The Next Four Years

This page was last updated on the 27th of July, 2015 by editor and webmaster Patrick Carpen.

Aidan Ellis-Patterson

My Dream: My Life: Exciting Travel Stories

 After leaving high school, I knew the next four years would be spent studying hard and receiving small money from the government. I would also have a small amount from part time work which basically just covered bills and of course a few beers and gym fees. During university days, all my money was spent on clothes. I wanted to look good. Fashion trends, food and alcohol were my priorities. I basically didn’t understand the importance of money. However I knew I was doing the right thing getting my teaching degree before setting sail. Even during my university days I knew how important having a teaching degree would be in fulfilling my dream.

It wasn’t until my third year of university that the first opportunity to go overseas became a reality. I was 20 years old at the time.  However if it wasn’t for my huge passion and dream, this opportunity would have slipped right under my nose.

During my third year I enrolled in a program to teach in remote locations. This basically addressed teaching in different environments and countries around the world. The first lecture was on teaching in Thailand. To be honest I had never felt so enthused about a lecture ever. I was like a small kid listening to his idol; or it was almost like being addressed by the president. I was so focused, interested and excited! I wanted the lecture to never end.

The pictures he showed, the way of life there, culture, customs and the way be expressed it made me want to get on the plane right away. I left the lecture with a warmer buzz and amazing feeling knowing that this would be become reality after I graduate.

But my impatient grew by the minute and I realized that I needed the opportunity right then. I couldn’t wait another year and half. The next lecture the following week was about teaching in Singapore again. Similar positive traits and excitement grew. At the end of the lecture I went down to talk to my lecturer to ask the following question: are there opportunities for summer holidays?

The lady gave me a few websites to look at and my lecturer asked me to email the man from the previous week about Thailand. Immediately I went to the computers and started looking at the websites and sending my information through. I didn’t even update my CV. I didn’t make sure the information was correct. I didn’t check to see if I could make improvements. I just wanted to start my dream! I emailed Greg. Greg was that wonderful man who gave the lecture about teaching in Thailand. The email must have sounded like a little kid discovering candy for the first time.

The letter read:

Dear Greg,

I was in your lecture in Launceston last week and I’m hoping you could help me with information about teaching English in the summer holidays. I’m more than keen to teach overseas and have been thinking of your lecture ever since! Enjoy your afternoon and hope to hear from you soon.

The following morning I received an email from Greg saying this:

I can place you in a school from November to Feb.- let me know if you are interested? Greg

I would have loved to see my face. The excitement was rushing and the beginning of my dream was a step further in the right direction.

Over the next few days we exchanged emails and everything sounded too good to be true.

I would be placed in a school in Thailand for 3 months. My airfare would be covered. I would have free accommodation and I would also receive a small weekly wage. Over the next few months we consistently exchanged emails. I had to travel to Hobart around 3 hours by bus a few times for language training. I was eager to start travelling!

The most remarkable aspect of this opportunity was the exchange program with Tasmanian teachers going to Thailand every year for the last 8 years. However the program was based at the other university campus. My email, my passion, my thoughts and my dream…all went through like a success train.

Launceston teachers had the opportunity to attend the program and there was a Hotel of nine of us. If it wasn’t for my burning desire, I would have been enjoying another Tasmanian summer! My flights were scheduled the day after my last exam.

This was something to really look forward to after all the hard study! Packing and getting ready for my first trip I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen next.

Well I wasn’t expected to as it was my first time! My suitcase was already 23 kilos and my dad kept telling me to bring less. However I wanted to have all my nice clothes with me! The most excited aspect I was looking forward to was eating delicious fresh Thai food, massages every day and partying. To be honest that aspect of teaching English was also something to be happy out.

On arrival we were greeted by some of the teachers in our school and were transported back to our apartments. It was the early hours of the morning, and after getting out we heard people screaming and shouting as a (pickup truck) sped past with 6 people in the back. Welcome to Thailand and welcome to the beginning of the dream I thought!

The 3 months in Thailand changed my thinking, philosophy, attitude and basically my whole persona!

The transition from my relative rich homeland to this poorer country was one of the first things that impacted me.

However it really made me appreciate everything I have and the opportunities I am given.  Thailand did more than just that it made me want to discover more of this world and it was the launching pad for the next 10 years! Even though the people I was working with and met were by our standards quite poor I was amazed by how happy and giving they were.

I was always greeted by big smiles, offers of food and drinks and I always felt the people generally cared for me. The first months in Thailand made me start to realize that I had not been living my life in a positive way! I was spending 50 dollars on t shirts where in Thailand I could live in this for a week. Or I was worried about my father’s car being too old, whereas in Thailand most people did not even have a car.

Mobile phones were distant and the whole notion of materialism didn’t seem to apply here. I kept reflecting whilst in Thailand of all the money I could have saved by not spending so much on Ebay and rugby back home. In Thailand, money we took for granted goes a far, far way.

Food was cheap and delicious in Thailand. This is my life I thought. I wanted to discover more cultures, countries, food and people! I became more determined to achieve my dream! On return to Australia it was a depressing time! No delicious street food, no crazy adventures, and unfortunately back to reality! Another year of study, I’m glad I didn’t do a gap year as I wouldn’t have come back for sure.

My views on life and outlook to the future grew stronger and my way of life changed and I started to appreciate the smaller details in life like – clean fresh water from the tap, hot water, no squat toilet, clean air the list goes on!

I also realized that all the parties, bars, enjoyment I had was now boring and it will be hard to get motivated to drink in the bars again. I also started to think about saving money, even if only a few dollars.


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