Teaching Review and…I’M BACK!

I’m Back! Its been a while, but after the disaster with my visa debit card ( another post) and only just getting the internet, my blogging has unfortunately been at a standstill…. Yet no more! I shall (hopefully if I’m not too terribly busy) be posting new blogs up here again. During my time with no internet, I’ve written 2 posts at once, so I’ll post them together. Enjoy!

Teaching Review

Since January, I have signed a contract to work with another company for 1 year. This means I’m actually a FULL TIME teacher, with an actual wage this time. From September 2013 to the beginning of January 2014, I was on a teaching internship for one semester.

I know reviews are especially good for people who are thinking of joining a company; one of the reasons why I applied for the job I now have is because I met a person who works there and he told me that It was a good place to work, so I know personal experience is important.

The company, i-to-i is a company that I found online. I knew one of my friends was doing a TEFL course online and was going to Japan to teach, so I researched and found this one. After completing the 120 hours online, I decided to apply for the Teach & Travel China Programme which was advertised on their website.

You can choose the China, Vietnam, Thailand or Poland internship. Each programme starts on 2 different semesters. Speaking about the China internship, programmes start in February (Winter Programme) and August (Summer Programme). I chose the August programme, where I was shipped out with about 150 people to Beijing. Most of the participants were English, but there were about 20 Australians, 14 Irish, 4 Canadians, 1 American in my group. There were many more that arrived 1 month earlier to do their 140 TEFL from a lot of European countries.

The first week was amazing, where we saw the Great Wall, Acrobatics Show, Saw the Beijing Olympic Stadium and ate Peking Duck in Beijing. We then travelled to Harbin for our orientation. It was great being with a big group of people where every day you would talk and hang around with different people in the group. Everyone was there for the same reason; to do something different.

After that we were sent to our teaching locations. Around 50 people went to Sichuan, where people were placed in Chengdu, and about 50 went to Guangzhou, where most people here were placed in Guangdong. The rest went to Beijing, Harbin, Inner Mongolia, and near Shanghai.

Of course you’re going to hear bad reviews about companies, I’ve even read about them myself, about Teach and Travel China and thought “did I make a mistake?”, but as I say, everyone’s experience is different. Some people might have had a bad school, living conditions, bad neighbourhood and so on. Luckily, I was very fortunate; I had a good apartment, the school was fine and nothing major happened. My location however wasn’t great, where I was 1 hour away from the city centre.

So here are the good things and bad things about doing the i-to-I and Teach & Travel China Internship.

• People are in the same boat as your-self.
• You’ll most likely be placed with someone. This will be living together and in the same schools, living together but different schools, or living by yourself but being near other interns.
• You won’t go through it alone. There will be like 150 other people starting their teaching at the same time so you won’t be going through it by yourself.
• Apartment and school is guaranteed for you. There is no worrying about finding schools.
• Guaranteed a minimum of 2 hours Mandarin/Cantonese lessons.
• Everything is provided for you in the apartment; kettle, cups, quilts…
• Given an advisor at your school to help you throughout your internship.
• Don’t have to pay rent or bills. (that’s if you don’t go over your bill limit)
• Maximum of 15 teaching hours.

• Expensive. From applying for it, to getting your visa, the cost adds up.
• Might be placed with someone you don’t get on with… and your stuck with them for 4 months.
• Don’t know where in China you will be placed. This means it’s difficult to pack when you don’t know the climate you’re going to live in. You could also be placed in a really remote area.
• Don’t know what age group you’ll be teaching. If you pick 7-14 age for instance, you may not get it.
• Wages aren’t great. You can live off it, but you can’t go mad spending.

These are my own opinions about the good and bad points about the internship. There are plenty of people I’m sure would say “ NEVER DO IT, IT WAS THE WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!”. I’m sure some people did have a terrible time on their internship, I’ve read about them. But on my own accounts and experience, if nothing majorly goes wrong with your internship, you’re blessed.

Because I’ve had a good experience of my internship, I would tell people to do it. It lets you have a taste of teaching but it also lets you live in a new country, even just for a few months.

