06 Jun Interview with Rebecca Hatton
- Why did you decide to do English teaching?
I would have to say, the main reason for my decision to teach English abroad is to gain life experience by living in another country, experiencing the culture and people in the best way possible. I believe that living in a foreign country is the best way to experience it.
- What teaching experience did/do you have?
I had no teaching experience to begin with here, I studied beauty therapy which is a totally different ball game! I now have over 2 years experience teaching in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
- Why did you choose Cambodia?
I originally chose to teach in Thailand where I landed a full-time job in a municipality school in Phuket. I was looking to live in a costal place and back then I had only heard stories about Thailand, not the rest of Asia. The visa was a bit of a hassle as I do not hold a degree. I moved onto Hanoi one year later where I worked part-time in language schools, I personally prefer full-time and I was missing the feel of Thailand so I searched online and came in contact with an international school here in Cambodia. I had the online interview, got sent the contract and off I went to Phnom Penh city. This option seemed good as Cambodia is more lenient with their visa situation and the school would apply for me. This was my biggest concern.
- Have you travelled abroad before?
Yes, only for 3 months to the UK while I visited family and friends.
- Did you use a recruitment agency?
Not currently, no. I went privately through an international school. In Phuket I went through ECC which has a company based in Phuket and Bangkok. They’re very good with setting you up with a job as well as work at the language centers.
- How was the recruitment process?
Very straight forward. After interview you sign contract with ECC and they supply you with the work that suits you.
- Did they provide advice and guidance with regards to your visa application?
I was not able to be given a visa/work permit without a degree in Thailand. This requires visa extensions and border runs regularly. If you hold a degree you will be given information about visa and the work permit but for me, I personally don’t know.
Some private schools in Cambodia apply for visa on your behalf and you are able to get a work permit. I pay for my own visa but I don’t have to personally apply.
- Was accommodation provided?
No, in Cambodia you do not normally get housing provided, but the housing here is very affordable. In Thailand a lot of jobs provide you with very basic accommodation, but I was not given any in Phuket.
- Did the company provide training?
No, it did not. I feel every country and it’s schooling is different. You end up winging it and after a short while you develop your own way of teaching and learn more over time.
- What was the most challenging aspect when you first arrived?
I would say the loneliness. It is always lonely when you move to a foreign country, a lot of people are passing by which also makes building relationships hard but you meet such wonderful people, people from all over the world with all different experiences and it is truly amazing. After awhile you always get to know other expats and they become your family away from home.
- How has your experience been so far with you’re interactions with the school, parents and people in general?
My school is amazing, all the people who work with me are wonderful. We get along, some I have built a great friendship with. I have been apart of a Khmer wedding even and it was a great experience. They treat us for every holiday and occasion and we are always having big feasts at school. The parents have also been great, I haven’t had any worries and they’re very generous with giving for holidays and in general. The Khmer people are wonderful and very hospitable, I had great first impressions when I moved here renting from the most awesome Khmer woman who treated me like family. I have made a lot of different friends from all over the world living different experiences which I have appreciated so much.
- How did you deal with the culture shock?
I will refer to Thailand for this one as I did not experience it here. I feel after the first Asian country you almost don’t get it as bad in the next. I suffered a little from it when I spent some time in the North of Thailand in a very small town, but that was because they never see Westerners and were as shocked to see me as I was to be there. Seeing unfamiliar surroundings and shopping at 7 11’s in a small way feels hard to accept in the beginning. It’s not like being on holiday, you have to accept that everything is unfamiliar. The language barrier can also be scary, after some time it becomes normal and you just have to catch on some words to make you feel more comfortable when shopping and greeting the locals.
- How has the experience enriched you on a personal level?
It has become a huge achievement personally. I am actually somewhat an introvert and I never saw myself leaving my comfort zone, especially this much! I never expected to love being out of it more than in it. I am tested every day and I love it, I feel like I am a much stronger human for it. I have learnt to break down my walls and be excited for every experience and human I meet. I also have learnt to love my own company and build up the confidence to travel and do so many things alone.
- Do you have any useful tips or advice for anyone considering teaching in Asia?
My best advice is never doubt yourself, it can be a very daunting feeling to take this big step but I can tell you it’s well worth it! And most importantly don’t give up, you will feel homesick for a while no doubt but after a while it will become your new home. Don’t doubt yourself as a teacher, everyone has to start somewhere and it will become like second nature to you. Your students will become your reason to smile each day and you will feel great satisfaction from being able to be a role model to these kids.
Authur: Rebecca Hatton