December 2013, my first flight away from my country. Alone with a very low budget, I applied for my TEFL online course (Teaching English as Foreign Language) and by God’s amazing grace, I got a full scholarship from a Christian Foundation in Chiang Rai, Thailand (www.penniesforpapafoundation.blogspot.com). Little did I know, this step will change my life and perspective, literally.
I arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport (International Airport of Thailand) where I exchange my US Dollars for Thai Baht and as expected, I got a very less deal. I only have US$300 enough for my two weeks stay (accommodation is provided by the foundation) for foods and necessities.
My super friend back in the University is from Thailand and her boyfriend came as a superhero fetching me in the airport – with fully armed ticket to the train going to the place where we can exchange the very best rates (Pattaya Station from the Airport) that is away from the fancy place surrounding the airplane area.
My first lunch in Thailand was, of course, Sea Food Pad Thai where you can buy for 45 THB (2013) and after burping, we headed to the bus station (Pattaya Station from the Int’l Airport) going to my destination – a stunning two-floor bus to Chiang Rai. The bus is pretty impressive – cheap ticket, air-conditioned, toilet and very friendly crews giving some foods and drinks for 400 – 500 THB back in 2013. It depends as well which kind of bus you are going to take, such as Standard, Second Class, First Class and VIP Class.
You can also reach Chiang Rai by Train (from Bangkok to Chiang Mai Station, then Chiang Rai) and airplane.
I arrived in Chiang Rai at 6:00 exactly – from our 12h journey with two stops. I’ve met the very humble Mr. Rock Cella in person, the President of the foundation. He is living in Chiang Rai for ten years with his wife, Miba from Akha Tribe of Myanmar (Burma) who migrated to Thailand with her family since 1990’s. It’s a very interesting history of how the foundation has been established, see the link for their full story.
Chiang Rai is a small city very close to its famous sister, Chiang Mai. It is a quiet mountainous place – but with a lot of police checkpoint – because of the migration problem from Myanmar. The police officers are very strict with Myanmar people – and I’ve heard they are harsh with them because there is still a border fight – between these two countries.
People in Thailand are very friendly, approachable and helpful even they don’t speak English much – you can see them trying to help you by their 10 or less – English words – giving you the correct directions and of course, bargaining their products.
It’s winter time in the northern part of Thailand when I got there. Darkish, foggish and a lonely sky. I have met some of my few classmates for the TEFL – and all of them has the most intriguing stories to share. Looking into their eyes while telling all their experiences in life, I asked myself, what is mine?
I spent weeks taking my TEFL. This certification is very helpful, especially for non-native English Speakers. It is most likely equivalent to IELTS – for scores 8-9, to be able to teach outside your country. Just make sure your TEFL is accredited abroad. ITTT, Cambridge, Celta Certificates are just some of the certificates that are internationally recognized. In my other blog (Teaching and Traveling Abroad) I wrote some trusted sites/accreditation you can browse.
Stepping on the first milestone of your life will get you to somewhere – you have never been to. This was my first story and as of the moment – I am proud of my teaching career – I have gone to many countries – and my dream has brought me there – when I have first reached it – with God’s unfailing love! I have some personal issues (of course) but I believe I am filling one of the purposes I am created for — It is not about traveling – it is not just about making a living – or making the company richer – it is about touching our next generation and making a big influence in their lives, creating an impact and dreaming for others.
Life is a but a dream.. Come True! Share your stories and inspire others, too!
See you on my next post!