Why you should teach English online in 2020

In a world where everyone wants freedom to do their own thing, it’s no surprise that teaching English online is one of the fastest growing areas of TEFL. And, with a huge list of amazing benefits for both teachers and students it’s easy to see why! If you’re thinking of becoming an online English teacher, 2020 is the year to do it, and here are the reasons why:

1. You’ll be your own boss

Overlay of calendar and laptop

Whether you’re hired by an agency or you’ve opted to work freelance, you’ll be your own boss. You’ll be able to decide when you work and how many hours you do, so no more waking up super early – what a dream! You’ll also be able to take holidays whenever you want, or you can even work whilst you’re on holiday if you want to keep earning! You’ll be completely in charge of your time and your schedule which will be a really liberating feeling.

2. You can work from literally anywhere in the world

Girl using laptop on bed with a cup of coffee

If you want to become a digital nomad and travel the world whilst working – online teaching is literally made for you! Or, you can teach English from home whilst studying as a bit of extra income to help you save for your next adventure – yay! All you’ll need is a laptop, internet connection and a few ideas for your lessons – easy! Pro tip: if you work for an agency that provides you with students, they’ll often provide lesson plans for you too, so you don’t even need to plan your classes.

3.  You’ll gain amazing teaching experience

TEFL teacher in classroom with students

Just starting out as a TEFL teacher and want to gain some teaching experience for your CV? Teaching English online is a great starting point! Whether you’re teaching English online or in the classroom, you’ll be gaining pretty much the same skills, so it’ll really help boost your CV if you want to apply for TEFL jobs abroad later on.

4. The earning potential can be HUGE

Jar of money

There are literally 1000s of opportunities out there to teach English online! With loads of agency offering hourly salaries of $40+, there’s potential for you to earn a really good monthly wage – all from the comfort of your own home. Winner!

5. It’s easy to get started

Woman laid on bed with laptop, using mobile phone

It’s super easy to start teaching English online. All you’ll need is a TEFL certificate, a laptop and internet connection! If you’re not already TEFL qualified, you can get qualified easily with one of our Online Courses, so all that’s left for you to do is start applying for jobs!

Ready to get started? Download our teaching English online guide now!

Teach English in Thailand: My First Week in the Land of Smiles

Thailand TEFL Experience intern, Elena, tells us about her first week in the Land of Smiles!

I made it!

At this moment in time; I am sat inside my teacher accommodation, at a lovely school, in the beautiful province of Kanchanaburi. My roommate and I are definitely the lucky ones when it comes to where we are staying!

So far I have had an amazing week, unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Already I have made a massive group of friends for life and memories that I will treasure forever. Ayutthaya was an incredible place; jam packed with a wealth of history and golden temples or Wats– what?!

Temples in Thailand

My new home

Kanchanaburi is definitely not what I was expecting at all. Honestly, I pictured my time living in a wooden hut with beds on the floor, in a tiny village with not much to do; apart from teaching and hiding from big insects. I was so wrong.

The town I am staying in is called Tha Muang and it is nearly as lively as Kanchanaburi town itself! We are so lucky with our location- we have a great night market, so many shops and restaurants and plenty of places to eat street food. We’re also a 5 minute walk from some other interns, as well as a short bus ride to the next town- where we can spend time with more friends and practicing Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)!

TEFL intern doing Thai boxing

Meeting the locals

When people refer to Thailand as the Land of Smiles they aren’t exaggerating. The Thai people are the most friendly I have ever met and will go completely out of their way to help you! Our teacher Pare, has welcomed us into the school with open arms and has taken us to temples, markets, bike rides and out for food more times than I can count – just to help settle us in and make us feel welcome!

Smiling TEFL students in Thailand

A typical day of teaching

Our timetable for the school is incredible. We teach for no more than three hours a day (it doesn’t sound like much but in this heat you welcome the break).  The days are jam packed with activities and we are surrounded by fantastic children that are all desperate to know us.

My roommate and I are provided with a beautiful lunch and there is also a massive freezer of ice cream that we have unlimited access to- shh don’t tell the other interns!

TEFL teachers playing with the students

Time to explore

Every weekend we have out here is free for us to do as we want, so I’m definitely going to make the most out of being in this incredible country. Sun, sea, new friends and a load of memories to make- nothing can go wrong!

