Christina Webster - 2015 Program Participant

Vietnamese primary students

The naughty kids are Christina’s secret favorites!

You graduated from the University of Lincoln last year, what made you decide to teach abroad in Vietnam?

I've always been interested in learning about new cultures and finding new experiences. Vietnam has a very interesting way of life that I felt the need to explore. After graduating, it seemed like a perfect time to set off on this mini adventure, as I had no long term commitments and still felt the buzz from being free of exams!

What set i-to-i apart when you were comparing TEFL programs overseas?

Looking back at when I was making my decision, I believe it was the way that they had coupled the internship and the TEFL course together. That, and the option to have one of the employees call you for advice, made me feel like the whole process would be smooth. My only qualm about moving to Vietnam for five months was doing it by myself, and i-to-i dispelled those fears straight away.

Describe a day in the life of your TEFL Internship in Hanoi. 

There's always an early start with teaching beginning from 8 a.m. You greet four classes who always answer back with amazing enthusiasm and a lot of excitement! The early start doesn't seem so bad because the three hour lunch break soon arrives. A lot of the Vietnamese locals take this time to sleep; I take the time to eat lunch or grab a coffee with the other interns. Sometimes, I do take the occasional nap! Then at 2 p.m. it's time to get back in to it with classes ending at around 5 p.m.

Outside of your teaching duties, what are some of your favorite things to do in Vietnam?

I love exploring different parts of the city. The war museum was one of my favorites or the Old Quarter in itself is interesting. This is where I put my bargaining skills to the test, the locals seem to enjoy it too. Actually, this weekend there is a group of us heading to Ha Long Bay. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to spend time in the local Bia Hoi (beer is only 7,000 dong, which is around 33 cents). There really is a lot of time to explore the culture.

Foreign teacher with teaching assistant in Vietnam

Tiep, Christina’s lovely Teaching Assistant

What has been the most memorable part of your TEFL Internship so far?

The school performances are always interesting to watch. The kids get very involved and competitive! They also love to sing and dance, and they do it a lot better than I could ever do. There have been little moments throughout the whole internship, rather than one big moment that I’ve really enjoyed. There is one class at a school that chants my name when they see that I’m about to walk into the classroom. It’s also memorable when the kids says something that makes you feel like you’re actually doing okay at being a teacher!

What has been the biggest challenge in your TEFL Internship?

The biggest challenge is a tough one. For me, it was about getting used to the culture. Culture shock hit me pretty hard in the second week I was in Vietnam. There is a vast difference between Britain and Vietnam, and it was hard to wrap my head around it. Like I said previously, I love learning about different cultures, but being in the center and living in it was an experience I forgot to prepare myself for. However, after the tough week was over I really enjoyed it.

How are the i-to-i staff supporting you throughout your program?

Luckily, not much has gone wrong while we’ve been out here. But, when it has, our representative from the company has been there to help. I feel like there’s always support and I would never be stranded to deal with a situation by myself.

What advice would you give to others interested in this five month TEFL Internship in Vietnam?

Do it! Simply put. It is terrifying. The fear of doing it almost made me not want to do it, but I haven’t regretted a single moment and I’ve experienced so much. Imagine the cool stories you’ll be able to tell when you’re a grandmother.

Elementary classroom in Vietnam

Concentrating kids!

What makes Hanoi such a great place to teach English?

Hanoi is insane, it’s famous for it. Being amongst this madness gives you a buzz. Hanoi is still a very Vietnamese city, unlike Ho Chi Minh which has adapted to Western ways. So, in Hanoi, you can see the old mixed with the new. For example, you will be driving along a busy main road and under a concrete bridge will be a small rice farm, with women in coned, straw hats harvesting. It’s indescribable.

How has your experience in the TEFL Internship program impacted your life so far?

It has made me realize that there’s more out there. I’m not ready to settle down in England quite yet. I feel like it’s possible to explore the world, where I was very hesitant to believe so before. As cheesy as it may sound, it’s almost like anything is possible if I want it to be.