English Camp in Khao Wong

This weekend was a busy one. I got asked by my agency if I wanted to be a team leader for an English camp they were hosting in Khao Wong (insanely small town right near Laos and Cambodia and 4 hours away from Banphai)! The English camp was for approximately 150 mathayom students aged 14-18. The day consisted of various games, activities, competitions and even a baby powder fight that the teenagers thoroughly enjoyed! I must say the job completely wore me out. I woke up this morning feeling like I had spent an entire day at the gym but I loved it. It was an absolutely amazing opportunity to work with older students and to be able to connect with them on a more personal level! I love teaching kindergarten but the conversations that you can have with them are very limited to say the least! Anyways, I hope that everyone had a fantastic weekend! Safe travels everyone.

xoChaylavie

My TESOL journey

Koh Phi Phi

Over the last several months I have had many people contact me through email, Instagram and my blog to ask me what steps I took to move to Thailand and become an English Teacher. So, I decided it would be beneficial if I blogged about what lead me to my life changing decision and exactly how I did it! Below is my story. J

Where it all began:

I experienced my first plane ride at the age of 15 on a family vacation going to the Dominican Republic. To this day I will never forget seeing the ocean for the very first time, the beautiful palm trees swaying all around me, the warm sea-breeze gently touching my face, the long stretch of sparkling white sand and the surge of emotions that ran through me at that moment. I was so excited that I literally ran right into the waves fully clothed. You never forget your first.

Ever since then, I became totally enticed by travel. Like many, I had only categorized myself as your typical “Holidaymaker” type of traveler. Staying on an all-inclusive resort was all I ever knew and the idea to relax on the beach with a drink in my hand always appealed to me. However, my passion for learning and experiencing other cultures quickly became an obsession of mine to say the least. As I got older, the appeal of a country became more about what makes them physically and culturally unique and less about staying inside the limitations of my comfort zone. I wanted more. I needed more. Therefore, it is no surprise that I ended up studying and receiving an undergraduate degree in physical and environmental Geography. What can I say? I am just a girl who loves the world.

Upon completion of my university career I had planned (for many, many years) to move abroad and teach English as a second language (TESOL). This was going to be my first step to experience the world in a way I had always dreamt about. I wanted the opportunity to submerge myself into another culture and a more intimate experience rather than just vacationing. Initially, I wanted to teach in China and was pretty set on that idea. Many programs and schools in China offer a competitive salary, will pay for your flight including return and even provide you with a living allowance! China is a fantastic country for teachers who want to save money/pay off student loans, debt etc. However, after a lot of research I realized that China may not be the country to suit my personal goals or needs. One reason in particular was that most of the teaching positions/opportunities I was interested in China required you to sign a year-long contract. This alone scared me because I didn’t want to feel pressured to stay for an entire year just in case I absolutely hated it. Upon that conclusion I decided to look at other countries that are in high demand for native English speakers. Subsequently, I came across South Korea and Thailand and started to research programs offered in these countries as well. Unfortunately, I started to read various forums on specific programs that offer services to provide you with a TESOL placement. This was extremely discouraging for me. I read one bad review after another and came to the upsetting realization that a lot of these programs are nothing but scams. Many of them ‘claim’ to provide you with nothing but the utmost support but instead provide nothing short of a nightmare for the many victims who get sucked into the whimsical fantasy illustrated on their websites.

The typical hook, line and sinker: Get paid to travel!

It’s a no brainer really. Who wouldn’t want to get paid to travel?

Result? Many people become interested and are willing to pay large amounts of money for these services without doing their research first.

This kind of information is terrifying for a novice who is deciding to move across the globe to a country, (let alone a continent) they have never been to before. In addition, these programs are not inexpensive; hence my extreme hesitation to settle for anything less than reliable. Now, before assumptions are made about my opinion on recruiting agencies let me make myself very clear. I am not bashing every company out there that provides such teaching programs. I know that there are many above average ones that provide nothing but outstanding service. However, in my opinion, finding a credible recruiter (much like any other service) is as hard as finding a needle in a haystack. You have to weed out all the bad ones to be able to find the amazing ones. Unfortunately, at that time in my life, this intimidated me enough to make me sweep my long-time dream of teaching abroad under the bed.

