It’s been a month since I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City to the day. During that time, I’ve already made friends that will last a lifetime and have learned to love this culture more than I already had before moving here. HCMC is similar to a lot of other big cities I’ve had the pleasure to spend time in. Much like New York City, New Orleans and Las Vegas this place never seems to sleep. No matter what time of the day or night you can find a place to eat and drink for what feels like next to nothing after living in the United States. I’m still blown away by the customer service of several restaurant owners to encourage us to stay long after all the other customers and staff members left so we could enjoy our conversation. They would happily bring us 10,000 Dong beers or approximately $0.45 USD until we had enough..
During my first week, I stayed in an area of HCMC known as “District 1.” It is regarded as the cushy and over expensive tourist area. There are definitely areas of the district that feel like a tourist trap or a Western country. There are large malls, fancy shops, expensive restaurants, major hotel chains, and a tourist bar street (Bùi Viện). It’s the Vietnamese version of Bourbon Street with even less laws. Much of “D1” is still very unique and similar to other districts in the city that feel raw and what made Vietnam the special place it is. It is wonderful to see areas like D1 transitioning into a new instrument. By beating its own drum the district is providing a lot of opportunities for money to come into the area. This will hopefully allow the local population to grow and further advance their lives.
For the last 3.5 weeks I have been spending most of my time in the Go Vap District studying to get my TESOL Certificate at the Australia-Vietnam School of English (AVSE). It was a phenomenal experience and I learned a lot during that time. I opted out of doing an online TEFL, ESL or TESOL training because I’m a people person who likes to be around other people. Throw in the cost to live in Vietnam for a month (including my airfare) was a lot less expensive than had I stayed in the USA for the certification. The course included 26 nights of housing and cost $1600. The airfare could be as low as $400 for a one-way trip. Drinking and eating like a king this past month cost me $500. My all-in cost for the course was $2500, which is basically what my rent, internet, cable, phone and utilities would have been for a month in Long Beach, Ca. In the Go Vap district I could eat three proper meals a day and have three beers for 100k dong or $4.50 a day. Let me know what other major city in the world you can make that happen!
The experience at AVSE was great and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in travel teaching. I had been presenting in front of business owners and colleagues for 10 years in Corporate America prior to this trip. Needless to say, I was confident in my ability to present and felt ready to teach a class before day one. Even with my background AVSE’s teachers taught me skills and techniques for a classroom that will make me a much better educator. And they are skills I can apply to a business setting if necessary. I’m a smarter and better person than I was four weeks ago.
The staff at AVSE was very helpful and they could help answer all of our questions. The team made attending and cramming 150 hours of classwork into 25 days enjoyable. While earning my four-year Bachelor’s Degree my attendance rate was about 50%. I’m proud to say that my attendance rate for this course was 100%. I think that has something to say about the quality of the classes and the ability of the teachers to make it fun. There were undeniably periods of time during the course where I was already fully skilled on the topic we were discussing. I enjoyed using that time helping and encouraging some of my classmates who were not as comfortable or knowledgeable with the subject at hand. By helping them I was able to learn different ways to go about something that helped me adapt and evolve my skills.
AVSE also does a wonderful job of getting every person who attends the course a job teaching English somewhere in Vietnam. On top of my seven teaching practices as a part of the curriculum. I taught four classes to business employees during the course and recouped some of my investment already. If you ever have questions or would like to know more information about attending AVSE just shoot me an email.
Based on the common term used by my younger students during teaching practices I can now officially call myself, “TEACHER! TEACHER!” It’s time to buy a motorbike, a helmet, travel a little and do some research on the 3rd largest city in Vietnam… Da Nang. Where I plan to relocate myself close to a beach for my home base as I continue to teach and travel!!! And in case you were wondering from my last post… I have begun to trust SOME farts again!