Luke Sikorski - 2010 Program Participant

While trying to figure out what path in International Relations to pursue a career in, Luke decided to spend eight months teaching English in Thailand. This experience not only allowed him to immerse himself into an education system and culture completely different than what he was accustomed to, but also led him to realize that International Education truly is where his passion is.

Luke enjoying time with Thailands wildlife!
Luke enjoying time with Thailand’s wildlife!

Why did you choose to teach abroad? Why Thailand?

I wasn't happy with the current job I had and after a quick trip back to Brussels where I originally studied abroad, I realized I wanted to go abroad again as these experience truly shaped who I was.

I chose Thailand because it was a place I had always wanted to visit from all the stories my dad told me from the time he lived there. I also knew that most of my knowledge and experiences stemmed from many trips to Europe, and I felt it was time for me to step outside my comfort zone and go to a place complete different from what I was used to.

What made you choose CIEE as your provider?

I studied abroad with CIEE in Brussels during my undergraduate studies and it was an organization that gave me an experience I truly will never forget. It helped shape who I am today and the structure of the program truly allowed me to gain insight about the place I was studying in, in a way I never would have been able to as a tourist. The staff, excursions, as well as the Belgian culture class we took helped truly build the cultural awareness skills I have today.

Because of that, I did not have to think twice about going through another organization.

What was the most unusual experience you had while teaching in Thailand

The most unusual experience I had was the many times trains/buses would be cancelled for no reason whatsoever, or at least no one could explain to me why. I also ran into this in the classroom setting as well. But, while traveling back from a weekend on the island of Koh Chang, my two roommates and I found our bus cancelled back to our hometown and people kept pushing us to get one different buses. We ended up talking to this random guy and his son, and after ten minutes of communicating via hand signals, he agreed to drive us five hours back to our town. He was extremely nice about it, and we rode for five hours in the back of a truck with every check engine light on you could imagine. But, that was Thailand and I loved everything about it.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your teaching placement?

The biggest challenge was with the English department, as the book they made us go off of was from the 1980s and was completely out of date. The Thai also have more days off than I can begin to say, and this really infringed upon my ability to make progress given that many of the holidays were not communicated to me. Because of that, I had to improvise a lot regarding my lessons plans, which had to be altered more times than I can say.

What important tips can you give to future participants of the program?

Personally, you need to go with an open mind knowing that you will experience many things you never would have expected. I also would challenge other participants to get outside of your comfort zone and allow yourself to get lost. I promise you will find your way back and you truly will have seen the true heart of Thailand along your journey.

What are the top reasons you'd want to go back in Thailand to teach again?

The main reason is that it truly is the most beautiful place on earth, and not just the scenery, but also the people make it so. Stress and unhappiness truly do not exist in that country and we all can learn a lot from the Thai people on how to slow down a bit, and truly enjoy the simple things in life. It’s no secret why Thai people never age, and it’s because they never are unhappy and they’re never stressed.

How has your experience teaching abroad helped you grow personally and professionally?

It not only has given me a greater appreciation for life and the world around me, but it also led me to realize that International Education truly is my calling and it has led me not only to my current career path, but also has led me to pursuing my Masters in Global and International Education.

Would you recommend the program to others? 

I would recommend this program many times over because this, along with my other experiences abroad, truly changed my life for the better and equipped me with skills I never could have learned in the classroom. I want as many people as possible to experience the same thing.