My heart turned Green:

Fast forward a couple of years and I finally graduated university and was immediately offered a full-time position with a fantastic development/construction company. However, my heart had other plans and no intention of staying put much longer. Not too soon into my new chapter of life my long-time dream started to creep up on me again. Due to past research and enquiries for different TESOL programs I was still receiving advertisement emails from these organizations. Once again I found my curiousity urging me to look into other possible teach abroad options. Then something magical happened (oh Google you wonderful thing you). I came across an organization that seemed too good to be true. Greenheart Travel. I started to research forums to see what they had to say about Greenheart and I couldn’t find any dirt on them! Some people had left silly complaints but nothing that Greenheart could prevent. Some people just like to complain about everything. Those people can never be satisfied even if they’re fed with a silver spoon (those are the kind of people who leave bad reviews on Trip Advisor that boil my blood). Greenheart had so many different options all of which seemed incredible. However, I decided that Thailand was definitely the country I would want to experience teaching abroad and Greenheart offered this. For the heck of it I decided to type Greenheart Travel Teach in Thailand on Facebook and came across a closed group. I requested to be in the group and almost instantly I was added into it by Sarah (Greenhearts amazing angel who will go out her way for anyone). This group blew my mind. It is full of current English teachers in Thailand who went through Greenheart and many who are considering whether or not to join the program. Any question you have has either already been answered in the group or will be answered. I spent a lot of time reading through the comments and was almost positive that I had finally found my program. Not too soon after showing interest in Greenheart, I received a call from them. It was a fantastic one on one that provided in depth answers to any unanswered questions I had about the particulars. So there you have it. I jumped ship. I was sold and little did I know my life was about to change forever!

 TESOL Certification and placement:

Upon arrival to Thailand, Greenheart essentially hands you over to a company known as XploreAsia. This is the actual company that provides you with your one month TESOL course (120 hour certification). XploreAsia both certified me to teach English and provided me with a job (monthly guaranteed salary of at least 30,000 THB (approximately $11531 Canadian) as soon as the course was completed. This was one of the craziest, most exciting, emotional and special times in my life. Nothing could have prepared me for my first month in Thailand. My group was small one of less than 30 people. For the duration of the TESOL course we all lived in Hua Hin (just 3 hours south of Bangkok) and quickly became very close. It was amazing to meet so many other likeminded people who are as curious about this world as I am. Not to mention, these fantastic people became a support system and my family away from home. Little do they know but they helped comfort and lessen the culture shock that was consuming every fiber of my being. The best part about the connection made with these guys is knowing that I now have friends all over Thailand. The course was fun, intimidating and sometimes nerve-wracking but nothing we couldn’t handle. Everything we learned gave us the confidence we needed to move and start worker as full-time teachers. The preparation was fantastic. We were taught exactly how to write lesson plans and given opportunities to practice on our peers and in a real Thai school.

Moving day?

When you teach English abroad through an organization you will be given little room to choose where you get placed to work. In my course we were all told to be open minded about all of the potential teaching positions within Thailand and to basically expect whatever position we ended up with. If not, we would run the risk of waiting a much longer time to get another offer (which was a worry because we all had limited amount of money to get us through before our first paycheck). I am not saying that it is impossible to get a position somewhere that you may have a preference for, however it might be a challenge. In my course most (if not all) of my classmates requested that they not get placed in Bangkok. They didn’t want to get caught in the craziness of the city. However, a huge handful of people ended up with positions there regardless but they all actually ended up loving it. In my case I got a placement literally in the middle of nowhere. I am one of few western/ English speaking people in my entire town. Which has made me experience a roller coaster of emotions for multiple reasons but I must admit I love my little town.

Where do I live now?

You know what’s scarier than moving thousands of kilometers across the world to a continent you have never been to? Googling your new soon to be home/town and realizing that there is basically no pictures or information that can be found! I was told I would be moving to a small town but being unable to research anything about it freaked the crap right out of me. I mean, how could I mentally prepare myself for the next chapter of this adventure if I could not find anything about it online?

