Posts Tagged With: travel

Unravelling the Myths of Teaching Abroad

Business woman over the background with a different world langua

I used to think teaching English abroad was relatively easy. But after talking to colleagues who had taught in Korea, China and Dubai to name a few, I realized this was not the case. I have been teaching English in Poland for six months now, and I can clearly say teaching abroad is no duck walk. You basically have to work as hard as if you were working in your home country. If you’re considering teaching abroad, you may want to read on and find out the truth about some of the myths you may or may not have heard about.

1. Teaching English Overseas Means having conversations in English with the students. Definitely not the case. You have to plan lessons, be able to teach grammar points and vocabulary as well as listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. You have to prepare dynamic and engaging lessons that cater to different learning styles. You may be having conversations some of the time, but this is assuming the students’ proficiency level is high enough to do so. In short, teaching is way more than just having conversations with students. Conversations simply won’t cut it.

2. You don’t work a lot of hours. This depends on the country you are working in, but generally you can expect to teach 20-24 hours a week, plus lesson planning and administration. This can add up to 40 hours easily, which is pretty much a typical working schedule at home. Be prepared to spend a lot of hours in the school. If this is not what you were expecting, you should definitely reconsider it before embarking on a teaching position overseas.

3. Teaching isn’t all that difficult. You may be a native English speaker but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can teach it. Are you prepared to teach the differences between John has been to London versus John has gone to London? You will need to be clued up on grammar points before walking into a class. If you have never taught before, I would definitely recommend investing in taking a CELTA or TEFL course. Both will give you the tools you need to be able to teach grammar, vocabulary and receptive skills.

4. I will be able to save money. This is not the case. In fact, it’s a good idea to go to your chosen country with money saved up for initial expenses. You will find that you will be breaking even most of the time. With me, I find that I am breaking even because I like to spend my money on travel during my time off.

5. I will be able to live like a tourist and travel all the time. Living like a tourist, not really. You will have to go to work, pay bills, get sick, buy groceries, clean your apartment, etc. Life is life wherever you go, only this time you will be dealing with culture shock, language barrier and adjusting to different rules. As for travelling, this depends on where you are. If you are working in a place where it is super easy to travel around, then you will be able to travel. I am in a city 100 kilometers from Warsaw, which is not easy to get travel to other parts of Poland. I need at least four days off if I want to go up to Gdansk. However, I have been able to travel to other parts of Europe during my holidays. Speaking of holidays, you can use these to travel. And you can expect to have lots of holidays, especially if you are teaching in Europe.
So hopefully, this has cleared the air into some of the common myths about teaching English abroad. I am not by any means trying to put you off. I just think you should know what you are getting into. If you have realistic expectations and understand what teaching is all about, I’m sure you will have a great experience. It has been one of the best experiences I have done, even though it has been very challenging at the same time. Do your homework, get certified as a teacher, and understand that you will not get rich by teaching abroad. Also understand that you will have to work hard as a teacher and commit to your students.

Categories: Life in Poland | Tags: , , , , ,

South America Here I Come!

Machu Pichu In Peru

 

 

In just over a week, I will be heading off on a month-long trip to South America – 34 days to be exact! It seems like only yesterday when I first booked the flight back in September, and now the days are numbered until I set foot on a new continent. Rather than bombard you with countless paragraphs, I thought I would give the nitty gritty through a Q&A panel:

So where are you going exactly?

Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. I fly into Lima and fly back from Buenos Aires.

Alone or with friends?

I’ll be joining up with a small tour group in Lima where we will begin our South American odyssey.

What will be the highlights of the trip?

Visiting Machu Picchu, crossing the Salt Flats of Uyuni in Bolivia by 4×4, exploring the lake districts of Chile and Argentina, and getting lost in the metropolises of Santiago and Buenos Aires.

How will you get around?

A mix of using coach buses, trains, car rentals and internal flights.

Did you have to get any shots?

Yes, five of them. Three in one day, I might add, ouch!

What are you looking forward to the most?

