FAQs about my personal one year tour of the ‘nam.

Most of my friends, family and those who have sufficiently facebook stalked know that in 7 days I am leaving the UK to embark on a teaching career in Vietnam. However, I have had numerous questions ranging from ‘why the hell?’ to ‘will you come back’? So here are some answers!

When am I going?

Well, I’m leaving Plymouth on Sunday the 13th, going up to Kent to see various relatives for 3 days, then going to Southampton to stay with the boyfriend for two days, then going to Heathrow and flying on Friday the 18th,

Where are you going?

Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it’s still known locally. The biggest city in Vietnam, right down South.

What are you doing there?

I’m working  as an English teacher for a private language school, one of the biggest English langauge providers in Vietnam, they have 8 centres alone in Saigon, I’ll be at the biggest one.


Why there?

I did my uni dissertation on Vietnam and wanted to teach in Asia anyway, so I thought I’d go somewhere I’d read loads about and knew a lot of the history. I considered other countries but the company that’s offered me the job in Saigon had such good benefits (paid flight, airport pick up and initial accommodation, health insurance, paid social events, free Vietnamese lessons, end of contract bonus) and are such a respected company that it seemed silly to turn them down, especially because as a first time teacher it’s hard getting a good job because everyone wants experience!

Who are you teaching?

Vietnamese kids, aged 4-18, arranged by age and ability (I’ll have a Vietnamese classroom assistant for the kids!) Also adult general English, business English and possibly exam prep classes at some point.

For how long?

Just over one year. About 13 months. I’m leaving on the 18th of November and will be back early to mid December 2012.

But you’ll miss Christmas?!

This is true, but I looked on Wikipedia and as far as I can tell no one ever died from missing Christmas. There are lots of expats in Saigon so I’ll have people to have a bizarre Asian Christmas with and I can skype my family. Besides, It’s Tet in January!!

Is it a gap year/ volunteering thing?

Nope, to get the job you have to have a degree, a teaching qualification, two teaching based references, get through two interviews and prepare a sample lesson plan based. Although they do have their own volunteering opportunities attached to the school where you can volunteer at local shelters and charities which I’m definitely going to get involved in. If I like it I can stay longer than a year, for however long I want really.

Can I do it too?

Sure! You’ll need a recognised degree and a CELTA but if you’re interested let me know and I’ll show you how to apply!

Where will you live?

For the first few weeks I’m living in a guest house and then will hopefully find some other teachers to live with. Rent out there is pretty cheap, about £150 a month for a room in a shared house with private bedroom, bathroom and balcony.

Do you speak Vietnamese?

Nope, but I do get 10 weeks of lessons for free from my school and then I’m gonna try and get a private tutor.

Can I come and stay with you?

YES please do! Honestly, anybody travelling the area or who wants to pop over is more than welcome, I only work 20 hours a week so I’ll have plenty of time to show you around and help you cross the road amid a million motorbikes.

Will you come back at all?

Probably not during my first year, flights are too expensive and I only get 4 weeks paid holiday taken throughout the year and I want to use that to travel around South East Asia,  so I’m not sure if I’ll have the time or money to come back to Europe.

But don’t they eat dog there?

They do, but English people eat chickens, cows, lambs and rabbits. If you’re going to eat meat I don’t see a difference what shape it comes in/what colour fur it has. Luckily I don’t eat meat so they’ll be no nasty surprises!

Can I send you things?

Yes please, although not for a little while until I know where I’m living. Although there are some weird customs regulations. Also, because it’s a one party state everything is opened, checked and repackaged (even gift wrapped presents) by the Vietnamese post office/customs before I get it. So don’t send anything expensive or valuable. You can tell me you lovingly wrapped presents for me but that the post office took it off, I’ll believe you. CDs, DVDs, books and other literature are opened and watched/read to make sure they’re approved and not anti-government. So leave all those ‘How to start a Military Coup’ books on the shelves. I’m not sure if it’s different if it’s fed-exed or privately couriered, but that’s expensive.

Are you nervous?

Yes, very, but also excited. I’m trying not to have any expectations and just take it as it comes. If I really hate it I can always break my contract and come back, it’d just cost me a lot of money. But it’s only money and if for some reason it’s unbearable I could come back. Hopefully not though!

I can’t think of anything else to say. Feel free to ask if you have questions. I’m going to miss everybody loads but it’s only 1 year and there are Skype and planes!


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