So fast forward, I Currently I live in a small town in the region of Isan, which is northeastern Thailand and is considered the most authentic and culturally rich part of the entire country. My town is called Ban Phai and it is the real Thai deal haha. It’s is smaller than a suburb but bigger than a rural farm town, although completely surrounded by farms. However it has just about everything you need to live comfortably. What shocked me the most about Ban Phai is that this town is the true Thai experience. You won’t find any Western style restaurants here and if you are anything like me it is a huge struggle. This town is big on dishes with fermented fish (stinky fish as they like to call it) which has been hard for me to accept, considering I don’t really eat fish at all. Tesco is the equivalent of Walmart in Thailand and they are everywhere except in super small towns like mine. However, as always you can always count on 7/11 to have carry many of your basic necessities (everything from shampoo, makeup to bread and other random foods and stationary). My town has one main grocery store but it is pretty far and only convenient if you have a car, bike or moped. Otherwise I walk when I’m desperate because it is the ONLY store that sells peanut butter here and I gotta have my PB. Fruit is plentiful here and all over the country no matter where you are. Thailand is huge on markets that sell everything. There is clothes shopping everywhere. However, if I want really nice western style stuff/clothes I have to go to the city and shop at the mall which is an hour bus ride. Anyways, I just wanted to give you a little insight as to how my town is and how I live.

Lessons learned so far?

I’ve been to Bangkok a few times, visited the south such as Phuket and Krabi and I realized that I am happy living where I do. I like peace and quiet and calm vibes and Ban Phai provides all of that for me and more. Also, when I came to Thailand I really wanted an authentic Thai experience and I do not feel that I would have got it if I had been placed in a more touristy area (so in a sense I got lucky with where I ended up). I can truly say that I feel at home and I know I am exactly where I need to be at this point in my life. Teaching in Thailand has taught me lessons that I will hold on to forever. The majority of those lessons focus on patience, acceptance, passion, appreciation and enjoyment. Teaching has taught me how much I love life, people and more importantly my beautiful and bright little students.

Fun fact:

As a result of living in Ban Phai I am able to save quite a bit of money. Once this semester is finished I will be traveling for almost two months with my boyfriend before I move back home to Canada. As a result, the cheap living in my town has made it possible for me to save money to do this! 😀

xoChaylavie

Exploration Equates to Limitlessness

I actually cannot stop. I am sure I have a sickness. No, I am positive. I do not think I will ever be a person who is satisfied with mediocre travel. I will choose one place to visit and the end result is me wanting to visit one hundred and one more. The sad truth is that I have to accept that I cannot possibly visit and see everything. But hey! A girl can try ;).

xoChaylavie

Thought of the day

“I don’t want to wait until I’m ‘established’ to be able to live my life. Instead, I’m thinking that these kind of moments are exactly what will shape me as a person and point me in the right direction to become more than just established. I want to live my life knowing that I did exactly that. I lived.”

 

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I don't want to wait until I'm "established" to be able to live my life. Instead, I'm thinking that these kind of moments are exactly what will shape me as a person and point me in the right direction to become more than just established. I want to live my life knowing that I did exactly that. I lived. 😍🙌👌🐳🐋🐡🐚🐙🐠🌞🌍❤💚💜💛😊🌴✌😎😀 __________________________________________ #chayadventures#wanderlusting #wanderlust #traveling #travel #travelbug #findyourself #travelbug #travelblog #instagood #instatravel #amazingplaces #beautifuldestinations #beachbum #southeastasia #asia #kohphiphi #mayabay #bambooisland #qotd #quote #greenhearttravel #traveladdict #travelgram #travellust #traveler #wander #iglobal_photographers

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Man’s Best Friend

I saw this film a few weeks ago and got teary-eyed to say the least. It really puts a emphasis on how beautiful the connection between animals and humans can be if we just allow it.

“There was this really smart scientist guy who thought that people could learn a lot from dogs, he said that when someone you love walks through the door even if it happens 5 times a day you should go totally insane with joy.”

xoChaylavie

6 Things Only People With Wanderlust Will Understand

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1. Money=Travel

You truly feel like the very purpose of your existence is to explore this enormous world that you reside in. No matter how many places you visit, you will never be freaking satisfied. You always want more. Some may tell you that you are silly for spending so much money on travel. Yes, I of all people understand how expensive it can be (you do not want to know how much I have spent on my adventures in the last 4 and a half years). However, no matter how expensive, as long as the adventure and excitement is promising, you WILL find a way to make it happen. To you, travel is money well spent.

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2. The Fever Is Real

Once you get bit in the ass by your good ol’ pal the travel bug (and you will), you are infected and you will go to any lengths to ensure that you can continue your travels. Travel to you is not just a “vacation”. In fact it is a lifestyle! You know that there are endless possibilities and get excited at the slightest thought of what you will see next. Your desires are fed by knowing there will always be a NEW place, adventure, culture, food, timezone, climate, landscape and beauty that you can experience.

