Over the past 6 months I’ve been in Southeast Asia for five of them. At this point, I’ve been here so long that I’m no longer a tourist, which is good because that was never my plan. Last May I had an idea to come teach English and here I sit a year later with a plan that unfolded in ways I could of only imagined. I came to Southeast Asia last December, and as we all know, I never really left. When I first came to visit I planned it on my own, but I chose two companies to help me when I decided to live and work here. The companies I worked with were >Global Work & Travel Co. (GWT) and XploreAsia (XA). GWT helped me get over here and XA certified me to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and find placement as a teacher in a Thai school.
Global Work & Travel Co. was a company I found online. There were some good reviews, but there were also some dodgy reviews. I decided to go with GWT because I knew people who used the program and they gave pretty solid reviews. Sadly, in the end it was a mistake. I ended up wasting a lot of money by going through a company that did nothing but connect me with who I needed to deal with, which was XA. Global Work and Travel Co. was supposed to help with my pre-departure necessities, but they were of practically no use. I got all of my flights, my documents, my clearances and my visa on my own. The company also engaged in high-pressure tactics to get me to commit to almost all of their offers. If a company has to press you to immediately do something, it’s probably because they know there are better ones you could find if you took some extra time. When I look back I tell myself I paid for comfortability, which would have made sense, had I never accidentally spent four months in Thailand. I realized much too late that nothing is truly uncomfortable if you’re adaptable. So in the end, do not do what I did. Do not use GWT. Go directly to XA.
I spent three weeks in Hua Hin, a beach town three hours south of Bangkok, and I did my TESOL certification there along with 45 westerners from the U.S.A, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia. My accommodation was a five-minute walk from the beach and life was good. The XA program ended up being a great way to assimilate to the country before moving into a full-time position. Of course, the glitz and glamour of Thailand had long worn off for me by the start of the program, but I still appreciated it for the other participants. XploreAsia made me feel like I was a freshman in college again. It was similar in the sense that everyone was nervous, so it was easy to get to know people. We always learn a lot about ourselves when we step out of our comfort zones, but it can be just as interesting to learn about others. Learning about others can give you a perspective you otherwise wouldn’t have. I will mention that with 45 people from all over the world, you’re bound to run into some interesting characters. It’s important to take the good with the bad and remember, we learn more from adversity than from smooth sailing.
I enjoyed hearing the reasons people chose to teach in Thailand. In the end, it’s always funny to see the lengths people will go to say, “I’m doing this self-servingly,” or “I’m running away from something.” But what’s wrong with running from something if it leads you where you’re meant to be? When the program ended everyone was eager and excited to see what the future would hold, and after three weeks the magic of meeting 45 new people had begun to fade. During those final days it was like the stars aligned and people started being people right as the program was coming to an end. I was grateful for that because the experience ended before it could be ruined.
As for my time with XA, it was worth the cost. My only con would be that the office looked like a lot like the cast of Friends, but are you really surprised? Anybody who is black and has done anything outside of being with your family understands not seeing faces like your own. Oh, and remember, at the beginning of the blog post I mentioned something about a placement for a position in a Thai school? Well, funny story about that! I kind of decided to forgo the placement my program offered to me.
Want to know more about how that went down? Look out for my next post!