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Live with TEFL Heaven


 

LIVE with TEFL Heaven

I have not posted here for a while as being settled in Australia does not allow for very exciting stories… however just finished an interview with TEFL Heaven regarding teaching in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam.

Check it out in the link above!

Teaching in South Korea- HalloweenHaloween in Korea

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Rock Climbing on Railay Beach, Krabi


After our relaxing get-away in Lanta we headed back to the mainland to Krabi. On our previous tour of the islands almost three and a half years ago we stayed in Ao Nang which is a great area if you want the beach, pubs and every sort of restaurant you can think of. However as were only there for two days we decided to stay in the quieter area of Krabi Town. Feeling rested and relaxed we decided it was time for some activities and looked into rock climbing.

Sunset boat home

Sunset boat home

Rock climbing in Krabi is very well known and it also incorporates Railay Beach into the day, voted one of the beast beaches by National geographic. There are literally tons of tours on offer and you have to have a good look at what they all offer. It is also handy to check on trip advisor to find out what people have paid for certain tours. With many of the tours the prices vary between travel agents and even if it is written down it’s usually always negotiable. We found ‘King Climbers’ on trip advisor and after seeing that someone paid 800 baht for the half day we went in search for a likewise offer. The first place we went to sold the same tour for 1,350 baht! Most places were offering it for around the 1,000 mark until we came across one where we got the price down to 800.

We were picked up in the morning and taken to Ao Nang beach were we caught a long tailed boat to Railay, once there you could see the beauty of the beach despite there being loads of tourist there too. We walked to the climbing shop and got kitted up with climbing boots, a chalk bag and harness before making our way round to the other side of the island where we would be climbing. The area was busy but not to busy and we were told we would be climbing at about grade 5 (which means nothing to me!) but depending on how we went there were harder courses and easier ones too. The area seemed to have something to accommodate everyone with a group of children at one end and solo climbers doing climbs that seemed impossible at the other!

Our first climb started by pulling yourself up by you hands and getting you first foot hold near your hand… was quite a challenging start, I thought it would be easier!! The first climb took me a while but I got to the top and got an awesome view of the bay. Andy scooted up clearly having way more strength and longer arms than me and the two other girls on our trip!

Sunset boat home

Sunset boat home

Our next climb was higher and started off a bit easier but soon about 3/4 of the way up I became stuck, no matter how hard I tried I just could not get a grip on the rock and the left hand hold was just too far out for me to reach, not only that but with my back injury which runs down my right leg I just didn’t have the strength to push up. I struggled for 15/20 minutes refusing to give up (a bit of stubborn on my part) the problem I soon found out is the longer you hold on the quicker and sorer it becomes. When I finally had to admit defeat (something that I didn’t take so well) my fingers were cut and my arms were shaking from straining them so hard. Again Andy zipped up having no problems reaching the tricky grip I just couldn’t reach!

The final climb was the really big one and again up I went and half way up I got stuck again… for about 10 minutes I struggles to push myself up, with calls from the ground telling me it is ok if I had to come down. I refused to listen and kept pushing as hard as I could until finally I managed to get over the rock however my success was not long lived as I hit the 3/4mark and once again could not get good enough purchase on my holds to push up. No matter how hard I tried my right leg would not push up and my arms were now beyond painful! Another 15 or so minutes of intense struggle I had to give up.

Railay Beach

Railay Beach

Andy started his climb and after a vey small struggle at the two I found difficult he was only about 5meters from the top. However the last 5 meters was a sheer cliff with only 3 holds for both feel and your left hand. No matter how hard Andy tried he just could not get up the last 5 meters. He did really well considering how exposed the last climb was and how high he got, for someone who is not comfortable with heights this was amazing.

With the third climb over the climbing part of the day was over, and if I am really honest I couldn’t do

another one as my arms, legs and fingers were burning!! Unless you are a regular rock climber or super fit, a half day is more than enough!!!

The climbing shop we went through allowed you to take the boat back to Krabi at lunch time or stay on Railay until 5.30 we decided to stay and take advantage of being on Railay. We had lunch then went for a lie down in the shade.

