When I was in the Philippines, I met an English teacher in a bar. Or, I mean, I met a dude who was supposed to be an English teacher. He had scored a gig teaching the staff of a Vietnamese hotel, but after some visa issues, he was no longer able to go. Who knew Vietnam cared about who entered the country, right? Anyway, it was an under-the-table gig, easily transferrable, and he asked if I could go in his place – he’d make the call, introduce me to the head of HR at the hotel, and in two months time, I was in Hoi An.
It was intimidating, sure. I didn’t speak their language in the least, which meant that much of my initial classes featured a lot of pantomiming that, now that I think about it, really might have come off as insensitive. I was also having a lot of trouble creating a distinction in my mind between work and travel. I had never had a real job while abroad – I had definitely never taught English before – and didn’t realize I was supposed to take it seriously. I know, it sounds really bad when I read it back to myself.
But I turned it around. By the end of the course two months later, the students had made some progress (though it obviously takes longer than two months working with a half-ass teacher to master anything), and I had grown close enough with them that they invited me to intimate family occasions, hungover though I was.
That’s the point of my next article on Go Overseas. Figuring out how to handle your new job or internship abroad and turning it into something you can kick ass at. Check it out below: