How to be a Good Traveler

By: Willow

I had an awesome Spring Break this year. (Yes, I know I’m bragging a bit but I promise I have a point.) I was fortunate enough to be able to visit a family friend in Switzerland and do a little traveling around Europe. I learned a lot on my spring break, and I think this information could be useful if you happen to go on a sweet trip someday.

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I know what you’re thinking, “But Willow, the Peer Into Your Career blog is about helping me with my career, jetting across the world isn’t going to do that is it?” Well, yes and no. While the act of going on a fancy trip itself will probably not advance your career, it is possible that you will find yourself in situations where your actions traveling help or hurt your future. Here are a few tips that will help you make put your best foot forward no matter where you are.

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Learn a little bit of the language. I know this sounds like a given but it’s easy to get by without doing it. In Switzerland everyone speaks English, they teach German, French, and English in schools so literally everyone has a basic knowledge of English. Not only does everyone know at least some English, my hostess is getting her masters in English. I figured I would be fine as I would always be with someone fluent in English and German, so I would always have a translator. This was true, but it got really old. One night, we went to an event where a British author talked about her books. When the author introduced herself she thanked the crowd saying how much of a privilege it was to speak in her native language to this particular audience. The speech was in English and all of my host’s friends spoke English. I had no problem talking to the people around me the entire night. While I was standing with the circle of new friends, I realized they were all speaking English for my benefit. I was the only one who didn’t speak any German, and they were all adjusting for me. And that made me feel like crap. How did I go to a new country and not learn any of the language? How ignorant am I? Ugh! The mix of the speaker acknowledging her privilege and me realizing everyone was speaking a language for my benefit hit me hard. I felt bad, really really bad. If you ever do go somewhere where you don’t know the native language, learn a few key phrases, it will go a long way. People notice when you make an effort, and it will mean a lot to them. If possible find someone who knows the language and can help you practice a bit. Or find a friend and learn together. There are a lot of great resources you can use: YouTube videos, books, or language learning apps. Once again, knowing a little bit of the language goes a long way.

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Willow with British author Laura Penny.

Figure out what the driving laws are. Maybe you won’t be driving at all and you think you don’t need to do this. YOU DO. You interact with cars all the time, even if you’re not in one. so you need to figure out the basics such as: what side of the road to they drive on, what are the pedestrian laws, and how their stop lights work. These all could be different depending on where you are.

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Know the phone number and address of the place you are staying. Again, this one seems simple, but don’t forget. If you do you will get really confused and cry in front of the lost and found baggage lady in the Zurich airport. Uh… At least that’s what I’ve heard…

Always say thank you, preferably in the language spoken where you are. Whenever you go into a store, ask someone a question, talk to anyone at all for any reason, say thank you. It’s just a best practice.

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Finally, make as many connections and learn as much as you can. Traveling is an amazing thing to do and honestly a great way to change your life. You never know who you may meet. Keep these guidelines in mind and they might help you get a job, or make a new friend, or just have a great time.

One last reminder, in all your travels, be safe and have fun.

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Photo source: Willow

Study Abroad Takeaways

By: Cassie

Hi everyone! So if you’ve read my posts before you know that this past summer I decided to study abroad in Ireland. The trip I went on was focused on innovation and how businesses differ between the US and Ireland. Through this trip I got to see amazing things, meet amazing people (like the CEO of the largest hospital in Ireland), and I also learned a lot of things about myself along the way. Going on this trip was a really eye opening and great experience for me. Today I’m going to sum up some takeaways in a few points.

Cork University Hospital

It was challenging
The general consensus on studying abroad is that you will take easy classes and just be able to have fun. Well, you are definitely able to have lots of fun, BUT you cannot forget the importance of doing your work. My class was challenging and really pushed me to think outside of what I normally would do. This ultimately made it a more rewarding trip for me and I got a lot of education out of it. It was not only academically challenging- it was challenging just being in another country! Figuring out how to get around, the currency, and even deciding what to eat was all a new and different experience that made me push myself.