We both had a great time and I would defiantly recommend it and add it to my “must see Thailand” we went through King climbers and paid 800 baht for a half day of climbing with the optional late boat back to Krabi.

Sunset boat home

Sunset boat home

The in’s and out’s of TEFL


I always get emails asking me about which Teaching certificate you should obtain when you go away to teach in far off lands, if you should even bother getting one, or if you should do it before or after university.

Thai Assembly

When you start to think about travelling by teaching English the certification you pick can have a massive impact on what countries you can go to. Whether you pick TEFL/TESOL/CELTA or in Andy’s case a Graduate Diploma in TESOL there are a few things you should be careful of and watch out for. Firstly it is best if you do this AFTER you have been to University for a number of reasons. A degree is necessary in most cases, even if it isn’t, many jobs will require you to have a degree in any field to be able to process your work permit. Also going away to teach for 6 months can often lead to a longer stay…. In my case 3 years and counting, getting a degree first takes the pressure off to return!

Foreign Teachers Thailand

Way’s to complete a certificate.

  • Choose a company which specializes in teaching abroad. I did my qualification with experienceteachingabroad.com. These companies are awesome if it is your first time living away from home as they will really look after you from beginning to end. All companies offer different benefits and I can only really comment on ETA. I was given help completing my certification, a week stay on an island in Thailand while finishing my training, help networking before I went so I had made friends before leaving the UK, my TEFL course AND a guaranteed job. The last one was very important to me, as a newbie, finding my way around the ESL job market can be tricky, not knowing what salary I should get, what benefits and what hours.
  • Going it alone- you can do your TEFL courses online at your own time and pace, however I would personally stay away from online courses, while they might give you your certification in teaching English, many countries will not accept an online course certificate. (I will explain later)
  • Doing a university/college course. This is how Andy obtained his certificate as he originally did the course when working towards his masters in Education. Meaning his course was 1 year-long!
  • Childrens day in Vietnam

    children’s day in Vietnam

Different types of certificates

  • TEFL– Teaching English as a Foreign Language- Most courses from the UK use TEFL one of the most common and easier types to get.
  • TESOL– Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages- you find this one mostly from American and Australian courses and is roughly the same as TEFL
  • CELTA– Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults– This is one the most expensive certificates and hardest ones, while some countries or companies prefer it (usually higher paying jobs) many companies are just fine with TEFL/TESOL. However if you are looking to make a career out of English Teaching then I would suggest you do this. When applying for jobs in Vietnam a few jobs required this and despite Andy being a qualified teacher with 7 years experience AND having a graduate diploma of TESOL they still wouldn’t accept him.
Haloween in Korea

Hallowe’en in Korea

What to look for in a certificate:

  • First and foremost- make sure your certificate is 100+ hours (ideally 120 hours +) some courses will only offer 20/50 hours, this is not a problem for some countries however can be a BIG problem if you want to try your hand in South Korea, Vietnam or Japan to name a few who will require you to have 100+ hour certificate. Think ahead- It might not be a problem for the country you are going to first but if you want to make a move after to somewhere else your certification holds a LOT of weight!
  • Try stay away from online courses. In many job adverts they will actually specify that they do not accept an online TEFL certification. Many jobs are looking for you to have your TEFL taught in a classroom environment. Again not all jobs! My TEFL is actually part online and part classroom and has given me some difficulties along the way…. Despite now having 2+ years teaching experience under my belt some positions would not accept my TEFL certification.
  • Choose one that is accredited world-wide… for obvious reasons!
  • Try get a course that offers some classroom experience. This isn’t always necessary but some jobs do require it. (even if you have experience they still want proof someone has evaluated you in a classroom situation) However even if it isn’t necessary, having time to teach in a classroom where someone will give you pointers after your lesson is very valuable and a good way to get over the nerves of standing in front of a class of expectant students!

English camp, Koh Chang, Thailand

Full-time teaching or internship?

