Vegetable Pad Thai: Teaching English Abroad

by simplylife on November 19, 2012

Shortly after I graduated college, I bought a ticket to Sevilla, Spain.  I wasn’t ready for the stability of having a lease and a full-time job, and knew deep in my spirit that what I really wanted was to travel abroad and explore more of the world.  I had previously spent a summer living and working as an au pair in Madrid, Spain and knew I wanted to go back; I also knew I couldn’t afford to travel as a tourist.

I signed-up to take a month-long TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) course.  These classes are available all over the world, and I decided to take mine in Sevilla.  I also made a very bold move when buying my ticket and bought the return ticket for two months after the course was over, with absolutely no plans in place.

When I arrived to Sevilla, I took my suitcase and purse and waited in a small bar for the rest of the strangers classmates to arrive.  After brief introductions and a short walk, I moved into an apartment with 3 other women for the next month.  One was from D.C., one from California, and the third roommate was from Zambia.  We were all on completely different paths in life, taking this course for very different reasons, and yet, we got along beautifully.  By the end of the month, we were cooking each other dinners and sharing tapas along the river.

Towards the end of the course, I knew I needed to make a plan.  The majority of my classmates would be moving back to their respective hometowns, and rent was not cheap.   I started looking for jobs.  I hung-up flyers throughout the city, offering private lessons and asked around for anyone hiring a recently-certified-with-no-experience English teacher.

Within a couple weeks, I was fortunate enough to start teaching private lessons to a senior in high school.  Do you know how difficult it is to teach English at that level?  I was not prepared to start explaining when and how to use part participles, and often left with more homework for myself than the student.  I was also grateful that I got hired to teach English to first-graders at a small private school.  Again, this proved to be a much greater challenge than I was anticipating!

During this time, I moved into a different apartment with two adults from my class.  One was the Zambian woman I previously shared an apartment with, and the other was an English teacher who was born in Brazil, but had spent time in China and spoke fluent Mandarin.  The three of us could not have been more different, but thoroughly enjoyed sharing bits of our life, our experiences and culture with one another.

While this dish is far from being a considered Spanish meal, after spending 2 months with my roommate who raved about various Asian foods and cultures, it was in Sevilla, Spain, that I developed a curiosity and appreciation for cooking Thai food.

I made an incredibly similar dish not too long ago.  I followed the directions for this Easy Pad Thai; the only changes I made were using yellow and green sliced peppers, peas and sesame seeds.

I also used this soy sauce sent to me compliments of Mitsuwa Marketplace, the largest Japanese supermarket in the US.  This soy sauce is one of their products that are offered exclusively through their online superstore.  I was sent two bottles of soy sauce to try, the Ohara Hisakichi Yuasa Soy Sauce and Marushima Fresh Soy Sauce.

I used the Marushima Fresh Soy Sauce for this dish and really enjoyed the flavor it gave!  Soy sauce is one of my favorite condiments to use when cooking and this does not disappoint!

 ~Using the winner of the Mediterranean Snacks Giveaway is Tara Pittman & the winner of the Lunch Bag is Rachael Hardison!

~Have you ever lived, worked and/or traveled abroad?

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  • Zomppa

    What a grand adventure! Thai food has got to be my favorite favorite!!

  • Colleen

    I am impressed by your adventurous nature! And this dish looks fantastic!

  • Singerinkitchen

    Wow, we should travel together someday or just meet! I love everything you wrote about. You are an adventuresome!

  • Shannon Talley

    The farthest “abroad” I’ve ever been is Mexico… Sad huh? The noodles look amazing!

  • Urvashi Agarwal

    Sounds exciting my friend 😀
    And I love Pad Thai!


  • yummychunklet

    Pad thai is delicious! Yours looks great!

  • Cookie Sleuth

    What a neat experience! I spend a summer in Spain (Madrid) and loved it! I wish I could have spent more time…

    • Simply Life

      Oh fun! What did you do when you were there?

  • Megan

    What an interesting story and great experience… not to mention a great dish too!

  • Kari

    What a lovely story – I bet you learned a lot during your training and then teaching! This is a great dish to remember it all by 🙂

  • Joanne (eats well with others)

    Wow what an adventure!! You are SO much more courageous than I would have been. I love pad thai and this version of it – need to try!

  • foodfashionandflow

    This looks absolutely amazing. I always order pad thai when I go out for Thai food. I have never had a vegetarian version, definitely need to try this.

  • Mom

    I had to read and re-read this blog. It left me bewildered and in such awe that I had a little bit of a hard time reliving this! Whow, we really were out on a limb. You must have really put me at great peace or left me no choice to have the grace to be okay with you there by yourself. Oh my. I am grateful you experienced this at such a young age, but I doubt if I could do this again with support for your sister 🙂

    Your dish looks amazingly tempting!!

  • meri

    I studied abroad in Madrid, and traveled to Seville one weekend. It is such an incredible city!

  • Colleen

    That sounds like an amazing experience. I love Spain and now I wish I had studied abroad or moved abroad after college.

  • Jolene (

    I want so bad to live abroad, perhaps Korea or Japan. I am considering it, however a full-time, permanent contract and pension at work makes it hard to think about walking away. I could take a year leave of absence at some point, so perhaps!

  • Julia Robert

    Thanks for sharing this nice post. If you are seeking a cool way to receive money and want to tour the world,than teach English in abroad.

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