El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio is ringed by volcanoes and fed by over 80 gurgling geysers and a hundred gassy fumaroles. Contrary to popular opinion it is not the world’s largest geyser field, but the third largest. The best time to see the geysers is 06:00, so make sure you wipe the sleep from your eyes if you want experience the awesome spectacle. Check it the most amazing Oasis in the dessert.

Watch your step – in some places, visitors have fallen through the thin crust into underlying pools of scalding water and suffered severe burns. Dress in layers: it’s toe-numbingly cold at sunbreak but you’ll bake in the van on the way back down.

 

Source: Mediamerse, Immersive Advertising

The 25 places you must visit in South America

The 25 places you must visit in South America

Source: http://www.worldofwanderlust.com/25-places-must-visit-south-america/Heading to South America for the first time? Don’t want to miss any of the places you must visit in South America? No worries! We’ve put together a list of the best places to see and visit in South America… 

1. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

uyuni

2. Santuario de las Lajas, Colombia

colombia

3. See the Milkyway over Lake Titicaca, Peru

milkyway

4. The River of Five Colours, Colombia

river five colours

5. Mount Fitzroy, Argentina

fitzroy

6. Hand of the Desert, Atacama, Chile

hand desert

7. World’s Most Dangerous Road, Bolivia

Read more: Bike riding Death Road in Bolivia

world dangerous

8. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos

9. Machu Picchu, Peru

Read more: Visiting Peru for the first time: Everything you need to know

 

 

 

 

 

10. La Paz, Bolivia

Read more: This one time I went to La Paz, Bolivia

la paz

11. Swing at the End of the World in Banos, Ecuador

ecuador

12. Torres del Paine, Chile

Patagonia Chile

13. Easter Island, Chile

Read more: Visiting Easter Island

explora rapa nui

14. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Read more: Touring a Favela in Rio de Janeiro

Read more: The top 10 cities to visit in South America

Rio de Janeiro Contiki

15. Canopy Walk, The Amazon, Peru

amazon

16. Raquira, Colombia

colombia

17. Angel Falls, Venezuala

angel falls

18. Geysers el de Tatio, Chile

Atacama desert

19. Atacama Desert, Chile

Read more: Visiting the driest place on earth, San Pedro de Atacama

Read more: Atacama Desert in Northern Chile

instagram atacama

20. Barichara, Colombia

barichara

21. Iguassu Falls, bordering Argentina and Brazil

Read more: Being refused entry into Brazil – What do you mean I need a visa!?

Iguassu Falls

22. Cusco, Peru

Read more: 3 days in Cusco

Cusco_Peru

23. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Read more: 9 things not to miss in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Cemetery

24. Valparaiso, Chile

valparaiso

25. Sail to Antarctica

antarctica

Images 1-8; 11; 13; 16; 20; 23-25 sourced on Pinterest – Follow @worldofwlust on Pinterest for more travel inspiration!

Studying? A Beginner’s Guide to Chilean Wine

Studying? A Beginner’s Guide to Chilean Wine

WHAT’S ON THE LABEL

[Photograph: Matt Wilson]

Like in other new world wine regions, such as New Zealand and South Africa, a Chilean wine will boast its grape front and center on the label.

Chilean law requires that that the stated grape, vintage, and geographical area (Denominación de Origen) make up 75% of what’s in the bottle. That’s right, up to a quarter of the bottle’s contents doesn’t need to be disclosed. But in practice, most Chilean wines will contain at least 85% of what’s claimed on the label, so the bottles remain legal for distribution in Europe.

One heads up: some terms on Chilean wine labels aren’t that helpful. For example, Reserva or Reserva Especial indicates that the wine is at least 12% alcohol. Reserva Privada and Gran Reserva bump that requirement up to 12.5%. Additionally, Reserva Especial and Gran Reserva can be used if the wine has seen at least a little oak. But none of these terms will actually give you any sense of quality: for example, you could buy great Sauvignon Blanc from a chilly vineyard that doesn’t meet these requirements, and crummy Cabernet Sauvignon from a hot area that does.