If you are thinking of taking an internship or a full-time position have a good look at what you want.

  • Interns are generally paid very low however they do the same amount of work as a full-time teacher. The benefit of internships is you tend to be part of a big group giving you support of your new friends for the entire duration of your stay. Contacts also tend to be shorter.
  • Full time positions- you get paid a full salary (often much more than local teachers) and sometimes double that of interns as well as holidays and other benefits. However you will go it alone sometimes and have to make friends once you are at your school… no problem if you are outgoing!
Teaching English to Police Officers

Teaching English to Police Officers

Once you have your TEFL, what about getting a job?

If you have just graduated or looking to make the move to your next country there are many ways to get a good teaching position.

  • Internet– The internet is an amazing way to pick up teaching jobs these days, in fact it is how we scored our jobs in Vietnam and in South Korea. Try jobs websites like davesesl.com, tefl.com, asiateachingjobs.com, teachersforasia.com to name a few.
  • Face to face– We did try this in Vietnam however I wasn’t a fan, however I have heard of people getting their jobs this way. Turning up in a country with a load of CV’s, smart dress and a good attitude can get you far.
  • Teaching placement agencies/recruiters– There are many agencies who will help you find a job before arriving in a country, especially for South Korea. These can be great but also beware and do your homework before accepting the jobs they offer.

Dress down day Thailand

Accepting a teaching position.

  • Do your homework!!! Before signing any contracts have a quick check on the internet for the kind of salary you should expect, hours and conditions. When in Thailand, the new teachers for the second semester almost signed their contract for 18,000bhat…. While the average foreign salary (including mine at the same school) was 30-32,000. They clarified this in time and it was put down to a ‘mistake’. However it never hurts to check out how much you should expect.
  • Research the area you will be living in, do you want to live in the city or the countryside? Many first time teachers expect to be placed within walking distance of a beach and spend their days sipping coconuts on the sand after school… this is not the norm!
  • Dress code- While most schools require you to be smart and in shirts and trousers everyday you need to check that there are no special requirements. For example in Thailand I had to wear beige on Monday, pink on Tuesday, and blue on Friday. This meant trying to find things in my size or get them sent over from the UK!
Student prizes, Vietnam

Student prizes, Vietnam

Picking a country

A very important decision when thinking about teaching away… you need to consider what you want to gain from the experience and what countries you are interested in living in.

  • If you are looking to save money- Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan or the middle East. Still plenty of culture but sometimes require experience.
  • If you are looking for experience/ first time away- Thailand, Vietnam, Europe the pay might be lower but the culture is amazing!
  • Check out the living conditions for certain countries. Andy and I were thinking of moving to the middle East, however living together would be impossible while we were unmarried.

Things to consider when teaching

  • Remember it is a job and you should treat it as seriously as any other job. For the local teachers it is their career so don’t think you can go and just mess around.
  • Be respectful- Remember you are in a different culture to your own, if they ask you to cover your shoulders then you should.
  • Be prepared!! Lessons do not always go according to plan something you planning might bomb spectacularly- always have back up activities on hand!
  • Keep an open mind- the more open you are to immersing yourself in a countries culture the more you will enjoy your experience.

 

Teaching abroad is an amazing way to travel the world, gain life experience and build your confidence… just do your research and get the most out of your experience!

Teachers of DTLC, Vietnam

Teachers of DTLC, Vietnam

 

Interview with Internations.org


This week I was asked to be a featured blogger on Internations.org and give an interview about my time living and working in South Korea as well as my experiences as an expat.

The site is a great way for new expats or expats travelling to a new country to get ‘in the know’ of the country and culture they are going into.

Check out the interview here at internations.org

DMZ

DMZ

Moving on… again


So 10 months on we have finished up in korea and looking for our next adventure!

Korea might not have happened by choice, however it couldn’t have worked out better! We were incredibly lucky with our school and landed  a really sweet gig at Tree House with an awesome team and school. Korea gave us the chance to save some money, travel again and try some crazy things however 10 months was enough for us and despite being able to save so much money we have decided to go on one last big adventure and move to my 5th country (4th for Andy) before heading back  to Australia!

