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44 posts categorized "Travel Inspiration"

Impressions of Vietnam

The-Sea-Mountain-Vung-Tau-Clouds-Panorama-Scenery-1538102Vung Tau. Photo by Creative Commons Zero, 2016, via Max Pixel. 

“You know how it smells after it rains? It smells like that all time,” CIEE Alumni Emily Muscat says of Vietnam. It is this country that gave her the first big dose of wanderlust and ultimately led her to study abroad in Senegal with CIEE and later, teach abroad.

Emily was lucky to experience the countries in the relatively early days of American-Vietnamese exchange. In 1995, former President Bill Clinton formally normalized relations between the two countries after 20-years of severed ties. Ever since, Vietnam has enriched the lives of thousands of American teachers and travelers.

Although the scars of colonialism, war, and poverty still linger, today’s Vietnam has blossomed into one of the most culturally rich and visually breathtaking countries in the world. The country is now known as the land of pho and fairytale landscapes, a hidden gem of Southeast Asia.

Thailand 2Beach in Thailand. Photo by Arek Socha, 2017, via Pixabay

Emily remembers the country well. She spent time in the beach cities of Vung Tau and Nha Trang where she dipped her toes in crystal clear waters and explored ancient Buddhist temples. While in her base city of Ho Chi Minh, she took a spin on the always popular motorbike taxis. Anything goes on these things—chickens, families of seven, refrigerators, and anything else you can possible thing of that would conceivably carry using a motorbike! Although it didn’t exist back then, today motorbikes are used for Uber. Talk about an exhilarating morning commute!

Although she loved the energy of the cities, Emily’s favorite excursion was to Da Lat, located in the Northern region of Vietnam. The city is tucked into a lush valley surrounded by misty mountains, providing some of the most breathtaking views in the country (and relief from the high heat of summer).

Da latDa Lat. Photo by StockSnap, 2017, via PixaBay. 

Despite a once contentious relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam, Emily was greeted with nothing but kindness and enthusiasm from the Vietnamese people. She has fond memories of volunteering in the communities and participating in local customs, especially mealtimes. She remembers one night when she and her group went to a local restaurant. The owners caught wind that they were coming and made a special effort to make them feel at home by preparing curry with chopped up hot dog! The gesture was sweet but she still preferred the authentic Vietnamese food. Her favorite dish was Bún chả (pictured below), grilled pork served over a plate of white rice noodle and herbs with a tasty dipping sauce. As you can imagine, Emily loves Vietnamese food to this day. 

Bun_chaBún chả. Photo by Tuhang, 2015, via Wikimedia Commons.

Tet holiday, the Vietnamese New Year is celebrated in fashion around the country. Generally, the cities are cleaned up and decked out with yellow flowers and awnings are hung all over the main street. The flowers brighten up the cities and put everyone in the holiday spirit! Teacher's day is also widely celebrated. Vietnamese and English teachers alike are showered with flowers, gifts, and love from their students. 

Although it’s been several years since her visit, no time can erase the impressions of this country. Emily says she can still smell the rain, feel the heavy air on her skin, and picture the landscape: white sand beaches, gentle rivers, and mountainous jungles. She will always remember the captivating sights, smells, and sensations of Vietnam.

21 Inspirational Quotes to get you Through Every Tough Stage of Teaching Abroad

Teaching abroad is a magnificent adventure. But don't be fooled by the glamorous photos... it’s no vacation. But that's all to be expected. After all,  if you wanted a relaxing time abroad, you wouldn’t have spent 150 hours getting TEFL certified, or opted to work with a classroom of 20 eager students. While it may be more work than your average trip to the Caribbean, the experience is completely worth every little hurdle and is guaranteed to make you a stronger person. This is easy to see in hindsight, but during the challenging moments, it's normal to get frustrated and want to quit, cry, or take a long nap. Before you start stress-eating churros, take a look at these quotes to motivate you through the hard times.

