From a Shane English School Teacher: First Time Going Abroad
Travelling truly does open your mind and makes you grow as a person in ways you would never even imagine. No matter how much advice you read or listen to about other people’s experiences abroad, you will only know your own response once you have done it. Travelling the world is such a unique experience, and no one else can have the same experience as you, even if you travel with a partner you will feel and experience the new sights and sounds in your own individual ways. This is the true beauty of travelling.
Do the research, even if you think you know the answers. Read up on some of the history and current affairs of the place you will be travelling to as this will add depth to the trip, as opposed to travelling through without knowing what has happened and what is happening in that country. Get acquainted with the comments sections on travel blogs, booking sites and different reviews for places. The comments are where you will find the most honest opinions on the places you are travelling to. This applies to restaurants, accommodation and even specific things like a mobile service provider. And don’t look only online. Before you head off. make a point to ask people who have travelled in their lives. The best question to ask is to find out what they would have done differently on their trip and why.
Keep all these notes in the back of your mind as a resource to access when needed. Try not to get overwhelmed by it all, but rather take it with a pinch of salt and write your own story. The best advice I was given when I started travelling was to plan, plan, plan. Then go with the flow.
And if you’re going abroad, it’s often a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into: Living Abroad and Culture Shock
Some Things to Plan…
On arrival in any country, the first thing you want to do is exchange your currency so you have money to get around, buy a snack or set up your mobile. Be very careful not to rush into this, and know the exchange rates. I always thought exchange rates were not a bargaining game, but I was wrong. Coming to Thailand I was offered half of what the rate was and I took it naively thinking it had changed overnight. It hadn’t. I was swindled. This incident happened to me at the airport, and I have since learnt that exchanging at most airports costs more than places in the city or town you are visiting. So check this before. There are many people online who give you advice on the best place to exchange currency in most parts of the world. In case you don’t find a good exchange rate at the airport, make sure you have brought a small amount of currency along with you to pay for transport into town. (You should be able to exchange for most major currencies in either your hometown or the international airport in your own country.)
So now that you have your money you want to leave the airport, but you’re not sure on the best transport options. If you are on a budget you look to the public transport, I’d advise that even if you have the money take the public transport for a more authentic experience, Uber is the same worldwide, so you’re not missing much. Depending on how long you are going to stay in that city check the different ticket options for the transport and which areas it runs in. Many places have cards for monthly travel which is much cheaper than buying a daily ticket. Don’t be afraid to talk to the people at the counters, they are there to help, and if they don’t speak your language they often find someone who does. Just be friendly and people are generally very helpful.
Now that you’ve made it to your hotel or hostel, you’re on the Wi-Fi to tell all friends and family you have arrived safe and sound. Remember, you won’t always be at the hotel so you won’t always have free Wi-Fi, and trust me you will need your phone when you’re out and about. You may get a bit lost, and need to look at a map or need to ask a question in another language and use Google translate. As much as you think you won’t need it you will. Never leave the hotel with no credit on your phone, unless you’re going to buy credit. Ask at the hotel reception or the hostel the best place is to buy a SIM and credit for your mobile. Many hostels have special deals with mobile companies giving hostel patrons a discount or special package.
You could also figure out which teaching destination is best for you: Best Places in Asia to Teach, Live, and Earn
The above advice is only a sneak peak of tips and tricks of travelling, there is so much more to know. For now, use the above to reduce the stress of arriving in a new country, once you’re set up it is easier to get around and make contact with people if you are stuck. Make sure your phone is charged with battery and credit, take a charger in your bag when out and about, get a pre-loaded transport card so you always have a way to get back to the hostel and keep an emergency amount of currency on you just in case.
The rest is easy and a whole lot of fun. Never be afraid to ask for help where ever you are, you will find that people are amazing.
Do you want fully experience another culture? Live there while you teach abroad.
About the Author
Tatum Condon a 27-year-old South African girl with Irish family. Her dream growing up was to be a mechanical engineer for Formula One Team McLaren. Any sport which is in water, she is a part of it. Even if the water is frozen, count her in. She is currently teaching and living in the land of smiles, Thailand, while sharing stories of her life adventures and experiences. She hopes you enjoy.