THE LAY OF THE LAND

One glance at a map and you know that the geography of Chile is truly unique. While it would take you a week to drive north to south, you could explore the widest point from east to west in a single afternoon. The Andes divide the country from Argentina—whose famous wine region of Mendoza is just a couple hundred miles east of Chile’s capital, Santiago.

Though the country is quite narrow from east to west, you may soon start to see some wine labels clarifying where the vineyards fall: Costa (near the coast), Andes (near the mountains), and Entre Cordilleras (in between).

Thirsty yet? Let’s take a look at the major grapes you’ll find in Chilean wine.

SAUVIGNON BLANC

20150625-chilean-wine-leyda-jake-pippin.jpg

[Photograph: Jake Pippin]

Bright, herbal, and tart: much of the best Chilean Sauvignon Blanc comes from the coastal Casablanca and Leyda valleys. These spots receive chilly ocean breezes, keeping the grapes fresh-tasting while they ripen in the warm sun.

20150625-chilean-wine-leyda-valley-fog-jake-pippin.jpg

[Photograph: Jake Pippin]

If you enjoy zippy Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, try the Anakena Enco 2012 Sauvignon Blanc ($11) from the Leyda Valley. The aromas of parsley, jalapeño, and grapefruit burst from the glass. The vibrant acidity makes it a great pairing for anything you’d squeeze a lemon on—try it with seafood.

CHARDONNAY

20150713-chilean-wine-casablanca-vineyards-shutterstock.jpg

[Photograph: Shutterstock]

Much like coastal regions of California, like Sonoma and Santa Barbara, cooler climates around Chile allow Chardonnay to shine, retaining acid and avoiding overripeness. Look for wines from the sea-influenced Casablanca and Limarí Valleys or the southern, wind-blown Malleco Valley.

One bottle we love: Viña Aquitania’s 2009 Sol de Sol Chardonnay ($28) is fermented in oak, yielding a rich texture (and hints of roasted hazelnuts) beautifully balanced by lots of acidity. Each sip offers a taste of crisp red apple, bright lemon, and sour cream.

OTHER GREAT WHITES

20150713-chilean-wine-valle-del-elqui-NAF7572-nicolas-aguayo-fuenzalida.jpg

[Photograph: Nicolás Aguayo Fuenzalida]

The northernmost region of Coquimbo is more known for its pisco than fine wine. But some producers here are making great wine from grapes once considered only fit for distilling. Try Mayu’s 2014 Pedro Ximenez ($13) from the Elquí Valley. It’s perfect for a summer picnic, full of tart lime and white grapefruit flavors—nothing like the sweet, viscous Spanish wines made from this grape.

Up for more exploring? One of my favorite Chilean whites is Casa Silva’s 2012 Sauvignon Gris ($16 ) from Colchagua. The vines for this bottling date back to 1912—it’s a reminder that Chile is no newcomer when it comes to wine. The grape name may be unfamiliar, but the wine is delicious, with a rich texture and peachy-honeydew flavors that make it more comparable to an Oregon Pinot Gris than your average Sauvignon Blanc. It balances a creamy texture with tons of freshness; serve it with picnic charcuterie or a nice plate of seared scallops.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

20150625-chilean-wine-chile-maipo-andes-credit-jake-pippin.jpg

[Photograph: Jake Pippin]

Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in the sun-drenched Central Valley, a large area around Santiago that is made up of four other valleys: Maipo, Rapel, Curicó, and Maule.

If you regularly find yourself drinking Cabernets from Napa or Washington State and you’re looking for something a little more affordable, start with Maipo. This is where you’ll find many masters of the grape, including familiar brands like Santa Rita, Concha y Toro, and Cousiño Macul. The area’s warm sunshine yields ripe grapes that produce powerful, concentrated wines filled with ripe blackberry, chocolate, and tobacco flavors. For $15, pick up Veramonte’s 2011 Primus Cabernet Sauvignon to serve with roasted chicken (or pour at a party.)

