By: Ana Santos
Exploring opportunities while enjoying diversity in Asia.
My passion for people, culture, and languages has inspired me to travel to more than 40 countries. It all started when I was a baby traveling and camping with my family in Europe. This allowed me to travel and made me curious about learning foreign languages as well as diversity. To fund my travel and research as a Masters student, I’ve decided to take TEFL class in Istanbul, and I’m currently teaching in Vietnam. I like studying, and at the age of 42, I thought it could be the right time to teach and inspire others in developing countries. With a focus on transportation and ecotourism while travelling and researching, I settled in Hanoi where I saw great opportunity to do what I like the most: traveling and learning. In between I’m funding my adventures through teaching English and online business.
As an International student in England, Germany, and Turkey, where I took my TEFL class, I got to know people from all over the world and had the chance to share experiences and sort out ways to achieve my goals. Furthermore, I got the confidence to do so. Teachers in Istanbul were very supportive, and International TEFL Academy website has valuable information which is priceless. This information is actually based largely on students' experiences and contributions such as yours and mine!
Tips & tricks - saving you two months’ time in Vietnam!
Read carefully what I'm about to say. These tips will save you valuable time in Vietnam.
1 - If you have a blog, be ready to download “Coc Coc” browser (your blog will be blocked by the Vietnamese government).
2 - Bring a mobile phone that you can use with the Vietnamese SIM card (you will save a fortune until you get paid by the school that hires you).
3 - If you have debts in your country such as university fees or student loans to pay for the next few years or decades such as I do, my foreigner friends, make sure you have enough money in your bank account before taking this next step. It's really weird, but schools pay in cash and if you're not happy with this, you won't be hired. To get money in your Vietnamese bank account from an employer, you need a contract and a boss willing to help you out by transferring the money there. Don't count on that.
4 - PayPal. Make sure that you can transfer and receive. We need options and precautions. Vietnam is a really weird country, so if you’re up for adventure, be my guest. Even though it can be very difficult to adjust to this culture, I’m happy here and having loads of fun. I have visited several provinces and UNESCO sites, and Thailand has been booked.
5 - Children and adults can be timid of English teachers. Be wise while choosing methodologies and ways to approach the people on the streets, on demo lessons, and in class. Vietnamese young adults like foreigners in general, and I’ve been told by many of my students that they never had the chance to talk with an expat.
6 - Be flexible regarding your schedule and time to work. It's very easy for native English speakers to get work. In a month you should have enough to travel for three others
7 - Google, Google, and Google
8 - Ask, Ask, Ask
9 - Get your low-cost plane tickets and travel. Be prepared to have delayed flights and buses cancelled. I’m here to research on transportation, so I know by experience what I’m talking about.
11 – Vietnam is known as the paradise of vegans, but there is also dog and frog! Enjoy!
12 - Value yourself. Keep focus and optimistic and ask for support anytime you need. There is no reason to feel alone in Vietnam. There are thousands of expats here as well as many communities. You can find several on FB.
13 – As a solo female traveler, I recommend Vietnam. Use your sense of humour as it often helps. You should be fine then and keep smiling!
14 – People in Vietnam like foreigners in general, and they will ask you all things possible. It’s your decision to answer or not.
Lifestyle in Vietnam – The paradise of nature lovers and photographers
Besides getting to know Vietnam and its natural wonders, Hanoi is a fascinating city with a lot to offer: crossing the road in the Old Quarter with the chaotic traffic, going to the theatre, picking the best street food, visiting the temples. Here I can ride my bicycle or enjoy my private swimming pool.
So far I had the chance of vising sites such Halong Bay, a world heritage site and natural wonder, Hue (the ancestral capital), The Ba Be National Park, Nhin Binh where the King Kong movie was produced and spending a few days in Sapa with one of the 57 minorities. Vietnam is full of surprises and the best is yet to come.
Ana Santos was born in Portugal but lived as an expat for many years. She has studied in England, Germany, and Turkey, and she has started teaching English in Italy in a luxury resort. She holds a BA in International Hospitality Management and moved to Vietnam to research.