pair, become a virtual assistant but none of these appealed to me. Plus, I had already worked on a cruise ship and I didn’t enjoy it.
One search came with the result, “become an English teacher”. I can speak English (well Australian English!) and so, maybe I could teach it. Upon research, turns out that any native speaker is actually looked at more favourably. I researched more and found that to get a job as an English Teacher overseas you need a qualification in the way of a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certificate.
I found some that were very expensive and ones that required you to attend a classroom. I finally found i-to-i TEFL which offered TEFL certificates online at an affordable price. Excitedly, I completed my TEFL certificate as fast as I could and started looking for jobs overseas.
I chose Taiwan because I didn’t know anything about it except that they make a lot of kid’s toys! I remember looking at the bottom of my toys when I was 6 years old and it saying, ‘made in Taiwan’ and having no idea where that was. Not knowing about this country was reason enough for me to choose it for my adventure. A few interviews later (via Skype) and I had a job in Taiwan, with a signed contract for 1 year.
Note* Taiwan does need a university degree (in any subject) to work here, this is because of visa restrictions.
I would work on average 20 hours per week earning roughly $1,600 USD a month. From that, I could save $800 USD which would go towards future travelling plans. Each month I would have an adventure, be it a trip to Singapore, the Philippines, Japan or a trip somewhere in Taiwan.
I lived comfortably as my rent was only $250 a month – I lived in a beautiful place overlooking the ocean and ate really well. At the end of my year I had saved up $3000 to go backpacking for a further 5 months around South East Asia. To me I had found my ‘golden ticket to travel’.
Despite the 10 countries I visited in this year being incredible, living in Taiwan was the ultimate part. I owned a scooter, I travelled around the entire island during Chinese New Year on that scooter, I ate the food every day, I struggled at speaking mandarin the entire time, I met locals, I met travelers, I improved as a teacher and I honestly had the best year of my life here. It all starts with a TEFL certificate!