Before we make one last big move we have decided on a Europe trip to break things up…

It should go as follows…. ITALY– Rome, Naples, Pisa, Venice-  FRANCE– Paris- SPAIN– Barcelona and Madrid followed by 1/2 weeks in my home Scotland.

Although I have been to all bar 3 locations I am looking forward to exploring them with Andy who has never been before! Have to say Madrid is where I am most looking forward to as I get to see my brother again after 3 years apart and meet his lovely girlfriend for the first time.

I will be writing up as I go but will not be posting until I get home as I only have my tablet (Which can’t connect to my camera!) However you can see snippts in the instagram pictures to the right!

If you have any suggestions for the above cities please feel free to email me… Preferably off the tourist track!!!

Image

Snowboarding…well attempting to!


All smiles before the falls!

All smiles before the falls!

Our last long weekend whilst staying in Korea came up during Seollal or what we know as Lunar New year/ Chinese New year. We decided to use the 4 day holiday to get one last ski trip in before leaving Korea for good. We booked in with EnjoyKorea and set off from Busan on the Friday for what was meant to be a 4.5 hour journey up to High 1 resort in Gangwon-Do… 7 and a half hours later we arrived after what can only be described as a MONSTER traffic jam. It was so bad a girl on our bus had to pee in a cup much to everyone’s amusement!!!

High 1 Ski Runs

High 1 Ski Runs

Unlike our last visit we decided to experiment and try our hand at snowboarding. We figured that as we mastered skiing super quick then snowboarding would be just as easy… boy was I wrong!!! We started out on a flat slope just to try get our balance and despite my best efforts I just could not gain my balance. We decided that it might be easier to try on a slight slope so headed to the slopes to try. Andy seemed to pick it up really quickly and only fell a couple of times.

Me on the other hand…. I just couldn’t get it and to make it worse I couldn’t figure out how to fall on my bum and kept falling flat on my hands knees and even face! Thanks to the light rain the slope had lots of ice on it and when you fell it HURT… A LOT!! I don’t know why but I just couldn’t get the hang of falling on my backside and kept falling forwards.

High 1 slopes

High 1 slopes

After about an hour of trying and a few REALLY hard falls that actually brought me to tears  I gave it one more go and fell so hard on my knee and elbow that I had an egg like bump and couldn’t even walk without a serious limp!! After the saga I had with my back which has just now got better after a year and a half, it was enough for me and I had to change onto skiing! (which is not actually allowed… but that is another story!) I just couldn’t take any more bad falls but not before having to use my snowboard as a sled to get down the rest of the slope!!

With my knee now doubled in size I got back onto the skis and finally started to enjoy the day… snowboarding was just too much balance and coordinated two things that I have a severe lack of! Andy on the other hand was flying down the slopes on his board making it look easy… much to my dismay. (damn you competitive nature!!!)

Postcard- coming 2015!

postcard coming 2015!

We found some postcards that we could post from the top of the mountain even though it stated that it will take one year to arrive and sent them off to our families in Scotland and Australia. We got a great run down the mountain however there were not quite the same views at the top as we had last time… in fact there was no view what so ever!!!

The lovely 'views'

The lovely ‘views’

There was a party at night however we only stayed for one drink with the plan of getting up early to take full advantage of the slopes on the Sunday. However the weather had other ideas and we woke up to rain that had been falling all night. Not only was it cold and wet, parts of the slope had turned to sheer ice… this was not an enjoyable way to ski or snowboard!!!

Andy in the hot tub!

Andy in the hot tub!

After only one run we decided to call it as it was almost dangerous in parts and my legs were killing me from being so tense, Andy also had a few nasty falls on the ice and also ended up using the snowboard as a sled to get down the now ice slope!! Sometimes you just need to know when to quit when you are ahead!!

Luckily instead of just sitting about we were able to go into the outdoor hot tub and just chill out whilst easing our aches and pains from the days skiing. With our drinks cooling in the snow, a view of the mountains while sitting in a bikini in a hot tub it was a pretty sweet way to end the weekend, despite the bruised welts on my knees and elbows!!

