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Sep. 14th, 2010 @ 02:30 pm (no subject)
Hi there...

So I'm looking to work abroad, preferably in Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea, and I have no idea where to start.

Some key points about me:

- I don't know any other languages aside from english, but I'd like to learn.
- I just graduated and I'd like to pay off some student loans
- I'd like to be able to both work AND travel
- I'd like to go for 4 months to a year
- I want to be completely immersed in the culture, I want to know the language when I get out, I don't want to stay in a big city where I can get away with speaking english. I want to eat great food, learn, adjust, get out of my comfort zone...

Questions:

- JET program... worth the year long wait to know if you're in?
- Are there known programs that are big ole scams that I should stay away from?
- Are there programs where I'll be able to work, pay off loans and still travel?
- Which programs do you recommend?
- Are there volunteer programs that are worth the money?
- Wwoof programs in Thailand?

-Teaching english... I like children, but I'm also terrified of teaching.... any tips?

Programs I've looked into:

Bunac- Singapore work program or Volunteer Cambodia
Jet
i-to-i - expensive and less helping, more helping yourself, but still look cool
Geovisions

I subscribe to goabroad.com

Really, I want to be able to, as I said, eat good food, learn a language, get out of america, have an impact and be impacted by the culture I'm in....

This is abbreviated and yet rambly, sorry, any advice would be appreciated.

x-posted
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morrigun:
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 15th, 2010 12:14 am (UTC)

Peace Corps

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Why not consider Peace Corps? Yes, it's a two year commitment -- but if you have one year available, another one won't kill ya. :-)

Peace Corps will work with you to help determine what you can do and where you should go. Your student loans get deferred, you earn money, you can travel. It's an excellent program -- and you will really get to know another culture and language.

http://www.peacecorps.gov/
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From:morrigun
Date:September 15th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)

Re: Peace Corps

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I keep considering it, but I'd also like to be able to travel a little bit more than I think he peace corps allows... I also might be a little bit more selfish in terms of my own time and space than the peace corps allows.... I don't want to be more of a hinderance than a help
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From:anandimide
Date:September 15th, 2010 05:13 am (UTC)
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Four months to a year doesn't seem very long to me, especially if you want to work AND travel AND learn the language! I'm in Vietnam, trying to learn Vietnamese, & the language is so different from English that it's a real struggle. But anyway, my experience here has been great so far... The money's good, so it's easy to save up to travel. And most people want to work in the big city with lots of English speakers, so you can make really good money if you're willing to teach in a smaller town. (Although I have heard about teachers getting offered MASSES of money to teach in the countryside, & then finding out that their job entailed teaching a couple hundred kids at once.)
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From:morrigun
Date:September 19th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
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Haha, maybe I should stick to a big city then. I'm kind of terrified of being overwhelmed with too many people and being under-qualified... How about, work and travel and have a fairly strong grasp of the language?

How's vietnam? That's also on my list
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From:anandimide
Date:September 20th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
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I love Vietnam! The pay is great, the people are wonderful, & it's really safe without being any less strange & interesting. And they need lots of English teachers. I wouldn't worry too much about qualifications... it's harder to get a job without them, but there's a really high demand. You could always come to the city first, get comfortable, & then go somewhere smaller if it suited you.

The language is really crazy... it uses the Latin alphabet, so it's easier (perhaps) than Japanese, for instance (which has 3 different writing systems, so foreigners almost never become literate)... but the grammar is really different, & it's a tonal language, which makes things hard. You could probably work, travel, & learn enough to have a simple conversation, if you're really dedicated... People here love to help foreigners learn Vietnamese, which helps. Of course, if you have any tendency toward expat barhopping, that can easily take over your life!

The thing about living in a city like Saigon is that you can easily (well, with a little bit of money) spend your time here floating in a bubble of Western-ness--& quite a lot of people do. (It's a very segregated world: my Vietnamese coworkers ask me questions like "Do you know any Vietnamese people?"--which says a lot about the situation here, sadly.) But it's just as easy to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture. I actually live on the main backpacker street (because I became really fond of the people who run my hotel!) but 99% of my interactions are with Vietnamese people. You have to chose the world you want to live in, basically.
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From:morrigun
Date:September 22nd, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
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That's all SUPER helpful information! What program are you doing? Unless you're just working.... I like encouragement, a friend of mine traveled to Paris and my friends who were trying to speak French just got snubbed because they were Americans :( I'm hoping not to encounter that in my travels.

I want to do my best not to live in the western bubble, even though it's probably tempting at times. I'm leaning towards Thailand at the moment... but I'm still not sure. I'm a big fan of warm climates so I was considering that general area.

