I have known for a while that I wanted to travel and teach abroad after completing my degree. I have a bachelor's degree in Exceptional Student/ Elementary Education/ESOL/ Reading. I have a passion for working with students and to combine that and my love for traveling, was a perfect match. However, it can be very overwhelming looking at the world and thinking “Where do I go?” or “How do I even begin?”. I looked into different programs to see potential location options and contract lengths. I found that CIEE had a wide variety of places and offered a year-long option, which is what I was looking for, so I began my application.
Since I want to continue teaching in various other countries in the future, I was looking at getting my TEFL. CIEE had an option to add a TEFL course with my Teach Abroad program. After receiving my acceptance to the Teach Abroad Teach in Thailand program, I began my TEFL course. The 10-week course was completed using Canvas, a program I was familiar with because it was used by my university. Each week we would meet for about an hour via Webcam to talk about the content, go over assignments, and ask questions. Even though I have experience as an educator, I found the TEFL to be extremely helpful specifically for teaching English and providing me with new resources and ideas before I went to teach abroad.
After I was accepted, I received my placement. I was able to give priorities such as geographical location, the age range of students, and if I wanted to be placed near another teacher from our program. For me, my top priorities were the location I was placed and the age range I would be teaching. I gravitate towards teaching lower elementary as I have the most experience in this area. I was placed near Bangkok and I am currently teaching P.1, which is first grade. The other participants from my group teach all over Thailand, and each placement seems to come with its own unique experience. I think it is important to figure out what your are looking for and express that to CIEE. They have been helpful, understanding, and offer a ton of support. CIEE really works to make your experience incredible. We had a pre-departure course, a Facebook group, and a few pre-departure meetings to help truly prepare us as much as possible.
When I arrived in Bangkok, I had a week-long orientation. In Thailand, CIEE works with a program called OEG. This is the in-country support team, and the organization we had our orientation with. The staff at OEG is amazing. They provided us with language immersion classes, panels of current teachers in our program, excursions around Bangkok, Thai language and cultural sessions, and much more. This week gave me a sense of what life in Thailand would be like and made me feel prepared and even more excited to get to my placement and begin my year in Thailand. It also allowed me the opportunity to meet the other participants in the program. I have already traveled on the weekends with a friend who lives near me. I also have plans to meet up with other participants during school breaks. We have a group chat where we share teaching tips and life stories as well as ask for recommendations. CIEE and OEG create an atmosphere that sets you up for success while teaching abroad.
CIEE offers support every step of the way. This is not something that can be found everywhere. There is open communication with CIEE, OEG, my school, and my coordinator who assisted the before and during the process of my move to Thailand. I feel supported to know that CIEE is there to help while I am living and teaching, which makes me feel more secure teaching my students and exploring the beautiful country of Thailand.