What to pack for South Korea


Compared to Thailand Korea actually has a lot more access to things that you might need during your stay (depending on where you are) However there are a couple of things that I wish I had brought… or glad I did!

  • Deodorant- If like me you hate roll on deodorant then I would recommend bringing enough sprays to keep you going (and roll on ones if you like a certain brand) It can be hard to find here and if you do find it it’s usually only one brand like Nivea. Not to mention for one spray it can cost almost $7! This goes for boys AND girls!
  • Bedding- Bedding here can vary in sizes and be very expensive! It can also be not as good quality as back home. If you like your cotton sheets make sure you bring some with you!
  • Towels- Again if you like nice towels bring some with you, all the ones I have seen here are polyester, expensive or really small. It might sound like a small thing but it really makes a difference!
  • Hair dye- If you dye your hair you might want to bring enough to see you through. Yes you can get dye here but remember it is for Asian hair which is dark brown/black. Why is this a problem? Well for someone who is naturally fair I decided to dye my hair dark blonde/light brown using Korean hair dye and it came out peroxide blonde! Luckily this colour suited me but meant I had to keep dying my hair while here to avoid roots!
  • Make up- Again almost all make up you get here will be for Asian skin which is lighter so if you like foundation or BB cream bring some from home if you want the right tone. Also if you do buy some make sure it doesn’t contain ‘whitener’ which many products do!
  • Toothpaste- One I wish I had known before! Of course you can buy toothpaste here but almost all Korean toothpaste’s do not contain fluoride. So bring some of your preferred brand from back home so you know what’s in it!
  • Birth control Again yes it is available here but it may not be the one you’re used to… not something you want to mess up! So even if it means a year’s supply of pill then it’s worth it!
  • Girls ‘products’- Sorry guys avert your eyes!! Tampons are almost non-existent here (at least where I live!) and you are only able to really get pads…. So if you prefer these or have a favourite brand then its best to bring a year’s supply!
  • spices If you like cooking bring some with you!
  • Bank details- As I have mentioned before you WILL save money in Korea and unless you want to carry a load of cash home with you bringing your home back details is useful. You need your SWIFT code (international bank number) your account number and your BSB/sort code you also need your banks address.
  • International driving licence-  Apparently quite easy to get if you are anywhere other than the UK, Andy got his here. You only need if you plan on driving anything over 125cc. We planned on getting a car but ended up just getting a 100cc scooter.

Thing to Wear

  • Remember Korea has all 4 seasons. It gets very hot and humid in summer and very dry and cold in winter. Make sure you bring light loose clothing for summer and warm clothing for winter!
  • If you are big (and by that I mean 10/12+ or L/XL male then you might want to bring plenty to wear. If you are in the big cities of Busan and Seoul then there are stores (however can be expensive!) with western sizes but if not bring plenty! Some UK stores do send to Korea… my favourite being www.newlook.com one of my favourite stores from back home, western sizes, cheap delivery, quick and good prices! So much so our Korean manager has started using it!
  • Shoes- if like me you have big feet (UK size 7) then you will struggle to find non-ugly shoes. Make sure you bring shoes for summer and winter!

Electronics

  • Laptops/tablets– Yes Korean might own Samsung but it doesn’t mean it’s cheap!! We expected to get good priced electronics here but all shops only seem to sell top of the range gear here which costs much more than back home! There is a great electronics market in Yongsan you can find out about here.
  • Smart phone- WIFI is always available and these come in handy. If like me you keep close contact with parents and friends back home get them to download whatsapp, free international messaging service where you can chat, send pictures or videos for free. Thanks to this I can chat to my best friend everyday… and my parents!! Be sure to make sure it is unlocked before you come so you can get a sim card (Also iphone 3’s are hard to find a sim for here!)

Korea is getting better for getting your hands on things but it all depends on where you live… hopefully this helps!

If you think of anything else please add below!