Has reading Elena’s blog made you want to teach English in Thailand? Our Thailand TEFL Experience runs throughout the year so why not sign up and experience it for yourself! Or if you fancy staying a little longer, check out our Paid Thailand TEFL Internship instead!

TEFL South Africa Adventures: Introducing Ross

Getting to know Team TEFL South Africa

A 3 hour car ride to London, one 11 hour plane journey to Johannesburg and one 2 hour plane journey to Cape Town, and a quick 45 minute taxi to Fish Hoek and my teaching experience in South Africa has begun.

After such a long journey, the first thing on my agenda after initially checking out the volunteer house is definitely to grab a quick shower and freshen up. It’s hot here, mid to upper twenties hot.

The rest of the first afternoon is all about getting to know the other volunteers who can be found pretty much all over the place, some of whom are still at their projects.

TEFL intern Ross with fellow interns on a beach in South Africa

Then Mandy arrives to give us the guided tour along with some helpful local knowledge and advice. I’m already starting to feel at home.Once we’re all settled its time to really relax, have a nice first dinner together, and perhaps a few drinks… okay, we had a little welcome party!

What’s great is that everyone seems to be getting along really well with each other, it’s also a really good mix of people from around the world. We have Brits, Canadians, Aussies, Brazilians and one girl from Lesotho!

Discovering Masiphumelele

The next day we have to be up pretty early as we’re having a tour of the township, Masiphumelele.

This is where Mandy lives, so she’s our guide for the morning. The people here are really friendly, and there’s a real sense of community in this village of houses made from sheets of metal and wood.

Tour of Cape Town TEFL School with Mandy

We’re shown the school (which I’ll be starting teaching at on Monday), library, community centre and finally we stop for lunch at the house of a lady called Nonni.

And if you ever get a chance to try the traditional dish Chakalaka, I highly recommend doing so!

Finding My Cape of Good Hope

Saturday we decide to set out to find the Cape of Good Hope. Here’s where you really get a chance to see the power of the Atlantic ocean.

We hike up the rocky mountain on what’s the southernmost tip of the continent, and along the coastline until we find the most beautiful beach you can imagine.

Hats, water and sun lotion are essentials on a day like today as this place is pretty exposed with very little shade.

TEFL intern Ross at Cape of Good Hope

Nighttime is Party Time

In the evening we decide to check out the local nightlife. A quick Uber (yes, Uber is a thing here) into the village of Kalk Bay and a place called Brass Bells is recommended to us, and another called Cape de Cuba.

Nighttime view of beach with a sparkler in foreground

Neither bar disappointed for good drinks and great atmosphere. Then we Uber’d over to Muizenberg to a fab little bar called Oroboros, which has the best cocktails I’ve tried in a long time!

As my first weekend in Cape Town draws to a close, it’s time to relax.

I’ve met some amazing people, got to know my new town and country and actually already started to get a bit of a tan!

Now I need to prepare myself for my first day of teaching tomorrow.
Let’s hope I remember everything I learned from my online TEFL course and that my class like me!

– – Ross

Top 10 Homesickness Tips When Teaching Abroad

Teaching abroad is an amazing experience and brings many unforgettable memories and adventures with it.

Destinations like Thailand, China, and Vietnam have great wonders and new cultures to explore and discover first hand.

Why do we feel homesick?

Yet no matter how adventurous you are and how many new friends you make, homesickness when teaching abroad can hit any of us. Just to be clear that’s absolutely okay.

It doesn’t mean you’re not as adventurous as you thought or that you’re not having a good time, it just means that you’re human and are reflecting on how your new experiences compare to the old ones.

The longing for home can be triggered by something small like a conversation that reminds you of a similar one you’ve had before with friends or family back home, or it can something bigger, like a key holiday time like Christmas, Easter or your birthday.

single person alone crouched on the ground

You may be teaching far away from home, where these holidays are acknowledged in different ways, but Christmas in particular is growing throughout the world, so you’re likely to encounter reminders of it wherever you are.
So, what do you do if homesickness strikes? Our TEFL teachers and interns have experience with this, so we’ve put together some useful tips:

1. Keep going

There’s a reason you were inspired to teach abroad, you just need a reminder. When emotions are high this can seem too difficult, so here are some  suggestions:

a. Bucket List

Write down a bucket list of the places you need to visit or see before going back home, then try to tick as many off this list as you can. The process of putting this list together will help you get into the same inspired state you were in before homesickness came along.

paper with pen and a watch witht he word bucket-list written down

b. Document or photograph

Keeping a journal of where you’ve been and what you’ve seen can be very therapeutic. So, too can taking pictures of what you see. This can be something as straightforward as going to the market or even your commute to school. Use your creativity to re-ignite your wanderlust.

