Alumni Spotlight: Avery Harrison

Avery is a recent graduate from the University of Richmond, where she studied psychology. She lived in Virginia her whole life until making the game-changing decision to move to Thailand this summer. When she's not teaching, Avery can likely be found on her yoga mat, reading, or looking for new foods to try.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Avery Hutchinson

Do it. Do it now. Seriously, stop reading this and buy your plane ticket. I'll admit, it's really easy for me to say that since I left for Thailand right after graduating with no real obligations or loose-ends to tie up. But I've met other teachers through the program that quit their jobs and risked a lot to come here and not one of them has looked back.

It seems so easy to get sucked into a job that you don't enjoy just for the financial security. But here, the priorities are different. The cost of living is low and manageable so your priorities are entirely on helping students and integrating with a community of happy, welcoming Thai people. And more broadly, living by abroad is an incredible opportunity that isn't afforded to everyone so do it as soon as you have a chance.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Before my program started, I traveled around Thailand for a few weeks. While I was in Kanchanaburi, I learned all about the Death Railway and how many POWs suffered and died in Kanchanaburi during WWII.

I was shocked (ashamed) and appalled that I didn't know this piece of history sooner. Then, during the first week of my TESOL course, we visited an elephant camp in Hua Hin. There, I met Rham Rouy. She is around 90 years old and is one of the elephants who helped work on the Death Railway.

Rham Rouy is a living piece of history that I had the unique opportunity to meet thanks to this program. That was weeks ago but I'm still dumbfounded thinking of all that she has witnessed and lived through. Meeting Rham Rouy was incredibly humbling.

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

Avery Group Photo

Leave any expectations at home and just enjoy the ride. Nothing in Thailand is predictable-- public transportation, a school schedule for the day, accommodations, etc. As long as you embrace not knowing how your day (week, month, and year) will go, you will thrive anywhere in Thailand. It's actually really amusing, everytime something takes an unexpected turn, my friend and I just start laughing and say "Classic Thailand."