For new Teacher

The Exciting Forays of Life: My First Month Teaching in Vietnam

December 24, 2015          5216 views

Stepping off the plane in a foreign country and realizing that this is where you now live and work can result in asking yourself, “Where am I, and what did I just do?!”

Congratulations! These questions are your springboard to exploring, understanding, and experiencing something new!  You are there to teach, but also to discover! Let your curiosities overcome your hesitations, keep an open mind, do your research, and don’t be ignorant. With these suggestions in your pocket, you are well on your way to passing through customs and leaving the airport.

First impressions

When we first arrived in Vietnam, my partner and I stayed in Hoan Kiem, otherwise known as the Old Quarter.  ‘Shocked’ is one way to describe the feeling, and ‘elated’ is another.

Cacophony everywhere! After checking in to our hostel, we found ourselves sitting on toddler-sized stools and enjoying local foodstuffs while being baffled by hundreds of side-by-side seemingly identical businesses amidst astoundingly beautiful architecture.


We were entreated to the constant hum of honking motorbikes, songbirds, and bicycle vendors in the area. Truly, there are a thousand ways to describe Hoan Kiem, and yet you really just have to be there to know them.

Apartment hunting

After resting up and getting our bearings for a few days, it was time for us to find a home. There is a strong expat community here, as well as an expat district known as Tay Ho, but we wanted to live somewhere culturally immersive.  You may only live in Vietnam once, right?


In one week’s time we found a stunning 140 sq. meter, fully furnished French-style apartment in the top two stories of a jovial local Vietnamese family home in Cau Giay district. Awesome!

Job Hunting

With a place to live checked off the list, it was full-throttle job huntress time.  I was excited to put my TEFL training to use, so I promptly joined a Facebook group for expats, posted a profile, was bombarded by responses, and quickly found myself teaching for an outsourcing company at a highly reputable Vietnamese Private School.


I was shocked, too:  First job + TEFL training =  Private School Teacher?  Welcome to Vietnam!

My first moment of teaching English was being catapulted into a primary school, instructing over 400 students ranging from ages 5 to 10 half-way through the third semester of the school year. HOOO BOY.  Class sizes ranged from 30-42 children, and each room was equipped with a computer synced to a projector, and a chalkboard.

And that is a summary of my first month in Hanoi! Happy Teaching!