Piotr Dawlidowicz - 2017 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

A number of things piqued my interest, but ultimately it came down to live in a foreign country, step out of my comfort zone and decided if this would be a lifestyle I wanted going forward.

Hutsadin Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand

Hutsadin Sanctuary

Why did you choose TravelBud?

There were a number of programs and organizations I could choose from, but in the end Travelbud made me feel at home. They made me feel comfortable and most important they were there for me every step of the way. I am living in Thailand now and Travelbud is still reaching out and making sure that my experience matters. They do great work!

What was your favorite part Thailand?

Hard to name one.  I am still here, so I am sure this answer could change everyday. The people for one are amazing. They are kind, loyal, respectful and a joy to learn from. The food is amazing and the travel is addicting!

What made your experience abroad unique?

I think what makes it unique is the unexpected. It keeps you on your toes. You always have to be prepared for what's next or don't be prepared......either way you won't be disappointed.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

They helped set up accommodations, bank accounts, showed me the ropes, helped with language, taught me culture, and helped me travel. To narrow it down to one would not be doing this country and staff members justice. I am also sure I've missed something.

Ka Chong Hills, Thailand

Ka Chong Hills

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I think I would have packed differently. They say pack light, but you still end up bringing things you don't use. Pack what you absolutely need, the rest you can find in some fashion. For some it's more than that, something as easy as packing light. I however am a simple man with simple pleasures.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

It is a normal job. I have to be at school at 8am and my day finishes at 4. However what is included in the day is what makes it interesting. The language barrier that you must get used to adjust on the fly with is a daily challenge. This is important with both the students and teachers you work with. I have classes everyday at different grade levels of high school. Lesson planning between periods so that I am prepared for each class is constant. The days bring challenges, but I never feel it is difficult, more so entertaining, interesting, and just relaxed.

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

Well in free time outside of school it’s all exploration and travel. The more the merrier. While in my free time at school it is a number of things. Lesson plans, as I've mentioned, sometimes practicing the language, reading books, watching netflix, stepping outside to enjoy the weather or stepping outside to watch the rain. That rain can get pretty intense around here.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best it?

I have had a nice, but small accommodation. Its comfortable, has everything I need. Bed, desk, closet space, a working bathroom, a balcony and laundry at the bottom of the building. I will be moving into a house with a friend soon and am looking forward to the extra space and hanging a hammock.

Hua Hin District, Thailand

Hua Hin

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

Try not stress it all at once. It's a big step. Take a deep breath. Go through each part of the process before over thinking the next. Honestly, just take it all in stride and see how it plays out.

What was the hardest part teaching abroad?

The early transition to your school and its rules can be difficult. You have to find your groove and get comfortable with the students. It’s important to build a relationship with Thai teachers and make an effort to learn a little bit of the language.

What surprised you most Thailand?

Nothing really jumped out as a surprise for me, but a lot of cool things are constantly learned. The people here are so kind and loyal. It’s the Thai way! They make you feel at home and are very open to teaching you the culture, which is great!

Pak Meng Beach in Sikao, Thailand

Pak Meng Beach

How difficult was it to communicate with locals?

It has its challenges. Both you and the community are speaking different languages to each other, so many things can be lost in translation. With that said, a lot of non-verbal communication goes a long way. You must be patient and it will work itself out.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before teaching abroad in Thailand?

I wish I knew more the visas, work permits, red tape, and sometimes hidden costs. A lot of things you need to do to make sure there aren't any issues when you teach or travel to neighboring countries.

If you could teach abroad again, where would you go?

Vietnam is next on the list for me. Asia is amazing and everything that surrounds it makes you not want to leave. Also, this region provides the most opportunity for work and cost of living is low.

What do you feel the biggest benefit of teaching abroad is?

Learning yourself and accepting new challenges. It makes you a stronger person, it builds your character and gives you an opportunity to do things that not everyone can say they have experienced.

Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Thailand?

Don't overpack, which I'm sure many have heard, but seriously don't. It’s hot here, which means that extra hoodie or 4th pair of shoes you plan on bringing are a waste. Bring some rain gear, the ponchos only help so much and from an electronic standpoint, don't over do it with your adapters and what not. Embrace the culture and the lifestyle no matter how different it is from home and you'll be fine!

Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?

Well, Thailand is home for now. We will see how it goes from there.

Would you recommend TravelBud to others? Why?

Yes! They help you from start to finish, they settle your nerves, and they answer all your questions.....always!