Alumni Spotlight: Jack Lowman

Jack is an American that has been teaching English as a foreign language in several countries over the last 5 years. The first country he went to outside of America was South Korea.

Why did you choose this program?

Travel and Teach was recommended to me by several friends. Their experience was so good and required zero funds to apply, so I felt that I had nothing to lose.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Travel and Teach provided me with everything. To explain further, they contacted me and walked me through the visa process, found me a job, organized interviews, plane tickets, and answered all of my questions (no matter how complicated or simple).

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

My advice would be to contact Travel and Teach. As I said previously, I have traveled and taught in several countries, and this program was by far the easiest and most suited for beginner travelers.

I was in contact with people who had lived and worked in the same situation they were preparing me for.

This was great for my rational and irrational worries because they had experienced it all first hand themselves.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

This program has several stages, so I will have to answer this in several parts.

The first part was the initial interview. This included them asking questions to make sure I qualified as a possible candidate. I was able ask questions on any topic (living situation, pay, time off, what to expect in general). All of these questions were answered in a timely manner and with great expertise.

The second part was pursuing the visa process. Once I committed to the idea of teaching in South Korea, I had to go through a strenuous visa process. This required many steps because of the structured immigration process in South Korea. If I had to do this alone I would not be here to today writing this review about my experience traveling abroad.

Travel and Teach walked me through the process and even recommended programs and private helpers to expedite certain paperwork. They were on top of my progress at every step. All of this was at no charge.

The third part was applying for jobs. In a normal world, this is very intimidating in any country, let alone a foreign country that doesn't speak English as their first language. Travel and Teach not only listened to my requests but found me several options for job locations and set up the interviews themselves.

I literally had to wait for an email saying "X school" is interested in hiring you, would you like to interview? In short, I just had to wait for the schools to come to me instead of tirelessly applying to several jobs in hopes of a response.

The fourth part was accepting a contract and getting to South Korea. Once I had accepted a position, I was then guided in receiving my paid for plane ticket and instructions for my arrival. As anyone might guess, I had a lot of anxiety signing a year contract to a school/country that I had never been too.

At several points, I had serious doubts if this was the right thing to do and questioned if I had gone crazy trying to do something this audacious. Thankfully, Travel and Teach knows these fears very intimately and had all the answers to my concerns before boarding my flight.

The fifth and final part of this program was following up on my experience thus far. Once I landed I was given excellent instructions on how to get to my city (Daegu) and who to meet (my boss). Once I was settled and working at the school, I was extremely surprised to find that Travel and Teach had not forgotten about me.

Usually these recruiting agencies disappear once they have gotten you there because that is their end goal. This however was not the case. My recruiter followed up several times during my two years in South Korea to see how things were going and if I needed help in anyway.

For example, my shoe size is pretty big for Korean standards. My recruiter helped me find a place that sold my shoe size! She also seemed to be a friend more than anything else. We shared our experiences and laughed at some situations that are common in foreign countries. I am still in contact with her to this day even though Im not using the program any longer.

In short, this program does not see its clients as a number, but as a human that wants to see the world. I felt day after day the excitement that they had for me as an aspiring traveler and couldn't of asked for anything more.

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 countless fears. Just to list a few:

Would I make friends? Would I be successful as a teacher even though I had little to no experience? Would I be able to eat certain foods that aren't normally in an Asian country? Would I have fun? Is this country DANGEROUS? Would I be taken care of if something unforeseen had happened to me? The list went on and on.

How did I overcome this? Simply by asking Jennifer (my recruiter) these questions. Not only had she thought of these same questions during her own experience but she knew the solutions/answers to all of the above and more.

South Korea is not a dangerous place. I was told this and still didn't quite believe it until I arrived there myself. I consider this country to probably be the safest country I've ever lived in.

In addition to my rational questions/concerns, I also had many irrational questions that come from inexperience and the wandering of the mind. She patiently and diligently listened to and answered all of these concerns before and after my arrival to South Korea.

Were you worried that you wouldn't finish the year contract?

Yes. I was terrified. For more than one reason. The first was that I didn't want to come home early and have to explain to everyone (that had to doubts of my travels to begin with) that I didn't like it and gave up.

Second, I didn't want to lose out on all the bonuses (financially) of finishing a contract. All in all, I planned to do one year of Korea and then come back to America to start my career in business. What actually happened is that I loved Korea so much that I stayed for two years and have continued traveling for another three years (still going!).

Travel and teach gave me the confidence to travel and work abroad that has been the foundation of my travels outside of this country.