Cassie in Ireland

I made a lot of friends and connections
I met a lot of new people by going on this trip and made a lot of friends that I know will last a lifetime. We visited several companies and we met a lot of people who were doing influential and innovative things. We met heads of companies and we got to see how Irish business works. I also made good connections with people like Tony McNamara, who is the CEO of Cork University Hospital. This hospital is coincidentally the largest hospital and most innovative hospital in Ireland. The meeting was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever had to do, and it was also one of the most rewarding. By making these connections I now have a larger network and I have been introduced to so many more opportunities, which has been really great.

I saw amazing things
Every day of my trip was jam packed with a ton of things to see. We went all over the country and saw historical landmarks, scenery, and even contemporary cities. It was incredible to take in all the new sights, scenes, and surroundings that Ireland had to offer.

Busy street in Ireland

I learned so much
By going on this trip, I didn’t just learn about Ireland. I learned about the people around me, whether they were business professionals or my peers. I learned that I could be a part of the business place. I learned that I am capable of so many things and all I have to do is try them. Overall, studying abroad was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone because of all the great things you can get out of it!

Of Possible Interest:

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Photos by: Cassie

Steps to Teaching Abroad

By: Emily

Editor’s note: Emily is a C&IS Peer Educator alumna. You can read her previous post, Adventures in Teaching Abroad, to get all the background info about why she and her partner decided to spend a year in South Korea teaching. Here is the rest of her advice about getting started with the teaching abroad process.

How do I teach abroad?

The entire process of becoming a qualified candidate, interviewing with a recruiter, lining up a job, and completing all the paperwork took about 6 months.

Steps to teaching abroad

Step #1: Find a reputable recruiting agency

  • Fees can be a red flag. Keep in mind that we didn’t pay a cent to submit an application, to interview, to apply for work, or to sign a contract. There are recruiters, like Don (ESL Joblink), that are paid by schools to find quality candidates to teach abroad. Our largest expense was mailing paperwork and the processing fees for required documents such as FBI background checks.
  • Ask others. Begin talking about your desire to teach abroad in casual conversations. Oftentimes people will bring up a relative or friend or reveal that they had an experience teaching overseas. This is a great opportunity to be assertive. In several instances, Danny contacted strangers on Facebook after having a conversation with a mutual acquaintance. For us this resulted in Skype sessions and informational interviews at coffee shops. Each time we asked if they went through a recruiter or organization. We found this to be the most helpful way of finding a reputable agency.

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Cambodia

Step #2: Complete paperwork

  • This includes getting an FBI background check, a passport, and work visas. Our recruiter Don guided us through this process. He kept track of deadlines and was available to answer questions. For questions he couldn’t answer, I was often able to find an answer online.

Step #3: Sign a Contract

  • Danny and I were very anxious to sign our contract because we had read horror stories of teachers stuck in terrible contracts. We asked for a few days to make a final decision and read our contract carefully, we had our families and friends read it and we sent several messages with questions to our prospective employers to clarify. My biggest piece of advice: take your time making this decision. Don’t become too excited or desperate, or you might become stuck in a difficult situation that could become increasing complex negotiating with language and cultural barriers.

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Floating market, Bangkok, Thailand

Step #4: Prepare to leave

  • You will need to order currency and start packing. Packing for a year away from home can be daunting. I started in phases and relied on packing lists I found on countless travel blogs. Keep in mind that you need less than you think you do. Almost everything you can buy in America you can buy in Korea. If you have even a little doubt, don’t pack it. You will accumulate things in Korea and it will become expensive to move your things back home. If you are planning on teaching in Korea, focus on a professional wardrobe. Koreans are dressed to impress, all day, every day.

Step #5: Go!

  • After making time to visit and say goodbye to your friends and family, it’s time to go! The big leap is exhausting and terrifying at first, but it will be one of the best years of your life.

Photo on 2015-12-08 at 15.48

Emily with a few of her students.

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1st Photo Source: Unsplash | Ambir Tolang
Other photo sources: Emily

Put Your Travel Bug to Work

I don’t know about anyone else, but I love to travel. It’s an opportunity to explore somewhere different and to learn something new. Today’s round up of articles and resources focus on working and interning abroad as well as how to incorporate your study abroad experience on your resume.

New Zealand
New Zealand

After Study Abroad

Peru
Peru

Work/Intern Abroad

Paris
Paris

Abroad Resources

Photo Sources: New Zealand, Peru, & Paris