Alumni Spotlight: Kelsey Caulfield


Why did you choose this program?

Like everyone else who is interested to move abroad and teach English, I read through lots of programs and reviews by alumni online. Every program seemed to have a lot of reviews, and I found it difficult to determine how much weight I should put in each review.

I knew someone who had gone through Greenheart Travel and had a positive experience so I started researching them specifically. In the end, I chose my program as recommended by a trusted friend.

If someone doesn’t personally know a past teacher in the program, I encourage them to not only look at reviews on GoOverseas and other websites. They can also take the time to look at each of the programs’ social media and YouTube videos, and see if one speaks to them more. In the end, it’s usually about that indescribable feeling you get towards a certain program; go with that gut feeling!

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

Greenheart Travel and its Thailand affiliate XploreAsia helped me with getting the paperwork to get a three-month Visa into Thailand, choosing a start date, program expectations and Q&A videos, a Thai culture orientation week, a three-week TESOL certification course, and placement in a Thai school.

The only major thing I had to do on my own was book my flight to Thailand which worked out better than having someone else book for me. By having control over my flight, I picked one that had a 7-hour layover in Switzerland during which I got to explore Zurich and eat lots of chocolates.

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

Just keep an open mind, and don’t build up expectations before coming here. Literally everyone’s experiences are completely different, so just let life happen. If you come here with a strong preference to a certain geographical area or size of the community, you will probably be disappointed by where you end up.

Just remember, this experience is supposed to help you grow, and you can’t grow very much if you have already planted yourself in a tiny little pot.

For example, both my friend and I went through this program, and we had completely different placement experiences. I was placed in a medium-sized town with many foreigner teachers, in a school that has air conditioning and SMART boards in the classroom. My friend was placed in a very small town as the only foreign teacher and taught high school students who didn’t even know any basic English.

Our school situations were so different and it is mostly just luck of the draw on where you get placed, but if you keep an open mind, you will enjoy your experience whatever it may be. When my friend went back home, she left with such a renewed perspective on life and was thankful for the challenge she was given.

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

As I’ve said, each situation and school is very different. In my case, I get to school around 7:30 AM and leave around 4:30 PM. My classroom size is about 25 students, and I have around 20 teaching hours per week.

At my school, we are given weekly topics we are expected to cover, and we have the freedom to create our own lesson plans around that subject. I also have an assistant Thai teacher in each of my classes who help translate and run the lessons with me.

Outside of the everyday school life, my town has a beach, a great weekend market, a movie theater, a Muay Thai gym so there is plenty of ways to stay busy and get the most out of the Thailand experience.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I graduated from University in 2015 and worked as a Tax Accountant for 2.5 years, but I was very unhappy in the job. I’ve always wanted a job that would have an impact on others’ lives, no matter how small that may be, but I also needed to support myself and my student loans after University.

I soon realized that choosing a career path that promised a comfortable lifestyle and a good status in the corporate world was changing me into someone I didn’t want to be. I decided to look into moving abroad to teach in order to get a renewed perspective of the world. I was already 25 years old, and by American standards, that was a poor career choice at my age.

I feared that I would regret leaving my stable job once I got to Thailand and settled into life here. I talked about it with family and friends, and I’ll never forget one piece of advice I was given: “When you’re old and in a nursing home, just sitting there drinking your juice, will you regret not going?”

I knew that I would always regret not trying this, and that life is short. I didn’t want to wake up one day 20 years down the road, still in a job I did not like. I still have no idea what I want to do in the future, but I’m embracing this current experience fully and learning more about myself each day. I think life tends to work itself out in the end when you make decisions from the heart.