My day: My get up time is usually around 6am and I’m up and out of the house by 7.45am. This is when I meet my xe ôm (motorbike taxi) who patiently waits for me every morning and never fails to mock me whenever I’m running late (most days!). I met him on the corner of a street just over a year ago and he now takes me wherever I need to go for £1 each way. He knows my schedule better than me. At 8am, I privately tutor four managers at a local Vietnamese security firm. I only tutor them for an hour, and only on weekdays, but it can seem like a full time occupation at times. All four of the students are at different levels of spoken English, so I effectively have to prepare four separate lesson plans for each session.
The rest of my morning, and into the afternoon, is free, time which I tend to spend either shopping or lesson planning for my evening classes. I usually grab lunch at a local street vendor, my ‘go-to’ dishes are usually Bun Cha Giò (a noodle dish served with fried spring rolls) or Com Tam (broken rice, which I usually eat with BBQ’d pork).
My actual full time job is as an English language teacher at a local language centre, CEFALT, where I work six days a week. On weekdays, I begin work here at 3pm and teach three separate classes; first adults, then two different groups of teenagers. Classes finish at 9pm which means my evening meal is rarely at the same time, or at the same place. The language centre usually offer free Vietnamese snacks during the class break times and when I get home, I tend to eat something light, like a sandwich. I also teach young children every Saturday morning for three hours at the centre. This is my favourite part of the week; I have never known such motivated and ready-to-learn children! I try to spend my free time exploring the city and getting to know the Vietnamese culture a little better. This often just means I spend a lot of my time drinking coffee on the side of the street and watching people going about their daily life; I guess that may sound a little boring, but it really is so interesting!
Dress: I’m not required to wear a specific uniform formy job, however I always try to dress smartly. I often wear just suit trousers and a shirt but the humid weather can make this rather uncomfortable. On particularly hot days, I have to switch to light clothing, such as linens and cottons. And when teaching the young children on Saturdays, I tend to wear clothes that I don’t mind getting stained or damaged – I often arrive home with multiple markings on the back of my shirts!
What is the favourite part of your job? Working with children. They are the most charming, fascinating and crazy individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with!
What is the least favourite part of your job? The unsociable hours. Working into the night and then getting up early for tutoring means I get little-to-no social life. Similarly, having no strict meal time routine my eating habits have begun to swerve towards quick and easy unhealthy tendencies.
How do you relax when you are not working? Shopping is a huge vice of mine, especially when the cost of everything in Vietnam is so much cheaper than what you’d expect in the UK. I could comfortably buy five items of clothing at the same price as just one shirt in the UK.
What is your favourite book? The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I love Gothic fiction, and love all the classics like Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but this particular book stands out to me on a whole other level of darkness, I love it!
What is your favourite song? Michael Jackson’s Give into Me.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? Michelle Dockery, to add that bit of class to my life!
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame? I was recently interviewed by a Vietnamese TV news crew. I was getting some documents translated at the time and they cornered me to ask my opinion of the customer service there. Having the camera in my face made me think I’d missed my true calling in life as I blasted out my answers without hesitation. I only wish I’d had hair and make-up there too!
Name: Kerri Loughran
Job: English teacher in Vietnam
Born: Preston, Lancashire
Where do you live now: Permanent Tattenhall, Cheshire, temporary Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Education: English Literature BA from Lancaster Univeristy
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