Why did you choose this program?
I chose TravelBud after hours and hours of research and deep consideration. I think for every single person I've met who has decided to take a leap of faith, there is a lot of hesitation at first. It is scary to be brave and to leave everything that is familiar and comfortable to you. Knowing nothing, I didn't want to be scammed by a sketchy agency or program, so I looked at a ton of different programs.
There are so many different ways you can get there, and that can be confusing. I found TravelBud, and of course put it through the same wringer as every other program I found online. It was so easy to get in contact with a real person, which surprised me.
I liked TravelBud from the second I found them, but I think I made to conscious decision to go through this program after Skyping a TravelBud representative. He answered every single question I had (two pages worth), that myself (and my parents) could possibly need to know. Most of them were basic questions that everyone traveling has, but what impressed me the most was how real TravelBud was with answering my questions.
They were not out to get me or my money, they were genuinely trying to help me make an informed decision, and I respected that so much! They were so patient, friendly, professional, and informative. After talking to them, it was pretty much a green light for TravelBud!
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
TravelBud does a great job helping with pre-departure. They assisted me with all of the general questions of how to get there, how much money I would need, budgets, passport, plane tickets, my resume for teaching, etc. Even when there was a national incident that affected where I was going, TravelBud emailed me with more information and contacts in case I wanted to talk to someone about it.
They helped me with every question I had in a timely manner. They offered to find me a plane ticket, but I decided to do that on my own which was fine, they didn't push me or insist. I was responsible for sending in my resume, a photo, passport pictures, but TravelBud seemed to take care of the rest! I also of course took care of costs like accommodations, my flight and travel insurance.
I felt like I was in very good hands, which was reassuring. They would tell me what to do, I would do it, then they would send me the next step, all the way up until my flight! It was simple and easy!
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
You are making the right decision by going through TravelBud! If you are worried, rest assured that you will be taken care of with this program. I know I sure was!
If I could go back and talk to my former self, I would give myself a high five and reassure myself that I'm doing the right thing!
Also, if you are going to Thailand, try hard to get a Non-Immigrant B Visa. This will save you so much stress when you get here - just trust me on that one.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
The first week of the program is when we did more of the touristy fun activities such as visit a Buddhist temple or feed pineapples to elephants at an elephant sanctuary. The following three weeks are more intense, but still a blast! That is where you become the student and are learning how to teach students English. You have homework and loads of practice teaching in a classroom type setting.
The days are long, but you get an hour lunch and loads of time to bond with fellow participants. You also have the weekends free if you so choose to go on excursions with your new friends! DO IT!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?
I had a little experience traveling, but I think my biggest fear was just not knowing what to expect or how to prepare for moving abroad. With anything, you become more comfortable with a situation over time, and this is how I 'overcame' this fear - time.
I also came over completely alone, so not making any friends was high on my fear list. With the program, it is nearly impossible to not make some sort of connection with somebody. I think everyone who is brave enough to get outside of their comfort zone and do something as "crazy" as teaching abroad, connects on a deep level.
It is hard to explain, but when you get like minded people together, it is easy to click and make friends. I'm a naturally shy person until I get to know you, but by the end of the course I made friends and on some level connected with every single person in my group! The scariest part is leaving, but it also has been the best pay off ever!
Would you recommend TravelBud to other travelers and prospective teachers?
Yes! TravelBud is probably the most legit program out there (and I've looked!). Don't be afraid of that. If anything, be afraid of not getting yourself out there and regretting it for the rest of your life.
Seriously, if you are reading this, you probably have this gut feeling that you want to do something like this before it is too late. Do it NOW! It won't be what you expect, but it will be your own amazing adventure, and that is what life is all about!