Teach Enrich Empower
My Adventure to Saigon
It was all a very quick process. I got back from travelling in India, Nepal and doing a road trip throughout North America. Slowly, I began to settle back into a routine of normal life.
However, while some of the home comforts were a novelty and so enjoyable, I really missed seeing something new and meeting new people every day. The problem was, as much as I wanted to backpack around SE Asia, I didn’t have the funds to let me do it long enough. I also really wanted to try something new, so I looked into au pairing and hostel work but then I remembered a couple I met in India who told me: “Do TEFL, it’s such a gift!” They had been travelling for 3 months but had loved every minute of their experience teaching.
I immediately looked up and read all about peoples’ different experiences, how it let them travel the world, meet locals from all different cultures, live in a new city, make friends from all over the world and completely immerse themselves in a new country. That’s when the decision was made. Without hesitation I booked a TEFL course with The TEFL Academy and never looked back. The hardest decision for me was, where should I choose to do it? South East Asia was somewhere I had always wanted to go, so when I heard that Vietnam was a good place to teach English I delved deeper.
Vietnam has a huge demand for English teachers as the economy explodes and therefore the pay is relatively high, and the benefits are fairly good because the schools compete for the best teachers. The country is also extremely naturally beautiful, the food is world class and it is slap-bang in the centre of South East Asia so it is easy to travel. Once again, my mind was made up.
“TEFL has equipped me with the ability to live and work anywhere.”
I applied for a handful of jobs and got the vast majority. I chose a company in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. The offer provided me with a shared house where I’d be living with other teachers, a salary of $990 per month, health care, visa guidance, transport costs and airport pickup. It was pretty much smooth sailing.
Of course, when the day came to be catching my 17-hour flight, I had butterflies in my stomach and a few tears waving goodbye to my family. On the long flight I kept thinking what am I doing? Where am I going? Who am I going to meet? As much as it was scary at first, it was all very exciting looking back.
I arrived and let the culture shock wash over me. New sights, new smells, new sounds and new people. Ho Chi Minh City can be a sensory overload. As I got settled into my new life, I found comfort in chatting to other teachers at my work, meeting an expat community that is thriving in this city and sharing my experiences with everyone back home.
The first week I had training with the other teachers and we got to watch TEFL teachers teach a class of grade 1 Vietnamese public school children. The school did a lot to prepare us for our first lesson by giving us books, props, lesson ideas and tips. I did feel nervous about teaching for the first time, given that I had no experience, but the amount of help I had from my school and The TEFL Academy tools, it wasn’t as daunting as it had initially seemed it would be.
My first class was exciting, a massive learning curve and nerve-racking. I taught a class of 40 Grade 1 public school children. They didn’t know how to write and they certainly loved to talk. So, we played games like “Teacher Says” and “Slap the board when you hear…”. It went well and while I was tired I felt relieved about having my first one out of the way.
Looking back now, it all seems a blur but an absolute adventure. Two months in and I actually feel completely at home. I have a regular elementary school I go to 4 days a week Monday to Thursday where I teach 7.30-10.40 then 13.45-16.15. It’s lovely because I’ve got to know the children and I can plan lessons around their interests. My lessons have improved over time but I still use all the tools that my school and The TEFL Academy have supplied me with.
I’ve also managed to have enough time to get out of the city and see the Mekong Delta, Vung Tau beach and the Cu Chi Tunnels. I have just booked a flight to Phu Quoc and Dalat, but am looking at The Philippines in a few months for a holiday.
TEFL has equipped me with the ability to live and work anywhere. It has been such an adventure so far and it is only the beginning. If you are unsure, I’d advise you to take the plunge, you may just find a new city you’ve fallen in love with, new best friends and a job that certainly isn’t a mundane 9-5. As my friends told me “Tefl is a gift!”, get out and see the world!
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