My Journey from English Teacher to NGO Writer in Cambodia

By: Joshua Bottorff

Let's start with a little background information on myself first. So, picture this, spry and young 25-year-old me just finished up a 6-year contract in the military. Bright eyes, and excited to move on into the civilian world and make a name for myself. I was eager for change. First things first, go to college. I enrolled at the University of Colorado and began studying for the degree that opens all those doors in the job world. Years pass, seasons change. Okay well, maybe like two. Two whole years go by, and I’m ready, once again, for a change. Notice a trend? I guess I wasn’t ready to stay put. I needed something new, and I needed it soon. So, like any rational adult I went on online and googled my issue. “Broke college student wants to live and work abroad”, or something along those lines. It wasn’t long until ITA was popping up on all ad spaces on Facebook, Amazon, CNN, and everywhere. The rest is ITA lesson planning history.

4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Cambodia to Teach English

By Kate John

Before moving to Cambodia I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I scoured blogs and websites, looking for any information I could find about life in the Kingdom of Wonder. I still felt like I came up empty, so when the day came I knew I was in for a big change. After a year of living here, I feel like I know a lot more than I did then. I started writing blogs to help inform people like me, looking for more than just the backpacking tips available on travel blogs. Here are some things I learned that I wish I had known then.

A Survival Guide to Moving Abroad to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

By Kate John

You’ve just arrived in Phnom Penh. It’s overwhelming, intimidating, and confusing. You are wondering why you moved halfway around the world, and what you’ve gotten yourself into. Do not panic. I was in your shoes not too long ago. I adjusted quickly to life in the Kingdom of Wonder, but I wish I knew some things earlier on. Here’s a few tips for your basic survival here in the city. You know, water, shelter, food, wifi, basically all the essentials.

How to Find an Expat Community in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

By Kate John

While living and teaching abroad I have found connecting with people from back home to be a pleasant surprise. Yes, I moved away to find a new adventure and to seek a career doing what I love while traveling. But, there will always be a place I call home and it’s nice to connect with those who may have had the same experiences as you. It's also a plus to have a social connection with people who understand your political background, religious beliefs, or even just the food you like to eat. To be fair, I am not guaranteeing these places will find you a community of Americans, but you traveled abroad for some diversity so let's try to embrace that as well.

Tips to Overcome Culture Shock While Teaching English in Cambodia

By Kate John

When I first stepped off the airplane to teach English in Cambodia, I was terrified. I had no idea what I’d just gotten myself into, and I felt adrift in a sea of foreign water. I’d read about experiencing culture shock, but never really thought much of it. After all, I’d travelled abroad before. It wasn’t as if I was fresh off the boat with a brand new passport and wide eyes.

But I Don't Speak Khmer... Teaching English in Cambodia

By Kate John

A big part of life is communication. It can be intimidating to move somewhere you don’t speak the language. In Cambodia they speak a language called Khmer (pronounced kuh-my). I hardly speak any of it, and yet here I am in Cambodia. I definitely understand the language barrier dissuading someone from moving abroad. It makes small tasks much larger due to challenges that you normally just don’t have to navigate.

Classrooms Around the World: Phnom Penh, Cambodia


By Kate John

Classrooms around the world are both the same and greatly different. Kids are kids everywhere. They’re always the same in many ways, especially if you stick with a similar age group. That said, culture definitely comes into play in the classroom. Here’s a little bit about what it’s like in my classroom here, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.