TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
International travel with friends and family for vacationsIf you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
It had been my goal since I graduated from college to live abroad in Southeast Asia within two or three years. A year after graduating, I began dating my now fiancé and it was also his goal to live abroad. Together we began planning where we would live and when we would go.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
My only concerns were related to my food allergies. I hoped that they wouldn’t be a big issue since I was moving to a smaller city in a less developed country, Vietnam.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My friends think it’s awesome and most are envious of living abroad, especially in beautiful Vietnam. My family is very supportive, even though most of them don’t understand why I want to live in Vietnam. My family is very proud of me.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I decided to get TEFL certified because it is easier to get a job that way, and I had no prior experience teaching English.
My fiancé got certified through ITA and had a great experience! He read awesome reviews before signing up. We were drawn to the lifetime job assistance and knowledgeable advisors.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Class
How did you like the course?
I really liked my online TEFL course! All of the information was very relevant and holistic. I loved that it gave advice for all aspects of teaching English as a foreign language and living abroad. The practicum was the most fun because I got to practice what I learned in the course.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I’m teaching in Vietnam in the city of Da Nang. My fiancé and I decided on Vietnam because of its natural beauty, its long coast line (we love the beach!), the average salary for English teachers, and the low cost of living. We chose Da Nang because it’s on the beach and it’s a smaller city. We wanted to be in a relaxed city, unlike Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
My fiancé and I have lived here for eight months. For now, we plan to leave in five months when our work contracts are complete.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Please explain the visa process that you went through.
In Da Nang, it’s most common to teach without a work visa. Our employer requires teachers to have a work visa. Getting a work visa in Vietnam is very complicated and not cheap (health exams, notarized documents, original documents, visa run, etc.). Thanks to ITA, we came prepared with the necessary authenticated and legalized documents. Once we secured our job, we had to make a visa run to a foreign US Embassy in order to come back to Vietnam with a work visa. We also had to get an expensive health exam ($150 USD). Then we had to do a little more paperwork and now we have multiple entry resident cards.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I’m teaching 18 hours per week and working 35 hours per week which is required in my contract. The 17 non-teaching hours are spent lesson planning, doing administrative work, going to work meetings, required meetings with parents, and tutoring students. I teach six classes per week. I work five days a week. I teach two types of classes: 1) 4-6 year olds and 2) 7-10 year olds. The 4-6 year old classes are very high energy, require a lot of disciplining, and lesson planning is easy and quick. The 7-10 year old classes are also high energy, but require less disciplining and more lesson planning. I enjoy the 7-10 year old classes more because it’s tiring to discipline 4-6 year olds.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
First, we used a realtor since we didn’t know the city well, and we didn’t know the best places to live for expats. Our realtor didn’t show us anything we liked, and we found out that the realtor fee usually adds $50 USD to the monthly rent. We heard from friends that the best way to find a place is to walk around in the neighborhood you like and look for "For Rent" signs. It was more working doing it that way, but we found places that we really liked.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
Cultural aspects: People in Da Nang are very friendly. Whenever we’ve had motorbike problems, strangers always come to help us without being asked to. There is no sense of personal space here (typical of Asian cultures). I recommend doing research on Asian cultures before you move here because Asian cultures are very different than Western cultures.
Public Transportation: Public transportation is not a reliable method of transportation for daily life, even though there are buses. You pretty much have two options: motorbike or taxi (taxi is expensive here). There are trains to take you to other cities outside of Da Nang.
Social activities: Da Nang is pretty chill. There are several chill expat hangout bars. There isn’t a big scene for clubbing. There are lots of karaoke bars. There are several Facebook groups and ways to connect and meet other people. The expat community is pretty small here, so a lot of expats know each other and hang out together.
Food: There’s lots of street food and cheap Vietnamese restaurants. I’m vegan, so I haven’t tried all of the food here. There are a good amount of vegetarian restaurants here-- some are very good and some are average. There are places to get Western food, but it’s definitely not the same as what I’ve had in America and the Western restaurants are more expensive. Restaurants don’t always last long here, so if you like a place, make sure to keep going to it because it might be gone tomorrow.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
Rent: $250 USD plus electricity
Food: $200ish USD. It could be cheaper if you bought just really cheap street food. I buy some organic and Western foods which are expensive here.
Social Activities: $50 USD
Transportation: I bought a motorbike secondhand for $250 USD. When I leave I’ll be able to sell it for about the same price. Repairs and oil changes are very cheap… Oil changes costs about $1 USD, and I just got a new tire for $15 USD. The gas costs me no more than about $3 per week. Of course, it will cost more if I go on motorbike adventures.
Phone: $5-10 USD for phone service including calls, texting, and data. It cost me $60 USD to unlock my iPhone 6 here. I use Skype and WhatsApp to call home and text to the USA.
How would you describe your standard of living?
My fiancé and I live in a nice, small, one bedroom apartment in the most expensive neighborhood in the city. We’re a five minute walk from the beach. We are frugal and don’t have big expenses except for traveling and organic and Western foods.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
$750 USD a month if you have no bills from where you're from.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
I would advise them to do a lot of research and to do a short trip before relocating if they've never been to the country before, unless they are very open minded. I definitely recommend teaching in Da Nang, Vietnam, but make sure to do your research first. If you want to get a work visa, you will have to work at one of the large English centers and sign a one year contract. If you don’t want to commit to a year, you can work without a work permit at a small English center (there are at least 50 of them). I have heard from other teachers that the smaller language centers are less organized and you don’t always get materials for your classes. Right now, it’s easy to find a job here. It’s common to have to work at multiple centers to get enough hours to make a good salary. With the one year contract, it’s less common to need to work anywhere else because you will be getting enough hours. There are people who teach online here as well, but I don’t know a lot about that.
My fiancé and I had never been to Southeast Asia before. We love it here, but it’s very different, especially since we’re not in a big city. Compared to America, Da Nang is under developed. We love that the life style is more laid back, even though we work a lot and all employers expect a lot of English teachers. We love living by the beach and the food here. We moved here for the beach, and I recently saw that most restaurants on the beach have sewage pipes going into the water, so I don’t swim in the beach anymore. Most people swim in the beach though.
It’s VERY hot here and A/C is not common outside of the bedroom. We’ve been here in the summer and rainy season. The summers are incredibly hot and it rains a lot (like constantly for days) in the rainy season. When you drive a motorbike, the rainy season can prevent you from going on motorbike adventures outside of the city, which is the best part about living here.
We drive a motorbike here, which is fun and easy, but the traffic can be scary because there are barely any traffic laws. On the streets, it’s a free for all. Make sure to get a good helmet. The best, freshest, and cheapest shopping is done at the markets. There are large supermarkets here but they’re a little more expensive. The supermarkets have more options, but the essentials can usually be found at the markets.
Feel free to reach out to me if you’re interested in Vietnam/Da Nang and have any questions! I’m happy to help! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org