Interview with Niamh in Vietnam
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WE’D LOVE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND, WHAT DREW YOU TO TEACHING ABROAD, AND MORE.
The idea of teaching abroad first came about after I returned home from 7 weeks of traveling around Central America. A friend had spent the year teaching in Costa Rica and I thought that would be something cool to do after I had finished college. After my final year exams, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life but I knew I wanted to go traveling again. So I completed the TEFL course, saw there was an internship in Vietnam offered and booked onto it straight away. Coming to Vietnam has probably been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PATH TO TEACHING ABROAD—DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU’D END UP IN VIETNAM?
I had originally wanted to teach English in Central America but it’s a lot more common to teach English in Southeast Asia. I had never been to any SE Asia countries yet so I thought I could teach in Vietnam for 6 months then go traveling around to other countries after the internship ended. Hopefully, by next year I’ll have visited all the southeast Asian countries!
WHAT WERE THE BEST PARTS OF YOUR TEFL COURSE EXPERIENCE? DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT PREPARED YOU FOR TEACHING IN VIETNAM?
I loved how the TEFL course gave you tips on how to set up your classroom for different activities. The TEFL course also gave me a lot of ideas for different games depending on the age of the children. In Vietnam the class sizes range from 40-60 children so a lot of the time you can’t set the classroom up as you would like nor can you play a lot of games but throughout my teaching experience, I’ve learned to think on my feet and modify the game to suit the class.
YOU WERE ORIGINALLY ON A MUCH DIFFERENT CAREER-PATH. TELL US ABOUT YOUR COLLEGE STUDY EXPERIENCES AND HOW/WHY YOU MADE THE SWITCH TO TEACHING.
So I graduated from Earth Sciences at Trinity in November 2018 but if I’m completely honest I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do after finishing college. I had done my TEFL over the summer and thought there was no better time like the present to come to Vietnam to teach English. It was also a way for me to put off deciding what I will do for the rest of my life!!
TELL US A BIT ABOUT LIVING IN VIETNAM. WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS? WAS THERE ANY CULTURE SHOCK AFTER THE INITIAL MOVE?
When I first got here, I noticed how friendly and welcoming the people were. Over that first week, I did think Vietnam wasn’t for me and that there was no chance I’d stay on for another year (oh how I was wrong) but as time went on I really began to love the country. The way the Vietnamese people drive was definitely a culture shock and their constant beeping took a while to get used to. I think I’ll almost find it a bit too quiet when I go home in July!
HAVE YOU DONE MUCH TRAVELING SINCE MOVING TO VIETNAM? IF SO, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
Well soon after moving here it was the lunar new year so we all spent a week in Danang and Hoi An. That was the longest time we’ve had off but we have tried to make the most of our weekends. We’ve visited Ninh Binh (twice, we loved it so much!), Sapa, Halong Bay, Cat Ba island and most recently we went to Mai Chau. Vietnam is such a beautiful country with so much to offer. Now that we’ve finished teaching for the summer, we are traveling to the south of Vietnam to tick some more places off our list.
SINCE COMPLETING THE INTERNSHIP, WHAT HAVE YOU DECIDED TO DO? WILL YOU CONTINUE TEACHING OR MOVE HOME?
So since completing the internship, I’ve decided to come back in September to teach for another year. I’m just not quite ready yet to leave this crazy place and the cute kids!