In the approximate year it took from the time I hatched this crazy idea to the time I’ll hop on a plane and give it the old college try (I can call it the old college try because I am an alumnus now), I’ve received numerous questions about my plans, logistics, and whatnot. Not surprisingly, most people want to know the same things. SO, I’ve compiled this list of the most common questions I’ve had thus far.
Also, for my own entertainment, I’ve laid it out in the most common progression of the questions. If you want a fun game, try to figure out what question you would ask next (the first one is a freebie!) and the phrasing you would use!
If you have more questions, however, don’t hesitate to ask!
Where you going?
Dong Hoi City, Vietnam. Dong Hoi is a smaller city of around 160,000 in North Central Vietnam, right on the South China Sea.
What are you doing there?
Teaching English. I’ll be working with business professionals and high school students looking to take college entry exams.
So you have a degree in teaching or English?
Nope! I have a Bachelor’s in International Studies and Political Science from Ohio State. I also have a teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. The course consisted of 130 hours of online work including projects, homework, and tests, and 20 hours of practicum experience. I did my practicum at the Columbus Literacy Council, a nonprofit organization in Columbus where I tutored adults taking ESL classes. Only a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification are required to teach English in most countries.
But you speak fluent Vietnamese or French right?
Nope! Speaking the native language of the country you’re teaching in is very much the exception, not the rule. In most country, English classes are immersion classes, so the teachers speak English the whole time, as do the students (depending on the amount of English they know). This really opens up the options for aspiring travellers.
So are you like going through Fulbright or….?
I’m going through an organization called the Center for International Education Exchange (CIEE). CIEE is a nonprofit organization that was founded after World War II to facilitate cultural exchange and diplomacy. Today, that takes the form of facilitating high school and college study abroad trips and teach abroad programs. I applied to CIEE’s Teach in Vietnam program (they run programs in eight different countries) by submitting a resume, personal statement, and some other details. After I was accepted into their program, they set up interviews for me with Vietnamese schools and language programs. After I interviewed and received an offer, CIEE went to work securing a contract and prepping me to head overseas. They also put on an orientation when I arrive where I get my bank account set up, legalize documents, set up housing, etc.
It is common, however, for someone to get his or her TEFL certificate and find his or her own job. TEFL jobs are abundant in many major cities around the world.
How long are you going to be there?
The plan right now is fifteen months. I’m contracted to teach for a year. After my contract is up, I plan on traveling around Southeast Asia for three months before returning to the U.S.
How long is the flight?
28 hours total. Flying Chicago -> LAX -> Taiwan -> Hanoi. Longest leg is LAX to Taiwan, which is 12 hours 15 minutes.
Let’s hop into our time machines and travel back to June or July 2014. My senior year was rapidly approaching and I had no idea what I wanted to do upon graduation. One weekend, my friend Karlee was in Columbus, back from teaching English in France for the past year. She and I had similar majors and were both tour guides, so we took a lot of classes together and spent a lot of time together, so we knew each other really well. We were at Too’s (as any good story includes) and I was lamenting my lack of plans and talking about how jealous I was of her travels and how I could never do anything like that because I don’t speak any other languages (she was a French major). She laughed at me (classic Karlee) and told me to look at programs Southeast Asia. The next day, I typed into Google “teach English Southeast Asia) and the first hit I got was CIEE’s Teach in Vietnam program. Looking at a few pictures and a quick scan of the Culture of Vietnam Wikipedia page was enough to sell me. The rest, as they say, is history.
Are you going to come back with a Vietnamese woman hehehehe?
3 days until I hop on a plane for my new home! As always, thanks for reading.