“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.
BECAUSE IT IS OFFICIAL!
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!
Bottom line is I’M SO STOKED TO START TRAINING MONDAY!