An English Teacher Shares Her Inspiring Travel Diaries And Experiences On Teaching English in a Foreign Land – An Interview with Kristin Sewell – Blogwithgokul (GV’s Talk)

Hello! Ladies and Gentlemen, I happily welcome you all to GV’s Talk – a series of interview with inspiring people across the globe.

Gokul: Welcome to GV’s Talk, Kristin!

Let’s Kickstart the interview. 

Where have you spent teaching the most in your life?

Kristin – So far I’ve spent the most time teaching in Kerala, nine months! It’s been the best and most challenging experience of my life and I loved the whole crazy ride lol.

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While on a stroll through the streets of Kenya.

what would you suggest to those who aspire to be an English language teacher before
they step out into a foreign land to hunt for jobs?

Kristin – For new English language teacher, such as myself, I think the best thing is to just do your research and make sure the jobs you apply for / accept are legit and good quality workplaces. Lots of companies/programs have Facebook pages where you can read others’ reviews. Also, during interviews, I always ask the interviewer’s opinion of the company, which is a fun way to make them feel as nervous as you are and maybe even get an honest answer from them haha…

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Gazing at the sunrise in Ireland.

How can you make yourself qualified has an English teacher?

Kristin – The most important factor in becoming qualified to teach English as a language is getting your TEFL/TESOL certification from a reputable institution. Having a bachelor’s degree (usually in any field of study) qualifies you for better positions than those without a university degree. It’s always good to open as many doors as possible for your future paths in life, so having that college degree just gives you more opportunities!

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A snap from the land of castles  – Czech Republic (Charles Bridge on the backdrop)

The most intriguing part of teaching English to foreign students?

Kristin – The most intriguing aspect of getting to teach ESL is opening up the lines of communication between myself and people I never would’ve gotten to know if they hadn’t learned my language! I love getting to learn about people’s lives and making friends, so it’s awesome when someone is able to express themselves in a language that is foreign to them and we can get to know each other.

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Dreamy Icelandic landscapes.

Your Instagram handle seems to have some amazing clicks! Looks like your cutting
down your bucket list one by one. How many countries have you been to so far?

Kristin – It’s crazy to add them all up and realize I’ve been to 23 countries…I want to go everywhere and eat everything and meet everyone lol, so I’ve still got like 170 countries left on the list haha. There are so many cities to explore and traditional dishes to try, so I’m always looking forward to the next adventure. But I’m back in the phase of work work work now in order to be able to start another phase of wandering.

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Having fun in the turquoise waters of Mexico.

 

Travelling solo especially being a girl in India is a huge deal. What do you have to tell parents about letting their daughters fly free and pursue their dreams?

Kristin – I mean…my parents were as scared as any parents would be…super hesitant to let their daughter fly away into the unknown totally alone, even though I was 29 when I left for India. But I think the saying is true that you’re supposed to “give your children roots and wings” and it’s especially true for girls because, despite all the horrors that happen all the time around the world, females need to be bold and follow our calling to roam. I think that the only time we get a chance to be brave is when we’re scared…so we have to take every opportunity to walk through that fear when we know something worth pursuing is on the other side. As far as parents preparing their daughters to travel solo…maybe take a self-defence class, and I constantly remember my dad’s words “always be aware of your surroundings.”

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An American road trip through the Hawaiian islands.

How can you stay safe on the go? Some tips to young girls out there?

Kristin – It’s DESPICABLE that females have to have this innate instinct to fear men, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Pay attention to who’s around you, never walk alone in the dark, pay the money for a taxi, always have emergency money in your secret pocket haha aka bra. Take care of yourself and remove yourself from dangerous situations, stay sober, don’t be too shy to ask for help if you need directions, dress and behave appropriately for the country you’re visiting, etc. Overall there are more good people in the world than bad people, so hope for the best but plan for the worst and appreciate every experience. Fear kills more dreams than actual failure ever will so just get up and go live your best life.

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Flavours of spices from India.

The craziest thing ever happened on your trip?

Kristin – One of the craziest things that have happened to me while traveling was getting stung by a sea urchin while snorkeling in Kenya, I had to lay on the sand while some local guys sliced the sea urchin barns out of my foot with a razor blade 😅 Other crazy experiences were getting to hug a real live penguin while visiting Dubai in a Middle Eastern desert, being in a motorcycle accident in India, getting assaulted by a man while visiting a mosque in Morocco, abseiling down waterfalls in Ecuador, and surviving jumping off the roof of a boat into the Red Sea in Egypt.

Your dream destination to visit?

Kristin – My big dream come true has been living in India. Kerala is now a home to me and it’s got everything I look for in a place to go adventuring. All the incredible food, luscious nature, and beautiful souls one could ever hope to encounter. As far as the next country I hope to explore…I’ve been thinking about Georgia and Azerbaijan a lot, the cities of Tbilisi and Baku are calling my name lol.

