TeachingTraveling.com: Welcome, Andrew! Please tell us some background about yourself.
Andrew: I’ll try my best to keep this brief! My name is Andrew, I’m 25, and I’m currently based in San Fransisco. I work full-time as the senior editor of GoOverseas.com, which is a network of sites that highlight opportunities for long-term travel abroad (namely teach, study, and volunteer programs).
I founded this company with my partner in crime, Mitch Gordon, while we were teaching English abroad in Taiwan. We both felt passionate about the experience of living abroad and wanted to find a way to share similar opportunities with others interested in meaningful travel.
I came to Taiwan immediately after graduating from college to teach English. I stayed for two years and also had opportunities to travel throughout much of the rest of Asia as well. That was the real draw for me; the ability to work and travel at the same time. My favorite destination in Asia was Hong Kong; such an awesome city full of amazing food and things to do. If there was ever a way, I can definitely see myself living there in the future. Hong Kong is beautiful but expensive at times. I recommend to anyone who is planning a visit to search for deals on Hong Kong hotels ahead of time because the hotel rates can get pricey.
TT: Fascinating! What was a particularly delicious travel experience you had abroad?
A: In the summer of 2008 I spent a solid five weeks sampling the many wonderful beaches of Thailand. I traveled with three good pals from college and together we hopped between the islands of Penang (Malaysia), Ko Samui, Ko Phanyang, Karachi, Ko Phi Phi, and Phuket. When we weren’t on an airplane/bus traveling to our next destination, you would find us lying on a beach. Annnnnnd.. that’s it.
Admittedly, this wasn’t the most exciting vacation, but it is exactly the kind of vacation I enjoy most. As the Italians say, Il dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing!
TT: Amen to that. How did you find this paradise island travel opportunity, and how were you able to pay for it?
A: I have to give credit to one of my aforementioned friends, he really planned this trip. I was the only one in the group that had ever spent time in Asia, so I was happy to sit back, let them plan everything, and enjoy the ride. =) As for funding, I was able to save a decent amount of money while teaching English in Taiwan the previous year. The cost of living compared to your income is very good in Taiwan, and only gets better the longer you stay. Flying to Thailand from Taiwan is also very inexpensive, which certainly helped. All told, I think the total cost of this trip came to $1500.
TT: Any funny misadventures during your Thailand time?
A: Here’s a funny moment. On Ko Phanyang I decided to try riding a stand-up jet ski for the first time. (FYI, these jet skis require you to stand while riding instead of sitting). They look deceptively fun, but I quickly discovered I was way out of my league. I spent the majority of my 30 minutes cursing, stalling the damn thing, and drowning. Needless to say, my friends (and probably everyone else on the beach) were dying with laughter at my misfortunes, and I have yet to try riding a jet ski since!
TT: How has traveling impacted you as a teacher, and in your career in general?
A: I’m not currently a teacher, and I’ll admit, I never really say myself as one. I saw the opportunity to teach in Taiwan as a means to travel abroad for an extended period of time. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the time I spent in the classroom. Most of my students were in kindergarten, which was a really fun age to teach. They soaked up everything I taught them, and I was truly amazed at their level of English by the end of the year.
These experiences, and all the wonderful people I met in Taiwan, have definitely impacted my current career. Had I not gone to Taiwan, I know I would never have had the opportunity to launch a site like GoOverseas.com.
Who is to say what my life would have been like otherwise, but I am certainty happy with the outcome of my decisions so far.
TT: Indeed! How has travel impacted you as a person?
A: I think if anything, travel has allowed me to see problems and solutions in a global context. Take, for example, the problem of deforestation in the Amazon. Much of this land is being used to raise cattle and other livestock, but at the loss of land inequality, biodiversity, and other environmental concerns. Traveling has allowed me to see firsthand the connection between the hamburger I am eating, and the huge swaths of rain forest that has been destroyed to produce it.
TT: Very true. What advice do you have for aspiring teacher-travelers?
A: The worldwide demand for English teachers is very strong. Asia is still a hotbed of opportunities, and specifically South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Thailand/Vietnam are leading the way. The Czech Republic and Hungary have emerged as the dominant ESL markets in Europe, particularly for teachers outside the EU. The Middle East and South America are also popular destinations for English teachers looking for a unique and culturally diverse experiences. There doesn’t seem to be a country left in the world that doesn’t have teaching opportunities, which is awesome!
I recommend everyone visit Gooverseas.com/teach-abroad. This website is designed to help you find teaching opportunities in every corner of the world, as well as read ratings and reviews to help you select the best program for you. One important tip to remember while applying for teaching jobs is to always talk directly with teachers currently at the school. This really is the best way to weed out the good schools from the bad.
If you are interested in teaching in Taiwan, then I can personally recommend contacting www.ReachToTeachRecruiting.com. They are a very friendly and knowledgeable company to work with as you search for your first teaching job abroad. Lastly, feel free to contact me at Andrew (@) GoOverseas.com! I would be happy to help you in anyway I can. Teaching + traveling = an amazing opportunity to travel abroad in a meaningful way. Cheers!
TT: Thanks so much, Andrew! Great inspiration and resources.