If you are a looking for the best of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon (and you have deep pockets), seek out bottles from the renowned district of Puente Alto, known for gravel soils that some compare to the vineyards of Bordeaux. Famous bottlings from this region include Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon blend ($75) and Errazuriz’s Viñedo Chadwick Cabernet Sauvignon ($160).

CARMENÈRE

20150625-chilean-wine-carmenere-aconcagua-valley-credit-jake-pippin.jpg

[Photograph: Jake Pippin]

Chileans have grown Carmenère for over a hundred years, but it was long mistaken for a type of Merlot. It wasn’t until 1994 that the grape was correctly identified. You can also find it in southwest France and Italy, but Chile has been flying the Carmenère flag the highest of all.

Carmenère has a lot of ‘green’ flavors—think tomato leaves and green bell peppers. Some might call them a turnoff, but when these traits are balanced with acid and freshness, an herbal, vegetal wine can pair quite well with food, especially—you guessed it—herbs and vegetables.

20150625-chilean-wine-carmenere-grapes-chile-jake-pippin.jpg

[Photograph: Jake Pippin]

“It’s like hoppy wine,” Chris Raftery, a sommelier in New York observes.

If you’re a fan of, say, Cabernet Franc from Chinon in France, these are wines you should seek out. And if you love IPA, these herbal, green aromas might not be new to you: “It’s like hoppy wine,” Chris Raftery, a sommelier in New York observes.

If you’re just getting started with Carmenère, you might as well go to the source: De Martino was the first to bottle the grape on its own, back in 1996. The De Martino Legado Reserva Carmenère 2012 ($12) from Maipo has the grape’s characteristic tobacco and bell pepper flavors, but they’re well balanced with black cherry and a hint of smoke.

SYRAH

20150713-chilean-wine-chile-woc-mw405-matt-wilson.jpg

[Photograph: (c)Matt Wilson courtesy of Wines of Chile]

Syrah lovers will find that Chile has a bunch of great wines to discover: wines that highlight ripe, supple fruit flavors while letting Syrah’s classic peppery, bacony flavors shine through. High altitude and coastal breezes help moderate the heat of the northern valleys of the Elquí and Limarí, where Syrah thrives. I love the combination of ripe plum and savory black olive flavors in Merino’s 2012 Syrah($16) from the Limarí Valley, which is made with a splash of Viognier, just like they do it in the Rhône.

CARIGNAN

20150625-chilean-wine-maule-old-vines-pais-jake-pippin.jpg

[Photograph: Jake Pippin]

Growers in the Maule Valley have a treasure-trove of old-vine Carignan that is just coming into the spotlight today. Carignan vines were planted after a devastating earthquake in 1939 that left growers with scant crops. The grape thrives on the dry, hot climate of the Maule Valley—a climate not too different from that of Southern France or Spain, where the grape is called Mazuelo and Carineña. These old vines produce tannic, high acid wines that mingle fresh raspberry and black cherry flavors with an earthy, cedar-wood edge.

You may spot bottles with ‘Vigno’ on the label: this stands for Vignadores de Carignan, a group of growers in the Maule offering wine from vines that are at least 30 years old and dry farmed (that is, grown without irrigation.) One favorite: Garcia + Schwaderer’s 2010 Maule Valley Vigno Carignan($40). Brambly blackberry and white pepper flavors, significant tannins, and lots of acidity make this a fantastic match for a fatty steak. Other producers to seek out include Gillmore and Garage Wine Co.

PINOT NOIR

20150713-chilean-wine-pinot-noir-grapes-shutterstock.jpg

[Photograph: Shutterstock]

Drive toward Antarctica and you’ll hit the the valleys of Itata, Bío Bío, and Malleco. Thanks to the cooler temperatures in these regions, Pinot Noir can ripen slower over the growing season, which helps the grape keep its nuanced aromas and fresh acidity.

