Alumni Spotlight: Winnie Ma


Winnie graduated from Cal Poly in California with a Bachelor's in Communication. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, and has a love for traveling.

Why did you choose this program?

Honestly, I chose this program on a whim. I was traveling parts of Asia in March 2016 and stopped by Shanghai to visit my brother. He invited me to the TEFL school to observe several trainees teaching and I enjoyed it.

I went back to Los Angeles and quit my job, packed my bags, and moved across the world to pursue something I spontaneously decided on.

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

I spoke to Ginger several days before making my way to Shanghai. He gave me the inside scoop of what I should expect from the TEFL. He also explained to me the opportunities I will have after I finish the course.

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

I'd recommend going all in.

If you want to pursue teaching, Teaching Nomad is a program I'd highly recommend.

The experience you get through it is unbelievable. Not only do you learn your own teaching style, you build relationships with other trainees and build off each other's experiences.

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

An average week during this program is very busy and hectic. Partially because you're constantly stressing over what you need to lesson plan. It's as though I was back in school again.

You have a professor that goes over important information you need in order to become a good teacher, then you execute it by teaching several classes. After, your peers critic you and you use that information to do even better the next time around. Most weeknights, I get home around 8-8:30p.m..

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?

My biggest fear going abroad was that I was unsure of the future. My life in the U.S. was very comfortable. I had a stable job, supportive family and friends, and I was able to say that five years from now, I have all these things I would have accomplished.

That mentality altered right when I booked a one-way ticket to Shanghai. The way I overcame my fear was to accept that I am in a new place and to enjoy every moment of unemployment.

What was the most memorable moment from your course?

My most memorable moment was my first day at the TEFL school. It had been one week since I arrived to Shanghai and all the toilets I'd used were "normal".

During a short break between classes, I had to use the toilet and when I opened the door, all that was in front of me was a hole with urine all over the floor. Next to the hole was a bin filled with unsanitary napkins. That was the day I realized... I can do this.