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CIEE Teach in Thailand

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Why Traveling and Teaching Abroad Can Help Heal the World


As 2016 draws to a close, it can feel like the world is more divided than ever. Here in Portland, Maine, I have become acutely aware of the bubbles that I and others inhabit and invisible lines that we’re afraid to cross, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Wherever you are on the planet, recent events, harsh words, and ongoing conflicts can make you wonder if we are all literally living in separate universes.

These feelings of uneasiness, confusion, and isolation are exactly why it’s more important than ever for people to see the world and get out of their comfort zones.

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'Tis the Season: Celebrating Holidays While You're Abroad

Amanda Thailand

On Thanksgiving, the entire side of my mother’s very large family likes to congregate in Northern Maine. Each person proceeds to eat double the amount of food recommended for an adult male, at least one small child gets mild frostbite from too much sledding, and after dinner most souls, including me, find a free spot on the carpet or couch to succumb to a food coma. I’d never known Thanksgiving without a party of 50 to make things interesting, but that was before I lived in another country where US holidays didn’t apply. While at university in Montreal, my most memorable Thanksgiving away from home was donning a man’s costume and acting in a 17th century revenge tragedy before returning home to a cheery meal with my roommates, stage make-up still on. I still made sure to make my favorite apple pie for the occasion, but there was a little more French spoken at the table than I grew up with.

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"If I Could Do It Again..." 6 Things I Would Do Differently if I Taught Abroad Again


About a year and a half ago, I decided to teach abroad.

I applied. I waited. And I found out I was accepted just moments before giving my master's degree thesis presentation. (*Note, this did not help my presentation, and it only made me more nervous.)

But, I was ready to move abroad the second I read that acceptance email. In fact, moments after my presentation, as professors asked me what my next step was, I confidently told them I was moving to Thailand.

Had I planned any of the details yet? Nope. Had I ever been to Thailand before? Nah. Did I know what was in store? Not really. Was I certain I was going to go? You bet.

So, for the next few months, I took all the necessary steps: I got my CIEE TEFL Certification, I closed my lease, I put my stuff in storage, and I read a lot. It was all shockingly easy to do. I found it funny that this part - the figuring out how to close one part of your life - seems like so much work. But, in actuality, it was so easy.

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14 Reasons The Friends You Make Abroad Will Be Your Friends Forever

Teach_Morgan Klaas_Thailand 11

What's one of the best parts of traveling or living abroad? 

Making friends!

Here's 14 reasons why those friends you make abroad will be your friends forever:

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Traveling Today: Staying Hopeful and Inspired


It’s no secret that the world can sometimes be a scary place. At a time of political, cultural, and economic unrest in many areas of the world, the thought of traveling can often be daunting more than inspiring.

We hope that’s not the case.

Because traveling is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

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15 Challenges You May Face While Teaching Abroad: TEFL Can Solve That!

Ah, teaching. It's the most rewarding career you can have.

But, that doesn't always mean it's easy. Especially if you're teaching abroad. You face numerous challenges and road blocks.

Never fear, that's what TEFL is for!

Here's a few challenges you can expect, and how TEFL can solve them.

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The 15 Kinds of People You Meet While Teaching Abroad

14299_Study Abroad_Chile_P1010286_2

So, you've moved abroad to travel and teach! We commend you. 

While you're out exploring, trying new foods, lesson planning, figuring out transportation, and adjusting to your new time zone (insert nap here), you also come across quite a few characters. Whether they're fellow teachers, friends you meet out on an adventure or locals... you're sure to gain some new and interesting company along the way.

Here are a few that you're bound to meet:

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11 World Celebrations To Add To Your Bucket List

It's November 1st, and you know what that means?

It means I'm wearing socks with gingerbread men on them.

That's right. The holidays are upon us (My socks are the harbinger of holidays. Look no further).

But, I'm  here to tell you that there are actually incredible holidays all over the world, all year long!

If you're living abroad and it's too hot to wear decorative socks, or if you're busy catching waves right now, or if you're seeking a few more stamps for your passport, there are many holidays you can look forward to.

Here's a few to add to your bucket list!

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