Wat Chai Wattanaram , Thailand

2. Create a routine

A very useful quote from Jim Ryun, American track & field athlete, is: “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” 

We all need a sense of routine. New habits and a new routine for your new home will help you feel more at home, but don’t mistake routine for boring. This is your adventure, so create the habits you want to have while here.

Notebook with date and pen

3. Talk about it

Talking is a great healer. Sometimes just saying that we feel homesick out-loud already makes us feel more able to tackle it. Talking with friends or family back home, or sharing your feelings with new friends or roommates or other TEFL interns is a great way to cope with homesickness.

Two girls on phones in a field

4. Don’t feed it

Talking is important, but beware. Homesickness is a hungry beast and a phone call can turn into a weekly catch-up and then into a daily call that you get overwhelmed or can upset you if you miss it.

Keeping in touch with family and friends is important, but if you’re getting more homesick every time you speak with them or see what they’re doing on social media, then a break from it may be just the thing. No need to completely cut everyone off, but reduce the frequency of catching up and checking messages.

smartphone with images of people on social media

5. Dive in and challenge yourself

Which leads us to tip #5. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. It’s so tempting to stay hidden and feel sad, but don’t let this control your actions.

There’s so much to see and do, which you’ve been dreaming of doing. Dive into trips and activities or just get out there and meet new people. You may not feel motivated when you first start, but the activities will soon get you in the mood for more. Anyhow, everything is better with others to share experiences with.

Three women on beach in Thailand looking at boats

6. Share home comforts

Sharing is caring, and with your new group of friends why not share stories of home with them, as well as the things you miss. Craving that Sunday roast? (even though you never thought you would) Do it yourself and invite others to join you.

Or have a big cultural food exchange, where everyone brings their favourite comfort food to share. You may find a new comfort food, you would’ve never known about.

Rice and ice cream dish Asia

7. Learn something new

People have a natural drive to gather information. We need “input” to feel good and as a TEFL teacher you’ll be passing your love for learning on, but are you enjoying it yourself?

To help with homesickness, why not learn something new. You’re in a prime location for learning a new language. No need to be fluent, just pick up some key phrases and swap some with others outside the classroom, too.

Open book with a string tied around it in the shape of a heart

8. Use it to reflect on you

As mentioned before, homesickness can hit us very unexpectedly and can be very confusing. You may have never been homesick before, but still feel it on this particular trip.

Rather than feel bad about feeling it, why not reflect on what may be the cause. What is it you’re missing and what will you take away from this experience? You may learn something new about yourself that will help you grow in a way you hadn’t realised was an option before.

Woman looking out on Lake reflecting on life

“Honest self-reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success and freedom”, Vikas Runwal

9. Be active

It’s not just fueling our mind that we need to stay balanced,  but our bodies need the chance to get a change of scene. Getting the heart pumping releases so called feel-good brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids).

There’s a reason we feel satisfied after a run. Give getting some exercise a try, when you’re feeling blue. Running is a quick and easy option, especially running with others in an area you know and are comfortable in, but there’s also joining some sport societies or clubs.

Person jogging with inspiring mountain landscape

10. Write your future self a letter

If things are getting really out of control, then turn to a writing therapy technique. Write your future self a letter about what it is you want to feel, what you currently are feeling, what you want to get out of this experience and how you plan to achieve.

Sometimes the only person who can understand us are ourselves, so talk to you and put a plan of action in place.

Basically, don’t let homesickness stop you. No matter if you’re generally feeling homesick or the holidays are getting you down, do remember that you’re never alone.

There’s plenty of support out there and very understanding people with you.

Two rocks with drawings round so they are holding hands

You can have a fantastic time teaching abroad even with homesickness. You’re where you are for a very important reason and you’ve got the chance to make the most of it.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to grow, experience new things and see the world while teaching abroad, then take a look at all of our travel products: https://www.i-to-i.com/teaching-internships/

Happy holidays to all our teachers abroad from i-to-i.

