My First Year Out – Travel Edition Part II

With graduation for the Class of 2018 right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to check in with two of your classmates.

This week we caught up with recent 2017 alums, Emily Scott and Emma Squier, who have spent their first year out traveling and teaching. Take a look to see what they’ve been up to!

We’ll start with Emily’s story.

Sa-wat-dee-ka from Thailand! My name is Emily Scott and I graduated from UVM in the spring of 2017 with my Bachelors degree in Social Work!

I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since graduation and I’m so looking forward to heading up there for a visit this summer! My 4 years in Burlington were everything I could have hoped for and more, and I find myself missing the mountains, the food, the people and the community every day.

Emma and I met freshman year and quickly became best friends and roommates. We bonded over a shared love for New World, Church Street, yoga and travel. In March 2017 as graduation approached, we both started thinking of applying to teach English in Thailand.

A few weeks after applying, we were both accepted to the same program! This program, CIEE teach, and their partner company in Thailand, OEG, helped us to obtain visas, connect with our schools, sort out our work permits and more.

When October rolled around, I flew from JFK and met Emma in Doha, Qatar to fly to Bangkok. Once in Bangkok we took a 12 hour bus up to our rural town, Chiang Kham, in the Phayao province of Thailand.

I taught nursery school (3 years old) to P6 (6th grade) at a small private school called Sathitwittaya Chiangkham School! Teaching English to 300 different students in more than 10 different classes was extremely challenging, but my students and I soon found ways to communicate through body language, smiles, mixed Thai/English and lots of drawing. Teaching ESL taught me a lot about patience, having an open heart and an open mind, and how to take everything one day at a time.

It was so sad to say goodbye to my students a few weeks ago, and I feel so privileged to have been welcomed into their school and their culture as “Teacha Emily” these past 5 months!

Once we finished teaching, Emma and I traveled to Laos for a week. Laos was absolutely breathtaking and so different from what we experienced living in Thailand. From mountains and waterfalls, to the capital city, the people are so kind and the food is so fresh and delicious.

After Laos, my parents came to see Thailand and we traveled to Chiang Mai, Krabi and Bangkok for 10 days before they headed back to New York! It was wonderful to see them and spend time together after being away from home for so long.

Now Emma and I are back in the southern islands of Thailand for a week before continuing our adventure in Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, Australia and New Zealand!! While I don’t have a flight yet, I’m thinking I will be home sometime in the end of May.

Next fall, I will be starting in the Advanced Standing Masters in Social Work program at NYU! I have really missed Social Work while being here, and am excited to get back in the classroom and continue my education to help better serve my community. I am eager to take all I learned from my wonderful professors at UVM and explore it in a new capacity.

The past 5 months of working in SE Asia and traveling around Thailand and Laos have been full of surprises (bugs, lizards, leeches, you name it), lows (being away from home for Christmas), and highs (the feeling of accomplishment after finishing 5 months of teaching).

Being able to travel like this at 22 years old is a huge privilege, and I am so grateful I was able to work and take a trip like this right after graduation.  It is such a blessing and gift to be welcomed into someone else’s culture and have them share such intimate parts of their life and community with you.

Living here has truly taught me how to live in the moment, go with the flow and be present in this life I am so lucky to live.

Hello! My name is Emma Squier and I graduated from UVM in May 2017 with a major in Sociology and a minor in Studio Art.

UVM was the only school I applied to that was more than 2,000 students but I’m so glad I did because it ended up being a great fit for me. I fell in love with the friendly people, beautiful scenery, delicious food, and Burlington.

During the spring of my junior year I studied abroad in Nepal. While living there, I had the opportunity to complete my own independent study project and experience living with 8 different host families. Nepal was unlike any country that I’ve been to but getting to study and live there was one of the highlights of my time in college.

I knew that I wanted to go back to Asia, I just didn’t know that I would be back less than 2 years later.

Teaching in Thailand gave me the opportunity to travel abroad with my homie, Em Scott while at the same time earning some money. The timing of teaching in Thailand worked out perfectly for me because the 2nd semester for Thai schools doesn’t start until October. This allowed me to get an internship and part-time job back home in Maryland right after graduation.

By the time October rolled around I was nervous to depart for Thailand but feeling ready for my next adventure.

One of the biggest challenges for me while teaching English in our tiny Northern town was the lack of scheduling and communication. When I got placed at my school in Thailand I was told that I would be teaching primary students.

It was not until I arrived at my school that I found out I would be teaching 1st-12th grade!

As someone who had never really taught before, this made me nervous, but as with anything, over time I got the hang of teaching and formed bonds with my students. It turns out, some of my most enjoyable classes to teach were the ones with my older students.

Another learning experience for me had to do with scheduling in Thailand. As someone who is very punctual, having classes start 10-20 minutes late each day was something that was difficult for me to get used to at first. There were times when the dates of school holidays would get switched around or I’d walk in to teach one of my classes and none of the students would be there.

Traveling on the weekends, it would be a miracle if our bus left within 20 minutes of its scheduled departure time. If there even was a scheduled departure time.  There was one instance where our bus left the station 1 minute early and of course that was the time Emily and I missed the bus.

It was in these moments that I had to just go with it even though it was different from what I was used to.

Although my semester of teaching in Thailand was challenging and frustrating at times, I am so grateful for the opportunity. Teaching pushed me outside of my comfort zone and I got to experience living in a new country with one of my best friends. Traveling is so important because it teaches you about yourself and opens your eyes to how other people live.

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting on the plane but once you do you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime.

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