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3. You’re Always Planning, Always

During a trip you are already making a mental list of the next possible destination/s that you can visit, meanwhile your current trip has not even come to an end. It becomes a sick obsession. You start to become absolutely fascinated with the idea of picking up and just leaving. No plans, no destination in particular, just get up, grab a few essential things, book a flight and go.

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4. It’s Not A Dealbreaker But It’s Close

Your significant or potential significant other MUST and I mean MUST at the very least have some travel goals in mind. We who suffer from wanderlust need a companion who can understand our strong impulsive desire to get around. If not, we are going to have a problem. In our minds travelling the world equals a perfect life. However, add a travel enthused lover into that equation and you end up with pure bliss!

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5. You Are Social Media’s Worst Nightmare

You devote your time on social media to stalk travel pictures others have posted. Your very own Instagram is flooded with so many of your own personal travel images that your friends begin to become annoyed with you and at times even contemplate unfollowing you. You also become quite the hashtag whore in order to share your pictures with other like-minded individuals (#travel #travelbug #adventure blah blah blah #hastagmentalcase). In doing so you end up with follows and likes from some pretty cool and experienced adventure seekers/backpackers.

6. Comfort Zone? What’s That?

Travel is something you crave. You find it absolutely irresistible and would go to any lengths to do so. This world is a lot bigger than what we could ever imagine. I say, why not discover it? For those of us who lustfully wander, we prefer to find the beauty beyond the confines of our comfort zone.

-Chaylavie xo

The 5 Depressing Truths About Being in Your Mid 20’s

I might only be on the brink of my “mid-twenties” but in honour of my 24th birthday only being a few short weeks away I thought it would be appropriate to discuss some of the unattractive things related to this age bracket. Ever since my graduation from university last May I have been faced with some ugly truths, 5 to be exact. Sure, being in your twenties is amazing and I am definitely not taking it for granted. I know, I know, I am free, able to make my own life decisions, not required to sport dorky braces (that took over my entire damn 4 year high school experience!) anymore, and can enjoy the “finer” things in life (whatever the heck that entails). However, my expectations and excitement about being this age have come to a quick halt solely because it is not going the way I expected it to. Simply put, growing up sucks.

