A high school dropout who had a chip on his shoulder and resented his teachers is now becoming a teacher…” I said.

My friend Zach chuckled at the irony. It was so strange making that statement, yet so exhilarating.


I have finally signed up for my training and I begin Monday!

When this trip began in early December, I knew one of my goals was to come to Southeast Asia to teach English. Ever since I left the confines of the that dystopian education system where dreams and creativity are displaced by force fed and structured mumbo-jumbo, I’ve been a rabid fiend for knowledge.

Well, not right away.

Throughout high school I had no respect for knowledge, and was an utter wretch when it came to interacting with my teachers. My typical day would be skipping the classes that didn’t interest me (logarithms…seriously?) and only attending the classes I loved such as art and English. Yet, even with some slight interest in specific classes, once I left school grounds life was either about work or play. Never school work.

And in my senior year with only the requirement to pass a few classes, I skipped more often than I went. Eventually I just stopped coming back.

But can ya’ blame me? I mean, nobody in my direct family had ever gone to college. My father hadn’t graduated high school. My mother had fallen into drugs after high school. My brother was a working machine since he was fourteen and even though he played lacrosse better than most professionals, he never pursued it. And throughout my childhood and teenage years, my homework was never checked by my father to see if I completed it — the only time he would ever ask about my grades were at the end of the quarter when counselors would call home about my report card.

Don’t even think you are going to go to college, that just won’t happen. When you pass or fail out of high school, you’ll get a real full-time job” my father growled at me one night when we had an argument about me wanting to go to college.

I used to blame him for my failure in the education system. We had heated arguments at times over it when I wanted to pursue a passion in filmmaking or something else other than a traditional labor job. But, in reality, he was a gruff and raw insight into the “real world” and his realist and conservative view about how things are was a mechanism to protect me.

You see, I don’t even really know what my father’s passion was. Was it mechanics because he was a grease monkey for years? Was it something loftier and extravagant that was crushed by the hard truths of society, the grind of work, the drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to get by while supporting a family? I never knew these things about him or my mother. What would have been for both of them? It was just the way of life, and what I was raised to believe. To believe in the work; the no-nonsense-do-the-job-to-get-by.

Whatever it was, he wasn’t to blame for my failure. I was to blame. Sure, his influence did affect my drive in ways, and the broken home aspects wasn’t a catalyst for success either, and both of my parents deaths tore me apart in ways I didn’t know how to handle. But I still could have given a damn about my own fate and just simply didn’t.

Until the last couple years.

It took fucking up for a few years and working in that grind; the same one as my father, to start giving a damn about knowledge and free-thinking and revolutionizing my own life. It was a long time coming, but these days I gobble up information like Scooby Doo gobbles up Scooby snacks. I can’t get enough of it, and I can’t help but ache to share what it’s like out of the safety bubble!

But ever since I arrived I’ve been frolicking about all over Thailand and dilly-dallying with the task of actually starting the process to become a certified (TEFL/TESOL) English teacher. I had a plan — a plan to hit the ground running and start searching for teaching jobs right away.

Those of us who are travelers know though…on the road plans don’t always play out as you expected.

The first few weeks were rough in Thailand. I landed and had a few bad first impressions because of areas I ended up in (Khao San Road, Koh Phi Phi). Then I had friends visiting so I bounced around and partied, and partied, and bounced around some more. And after all of that — nearly two months on the road, I took off far north into Pai in desperate need of chillaxing, clearing my head, and being in the crisp mountain air.

Though my lack of computer, which is out of commission yet again, didn’t help my productivity at all. I got absolutely nothing done.

Another factor that set me back was my lack of confidence as to where to start looking. Should I just get an online certificate and start humping around town scouring all of the schools? Should I do an in-class training course that will help me with placement? A lot of pros and cons were ricocheting around in my head those first couple of months which just confused me more. And made me put it off more.

Well, after almost 3 weeks in the Twilight Zone that is Pai after we planned on only spending 3 days (you know what I mean if you’ve been to Pai) I have returned to Chiang Mai! You better be damn sure I’m gung-ho about getting this teaching shindig started!

It was a chance meeting that really helped me decide.

My friend and I were walked for hours and hours around the interior and exterior of Chiang Mai in search for apartments to settle into for a bit while we both figured everything out. The plan we had devised was to get our online TEFL certificates ($300$ as opposed to the in-class training ($1,000-$1,500) and look for jobs ourselves.

And while out searching we happened to wander down a side street to an apartment complex to see how much it would be to stay. There before me like a big slap in the face was the bright blue logo of UniTEFL.

The only reason we went inside was to ask them about cheap housing, but when I left the building I already knew I was going to sign up for the course.

The woman who runs the program, Susan, greeted us with a big smile and an excited welcome. The whole time we were there we did the asking of questions and she offered information about the program or teaching in general. Not once did she try to sell us on it.

It was something I needed. A peace of mind. I have been struggling to get traction with my goals in writing for the blog and starting my book ever since my laptop ate shit. I just needed to not worry about anything. I didn’t want to go running around blindly applying for teaching jobs with or without a TEFL since I have no college degree. I wanted help with placement, and they promised placement assistance for life anywhere in the world.

Most importantly I just wanted to start already!

I’ve never been great at sitting in front of a computer or book to study. I love to learn hands on. This course will enable me to have 4 weeks of in class experience with all age groups. This way I can start learning to teach and have assistance applying for jobs while the students are on break in April so I can begin work straight away in May. But better yet, it’ll give me experience so I can start private tutoring until the new semester begins.

It is still kind of funny and ironic that I am training to be an English teacher abroad after my terrible reputation at school back in the day. But I will say, teaching and public speaking has become a passion of mine the past couple years and I cannot wait to begin. Overall I wanted to make as good of an impact as I can for the students I’ll be teaching, so I’m happy I chose something that will help that.

