By Kori Czuy
An ESL Professional, with 8 years’ experience teaching, consulting and adventuring in over 50 countries worldwide

coffee ladies on the equatorIt was a humid hot March morning on the equator, and I was driving through the jungle to one of the schools where I was mentoring.  By this time, I had been working at this job for a few months, so I had already experienced many of the cultural, climactic, linguistic and social quirks of the country. On this day, however, many of them seemed to gang up on me at once and slap me in the face, to make me really realise where in the world I was.

So….after grabbing my can of coffee from my wonderfully overly friendly gas station ladies, I continued on my journey farther into the remote jungle. After turning a sharp corner at the questionable speed limit, there appeared a large black stick spanning almost the entire width of the road.

It slithered.

I yelped, blinked for an extra mille-second, and held my breath until I glanced into my rear view mirror. Nothing. I tried to avert my attention from the potential snake slithering under the gas pedal, when I had to slam on the breaks to let a heard of water buffalo ignorantly cross the road.

The morning fog was clearing as I pulled into the school. At that point I thought my head had cleared, until a family of monkeys tumbled and cart-wheeled onto my car. Averting the carnival of primates, I was greeted in the teachers room by a team of camera flashes. These posing paparazzi were a combination of teachers and parents there to document the foreign English teacher.

parents and teachers at kori's schoolThat day all the classes were cancelled, as teachers, parents and students alike fed me various traditional delicacies, alien-inspired fruit, too many overly-sweet coffees; taught me how to eat with my hands; and curiously asked about my country and culture. We ended with a prayer from the Koran, and every student in the school kissed my hand as they exited the traditional outdoor space we used as a conference room.

It was one of many reality-induced days I have had while teaching in different interesting places overseas. From teaching on a boat in a hurricane, to shovelling through 4 feet of overnight snow just to get out my front door. It all seems like an adventurous ESL blog, but there are many things to think about before embarking on this kind of adventure…one being a contract!

Stay tuned next Tuesday for advice on working “off the beaten ESL track”.

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