Alumni Spotlight: Max Parelius

Max first left his home country USA in 2014 to study abroad in Australia. Since then, he's been to 23 countries with no end in sight.

Why did you choose this program?

I had wanted to teach English in a foreign country, and when I got the email advertising the position, I responded because they said I could possibly teach where my girlfriend lives. I didn't get that city, but I am only around an hour away from her so I see her all the time. I am not sure but I think that they don't actually offer positions in the city I wanted.

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

They told me what I had to do. I had to assemble all of the necessary documents required to get my tourist visa and to be hired. I had to buy my own flight to Bangkok, but they paid for the hotel I stayed at during orientation. They also paid for my working visa and work permit but I have to pay for the visa extension. It is very silly that I had to go all the way to Laos for a visa that doesn't even cover the duration of my contract.

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

Try to teach higher-level students. The students aged 12-14 (Mathayom one) that I teach barely speak English so it is quite difficult to teach them. However, the older students are mostly a joy as they know enough to make the classes fun. Also, the other school in my town with English teachers seems to be a lot nicer, so try to get the best school you can.

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

On weekdays, I teach and then hang around my apartment. On weekends, I am with my girlfriend doing fun stuff. Monday through Friday are spent doing various productive things and by the time Friday afternoon comes along, I am itching to get away from the students so it is nice to leave my town and go to where the (relative) excitement is in Udon Thani.

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

My biggest fear was that I wouldn't be prepared enough to teach. My company provided me with most of the tools for success, so now it's easy. I was intimidated by the sheer volume of students in each class (some as many as 48) but after a few weeks, and after I'd established control (control is key to success!), that intimidation went away.

What costs are associated with this program?

You have to pay a bit for your accommodation, Visa extension fee, and Visa for Laos when you have to go there to get your Working Visa for Thailand. Other than that, everything is really cheap. If you're not an overzealous spender, you can probably spend only $60 (two days' pay and you get paid for every day and even weekends) in one week.