New Zealand Beach with canoes

A day in the life of a TEFL Teacher: Intern Insight Hanoi, Vietnam

Ever wondered what being a TEFL teacher is like? Well, wonder no more, as we’ve asked our Vietnam intern, Kerry, to give us an idea of what her day in Hanoi, Vietnam was like.

6.30 am

Your alarm wakes you, alerting you to the sound of scooter horns beeping, street sellers calling and cockerels crowing outside. It’s time for a cool shower, running through some last-minute lesson prep in your head as you go.

7am

Grab a cold, reviving ca phe sua da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee)  from the street seller outside your door for a quick caffeine fix before jumping into your chartered taxi with a few of your fellow interns. Laugh about the previous night’s activities, and share lesson pointers for the day ahead on your journey through the busy roads to your school. The city is already live and kicking around you!

i-to-i TEFL teacher classrrom in Hai Phong Vietnam

7.45am

It’s time for today’s first lesson! This session is grade 1, the smallest and most enthusiastic learners who are always really happy to see you. This lesson contains plenty of songs, chanting and repetition to drill in key learnings (perhaps aided by some sweets! You can never go wrong with sweets for grade 1).

11.30am

Time to relax after your three morning sessions. Grab a bowl of hot pho (noodle broth) sit on a tiny chair with the other teachers, cool off in the staff room over some lesson planning, or just grab the taxi home for a nap – this heat can be tiring!

2pm

Back to it! Now travel to another school campus, where you’ll spend an hour and a half’s lesson teaching grade 9 – teenagers, but who says they need to be stroppy? Plenty of rapport and keeping lesson topics current makes for a really engaging, rewarding class they’re sure to remember.

3.30pm

Fifteen minutes to yourself to grab a cool drink and go over some marking or planning.Street Traffic in Hanoi Vietnam

4.45pm

After another afternoon lesson learning about verbs and adverbs with grade 10 students, you’re ready to jump in that taxi back to your shared intern house and veg out in the communal area for a while! A bit of lesson planning for tomorrow, some quiet time to catch up on your favourite series on Netflix – a well earned rest from your busy day!

7.30pm

You and the other interns gather in the communal area to catch up on your days and take in the warm, bustling atmosphere of the city below.

8pm

Time to head out! Treat yourself to a cold, freshly brewed local beer (bia hoi) at the pub round the corner – so refreshing in this heat! Chat with the other interns, people watch and take in the atmosphere of lively, contained chaos that pervades the streets in Hanoi.

8.45pm

Tummies start rumbling, so head to the cheap restaurant across the street to gorge on noodles, hot soup, roasted meats and fresh fruit and veg – whatever takes your fancy.

9.30pm

The group have been talking about old films, so head back to the accommodation and stick one on before you all turn in for the night!Vietnam nighttime boat trip

11pm

Early to bed, early to rise… you know the rest. Another day in rocking Hanoi is waiting around the corner!

So, there we have it. Big thanks to Kerry for sharing her experiences with us.  A whole day in the life of a TEFL teacher in Hanoi, Vietnam revealed. Busy, fun-packed and fulfilling. If this sounds like something you’d be up for, then take a closer look at our Paid Vietnam TEFL Internship here:

https://www.i-to-i.com/teaching-internships/tefl-course-internship-vietnam.html

And don’t forget to download our guide for more info. Until the next Intern Insight article.

Vietnam i-to-i TEFL interns with lanterns

Thrifty TEFL: teaching abroad on a budget

We all know that travel can be expensive, and when we’re short on cash it’s difficult to envisage starting that amazing adventure that could cost a fair whack. But don’t be disheartened – there are plenty of exciting travel opportunities out there that could allow you to save those pennies.

Teaching English abroad is a great way to see the world, experience a new way of life and minimise your spending. All our TEFL travel opportunities include most accommodation and in-country travel in the price, so you don’t need to worry about chipping into your budget for hostel rooms and coach journeys. Additionally, many of your meals will be covered by your school or provided by our in-country team, so you don’t need to worry about splashing out a few quid on a delicious street food meal or a few beers.

We think that TEFL travel is the best way to see the world. You get to immerse yourself totally in a brand new culture, meet fantastic people, discover breath-taking locations and get some amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences – all without breaking the bank. But where can you go?

