James is an awesome guy. I met him in Wakai, one of a small group of remote islands in North Sulawesi, Indonesia called the Togian Islands. I was waiting for a boat to a smaller, even remoter island than Wakai. Turns out James was going to the same place. I asked him where he was from and he replied, “Jersey.” Weird, he didn’t sound American.
It is paradoxical that we need to sit down in order to go somewhere far fast. Be it if we take a train between states or a flight across countries, we sit for the duration of it. If we tried to run or swim there, it would be tiring and/or dangerous. Our safest bet is to stay put, while also moving rapidly.
A fellow foreign teacher I had just met at my new school in South Korea told me a story of his first night in Korea. After getting off the plane in Seoul, taking a bus for over five hours, he met a few of his new male Korean colleagues for the first time and in two hours time found himself more drunk than he’d ever been in his life.
One of the most common questions teachers and those who aspire to teach abroad ask, or more likely debate ad infinitum on obscure internet forums, is whether it is better to apply directly to schools or to use the services of a recruiting company to obtain gainful employment teaching abroad.
One of the best things about living in a foreign country is eating the traditional food and really embracing the culture. I consider myself a ‘foodie,’ and was delighted to try a new cuisine when I first moved to South Korea in 2009. Back in Oregon, I loved eating spicy Mexican food and often found myself eating hot pepper jellies at a local café in my hometown.
When I first moved to Indonesia I did a 100-day “happiness challenge” on Facebook. Each day I wrote a short anecdote or sentiment about something I was grateful for. Sometimes it was a bottle of wine. Other times it was a simple smile from a stranger.
Picture this: You’re a first time English teacher in South Korea. Maybe it’s the first time you’ve lived abroad, maybe not. Either way, it’s a huge leap of faith to get a teaching job at an unknown school in an unknown place and leave your friends, family and everything you know to become an ESL teacher in South Korea.
I awoke as a delighted child to the sight of misty mountains and the sensation of fresh cool air on my first morning in Sapa, Vietnam. My friend and I finally made it unscathed on our second attempt to escape the 40+ heat of Ha Long Bay. I was snuggled beneath a comforter. I jumped out of bed and went exploring the town. I found a quaint place for breakfast with proper coffee and fresh juice.