Alumni Spotlight: Raphael Roman

Raphael was born in Toronto, but graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. He has travelled at great length within Canada, but wanted to travel somewhere completely different from anywhere he had previously been.

Why did you pick this program?

Actually, my friend referred me to this program. I would say purely by chance I was introduced to Teaching Nomads.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

There is just so much to tell! Firstly, you have to have travel abroad because YOU want to. Check this feeling; if you are deciding wether to travel or not, which option in your life right now excites you? Not your friends, parents, relatives. The excitement has to be there for adventure, because there will be hard times ahead, and you have to get through them with that spark to really get to the amazing moments.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be careful what you get into. Make sure you ask questions. Don't be afraid to look clueless. Also, do some research about Visas and acquire some knowledge about the legal regulations about the place you are visiting. You should be up for some amount of being a free spirit, but somethings you need to ask people who know.

Ask your recruiter questions, ask your employer questions, ask the officials that you interact with questions. Talk to someone who has done the program that you are about to start. Also, go online and find websites that are not backed by whoever you are reviewing and start taking notes. Find a bad review? How is it written? Does it seem honest? You're experience can be amazing, but it could also be terrible. Try to ensure that you are picking the right option for you.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

There are just so many random things that you can get into abroad; so many adventures and people to meet and connect with.

The most amazing nights start out with "I'll just go somewhere to see if anyone is there, have one drink, then go home". Suddenly, you get connected to someone as crazy as you, and off you go! One of my first nights in Shanghai started just like that; quiet night on a monday. Started speaking french with a guy that has lived here for 11 years. We started talking about Shanghai, and I was just asking so many questions. I guess my lack of experience in Asia frustrated him, and he finally said, "do you want to see the real Shanghai?". Off we went, to every club, bar, and lounge he could think of. Speaking french in the french concession, smoking hookahs in an arabic lounge, and dancing in VIP asian clubs. If you had asked how all of this happened, I couldn't tell you, but understand that if you but yourself out there, you never know what you'll find, and the world will come together.

What should I start doing once I have my living situation settled?

First, start paying attention to where you eat and what you drink. These are basic human health concerns, and you have to be aware of the basics. Water is not clean, don't drink the tap water. Also, new oils, spices, and food quality can get you really, really sick. Get to know where a good hospital is and how to see a doctor. Also, expect to get sick. It's just going to happen.

Second, meet people. It's scary, I know, but don't just sit at home and watch movies and order western food. Go out. Alone. Yes, go out alone. Everyone is scared, but there are amazing people that you will need to help you along your way. See somewhere you want to try out? Walk in. The worst thing in China, or really anywhere that I've travelled is to meet someone who has lived there for 3 years and doesn't know anyone. The people are part of the culture, and for myself are the part of travel that is really worth it.