Blah, anyways, you've got me excited, I can't wait! Any suggestions as to how to choose a program? Or... a place to live? How are the mosquitoes in Vietnam?
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From:anandimide
Date:September 22nd, 2010 04:30 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I'm just working now... The first thing I did here was get my CELTA at ILA Vietnam--which is generally considered the most reputable place to do it here... & I think they do volunteer programs too. Check them out! I think the website is discovereltvietnam.com.

I chose Vietnam over Thailand partly because VN takes education way seriously, & so they treat their teachers very well, but also because VN is less touristy than Thailand. So that could something to consider!

In terms of language, VN is definitely not like France... They love Americans here in Saigon (& all the other places I've been too--but I haven't been to the north yet) & are really excited when we foreigners attempt to speak Vietnamese. I basically get lavished with praise even when I make major mistakes (like calling a very old person "older sister" instead of "grandmother"). People are just really kind here! I wear the traditional ao dai for teaching, & basically I can't go anywhere without a bunch of people yelling "beautiful! beautiful!" or giving me thumbs-up or whatever.

The mosquitoes aren't bad at all here... I never wear insect repellent, & rarely get bit. Malaria isn't a problem except in one very small area. As for where to live... I'd say just walk down the street & look for hotels, or else ask the foreigners you see (esp. the ones wearing business clothes). For $10 a night you can get a room with A/C at a hotel or a guest house.

Good luck! And feel free to ask more questions if you have them.
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From:anandimide
Date:September 22nd, 2010 04:31 am (UTC)
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(P.S., Dave's ESL Cafe is a website well worth checking out, esp. the forums... LOTS of info.)
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From:morrigun
Date:November 9th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
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Heey so I've got a question for you... did you happen to do a program? Because now I'm thinking vietnam might be the best option. I've heard they pay well and you can save AND some schools pay for a one way ticket back to the states?

I have no idea HOW to go about doing this (visas, help with housing, all the stuff that some programs provide)

I was considering doing this: http://www.tesolcourse.com/ but I can't tell if its a major scam... they also don't help you out like some programs do with visas, job assistance.... bla bla bla http://www.chinaprogram.org/Cost.php does, but its a lot of money and i dont know if i want to go to china.

Sorry for badgering you with questions... I just have NO idea what I'm doing
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From:anandimide
Date:December 1st, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
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[So sorry; I had this comment in process for ages, but never finished it!]

I recommend ILA Vietnam's CELTA program... They're not perfect, but they're really well-respected, & rightfully so. It's something like $1400 if you register a little early, but I think it's worth it. I didn't have a great experience in the program, due to personal reasons, but they really do care about their students (Vietnamese as well as teacher-trainees) & take their business very seriously. They help with visas & all of that too, of course. (And the location is also really good for newcomers to the country--right next to the backpacker district, which makes the transition a lot easier, even if you don't want to be part of that world in the long run.) The CELTA program is a lot of work, but it's only for a month, & recent college grads generally have less trouble with the workload, because they're used to that kind of thing. I'm really shy, so trainee-teaching my first lesson was pretty scary, but they ease you into it really well--basically baby you, actually.

The whole thing seems really intimidating at first, but it really isn't! The visa thing isn't a problem. There's some paperwork you should get (police clearance, etc.) for a work permit, but there are lots of people working here without work permits, so you shouldn't worry about it. I mean, you REALLY should get the paperwork, but try not to lose too much sleep over it. Basically the only major hurdle is the money! If you can get that together, then there's really nothing to worry about, logistically.

As for how much you should have to live on here: I'd budget at least $600/month for when you're starting out here. If you're not very good at asceticism, $750 would be much better. That amount doesn't allow for loads of extras, but I found it totally sufficient, even allowing for the fact that I was eating expensive Western restaurant food for every meal & didn't have any Vietnamese friends yet to help me get better prices. You can get a job pretty fast, but they generally pay on a monthly basis, so you have to allow for that. And also for possible culture shock, & that sort of thing... I completed my CELTA course in the beginning of June, but some shit happened & left me without the energy to deal with the stress of job-hunting IN A FOREIGN CULTURE (!!!!) for a couple months. I deal pretty badly with stress in general, so it wasn't much of a surprise for me, & I'd prepared for that possibility. It's a very good idea to be prepared for that kind of thing, though, unless you're one of those highly capable people who is also experienced in navigating foreign cultures. Again, it's not something to stress out about too much--it's really easy to make friends here, since the expat world is sociable & the Vietnamese all want English-speaking friends; there are always people around who will help you out in some way or another, even if you've just met them--but you should be prepared, for sure.