  1. A lot of your friends will go MIA. I had all of these exciting plans once I finished my undergrad. I spent 4 and a half years conjuring up all of the things that my girls and myself would be able to do once I finished. Recreate the Hangover on a Vegas getaway, enjoying the single life with all of my single friends, go wine tasting while spending the day in Niagara on the lake and getting pampered at a spa? Yes please! However, fast forward to convocation and thereafter and I have yet to do any of those things with them. Instead, people are busy with their own lives now and that’s just the way it is. In order to make plans, one must simply create a Facebook event or group chat to ensure a time and place that everyone can get together. This planning will usually happen at least a month prior to the event, however most of the time it still never works out. Why you may ask? Because it was planned so freaking far in advance (just to ensure EVERYONE could make it), that many of your silly buddies forget (or so they say) and end up being a no show. You can now mourn and say goodbye to the random group hang outs you were so accustomed to in both high school and university. That shit just doesn’t work at this age.
  2. All at once you are smacked with bills (and not just any bills, better yet, bills that put you in way over $20,000 in debt) Shout out goes to my university for that one! Dafuq did this happen? (RYE HIGH, HOWS IT HANGING YOU RICH BASTARD). In addition to this stressful transition from being a broke ass student to a broke ass young adult, you have a sudden realization that you are now experiencing normal financial responsibilities and obligations. Yay! However, it is at this stage where for the first time ever you discover that yourself and the majority of your friends are no longer on the same playing field. Some of friends will land their dream job right out of uni, pulling in enough cashola to live their luxurious lifestyle, in their cute little condo, in their cute little neighborhood (usually in downtown Toronto), while enjoying their cute authentic, Instagram-worthy meals, while others can barely afford a pot to pee in because their student loans are so through the roof and they are unable to make any payments because they are unable to find any job/career in their field, usually because they studied something random like philosophy. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to what I like to call the “young adults great financial divide”!
    Welcome to a world where you and your friends can no longer agree on what group outings/activities are affordable and what is not.
  3. You sometimes find yourself in the “in-between” stage among friends. This is the stage where some of your bestest partners in crime decide it is a good idea to get “wifed” or “hubbied” up, get a house, make babies and the whole shebang while the other half of your pals are still getting white girl wasted, eating street meat after the club at 3AM (or better yet Shawarma!!! #yum), spending the night hugging toilets and not having the slightest recollection of how they got their sloppy ass home the next morning. Instead, you find yourself in this grey area where you sort of don’t fit into either. This just results in you being more confused than you already were about your silly age in the first place.
  4. You start to notice that you can’t eat “whatever” you please to anymore. Listen, I like food and I like to eat food even more. In my head I am already a 500lbs woman, however more recently I’ve realized that those thoughts may become a reality if I don’t cool it. It is just a little bit more complicated to stay in shape now and I know for damn certain that it is age related! Yes I am still practically a baby, but let me tell you, at one time I could eat all I wanted and knew that only working out a few times a week, or remaining relatively active would help me stay in shape. Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. It seems that the “freshman 15” decided it enjoyed the party, caught feelings and is now going to stick around for the long haul. But meh, maybe it’s just me. Damn you muffin top, you SOB!
  5. You are dying to move out of your parents’ house and live on your own but are slapped with the complex reality that you lack the financial means to do this. Unless… you have a roommate! If you are anything like me, the whole roommate idea not only freaks you out me but it makes you cringe. No offense to any of my beloved friends (you’re all the best!) but even the thought of living with you churns my stomach. Not because I don’t love you but simply because of all the potential ways this could pan out. It is a 50/50 and there is no in between. You’ll either love the crap out of your roommate/bestie, making every night just like a sleepover, spending weeknights sprawled out in horizontal position on the couch in the living room, watching the Bachelorette or re-runs of Jersey Shore, asking your girl to pass you the Cheetos OR you’ll find yourself starting to come up with the best way you can get some harmless vengeance on him or her for constantly eating all of your cereal, stealing your protein powder, leaving the bathroom a repulsive mess or refusing to pay for their share of the Wi-Fi simply because they “don’t” need/use it. In that case they are full of shit because we’re in 2015. Common, even my grandma uses it. Also, by harmless vengeance I mean doing something that would obviously not put anyone’s life into danger but give you the sweetest sense of gratification. Your roommate wants to be a disrespectful, unappreciative, princess? You can now sleep at night knowing that you secretly used their toothbrush to clean the toilet bowl. Or better yet, turn it up a notch and re-enact that scene from Horrible Bosses where Kurt shoves his bosses toothbrush where the sun don’t shine. Lol, okay don’t actually do any of those things. However my point is, this uncertainty is way too big of a risk factor for myself. I’d rather keep my friends as my friends and not run the risk of becoming archenemies, thank you very much. The truth is we all have our own habits and a different way of living. The smallest differences have the potential to become magnified, which can leave sweet besties or acquaintances extremely hostile, thus resulting in a disastrous falling out all due to living under the same roof.

I guess I managed to go on quite a rant here. However, do not lie for even two seconds, you know damn well you related to at least one or more of these points. Being in your mid 20’s you are, without a doubt, going to experience some of the best years of your life. However, this age has its faults and that’s just because it comes with so many uncertainties. In all honesty, it is just plain weird when you actually realize that you’re growing up!

xo Chaylavie

Content

I think I can finally say that things are coming together in my life. By all means I still don’t have all the answers to everything but I am definitely not the same person I was when I started my journey. I have a lot to be grateful for at this stage and could not be happier. It is fascinating what positive reinforcement from both friends and family can do for your own personal growth. As a result of such a strong foundation, I have learned a lot within the last year. I’ve learned that sometimes you need to sacrifice the feelings of others temporarily if it makes a positive impact on your well being. I’ve learned that some of the most complicated and daunting things in life involve taking risks; but without risks life is left without excitement and surprise. I’ve learned how important it is to be fearless, even if you have to force yourself for a while (you’ll eventually get there) you can truly accomplish any thing your heart desires to. With fearlessness comes a whole new world of opportunity! Last but definitely not least, I’ve recently discovered the difference between loving someone and falling absolutely head over heels in love with someone.

If you ask me life is pretty good right now. All I had to do was take control of it. However, I also know that God is ultimately in control, and for that I am forever blessed.

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Xo Chaylavie