I will start this off by saying, I did not have to make any of this up or even embellish what I am about to say. This story wrote itself.
It started the night I arrived. Luckily I was with another student and got picked up pretty quickly, but they forgot about another girl who had to wait at the airport for hours before they remembered her.
I know that statement leaves a lot of questions. "Why didn't she call:? why didn't she email? why couldn't she ask around to get there?" Well, if you have never been to SEA before... She had just made it through the passport line, she didn't have access to WIFI because the airport there is not like the airports here in the west, she didn't have any idea where to get a sim card for her phone, ect.
So I got lucky. We all met each other, had a good time saying hi. The hotel was run down, even for Cambodia, and in a bad part of town. By that I mean its on a black river that smells like human waste, because it most likely is, and 2 women from the program were robbed within 300 feet of the front door of the hotel in 2 weeks. There is one shopping mall within walking distance, with ok access to food, but downtown is really where it is at. When you find out what your hotel could have been, and what your access to food, shopping, and entertainment could have been you will feel betrayed by the price you paid to stay at their hotel. Once word got out about how little it is to just stay at other, MUCH nicer hotels, people left to go do just that.
There is no work out equipment that works, nobody swam in the pool the first 2 weeks I was there, and we didn't have internet on my floor for 3 weeks. I wish I could show you a picture of the router and the set up,. All of the rooms had something wrong with them. My tv looked like someone had raked it with a blow torch and my fridge didn't work. So I stashed some things in the girl across the hall from me. The girl beside me had to use my room for warm water to shower with because hers didn't work, and we hung out in different rooms depending on whose air conditioning was working the best. The only good staff there, was the helpers.
Seriously, the one shining light in this program was 2 teachers. One lady was super nice and you could tell she really wanted to help people, and the guy was extremely difficult to understand and used some questionable examples (like making us clap to the word "suicide"), but he was also a pretty decent guy.
There are two older men who run the place and in my opinion, they are horrible (making inappropriate comments, etc.) One of them taught a few classes. and we HATED them. Imagine being in class for 2 hours saying "have you eaten yet? no, I'm hungry" .
If you do go here. Do not, and I repeat do not bother buying any of their packages for places to go. Just do a little research, you can get MUCH better hotels, better transportation, and do just as much stuff for literally 50% of the price they try to charge you. I'm not kidding, get your classmates together and just book everything yourself. Save yourself the money.
Everything about this program was a rip off. From what was promised on the website, to what we got in the hotel, to the packages they tried to sell us, to the "education" we received. Lets be perfectly clear here, this is a pay for a cert program. You aren't going to learn a SINGLE thing about actually teaching. Even when you go to the school to "teach" kids for a few weeks, they just throw you in with no idea on where the kids are or what they have learned already. My class in 14 kids in a classroom the size of a large closet, no air conditioning, and no clue where to start. No shadowing, no previous lesson plans, just "here, have fun!" Not to mention the best part of my class being aged anywhere from 4 - 10 years old. There was just no structure for us. If you get a job in Cambodia and actually teach there, it is a much better experience. I am not trying to dissuade you from going there to teach. There is a lot of really good and awesome teachers there doing amazing work. But you won't get that through this school.
This kind of leads me into job placement. Yes, they can get you a job. Which is with an.... ok? company? I didn't bother, if you throw your application out there online you can get a job easily enough by yourself. I had 20 interviews in a week, it is insanely easy to find a job in whatever country you want to work in. ASTON or whoever they work with is def not your only option. Look around. The last week was supposed to be culture classes and some basic language courses. They had to last minute find someone to bring in for China. The lady didn't speak hardly any English, we ended up teaching her as much English as she taught us Chinese. So the culture part of the class was nonexistent because she couldn't tell us anything about the country we were about to go into. Again, not a big deal if you are doing your research and know what you are getting into. But I feel bad for people who are just jumped into this expecting to learn along the way. Those people will be very lost.
There are much, much better programs out there. If you don't want to try, don't mind being lied to, and don't mind minimal living conditions and you want to overpay for it then by all means go ahead. The excuse "what did you expect from Cambodia" is absolute BS when you discover what you could have had there. There are 100 areas they could improve, but they are just filtering money, they don't want to improve. We contacted the home office many, many times to complain about what was going on. We had students drop out of the course to go to other places. We did everything we could and even demanded money back (which we didn't get). Go somewhere else. Seriously, go somewhere else.