It was a day in mid-2012. I woke up to the annoying alarm clock, hastily got ready for my stressful sales job and sat from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the same back-breaking chair, in a dull office.
High pay, San Diego sun, the American Dream, right?
Wrong! Three years of this monotonous rat race was enough to push me over the edge. I craved a meaningful existence packed with travel and adventure.
It took me one minute to make the decision, 10 to write the resignation letter, one month to finalize all sales contracts, and two months to pack or sell all belongings and search for a way out.
But how does one afford a magical life abroad? What resource did I have that was marketable around the world?
I soon found myself on a one-way flight to Southeast Asia for training to teach English as a foreign language. Let the journey begin.
I decided on Thailand because living costs are low and the life is tropical.
You can keep your rent under $250 per month for an entire apartment. Or, rent a room for $100 a month. Dining out every meal is affordable. No joke! For example, I can enjoy a nourishing bowl of spicy Thai chicken soup and icy coconut water daily for $1! Just $5 a day will cover all your meals out.
With nights and weekends off and an abundance of holidays, there’s plenty of time to enjoy the tropical life. When you aren’t savoring the exotic cuisine at an outdoor restaurant you can take advantage of long sandy beaches or explore rainforests.
Getting around by motorbike or rickshaw is an adventure. You are also an inexpensive flight or train ride away from exploring neighboring countries.
And teaching English to Thai children is a joy…35 pairs of soft oval eyes excitedly staring up at me each morning. These children yearn for knowledge, always listen and behave remarkably well. Their appreciation is moving. Every class ends in a group hug, with me as the centerpiece.
One day when I was leaving school, I heard a call behind me.
“Teacha, Teacha,” a little boy shyly whispered as he chased me down to say goodbye. I noticed his hands clasped tightly around something. With a sweet grin he opened his fingers to unleash two purple butterflies into the tropical Thailand air.
“A gift” he murmured, before timidly turning on his heels and running back.
That day, I had taught my pupils about Christmas. He wanted to offer a “Christmas gift.”
Heart melting doesn’t cover it.
My monthly pay averages between $1,000 and $1,500, which may not seem like a lot, but when your living costs are as low as $300 a month, the potential for savings is huge. You can also make extra money on the side with lucrative private sessions.
But the real rewards of teaching English are the sense of fulfillment and the freedom to travel wherever you wish…Latin America…Asia…Europe…you name it.
You can take your native language all around the world, either as a career or just something to supplement your income. You can be young or old, and educate kids or adults.
I can promise you one thing, it’s a journey that will touch your life as well as the lives of many others.
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