Justin is a 24 year old from Washington. He recently returned home after teaching abroad in Thailand. GeoVisions asked him to share some advice for others thinking of teaching abroad. Take it away Justin!
Notifying your bank, hugging your dog, leaving a forwarding address, and figuring out what to do with your car are just some of the million things to check off your list before teaching abroad. It can feel a little like jumping through endless flaming hoops.
When I left for Thailand, I thought I had nailed them all. After being here for a year though, now that I look back I realize there were some things I should have known or done. Here are a few things I wish I would have known or done before moving to Thailand.
#1 Pack lighter!
I say pack lighter because I already knew to pack light. Fantasies of boarding the plane with nothing more than a backpack were tossed out the window as soon as I realized that entailed parting with my favorite T- shirt.
My backpack daydream had become me, shuttling around a hulking luggage bag, a guitar, and a laptop. My first month in Asia was spent getting off planes, into taxis, and running across bus stations looking like an overbooked amateur juggler.
I realized I probably could have gotten away with bringing just a few professional looking outfits, and a couple clothes to wear outside of school. Oh, and of course imagine lifting three heavy bags over other passenger’s knees and on and off these buses for a month!
#2 Teach my grandma how to use Skype
I’m not the most tech savvy millennial on the planet, but compared to my grandmother, I am Neo from the Matrix. Skype is free! Plus, with Skype, I would be able to see my grandma’s beautiful smile. Trying to explain how to use Skype to my grandparents over the phone though, turned out feeling a lot like a scene out of some terrible thriller flick where the FBI bomb squad radios Stevie Wonder and tells him to cut the red wire.
So yeah, leave Skype instructions for any relatives still convinced the internet is a goofy fad. Oh, and while you’re at it…
#3 Type a list of all your relative’s addresses and contact information.
The month before I left for Thailand, my parent’s moved. Before I left, my bank asked for an American forwarding address, and I gave them my parent’s new address. I haven’t been able to remember it since. Aside from being tied to my debit card, I needed that address for just about everything here, and on more one occasion ran across town just to get it off my laptop. Also, you’re going to want to send your relatives postcards and Christmas souvenir gifts. It definitely helps to have all of their addresses ahead of time.