Obviously Machu Picchu! But I’m really looking forwarding to seeing Chile and Argentina as well, since they are both such fascinating countries rich in history.

What will be the most challenging?

I would say when we journey through the Salt Flats, where I have been told can get really cold. We’ll also be camping there for three nights, and I’ve never camped before! That, and adjusting to the altitude when we get to Cusco; it’s 12,000 feet above sea level, which is four thousand feet higher than Machu Picchu! I’m hoping I don’t get Altitude Sickness.

What about the language barrier?

That’s the beauty part, there won’t be any! I speak almost fluent Spanish as I hold a degree in it, and I lived in Spain for over a year.

Will you get any writing done while you’re there?

Unfortunately not, unless one counts writing in a journal. I’ll be constantly on the move, and any free time will be spent relaxing, doing laundry and keeping friends and family back home posted.

What souvenirs do you hope to bring back?

Lots of photos and memories of course! I do collect fridge magnets, so I’m hoping to bring one back from each country I visit.

Why South America?

It was a toss up between this, Japan, or Australia and New Zealand. I made my choice and I stick with it! I’ve always wanted to go, and I figure it’s now or never. I wanted to visit other Spanish-speaking countries. I’m fortunate enough where I will have a month off work as it is a slow time at the school where I teach English. When will I ever have this opportunity before retirement?

 

Categories: My Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My Hike in the Sonoran Desert

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It’s been over a month since my last blog post, which is the longest streak since my blog was born, so I thought I’d post about my hiking trip in the Sonoran Desert.

I’m an avid hiker. I hike most weekends, whether it’s in the woods or along the riverfront of downtown Cincinnati. It rejuvenates me from the weekly grind, while allowing me to reflect on life’s happenings. I’m inclined to hiking the way many people are to yoga, or just working out at the gym. It’s something I couldn’t do without, and will keep on doing until the day my legs give out.

Last month, I traveled to southern Arizona to hike in the Saguaro National Park. Arizona is one of my favorite states in the country, mostly because of the desert scenery all around. I’ve had a thing for the desert of the southwest U.S. for as long as I can remember. I owe it to my days of watching Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons. I had researched about the Sonoran Desert, which is how I came across the Saguaro Park. After countless days of pondering the idea, I decided to make the trip.

The weather was absolutely perfect for a hike, and there were only local hikers in the park, so I felt like I had the place to myself. I went hiking by myself, might I add, which is likely causing some of you to drop your jaws. This wouldn’t surprise me. I have a unique gift for appreciating solitude, so for me this was just another typical day. Despite the hazards (killer bees, rattlesnakes, gila monsters), everything went smoothly. For miles, all I could see was a sea of green giant cacti, which look more like giant green corn on the cobs from afar. Just being alone with my thoughts and God allowed me to recharge and look back on everything I had accomplished since last September. I would definitely recommend this kind of trip to anyone with a taste for adventure. I would (and plan to) go back and hike in this national park again someday.

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Interested in hiking in the Saguaro National Park? Here’s a few tips that I’ve learned from my experience:

  • bring a gallon of water, sunscreen, a hat, and a whistle (if you’re going alone)
  • the fall and spring is the best time to hike. A local I met told me that the temperatures are pleasant, and the cacti are not in full bloom yet (less likely to run into swarms of killer bees)
  • wear light color clothing and hiking shoes are a must. Parts of the park are rugged and require climbing up hills. Sandals are a no-no.
  • hike in moderation and know your limits. Stop periodically for rest and replenishment
  • bring some snacks for the hike. I brought along beef jerky and granola bars.
  • A word about killer bees: unfortunately, they are present everywhere in the park. They say if you come too close to their colonies, they will repeatedly “bump” into you as a warning. Heed this sign and go the other way. These bees are notorious for swarming you by the thousands. The worst thing you can do is kill one because they release a scent which alerts other bees in the area, which will mean you’re done for.
  • Carry a fully charged phone with you in case of emergency, though coverage is limited in the park.
  • Take a moment to pause in peaceful reflection during your hike. It will help you appreciate the moment.

 

 

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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