Asia is well-known worldwide for having a relatively low cost of living. Needless to say, budgeting is highly personal and people with more extravagant tastes may find they need to splash more cash than those who are happy to tighten the purse strings, but below we’ve collated five of our cheapest TEFL destinations to help you get planning. You may be surprised by just how cheap it can be to get by in Asia… read on and get inspired!

Doorway in Cambodia

Costs correct as of October 16

Cambodia

Bordering Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Cambodia nestles in the heart of Southeast Asia. It’s one of the region’s cheapest countries, and that’s really saying something. Packed with amazing ancient history, jaw-dropping scenery and friendly locals with a real sense of resilience and national pride, many of our travellers to Cambodia have ended up staying and taking on full-time teaching jobs; it’s that great.

What will it cost?

Currency: Cambodian riel (KHR)

Street food meal 12,200KHR (£1.50)
One night in a mid-range hostel, Phnom Penh From 63,000KHR (£10.00)
Local transport, one way 4,095KHR (£0.65)
Local beer 4,095KHR (£0.65)
1.5 litre bottle of water 2,900KHR (£0.45)

Money-saving tips: Take night buses or coaches for a cheaper travel alternative, and skip the sleeper berth if you’re able; soft seats are just as good for catching some shut-eye on the go. Pick up meals at street stalls and markets rather than paying above the odds for western fare like pizza, and agree taxi fares before you get in – scams aren’t unheard of!

Thailand

Every traveller’s dream, Thailand brims with rich and colourful history. It’s packed with colourful Buddhist temples, idyllic white sand beaches, lively cities and tranquil farming villages – all waiting to be explored at really miniscule prices! Our Thailand travellers rave about the welcoming, smiley locals, eager students and laid-back way of life that this fabulous country offers.

What will it cost?

Currency: Thai baht (THB)

Street food meal 50THB (£0.90)
One night in a mid-range hostel, Bangkok From 300THB (£5.00)
Local transport, one way 20THB (£0.35)
Local beer 55THB (£1.00)
1.5 litre bottle of water 15THB (£0.30)

Money-saving tips: Thailand is famed for its fantastic markets, where you can pick up everything from kitchen appliances to the famous elephant pants. Whilst the prices are always relatively low, haggle to receive an even better deal – don’t be shy! You’re also able to re-fill water bottles in machines outside Tesco for just 1 Thai baht a litre, so take advantage and stay hydrated.

China

China is the world’s most populous country, and is an amazing mix of cutting-edge modern life and a deeply-held traditional heritage. China has more TEFL opportunities than many other Asian countries, and a huge range of variety in placements; you can teach learners of all ages in locations ranging from tranquil farming villages to fast-paced world-leading cities, all whilst saving some cash.

What will it cost?

Currency: Chinese Renminbin (CNY)

Street food meal 20CNY (£2.00)
One night in a mid-range hostel, Beijing From 40CNY (£4.00)
Local transport, one way 2CNY (£0.20)
Local beer 6CNY (£0.60)
1.5 litre bottle of water 3CNY (£0.30)

Money-saving tips: Trains in China are great and an affordable way to see the country; tickets can be bought at stations but the process can be a bit confusing, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Imported goods like coffee are pretty expensive in China, so why not can the caffeine and opt for a more traditional Chinese drink like jasmine or green tea? They’re better for you anyways.

Boat moored off the coast of the island full of palm trees, Caribbean Islands

India

India is a vast and hugely varied country in South Asia, with the world’s second-largest population. From up-and-coming tech cities in the north to peaceful hippie retreats and idyllic beaches in the south, India has everything an adventurous traveller could want. There are teaching opportunities at all levels; from young children to professional learners, and living here won’t break the bank.

What will it cost?

Currency: Indian rupees (INR)

Street food meal 120INR (£1.20)
One night in a mid-range hostel, New Delhi From 300INR (£3.00)
Local transport, one way 15INR (£0.15)
Local beer 100INR (£1.00)
1.5 litre bottle of water 27INR (£0.30)

Money-saving tips: Travel within India can be a hectic affair, with such a huge population trying to make their way around, so it’s easier and cheaper to pre-book your train or coach tickets if you can, and opt for a non-air-conditioned taxi if the opportunity is there. Guided tours around tourist traps like temples or the Taj Mahal can really rack up the prices, so why not grab your guide book and set out with some friends?

