Today is my first day back in the Bigg office after 7 months of living and working in Southeast Asia, and it's safe to say I'm more than excited to begin my new role as a Content Executive.
Although I've been away for more than half a year, walking into the office this morning and getting settled at my desk felt very natural - almost as if I'd never left. With a cup of tea in front of me and my new friend Poppy at my feet, it seems like a good time to write about what I got up to while I was away.
Travel has always been an interest of mine, whether hopping on a plane across the world or jumping in the car to travel 30 minutes down the road. In January of this year I opted for the former as I embarked upon a brand new adventure as a foreign language teacher. After completing my TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) qualification in late 2017, I was offered a job in Hai Phong, a lively town in the north of Vietnam, alongside 30 other teachers from across the world. The decision to uproot and move to Southeast Asia was a daunting one, but is an experience I’m very grateful to have had.
I fell in love with the Vietnamese way of life almost as soon as I landed in Hanoi, despite the full sensory overload and initial culture shock. The colourful food markets, the bustling side streets and the thousands of motorbikes whizzing past left me feeling overwhelmed yet excited in equal measure. I was surprised at how quickly I adjusted to a culture so different to the one we're used to in the UK, and even more surprised at how quickly I grew to love teaching.
Despite the challenges, I had a fantastic time learning to be a foreign language teacher. No two days were the same, and I began to expect - and embrace - the unexpected. Some days I'd be trying to stop 50 animated school children from running riot, and others I’d be discussing complex grammar rules with adults studying English in their free time. One minute I could have the class’s full attention, and the next I’d be confiscating a student’s pet turtle because he'd set it free on the desk. I could never predict how well a day at school would go, but I could always find something positive to say about my day.
Although I moved abroad to try my hand at teaching, I'd be lying if I said I didn’t make the most of my free time. Vietnam is a truly beautiful country, and I was lucky enough to spend my weekends motorbiking around bucket list destinations such as Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, and Phong Nha-Ke Bang. I was even fortunate enough to spend 2 months traveling around Southeast Asia after my contract had finished, exploring phenomenal countries such as Bali, Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand.
I've had the most wonderful adventure these past 7 months, but I'm excited to be back in Bristol as part of the Bigg team once more. It's time to see what the rest of 2018 has in store!