adventures, Life

The truth and the lies

When I made the decision to live and work in another country I knew it was going to take research, preparation and saving money. So I set about doing just that. The plan was to teach English overseas for one year and once there decide if I wanted to stay another year, try another country or head back home.  Initially I wanted to go to Czech Republic but decided on Thailand because the cost of living is way cheaper.

Someone I worked with gave me the name of an agency called Work Explore Abroad. I applied and a few days later I received an email advising me that my application has been approved for teaching in Thailand. I then received my info pack, made the necessary payments and booked my plane ticket. My agency then put me in touch with the TEFL school XploreAsia and paid my course fee and placement fee. I successfully completed the month-long course. So far everything went smoothly until the owner of XploreAsia called me aside one day and told that he will not be able to place me in a school once I have completed the course and that he might only be able to find me work in May (4 months after the course). In Thailand most government schools re-open in May and October, those are the months when the big intakes happen and as I missed the October intake they could only place me in May. He said he never received my application for approval from Work Explore Abroad and if he had to see it then he would not have approved it for December. Instead he would have told me to come in April instead which would be in time for May placement. He said that Thai schools prefer hiring Caucasian teachers. Basically my lovely caramel skin was just not gonna cut it.

This is what I don’t understand when Work Explore Abroad emailed me to tell me that my application was approved who did the get approval from. The lady at Work Explore Abroad could not find the email where Xplore Asia gives the approval and Explore Asia claims they did not receive my application nor sent an approval.

The only thing that Xplore Asia could offer me was a volunteer position which I still had to pay an admin and processing fee for. They put me in touch with another company called Dragon Fly who places volunteers in Thai schools who cannot afford to hire full-time ESL teachers. So after graduating I moved to the south of Thailand to a in the middle of nowhere rural kind of place. Luckily the school offered free accommodation so I would be able to keep costs down until May intake. Unfortunately I couldn’t do much as there was nothing to do where I stayed. My daily routine entailed going to school teaching and going home. That’s it. I managed to stay for a month but realized that I was going to run out of money if I stayed there. I posted my CV on which is a job website for ESL teachers and received replies from schools who wanted to interview me. That was when I decided to move to Bangkok. Bear in mind all this moving around, travelling, visa extensions was money coming out of my own pocket.

I then started going for interviews and here’s the thing all my interviews went well but if you wanted to teach at a Thai you need a degree as this is now a new legal requirement (which Xplore Asia knew about). Which brings me to my second question. As a second English degree student why did these agencies “approve” my application? Xplore Asia said that even though it is a requirement that there will not be enough teachers with degrees that schools will have to employ some teachers who do not have degrees. Ok, that did not happen for me. It is important to note that neither company wanted to take any responsibility for my predicament that I found myself in. I then tried to get partial refunds to get a plane ticket home. That’s right I was ready to head home but again neither companies were prepared to help me in any way which is quite disappointing seeing as I paid them both large amounts of money and did not get much in return. In fact the info pack Work Explore Abroad sent was stuff I could have Googled and I still had to apply for the visa myself. All she did was give me contact details for Xplore Asia, that’s all I really paid for, the name of another company.

I have managed to find myself employment at an amazing International school in Bangkok. I’m currently teaching at their summer camp and the head of the English department has advised me that they are looking for a primary school teacher for the new term and wanted to know if I would be interested. My ticket home is in October and after all I have been through I am really looking forward to going home.

I’m not sure how long I will stay once I get back home because there are so many places I want to see. One bad experience is not enough to stop me. I still have my qualification to teach English as a second language and I have more than enough teaching experience.

Humorous, Life, travel

How to piss off a South African

The Matador Network is website all about travel and they have a series of articles that they run called “how to piss of a/an [insert nationality]”. These articles are almost always sarcastic and make fun of how we stereotype people from other countries. I thought it would be fun if I added my 2 cents. So here is my version:

South Africans are generally a friendly bunch. We love big get-together’s, great food, sports and go out of our way to make visitors feel welcome in this beautiful country of ours. That’s not to say that you can’t get us riled up.

Africa is a continent, South Africa is a country

More accurately Africa is a gigantic continent and in comparison South Africa is a small country at the southern tip of Africa. No, I don’t know your friend from Kenya. How could I possibly? No, I’m not from Nigeria. Nigeria and South Africa are two completely different countries separated by thousands of kilometres and different cultures.

No, elephants and lions do not roam the streets freely. Seriously though, they just don’t.

Hard as this may be to believe but we do have paved roads and traffic lights and the only thing that may jump at your car would be young kids wanting to wash your windscreen at a red light for small change. Sure some parts of the country is rural but even here the only wildlife you might see wandering around is a horse or a cow. If you want to see lions or elephants please feel free to visit one of our many spectacular game reserves. We also have large cities with buildings, running water, western toilets, electricity and ATM machines.

South Africans are sport obsessed

If you want to turn a friend into an enemy all you have to do is say that the Australian cricket team is the better cricket team. We have a sports rivalry going back decades. This will not endear you to the locals as it is common knowledge that the South African cricket team fondly known as the Proteas are the best in the world. In fact not even Australia’s rugby team comes close to our mighty Springbokke the South African rugby team. You would do well to remember that anything Australia can do, we just do better.

Proud to be coloured

This is a weird one but yes, you read that right. Do not tell us that we are free and that we do need not call ourselves coloured. We know we are free. Perhaps the term coloured is not politically correct in the rest of the world but in South Africa it refers to a group of people of mixed heritage and we are proud of that heritage.

It don’t matter if you’re black or white

Not just a catchy Michael Jackson song but you need to know that not all South Africans are black some of us are actually white. Yes there are white people in South Africa. Born and bred for centuries and some of them can even speak Xhosa. You do need to bear in mind that there are many unique and distinctly different tribes so please do not lump all black people together as one. I’m really not making any of this up. Shout out to the South African Indians many of whom can speak Zulu. We’ve got a whole rainbow nation thing going over here.

But doesn’t South Africa have a high crime rate?

Yes there is crime in South Africa but you know what, there is crime everywhere. The world is sadly a dangerous place but all you need to do is practice common sense and you will be fine. Don’t wander around all alone drunk at 2am down dark alleys.

There is a big difference between a South African from Cape Town and one from Johannesburg.

Ok so now you know where South Africa. Great, you’re making progress and I am so proud of you. I’m from Cape Town so please don’t mistake me for someone from Johannesburg. People from Johannesburg are landlocked workaholics who are only interested in making money. People from Cape Town are laid back beach bums.

See below picture for further geographic clarification:

Africa Political Large