Vietnam

Vietnam is an astonishingly picturesque country on the eastern coast of Southeast Asia. It’s packed with beautiful French colonial cities, eye-opening historical sites, tranquil waterways and an electric atmosphere that attracts travellers from all over the globe.  Soak up the rich (if sometimes unpleasant) history and explore picture-perfect landscapes at amazingly low prices.

What will it cost?

Currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)

Street food meal 40,000VND (£1.20)
One night in a mid-range hostel, Hanoi From 130,000VND (£4.00)
Local transport, one way 7,000VND (£0.20)
Local beer 17,000VND (£0.50)
1.5 litre bottle of water 11,000VND (£0.30)

Money-saving tips: Each evening in Vietnam, city streets come alive with drinkers taking advantage of 10p pints and cheap meals; a tradition known as bia hoi. This is a great way to try some home cooking and meet the locals! As with anywhere in Southeast Asia, haggle hard when you’re shopping to secure a better price on your groceries, souvenirs etc.

 

 

 

 

What’s life like in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Thailand TEFL intern, Pashka, tells us what it’s like to live and teach in rural Thailand.

Welcome to my pad!

I am currently sitting in my new home for the next 2 months. It’s a Thai style house with a concrete downstairs, there’s an open space with a sofa, fridge, microwave, work desk, television and bathroom. Upstairs there’s a dressing room complete with an iron and ironing board and the bedroom. While it may not be a palace, it’s home and I love it!

I’ve definitely had the luck of the draw when it comes to accommodation as facilities vary from school to school. My first piece of advice – be open minded when it comes to where you’ll be living and be prepared for it not to live up to western standards.

I’ve spoken to some interns who have a spare classroom in the school with a bed and a shared bathroom a few floors down. While others have made a renovated school clinic home that’s “western standard” in terms of structure but not so much in terms of homeliness.

The culture shock is real

The one guarantee is a western toilet (as opposed to a squat) so you can breathe a sigh of relief if this was putting you off signing up!

Now for my second piece of advice – expect to be uncomfortable at times, you’ll endure the odd stomach upset, sleep on a hard bed and take a cold shower. This can be quite a shock for new interns but it’s all part of the experience.

I’m living in Thailand and I live like Thais do. I’m experiencing the true Thai culture, eating and sleeping like the other teachers – something no tourist would get to do.

Adopting the Thai way of life

The Thai attitude towards life is very different to the UK but the main thing you’ll notice is that they’re very laid back. Things only get serious when it comes to respecting elders and upholding traditions. Other than that the pace of life is slow, no one is in a rush to do anything and everything is subject to change. It’s probably the heat!

One thing that was said over and over at orientation was that every single person in the local area will know who we are and this was no exaggeration! When you first think of Thailand you probably picture the throngs of tourists in Bangkok and the famous beach parties but the reality is very different. The TEFL schools are in small, quiet communities, often out in the sticks and cut off from everything else.

For the first couple of weeks, walking down the street turned more than a few heads. The looks I get range from respectful recognition to curious glances that seem to say “what are you doing here!” A foreign face will be a novelty so get ready to be in photos and chat to the locals as they’ll want to try out their English, no matter how limited it is.

The rewards of being a TEFL teacher

It’s such a small community that every time I leave the school I’m bound to run in to a student and their parents. Being respectful and following the social norms goes without saying, and if you play your cards right you might be rewarded.

The other day I went to buy some shorts and after a friendly chat with the owner, in which we told him we were teaching English at the local school, he ended up giving me 50%off and a lift to town. Not bad for a TEFL teacher!

And it’s not just me who’s benefited from these perks. My partner plays football most days after school with the kids, one of the parents, touched by his involvement, gave him a big packet of Emmental cheese (cheese is notoriously hard to get here).

We’ve had a free massage from a teacher who owns a salon and even visited our English teacher’s family for dinner, including left-overs for the next day (or two)!

This sense of togetherness is central to Thai culture, everyone knows everyone, shares what they can and looks out for each other, very different to our home, London.

Making every weekend count

If I had to tell you the “thorn in my side” about living here it would be the noise at night. It might sound like an exaggeration but I have a more peaceful night’s sleep in a dorm room on Khao San Road than I do in Tha Muang, Kanchanaburi. If it isn’t every dog in the neighbourhood keeping me up with their relentless barking and howling, it’s the incessant whoop of a Koel bird that seems to nest directly above my head.