The one major thing I would advise, other than that, is to get your degree authenticated in your own country!! I'm in the work-permit process now & that's a major (cost-wise) thing that not even ILA told me about. I'm not even sure what "authentication" means, really, or I'd tell you more; but it's costing me upwards of $1000. Arrrgh. (The work permit will quickly pay for itself, but still!) Also, if your degree comes from an institution that calls itself a "college" rather than a "university," it will probably be helpful to get a letter in advance, stating that your degree is a 4-year one & exactly equal to a "university" degree. (One of the little irritations about the work-permit process is that they have to translate your degree into Vietnamese, & the translation renders "college" as something more like a vocational school or whatever. So you need to back it up with a letter from your school saying it was a four-year degree.)

Anyway. I wish you the best of luck! Feel free to message me, though I can't guarantee a speedy reply...
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From:morrigun
Date:December 2nd, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
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So, I'm slightly intimidated by the CELTA application since Grammar and I aren't 100% on board with each other, which makes me think that maybe I shouldn't be doing this... I can definitely write papers, but KNOWING WHY something is a certain way isn't always something I can piece together on the spot. I'm not overly worried by the work load since I just finished 2 years of liberal arts and 3 years of art school and I'm used to all nighters and all that. I'm willing to work hard, but I'm also a little shy. I've got teaching experience so I can do that.

I'm also looking into TEFL programs as well, which are easy to get into, but at the same time, that terrifies me because maybe I won't be able to get a job afterwards because they're so easy to get into?

Are there any KNOWN Scams out there? or companies that people just don't get hired from? I "got into" http://www.teflcourse.net/tefl-courses-locations/vietnam/ho-chi-minh/ and I'm not sure if I should go with the more reputable CELTA or this or something else?

I like this one http://www.cactustefl.com/tefl/course.php?course_id=2938

because they include vietnamese language training, which is something I'd really like.

Also, is it really REALLY difficult to find a job teaching? My boyfriend is doing a program in china where he does a program and then is automatically in a school (which i would love to find....)

Gah, sorry for spamming... I just dont know where to ask questions. I really appreciate you taking the time when you can!

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From:anandimide
Date:December 3rd, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
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I'd say, definitely go with the CELTA. The application look intimidating, but basically if they can see that you took the trouble to try to figure it out, & the English you used in your responses isn't totally abysmal, then they'll accept you. There was one guy in my class who didn't even do the application because he applied, like, the day before, & there was still an opening, so they interviewed him briefly, accepted him, & took his money. He had teaching experience already, which probably made a difference, but still. Basically, what the application does is weed out the people who are too lazy to even try, or who are non-native speakers trying to pass themselves off as much better than they actually are. It's not actually harder to get into, it just takes more work to apply.

The CELTA program is run by Cambridge, & they keep close watch on it, so any CELTA school is going to be the real deal. It's also accepted in more countries, & has more clout in general.

I wouldn't bother with the Vietnamese language training... It takes time away from the TEFL part of the course, & it's SO easy to find a Vietnamese person who will be THRILLED to teach you a few words. ILA offers free Vietnamese lessons to its teachers, so that's one option; you can also always exchange English lessons for Vietnamese lessons. It's really easy to do that!

It isn't hard at all to find a job here... China likes to do the automatic-job thing, but I think that's mainly because they want to keep you in China (because otherwise many people would come there to study cheaply, & then go to another country to work). VN doesn't have that system because they don't really need it. They pay well enough that people tend to stay. And it's really easy to get a job. Your TEFL/CELTA school will quite likely hire you if you want to work there, & if not, there are gads of schools that are begging for teachers. And you'll be impeccably qualified, so you really don't have anything to worry about.

And again, you can always message me!
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From:snapes_mistress
Date:September 15th, 2010 10:58 am (UTC)
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Peppy Kids Club in Japan recruits mostly from abroad, although you have to be able to go to one of their offices. I believe they are in Toronto, Sydney, LA, NY, and London? No experience required, easy job, plenty of free time for hobbies and travel.
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From:morrigun
Date:September 19th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
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Ooo, I will definitely look into that. Luckily I'm 20 minutes from manhattan so I suppose that works out! The site doesn't say much though, do you teach with someone else or is it just you? Where are you typically stationed? Being a little bit out of a big city would be nice.
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From:snapes_mistress
Date:September 30th, 2010 05:14 am (UTC)
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You mostly teach alone. I just started working for them. You probably won't be placed in a big city. The two weeks of training SUCKED, but were well worth it. So far, its been a pretty sweet job.
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From:kandidiyki
Date:September 27th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
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Почти все наши знакомые уже путешествовали по программе work travel usa, вернулись очень довольны. Теперь и я также решился. К тому же денег можно заработать неплохо. Да и попутешествовать сможешь за рубежом. Лавина новых впечатлений обеспечена!