Teaching English Abroad

Good afternoon travelers! Have any of you taught english abroad? What countries have you worked in? What was it like? I’m very interested in participating in an opportunity of this nature and need some real information, not just some website that could or could not be a scam. I’m looking for people that have been through the TEFL course and interview process and have already taught abroad or are teaching abroad now. Is that you? Do you have any advice or suggestions?

I’m curious about the cost of the TEFL course, what countries are the best, and where you found the jobs that ultimately hired you. Also, how much money did you leave your home country with and how much did you return with? What kinds of things did you learn?

What’s a Pilgrimage?

The meaning of a pilgrimage through the eyes of a pilgrim:

The journey takes many forms, there can be a religious aspect to it however it is not a requirement. For me, it has more to do with a personal journey and growth. I don’t subscribe to any particular creed. Be happy, be honest, and be kind. That is my mantra. Finding your true soul is a journey that starts inside of you, therefore any one person’s pilgrimage will not match any other. It starts when you allow it to.

Although the Camino De Santiago is largely rooted in a catholic background, the pilgrims on the route of Saint James are of various backgrounds. Any pilgrimage begins when you allow it to, traditionally from your front door. However the traditional route of St. James starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and ends in Santiago, Spain. Spending, on average, thirty days walking from France through to the tip of Spain is not an easy feat for anyone. Especially not when you stick to the true path of a pilgrim, relying on the way to support you through your travels. Breaking down both your physical and mental being and building you up again – much like daily life.

You see, a pilgrimage does not have to be some set trail that has been walked for centuries. A pilgrimage can be you getting up from your chair, going out your back door, and walking to another town or through the woods. It may not have much significance to an outsider however on said walk through the woods you may have reached a personal ‘aha!’ moment that alters the way you view your life forever.

I can’t wait to have a pilgrimage of my own, to travel and reach a true transcendental state must be absolute bliss. Although I’m not so sure I can wait until I find my way back to Europe to complete the Camino. That goal will never leave my mind but I think that some preparation is required. Some cultures and religions believe in yearly pilgrimages; so why can’t I take multiple pilgrimages throughout my life? I can and I will!

I want to call myself a citizen of the world and travel across our earth however when looking at my list (I keep a list of places I have been before) I realize that my focus has always been out of the Americas and I never took the time available to explore the land on which I was born. The land that my parents fell in love in and travelled across both together and alone. I need to experience the Appalachian Mountains and the Continental Divide. I need to see what the Rockies look like and the West Coast. I need to know what it is like to breathe in higher altitude, to truly be cold in the winter, and to see Redwood trees that I can’t wrap my arms around. I wish to hike and camp and build fires in as many states as I can. I want to simulate parts of the Oregon Trail and try to understand what the Gold Rush was like. Stand on old battlefields and put myself in the shoes of the people who fought there.

I am a firm advocate that seeing is believing and believing leads to true understanding. Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” I feel that he uses the term experiment precisely because they are meant to be learned from. Scientists create a hypothesis and then conduct experiments to prove their hypothesis is correct or debunk it. But no matter what, any good scientist will always try the experiment.

xxx
Sam

Independence Days Across The World

This weekend in America, we all engaged in the fourth of July weekend extravaganza we Americans love so much. But did you know that we are not the only people celebrating their Independence Day? There are five countries across the globe with an Independence Day between July 3 – July 5.

Bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania; Belarus lost around a third of its population not to mention more than half its economic resources during World War II and gained its independence on the 3 of July 1944. This marks the liberation of Minsk after several years of German occupation. Belarus was also a founding member of the United Nations in 1945. They celebrate their day with a military parade where tanks come through the town and end the evening with a fireworks display. Interestingly enough, they have a second working holiday in Belarus in April that marks the unification of the people of Belarus and Russia. (source)

Algeria is a country in north Africa that is bordered by Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Niger, Mali, and the Mediterranean Sea. The Algerian people struggled for years to claim independence from France and finally claimed that victory in 1962, just fifty-two years ago. Algeria’s independence was recognized on the third of July but declared and celebrated on the fifth. They celebrate their national Independence Day with feasts and fireworks, military parades and cultural displays. (source)

A group of ten volcanic islands 350 miles off the coast of Western Africa goes by the official name of Cape Verde. A man named Amilcar Cabral led a movement to gain Independence from Portugal but was assented on the 20th of January 1973. His half brother, Luis Cabral culminated the movement to reach independence on the 5th of July 1975 – thirty-nine years ago. They celebrate with parades, fireworks, and traditional dance and music performances. (source)

Coming back to the Americas, Venezuela celebrates Cinco De Julio which marks their Independence from the Spanish Crown in 1811. Venezuela is bordered by Columbia, Brazil, Guyana and the Caribbean Sea. Their Independence Day is celebrated with family gatherings, cultural shows, street parties, parades, and fireworks. (source)

I find it interesting that across the world all humans enjoy celebrations in similar ways. Flashy displays and food. We really aren’t that different at the root of things. We all have the same basic needs of food, water and shelter. We all have a need to protect ourselves and the things around us. We all enjoy celebrations in the same way. These days are some of societies greatest gifts, they bring communities together and boost morale all around. It reinforces my belief in the One Human Family.

Just to recap:

July 3, 1944 —————Belarus

July 4, 1776 —————USA

July 5, 1962 —————Algeria

July 5, 1975 —————Cape Verde

July 5, 1811—————-Venezuela

The Things You Do Abroad!

Just a few years ago, before I started traveling, I was very set in my ways. For a human being who still was a child in life it was not surprising to be so naive. I always crossed in crosswalks, and never ate new things. I always ate my pizza starting from the tip, never with the crust. There was always a logical way to do things, never a reason to step out of my box.

As I found myself calling the Netherlands home and yet on vacation in England, I couldn’t help but feel I was out of my comfort zone. Certainly I was able to communicate with the people around me however it was all new. My feet had never touched these stones; my nose never experienced such a spell-bounding fragrance. The sights and the smells were overwhelmingly new and there I was with a giant smile pasted on my face standing in the middle of it all. I knew then that I had to dive in; Its all or nothing and I hadn’t come all this way for nothing.

One day in London, I had scheduled lunch with two girls I met on my internship back in France followed by dinner and drinks with a friend from high school living in the area. I filled in the time between with random wanderings around St. Paul’s Cathedral and Picadilly Circus. I found a beautiful park to sit in and observe what life is like across the pond. I talked to strangers even though my mother always told me not to. Stepping out of my box never felt so good.

When I went up to the office to meet with the girls, they said they planned to take me to a sushi place. Being a vegetarian and quite picky, I had never had sushi in my life but today was about ‘c’est la vie’! Knowing I am a vegetarian, my friends were sure to pick one of everything I could eat on the food escalator. Yes, you read that right. Sushi that comes circling around the room past tables. The color of the dishes its served on determines the price of your meal. I wasn’t fond of everything but I tried every single vegetarian dish this place offered. My taste buds were overwhelmed. It was the most amazing mixture of tastes I had ever experienced.

Realizing I had been missing out on so much by limiting myself, I decided at that moment that risks are a very important part of life. When Amanda asked me if Indian food sounded good I couldn’t let myself chicken out. Spicy is not my thing so I was super nervous about dinner. Getting lost on the way there definitely didn’t help the situation but once I found my friend and we started catching up I found myself with strange food in front of me. It was delicious! There was a kick to it, but the aroma of the restaurant and the yoghurt sauce they gave me for dipping made me forget about the spice after every bite. We had such a wonderful time talking about things past, present and future then took a rainy jog across the River Thames.

I’m so glad that I allowed myself to be so open during my travels because it has carried over into my everyday life. Instead of writing things off right away I am more willing to get to know it better, wether it be food, ideas, or even people. The ability to be open to things unknown is guaranteed to change the way you perceive the world.