The choice is up to you…


What Made Me Take The Plunge.

It all happened a year ago. I was casually checking my College email account when an email entitled ‘WOULD YOU LIKE TO VOLUNTEER IN TANZANIA?’ appeared. The email was about volunteering in Tanzania for two weeks down in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. I read it and thought ‘that actually would be a great thing to be able to do.’ So I mentioned it to the family, and to my surprise, they thought it would be a great thing to do. After much deliberation, I decided that I’d fill in the forms and give it in to my College.

So that was that. I carried on with my usual mundane work; my Dissertation was due soon, there were plenty of presentations, essays and procrastination needed to be done. Anyway, about a week later I got a email stating that I’d been picked to do an interview! They insisted that it was more of an ‘informal talk’ but once the word interview is mentioned, ‘informal’ goes out the window. The interview came and went, plenty of talk was done about fundraising; they had to make sure I could fundraise enough money for the trip. I had done plenty of fundraising during college so that boded well for me. Although I talked literally non-stop and ended up saying things that I look back on, cringe and think WHY DID I SAY THAT?? they must have seen potential in me and I was picked to go.

Though our destination changed from North to West to finally the East, we, comprising of another 5 of my fellow College students finally ended up in a Maasai community. It was hands down, the BEST experience of my entire life. (so far I’ll add) We were staying in a Maasai village called Twa Twa Twa, near the town of Morogoro. Yes that is its name I’m not making it up. It is here that I would spend 2 great weeks living amongst the Maasai tribe, something that I thought I’d never do!


Myself with my Maasai-irish family in Twa Twa Twa.

Even though we ate the same food day after day, ate bread that was in my opinion nowhere near edible due to its hardness, and having freezing showers at 7am, they were fantastic two weeks. Our daily objectives were to paint the children’s primary school, ie sanding bare walls ready for the paint (they don’t put plaster on the walls), and painting the inside and outside of two classrooms. We witnessed a special ceremony held only every 25 years when boys become men, or in Maasai terms ‘Warriors’, which was a great privilege to see and be invited to. During the evenings we would discuss with a fellow Maasai about our lives back in Ireland, why we only marry one person and how are lives are different to theirs. Strange topics like why are skin/hair is different, why my neck got red (sunburn) and what the dots on our arms (freckles) were crept up too. Not only that, but we managed to teach a Maasai a cúpla focail (couple of words) of the Irish language… like come on, who knows a Maasai that can speak Irish?


Our newly painted classroom’s with our fellow Tanzanian volunteers.

After two weeks and our volunteering was finished, we decided to venture off into the wild, where we visited Mikumi National Park. Plenty of buffalos, warthogs and giraffes were seen, but the lions weren’t in a mood for visitors. Our van got chased by a HUGE male elephant and to make matters worse, down the path we got stuck in a big hole where the driver and 2 others from my group had to get out and literally push it out, metres from a male elephant, so the mere thought of lions and cheetahs attacking us while we were at our most vulnerable made up for the no show!

We then decided to catch a ferry to paradise, aka Zanzibar. This place was just unbelievable. Narrow streets winding their way through old buildings, one wrong turn and you would be lost. Our first day saw us heading to a nearby island called Prison Island. It’s now a renovated (and very swanky) hotel, but the public can venture through the grounds. We sunbathed, snorkelled, got Henna tattoos and drank cocktails by the beach until we had to unfortunately catch our plane home in a weeks time.

So… in a nutshell, it was THAT, rather long blog, that led me to where I am now. When I was back to my boring, average, non-exciting life in Ireland, the Maasai-irish family met up once again, where one of my friends said she was jetting off to Japan to teach English. She explained she just completed a TEFL course (teaching English as a foreign language) so that got me interested. To work and travel at the same time?? To experience and live in a completely new country?? Yes Please. It was too good to resist. So I researched, joined an internship with a company, and decided to hit China as my first TEFL experience. With no idea where I will be located in China, not the faintest idea of the level of children I’ll be teaching, or how I will actually cope in China flittering into my head now and again, I have no doubt it’ll be some experience… If its any kind of experience I had in Tanzania, then I should have a ball!