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Blissful green tea plantations captured from the hills of Sri Lanka.

Spending most of your time in India for the past couple of months. What do you have to say about your great Indian adventures?

Kristin – Living in India has been the biggest adventure of my life. The thing about This country is that when you come from such a Western place as the US, literally every day in India is an adventure. Buying groceries, taking the bus, teaching a class lol legit everything is new and different every day. Alappuzha and Munnar are stunning but some of my favorite moments were just taking sunset motorbike rides through pineapple groves and paddy fields, looking up at the moon through coconut and banana trees, listening to the frogs on hot evenings, the music playing on private buses, I just love and miss Kerala and all the elements that combine to make it such an overwhelming experience to live there.

One last question. What do you have to say to people who want to explore more but
can’t manage a work-life balance?

Kristin – Gokul listen, Those people need to prioritize. I know what I want in life, I want to explore. Every little choice you make in life leads you in a certain direction. I knew that working and saving my money by living at home with my family (like normal people do all over the world except for the West) was the best way to be able to afford to travel. I plan and plan and plan, figure out different combinations of cities and planes and trains and hostels to figure out how I can accomplish my goal as cost-effectively as possible. The amount of money people waste on rent is the price of a trip to the other side of the world. But, when you want something badly enough that passion drives you. So it’s really up to the passionate people to decide how hard they’re willing to work and how bright they wanna be about saving their money for what’s important in their lives.

Thank you so much for having your time Kristin. Wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Blogwithgokul©

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You can follow Kristin’s Instagram handle.

Instagram: kristinsewell


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The Unforgettable Train Journey

Reached at Aluva railway station at 10:00 PM, I guess it was Sunday night. I had no option to reschedule my journey as I had to attend an examination the next day.
So before I get into the subject let me tell you the situation in Kerala at that time. A political instability was under progress towards the ruling party and the Chief Minister was said to Involve in some scandals, so the other political leaders and the opposition parties were outrageous and wanted the CM of the state to resign from his position.
Congress was in power, the opposition parties like namely the LDF and others was against them. So rumors were all over that it would be called over the next day as hartal (bandh) and there would be a march towards the Secretariat by other parties for justice and to bring down the power of the current party in charge.

I am actually in my second semester of my studies. Since you know me being an ABCD (Arab Born Confused Desi) I literally have no clue about the Indian railway system. I don’t know how to take a ticket for train travel, the seating arrangements in train, etiquette’s that should be followed, actually nothing !!!!

The entire thing looked like a bizarre to me and believe me this is my first train journey in this land of world’s largest democracy. I had no other way than to catch the train or wouldn’t make it in the morning to college for the examination. Frankly speaking my parents were totally scared to leave me alone for the first time in train too.

The entire platform was crowded with people from different parts of the country you can hear Malayalam from one side English, Marathi, Bengali and so many other languages on the other side. I kept my ears to one by one has it all sounds interesting even though I could not understand a thing. The crowd was something more than I could explain cause since the buses are on strike those passengers also rely on train.
My ears started to hear the whistling sound of the Guruvayur-Chennai express. I started to get more excited that I am going to experience the Train travel for the first time and that too all alone. The train stopped at the platform. People started to rush into the train to occupy the vacant seats if anything is left out. I kept my mouth wide opened knowing nothing to do. I stepped inside the train through the rush and waved bye to my parents as I could barely see them. The whole idea about the interior of the train was different from my imagination. There was literary no space for even an ant to occupy. People were so crowded that I couldn’t breath properly. I felt totally terrible and only thing I knew was I need to sit somewhere that standing till Trivandrum is absolutely a terrible idea.

I could not even walk from one coach to other as the aisles was also occupied and people where sitting and some sleeping all over the floor. Finally I got a little space to stand near the toiletry. The smell was something unbearable, each time a person steps inside and get out I keep my nostrils covered cause the awful smell rushs into my nose. The time has passed 1AM in the morning and my patience as reached its peak level. My legs were tired as hell. I would fall out any moment.

The seating arrangement is as such, You have seats faced to each other with berths corresponding to one making it a total of four and two more along the sides. This particular day in a single berth around six to seven people sat. Can you Just imagine ???!!! All they want is a little space to rest their butt’s. I started looking for one too beyond my tolerance level and finally seeing my tired and exhausted face upon sympathy a man offered a little bit space on the upper side berth in which I could barely keep my half butt to rest. But that was equal to heaven. I really thank that person in my heart !!!

He asked me ” where are you travelling to ?”

I replied “Trivandrum”

I said to myself not to give much details as already my uncle has warned me about the mischiefs like pick-pocketing,befriending students for selling drugs etc on trains. So tried to keep a distance and pretended that I am not interested to talk much………..

Continuation…..on the blog