Make sure to stay tuned because I’ll be updating you about how the training goes, reviewing the program, and telling you what it’s like to teach English abroad!




  1. Flora | Flora the Explorer February 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Great news Ryan! I’m so excited to see how you fare on your newest adventure 🙂 good luck for Monday morning!!

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:19 am

      Thank you Flora!!! I’m really excited too, it’s been a wild first week!

  2. Noor - Desert to Jungle February 2, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Nice one Ryan, great to hear you’ve found a place to live and found a TEFL course all in the space of a few days.

    Have fun on the course!

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:21 am

      Awesome Noor, I appreciate the comment and it will definitely be fun no doubt!

  3. Noor - Desert to Jungle February 2, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Nice one Ryan. Starting a TEFL course and finding an apartment both within the space of a few days, you’re on a roll! Have fun with the course.

  4. Nina February 2, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Hey! Awesome!!!! Teaching in Thailand is sweet. It’s really easy. Will you get a job in Chiang Mai? I hear it’s quite competitive since everyone and their mom wants to work there. I hope you can get a job there though, because it is an awesome city.

    I have been in Thailand nearly three years now and I also have taught here (now I do it online!) It opens so many doors and makes traveling so much easier when you have a few extra baht in the pocket! It will be fun and interesting that’s for sure.

    Let me know if you have any questions or if you make your way down to Krabi where I live! I hope this article below might also help you with your future teaching endeavors! 🙂

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:24 am

      I fully agree Nina. Though I’ve only taught one class in my first week of training it was pretty amazing! I am thinking about getting a job in Chiang Mai because I really love it here but I know it’s competitve.

      Wow! 3 years?! I’ll need to pick your brain about online teaching as well, but I feel like it’ll be a huge catalyst for continuing to travel.

      I will definitely be reaching out. I totally dig Krabi and I’ve been through a couple times now…maybe I’ll make it down there in a few months and we can meet up!

  5. Maria Falvey February 2, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Congrats Ryan – I’m TEFL certified and LOVED taking the course, think you will too! Can hardly wait to read your blog posts on it.

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:24 am

      Thank you Maria for the congrats! The course so far has been grueling but fun and totally worth it. I’ll be updating weekly about the classes too!

  6. James Shannon February 3, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Good luck with the TEFL course Ryan! Hope things turn out well for you, and that you start having better luck with computers!

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:25 am

      I appreciate the encouragement James, and I have officially gotten my computer repaired fully!

  7. Sam February 3, 2014 at 11:49 am

    This is super cool – I hope your first day went well! Doing TEFL training was one of the most valuable forms of education I’ve done in my life (and I’m including university) as it opened so many doors for me. Hope you enjoy yourself!

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:26 am

      It did go well Sam, though a tad bit rocky! But thank you. It’s already proving to be a really valuable experience and I am so glad I took it!

  8. Kae Lani | A Travel Broad February 3, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    NICE! Congrats on the new gig. Just goes to show you that street smarts are a tad bit more important than book smarts!

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:27 am

      Cheers Kae Lani =) I’ve definitely realized that street smarts are key, but also book smarts taught to myself have been more valuable than formal education was!

  9. Chris February 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I also didn’t do very well at schol and I have now been teaching English for 15 years in Japan. Congrats on taking the first step.

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:28 am

      15 years Chris! WOW! That is wicked. I guess it’s worth it then. Thanks for the congrats sir!

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:28 am

      Ahhhh thank you Hannah! I hope I will be an amazing teaching…I definitely will be striving to be!

  10. rebecca February 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    just discovered your blog, love it! good luck with the teaching. “You need to finish school to get a job” is such a bullshit lie! best of luck with it… look forward to reading up more on this.

    Im currently looking into TEFL classes and its hard to know where to start isn’t it.

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:30 am

      Rebecca, glad you share the same views on that BS myth about school and having to get a degree. Thank you for the encouragement as well! It definitely is but I’ll be posting on here about the experience and maybe it’ll entice you to start!

  11. Susan February 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Congratulations, Ryan! Looking forward to hearing more!

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:30 am

      Many thanks Susan, keep an eye out on the blog for more =)

  12. Derek February 6, 2014 at 2:52 am

    Awesome stuff brother! My friend here in Hanoi wants me to teach English as well but like you, I’m not certified. (And had my own issues with school back in the day.) I remember thinking about getting certified before leaving the States but like you said, that 4-figure price tag turned me off. But $300?? Now that’s a much more appropriate figure. I’ve been posting online and already have a cpl students interested in private tutoring…but maybe I need to start looking at cost of getting certified here in Hanoi. Starting rate for teaching English here is — get this — a whopping $20/hour! That’s $800/week and here in Hanoi that is beyond living like a king…it’s more than I could possibly spend here even if I wanted to! So yeah, I think I might be embarking down the same path as you in a few short weeks. Sorry to hear about your computer issues (again) but keep in touch brother, I miss chattin’ with ya! Take care and best wishes!

    1. JustChuckinIt February 8, 2014 at 5:32 am

      Thank you a ton good friend! The certification, though not strictly required, does put you ahead of the pack in terms of application process and such. Though my program was $1,500 here…already the money spent has been worth it and I see it as a long term investment. I’ve heard Vietnam is one of the higher paying jobs too and I’m already looking into it there. Definitely gotta’ catch up with you soon dude!

  13. Mary @ Green Global Travel February 9, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    I’m happy to hear that you are starting your training! I hope you love it! Everyone has a different path and a different destination. I’m glad you’re on the road to yours. Kudos! Thanks for sharing.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author February 16, 2014 at 12:40 am

      Thank you Mary, it’s been great so far! I’m trying to create my path for sure!


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