About Teacher's Friend - Vietnam
Teacher’s Friend Vietnam (TFV) is a brand new idea developed by teachers for teachers. After coming to Vietnam we fell in love with the country and we want as many people as possible to share in the wonderful experience of working here as possible. Whether you’re new to teaching or a seasoned expert we’re sure that we’ll be able to help you. We offer paid packages to help you find your perfect job and much, much more.
There are many faceless recruitment agencies out there, who just look to get you a job and move on. TFV is different. We are a personal service who really want to help, we offer a broad range of support that remains available to you during your time in Vietnam. We will act as your guides using our vast networks, knowledge and first hand experience to find the best job for you. We can help with much more than jobs though, moving to a country like Vietnam can be a daunting and complicated process, and we aim to make the transition as smooth and comfortable for you as we can, so you can really set up a great life in Vietnam, stress free.
So, how did it all begin?
Read an article about the founder of Teacher’s Friend.
With my bags packed, nerves at the ready, I set off on a plane to Hanoi, Vietnam.
I had paid an arm and a leg (Over $1000) to a well-known international teaching agent, who would provide me with a job, food and accommodation for the first six months. My theory was, $1000 for a six months’ worth of accommodation and food has to be a bargain- RIGHT?
I thought I had it all sorted, I thought I’d been smart, I thought I was prepared.
I WAS NOT PREPARED.
I ran into problems before I even got on the plane, when Manchester Airport wouldn’t let me board the plane without an exit flight… As I was going for six months and didn’t know what I was doing after this, I had not booked a return flight.
I explained that I wasn’t sure of my plans and that no-one had told but the lady was very unsympathetic! I ended up rushing around in a panic, fighting back tears, telling myself it was all going to be OK, and then had to pay out a large chunk of my savings for a return flight in six months time.
Six months suddenly felt like a really long time…
Eventually I made it to Hanoi and was shocked by just how different everything was. The traffic was crazy, the roads were deadly, the hagglers were un-nerving and I was constantly being ripped off. Everything was new, the sights, the smells, the food, the environment.
It’s a lot to get your head around at first.
I vividly remember walking down the street in rush hour, struggling to keep on the pavement as bikes pushed past (yes, they were actually driving on the pavement) and just thinking, “I can’t do this”.
The problem with my free accommodation was that it came with the school, and was literally inside the school premises. (No-one had told me this…) There was only myself living there, so it was very lonely, apart from the hundreds of kids who ran down the corridors every morning, lunch time and afternoon, often banging on the door and shouting. To add to this, when I eventually made friends with other ex-pats, I still had an 11pm curfew, even at weekends, so could never stay out too late.
In the end, I ended up living in an apartment much closer to the town centre. However it had no road access, which meant when returning late at night I had to wind my way down very dark, very concealed alleyways which went against all my instincts.
Don’t walk alone, don’t walk in the dark, don’t go down dark alleyways…
It got to the point where I didn’t like going out too late, or always had to stay with a friend.
I wish someone had told me to consider this before I moved in.
Then there was the access to the house, which was up a very narrow, very steep ramp. When trying to push a motorbike up here, when the bike is heavier than you and the alleyway behind you is tiny and full of busy locals trying to push past, it makes life very difficult. Countless times I dropped the bike (usually on my foot), smashed the wing mirrors or ended up blocking the entire alleyway full of angry locals.
Why did I not think about this before?!
Shopping and haggling. This was my next barrier. The problem when you first arrive is that when you convert a price in your head (which is hard when everything is in millions!) then it seems very reasonable, but you will soon realise that you should still be paying about five times less than this… The problem is that many Vietnamese people add a large fee to the price the moment they see you, just because you’re not a local.
Then there was the teaching… what an experience!
When I first arrived at the school on my first day, I was immediately asked to stand up in front of the students and sing some songs. Seriously? I’d only been in the country a week. The microphone was thrust in to my hands and off I went…
I was then ushered into a classroom of screaming children and left to my own devices. I was given a book and had to ask a student what page we were on. There was no training, no introduction. In fact there was no training or professional development for the entire year that I worked there. Nor were there any resources or materials to support me. What I really needed in a class of fifty, all aged five to eight years old, was an assistant, or two, or three.
But it was just me, on my own, alone.
This was not my biggest concern however. I didn’t have an up to date police clearance check (again, no-one told me) and so had to wait for a Vietnamese one, which takes about six months to obtain. The school wouldn’t pay me the agreed salary until I had the documents for the work permit, and subsequently I lost out on about $4000 US dollars.
Suddenly the $1000 or more which I spent on the Teach Abroad program seemed a lot more expensive…
Then there was the bike which I bought, for about five times too much money, which had the wrong battery for that type of bike and consequently died three months later, never to see the light of day. What was particularly annoying was that I had done a lot of research this time, but it still didn’t seem to be enough.
Another helpful tip which no-one told me was that when buying a bike you should always check that the registration plate number matches the “blue card” which comes with it, and that the engine number matches the shassy number, and that they too are correctly recorded on the “Blue Card”. Without these, firstly you are probably being sold a dodgy bike and secondly it will make it much harder for you to sell.
After my first month I decided to treat myself to a much needed holiday. I didn’t know too many people just yet so I went alone without knowing what I was doing. Athough I had an amazing time, I spent about 5 times too much as I didn’t know where to book, what to book in advance and what to do last minute, what I should do as a tour and what was best done independently, and what was a descent price for a hotel!
There goes my budget.
The icing on the cake was when I found out that the company who I paid the $1000 US dollars to took most of it as profit and that the poor local contact in Vietnam was barely receiving a penny. Also, my food and accommodation was being paid for from my own wages, and I was being paid a mere quarter of what I was supposed to be.
You may be thinking that I was clueless, that I didn’t do my research, that I was naïve. Yes, I made mistakes, but I came with the best of intentions. After much research and many, many questions I booked with an international teaching company who I thought would offer me help, support and guidance throughout my time in Vietnam. I was let down. I paid too much for many things, but when you’re new to the country where do you look? Who do you talk to? Where do you find correct information?
The problem when you first land in a foreign country is that you don’t speak the language, you have no friends, you’re unfamiliar with the currency and you don’t really know where to find reliable, honest, information.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST?
Luckily, here at Teacher’s Friend Vietnam WE HAVE THE SOLUTION.
We offer placements in excellent schools and language centres, who will offer you high paid salaries, on-going support and training, resources and materials and other likeminded teachers to work with.
We will provide you with reliable contacts such as travel agents, motorbike mechanics and vendors, all of whom we have TRIED AND TESTED and know can be TRUSTED.
They will offer you QUALITY products, for FAIR PRICES.
We let YOU decide where you want to live, and give you IMPORTANT INFORMATION about the areas where it’s BEST to move to and WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR when viewing houses. Remember, WE’VE DONE IT, so we know.
We offer you ON-GOING HELP and support, throughout your time in Vietnam, which DOESN’T END until you are safely back at home again.
WE NEARLY MISSED THE PLANE, so let us keep you prepared.
WE GOT OVER CHARGED, so you don’t need to.
WE WORKED FOR A DODGY SCHOOL, so we know how to avoid them.
WE LIVED IN POORLY CHOSEN ACCOMMODATION, so we won’t let you.
WE MADE THE MISTAKES, so you don’t have to.
WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY FRIENDS TO ASK, so let us be your friend.
Contact us now for more information :)