But I’m not completely cut off from the comforts of home. We’re lucky to have a bus stop nearby so we can travel to both Kanchanaburi town and Bangkok. I’m away almost every weekend with the other interns (there’s 30 of us in Kanchanaburi) and we often stay in a tourist hub where the menus are familiar, the showers are hot and the WiFi actually works.

We’ve managed to do it all, from touring the provinces’ famous “death railway” (The Burmese railway), river Kwae and waterfalls at Erawan National Park. To flying to Ko Pha Ngang for the famous full moon party, witnessing the lady boys show, witnessing tuk-tuk drag races and celebrating Chinese New Year in Bangkok. The weekends are usually so eventful that by Sunday night we welcome another “quiet” week at school.

 

If you’re ready to follow in Pashka’s footsteps and live the dream of teaching English in Thailand why not check out our Thailand TEFL Experience! Got a degree? Take a look at our Paid Thailand TEFL Internship and you can earn a generous monthly allowance too.

Dear Vietnam… I don’t think you have enough scooters

So it has all begun. After a torturous 24 hour journey, in which I nearly missed a flight resulting in my name being called over the airport intercom, I am finally here! I’m 3 days in and to say that the experience has been crazy would be an understatement. I wanted a change – a jolt to my system – yet Hanoi has been more of an electric shock than a jolt. However, despite my severe electrocution, this place is slowly growing on me. The more damp, narrow alleys I walk down, the more vibrantly coloured buildings I pass, the more coffee I drink and the more humility I see in the locals’ eyes, the broader my smile becomes.

Aerial view of flats in Hanoi, Vietnam

First impression of Vietnam: controlled chaos. I am SO glad I had a team of people to help and guide me as, if not, I’m pretty sure my face would be on the back of a milk carton right now. The entire team has been amazing and in all honesty, I can’t imagine doing any of it without them. They’ve settled me in, calmed my nerves and assured me that after orientation week, I’ll have more confidence in my teaching abilities. All is run from the comfort of our hotel, which is much more comfy and air conditioned (thank goodness!)  than what I was expecting. The whole place is swarmed with interns and so you’re never alone in the elevator or without someone to chat to. Meals have become a huge social event with lunch and dinner being served ‘family style’. This makes it so much easier to mingle with different people and to try get accustomed to everyone’s accents! You would never think that we’re all speaking English. It’s pretty clear that there’s still lots to learn and adjust to but I know that’ll come as this orientation week progresses.

 

So despite the fact that all is running smoothly and I’ve been assured that I won’t be a completely useless teacher, there is one activity  that has blown me away and that I know I will never be able to do – navigate a vehicle on the streets of Hanoi. Oh my sweet, lovely, baby Buddha! There are approximately 3.4 million scooters in the city of Hanoi and this becomes overwhelmingly apparent when you step outside. When gazing at a street the roads get continuously hit with one tsunami of scooters, mopeds and motorbikes after another. Some carrying a family of 5, some carrying a family of 5 and their dog, some carrying what seems like a year’s worth of toilet paper.

Crowds of motorbikes and mopeds on the street in Hanoi, Vietnam

 

It is frighteningly impressive. To add to this, the rules of the roads are more like loose guidelines. The streets buzz with the constant sound of honking and  hooting. From what I’ve gathered, all the noise is to notify other drivers that they’re riding beside them or want to pass, because clearly the use of review mirrors and indicators are too much of a bother. The most amazing thing however, is the fact that amongst the sea of horns, a driver knows if a honk or hoot is meant for them. It’s become very apparent that the Vietnamese simply have superior hearing. So as you can imagine, as a pedestrian, it is a harrowing experience trying to cross the road! I’m not exactly what one would call a spiritual person but I can’t help doing a couple of ‘Hail Marys’ before frantically running across. I think it’s fair to assume that in Vietnam, the chicken simply didn’t make it to the other side.

Flats in Hanoi, Vietnam

So to sum up these past few days: beautiful, sweaty, busy, eye-opening, exciting and humbling. As I fall asleep tonight to the soundtrack of the streets, I simply cannot wait to see what the rest of my time will have in store for me.