 

xxx Sam

The Breakdown

At this point you are all probably wondering how the heck a trip of this capacity is going to work out. Never fear, I have worked out all of the logistics.

BEFORE THE TRIP I Will Need: $900

Backpack (45-50L) $100

Sleeping Bag $30

Other $70

Jacket $100

Walking Shoes   $100

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition (and Mount)    $500

Transportation

I broke down the travel transportation costs for two people as I plan to have a buddy for the trip for safety reasons as well as production reasons. I plan to be flying into Ireland and travel throughout the rest of my trip via bus, train (Eurail Global Pass for one months travel in a two month span), plane, and an occasional automobile while leaving from Israel by plane. I over shot the estimated spring price by $700 for inflation and other unforeseen costs. (You never know)

Transportation Budget: $9000

Day To Day Living

During the duration of my six month trip I plan to sleep cheap by camping and sleeping in hostels most of my time. I decided bringing about 5 euro a night each person or about $1000 would be a logical estimate. with an addition $1500 each as a buffer for unforeseen expenses.

Day To Day Budget: $5000

With these things in mind I have made my savings goal for the trip $7500 per person which means putting away about $312 dollars a month for 24 months or $78 a week with a $12 starting fund.

TOTAL BUDGET: $15000

2016, I can’t wait to conquer you.

****Side Note: Part of my intrigue in a trip like this is not to live extravagantly but learn how to live on a small scale and truly connect with the world around me. Although I have over-budgeted my savings, I plan on returning to America on time and under-budget!

So now for my readers, when you take a trip what are your top three components for creating your budget?

xxx Sam

Twenty-Four Weeks, Twenty Countries, Three Continents

Now that we have had our introductions, I feel that I can let you in on my extravagant plan. I’m currently working as hard as I can to save a proper amount of money to go on a six month sabbatical where I will walk the Camino De Santiago (30 days) as well as Cinque Terre (12hrs).

On this trip, I plan to continue blogging, write some travel articles, and I also plan on purchasing a GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition camera to film the trip and make a documentary about my travels. Ideally this trip will take off in spring where I will land in Ireland and walk some rolling hills before splitting for England. I’d also like to check out Wales, as my father’s great grandmother originates from there before being banished from her family and falling in love with a Cuban dentist. My goal is to uncover some more information about her and the family my dad really comes from.

After what I foresee as about two weeks, I shall leave the islands for the mainland and visit The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Croatia, Switzerland, and Italy before tackling the Cinque Terre adventure. After Cinque Terre, I shall head to the south of France where I plan for it to be around May and I can attend the Cannes Film Festival once again. I won’t attend the entire two week festival however I will get a pass for a few days to see some films, say hello to some old friends, and acquire some business meetings about the documentary as well as a few other projects I have in the works.

After Cannes, I will head up to Paris for the first time (insert happy dance) and spend a few days wishing I could transport back to the roaring twenties when Fitzgerald and Hemmingway frequented the block. Hopefully I will get to take a walk in Paris while it rains – I always imagine that to be the most beautiful sight.

After a few days in Paris, I’ll be heading to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port where I will collect my shell and  pilgrims passport to begin my month of walking. I shall not tell you about the time on the camino as I cannot predict what my pilgrimage will bring. I do however predict that the end of the camino will mark the end of the fourth month or the middle of the fifth. At this point, I would like to go to Morocco for a while and enjoy Casablanca, Tangier, Rabat and everything else Morocco has to offer.

After that adventure, I’d like to hop a flight to Cairo and spend a week in Egypt. After Egypt, I can head to Israel for some enlightenment and travel back to the states from there. So there it is, twenty-four weeks, twenty countries and three continents.

**Next week I will break down the trip further to prove how realistic it really is.**

xxx Sam

Twenty-four weeks, twenty countries, two continents.