Meet Laura Hilliard, a TEFL intern in Vietnam. She’s an American from Pennsylvania who bid adieu to her adorable cat Olive to tackle the exciting, exotic world of teaching abroad! Hanoi isn’t quite like her native Pittsburgh, and she’s having a blast learning about all of the differences that make her experience teaching abroad so magical.
Tell us about your background? What makes Laura, Laura?
I grew up in a very small town and my family hardly ever traveled. So traveling always seemed like something magical and exciting to me because it was such a foreign concept. I didn’t experience my first trip abroad until college and that trip sparked my interest in traveling more and possibly even living abroad.
When did you first learn about teaching abroad? What excited you most about it?
After graduating from college, my friend taught in Thailand and it just seemed like an amazing experience to be able to work and live in a new country. I didn’t study abroad in college like I had wanted to, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to meet new people and live in a new culture.
Were there any barriers between you learning about the path towards teaching abroad and your willingness or self-confidence that you could pursue that path? How did you push through them?
The biggest challenge was the idea of being away from home and comfort for a long period of time, but an experience like this (while challenging) was something I had always dreamed about.
What were your three favorite takeaways from your TEFL lessons—especially those that you find most helpful in your current classroom?
Classroom management, lesson planning, and cultural differences. I did not study to become a teacher in college so the courses helped me gain an understanding of what to expect as a teacher, especially in a foreign country.
You’re currently teaching abroad in Vietnam. BADASS! Why Southeast Asia?
I chose Southeast Asia because I wanted to experience a brand new culture and Vietnam because I saw so many beautiful pictures of the beaches, cities and countryside. What’s not to love!
If you were to go through the process of getting your TEFL certificate again, what would you do differently? Any advice for those considering following your footsteps?
I don’t think I’d do anything differently as far as the process, but if you’re thinking about doing an internship my advice would be to just go for it. If you’re thinking about it, just do it! You won’t regret it and you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime!
Will you share a funny/cute/hilarious story from your TEFL classroom?
Teaching can be exhausting, but I think one of my favorite parts is seeing their faces light up when you walk in the room, pick them to play a game, or if they get the answer right. As a new teacher, it makes me feel like I’m doing something right!
Thank you for taking the time to share your magnificent story with the Premier TEFL community. Happy travels!
Read more amazing stories from TEFL interns in Vietnam