Alumni Spotlight: Leah Fisher

Leah is a Math teacher currently living in the Isaan region of Thailand.

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Why did you choose this program?

Moving abroad is a huge decision. Not only are you leaving behind friends, family, jobs (and pretty much everything else!): you’re also taking a huge step into the unknown. This can be a bit unnerving.

I’m a huge planner and combed the internet to find the best reputable company to teach abroad with. My research led me to TravelBud. They had great reviews and I felt reassured with their 24-hour support while preparing for the move.

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

TravelBud was extremely supportive before departure and kept in touch throughout my teaching experience. I had tons of questions and TravelBud was able to answer all of them in a timely manner and calm my nerves of moving abroad.

TravelBud assisted with paperwork, visas, and logistics of moving abroad.

On my own, I organized my flight and packing preparations.

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

My advice to someone moving abroad is to be flexible and adapt! We hear that phrase so much; however, it’s really important to keep in mind, especially in a relaxed culture and a ‘mai bpen rai’ (no worries) Thai lifestyle.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the go, go, go Western lifestyle. However, teaching abroad when you have little commitments (no mortgage, family, career job) is a perfect time.

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

On weekdays, I wake up and head to my favorite local coffee shop. I spend about 45 minutes enjoying a fresh cup of joe and chatting with local friends. Then, I’m off to school.

Some days I help out with assembly in the morning before classes. I’m at school from about 7:30 - 4:30 teaching classes and prepping for the week.

After school, I enjoy working out at the local gym or a run around the moat here - it’s a beautiful part of the city. I usually have dinner at the local market where I can pick up a delicious curry for about 50 baht (roughly $1.75 USD).

I practice some Thai (on good days) and hang out with some of the other teachers from my school).

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'm a huge planner. I like to plan ahead, have an itinerary and a set idea of what is happening. When traveling and living abroad in another country, you have to be flexible and adapt. For example, my school decides the dates for the term just weeks before and with little notice. Flexibility and going with the flow is SO important - otherwise, it will drive you insane. I've adapted to the 'no worries' Thai style of life - and it's much better than a rigid schedule.

What does meaningful travel mean to you?

Anyone could take a vacation somewhere and have a wonderful time laying on a resort beach, enjoying all-inclusive drinks, and basking in the sun. I’m not saying this isn’t wonderful - we all need to relax sometimes. But, is it meaningful?

To me, meaningful travel is about truly experiencing a new culture. Learn a few words, try to converse with locals, try new foods and ask what they’re called. Explore places off the beaten path and try to learn everything you can from local people and guides.