24/01/15
An English Class in Vietnam

Survival Tips and Resources for New TEFL Teachers

I vividly remember how terrifying my first teaching experience was in Vietnam. I was nervous and had a sore throat, the heat was stifling, the children were noisy and restless because it was Sunday afternoon and I was completely overwhelmed. By the end of that first class I was practically in tears and thought I’d never survive my nine-month teaching contract – but things got better. Continue reading

17/01/15
Us on the Beach at Cat Ba Island

This Is It

We’re half way through our time in Hanoi and there are just 18 weeks of the semester left before we leave Vietnam – how did that happen? I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions but this has led me to a startling realisation. In short, our experience here, which seemed to stretch onwards forever when we first arrived, now feels like it’s running out fast. This is it - we have just a few months left of our life in Vietnam and we need to make the most of it. Continue reading

10/01/15
View of Halong Bay from Cat Ba Island

Escape to Cat Ba Island

A new year, a new destination – well, for a few days at least. After an unimpressive and exhausting Christmas week filled with teaching in Hanoi, we were looking forward to the New Year and the rare four-day weekend it gifted us. To celebrate the start of 2015 we took advantage of our time off work by escaping to Cat Ba Island in Halong Bay for some adventure and relaxation. Continue reading

27/12/14
Dressing up as Santa in Vietnam

Finding Some Christmas Cheer in Vietnam

Being away from home at Christmas time is hard. I’m surprised by how tough it feels because when we lived in England, Christmas wasn’t a big thing for me. In fact, I hated the present-buying culture and although I’d usually have about a week off from work, the stress of driving around the country squeezing in visits to our scattered family usually left me tired and deflated come January. However, after battling through our second Christmas overseas I’m determined to make sure we’re back home to celebrate next year. Continue reading

13/12/14
A River and Limestone Mountains in Northern Vietnam

A (Bizarre) Birthday Trip to Kim Boi

Hanoi is a concentrated city, it’s centre in the Old Quarter is a tightly wound sprawl of snaking lanes and shop-lined streets, pavements over-flowing with parked motorbikes, goods spilling out from open-fronted stores and people sat in clusters on tiny stalls drinking coffee and eating from steaming bowls. Zoom out from that area and you’ll find the streets get wider but they’re no less congested; there are bigger, glass-fronted shops, shiny malls and a few lakes and small green spaces to dilute all the steel, glass, stone and smog but you can’t see any mountains or fields off in the distance, the view gives the impression of a never-ending city. Continue reading

5/12/14
P1080102

Dreaming of a Thailand Holiday

Tuesday morning is the hardest part of my week, I teach four grade one classes in a row and I always finish them half-deafened, exhausted and defeated. For me, the five-year-old kids in these classes are great one-on-one and when I meet them out in the playground, but when they’re packed into a tiny classroom and asked to sit still and be quiet for more than a minute they can be an absolute nightmare. Admittedly, the rest of my week is full of lovely classes so I can’t complain too much, but still, when Tuesdays roll around once more I find myself dreaming of an escape. Continue reading

29/11/14
Andrew with his Teachers' Day Gifts

Celebrating Teachers’ Day in Vietnam

Did you know that November 20th is Teachers’ Day in Vietnam? Yes, that’s right, in Vietnam there’s a whole day set aside each year for students to give thanks to their hard-working teachers and shower them with adoration. Although there’s an International Teachers’ Day on October 5th, it isn’t really celebrated in the UK, so I think I definitely picked the right country to start teaching in! Here’s a look at our first Teachers’ Day in Vietnam. Continue reading

24/11/14
Our Top 10 Things to do in Rome

Rome on My Mind

2015 is shaping up to be a great year. The first half of it will be spent in Asia working out the last five months of our teaching contracts in Vietnam and then relaxing in Thailand for a month. After that another summer in the UK awaits followed by an autumn of road-tripping through America and a proper British Christmas, our first in two years. After that, my thoughts keep returning to Europe, a continent I’ve lived in almost my whole life but have barely explored. Continue reading