Up for an adventure? The Clos de Fous Latuffa 2012 Pinot Noir ($30) from Traiguén in Malleco is unlike any wine I’ve tasted. One of the partners in the project is Pedro Parra, a wine terroir consultant who is really pushing for the discovery and appreciation of Chile’s soils. There are classic pinot flavors of black cherry and rose petals, but it’s all wrapped in an intriguing combination of gentian, sage, and pine that’ll have you thinking of your favorite amaro.

Note: Casa Silva, Clos de Fous, Merino, Sol de Sol, Garcia + Schwaderer, and Mayu were provided as tasting samples for review consideration.

List Of Must See Things Do When In Austin

List Of Must See Things Do When In Austin

View of downtown Austin, TX

Austin is known for its incredible music, delicious restaurants and food trucks, excellent university, and vibrant tech scene. It’s a city on the move, where people who love the outdoors, warm weather, and succulent BBQ flock to live. And with its never-ending conferences and music and sports events, it’s one that attracts people from around the world. Austin is a weird little big city that I have yet to see someone not love.

I’ve been living here since May, and in the last couple of months since taking a break from my travels, I’ve buried myself in two things: writing and keeping active (OK, copious amounts of eating and drinking too).

Since you’ve already seen the writing (it’s all the previous blog posts), I want to share some of the favorite things I’ve done in this amazing city (for when you visit — come stay at my hostel, HK Austin, when you do!). I hope they’ll help you fall in love with it just a little more quickly.

Barton Springs

People relaxing at Barton Springs in Austin
Barton Springs is a pool/creek that everyone flocks to in the warm summer months. Fed by a natural cold-water spring in Zilker Park (see below), the city-run Barton Springs Pool features manicured lawns that are great for lounging on and relaxing with your friends. The wide pool gives you plenty of room to float around and cool off, as the temperature can hit 100 degrees in the summer. The pool costs $3 to get into (for residents, but they never ask for proof), and while there’s lots of space around it, I often prefer to lounge on the creek itself. While the banks are rockier and there are fewer places to lounge, it’s free, it’s the same water, and you can drink and eat along it (something that is prohibited in the pool).

Zilker Park

Gardens in Zilker Park in Austin
Zilker Park is in the heart of South Austin and offers many different types of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, kayaking, jogging, and anything else you can do in a park. Barton Springs (see above) is here, and there’s a botanical garden and the ever-awesome outdoor Umlauf Sculpture Garden, centered on the artistic works of Charles Umlauf.

The Greenbelt

A trail on the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin
Located in south-central Austin, the Barton Creek Greenbelt contains 12 miles of gorgeous trails where you can bike, run, or walk. There are even beautiful limestone bluffs for rock climbing and,—when there’s enough water in the creek — several swimming holes to cool off in. If you are looking to get out and enjoy the nice weather, this is one of the best places to do it. It’s a favorite of everyone in the city and one of the best things about Austin!

Two-stepping

Performers playing at The White Horse in Austin
When in Rome…err, Austin, two-step! Country dancing is all over the city, with the White Horse being the most famous spot (if you go on Wednesday, they give free two-step lessons). The Broken Spoke is another popular place too.

Movie at the Alamo Drafthouse

The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX
The Alamo Drafthouse is a local institution with multiple locations, where you can watch a movie, drink beer, and order food. Besides showing mainstream movies, they also screen quirky movies and weird previews, host the local Rocky Horror event, and play many classic and cult films throughout the month. This place is more than just a theater, it’s a place for those who love and appreciate film.

LBJ Library

Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin
Lyndon B. Johnson was one of the most powerful US presidents of the 20th century. A complex man, he helped push forward the Great Society, expanding civil rights and the social safety net, while at the same time expanding the war in Vietnam. His presidential library is in Austin, and while it’s not a “hot” thing to do, I highly recommend a visit to learn about one of the most colorful and controversial presidents the country has ever seen.

Rainey Street

Rainey Street in Austin, TX
This nightlife area is filled with old houses that have been converted into bars. Originally the “hipster” part of the city, it’s now mainstream and teems with people on the weekend. Personally, I hate coming here on the weekends: it’s too crowded and there are too many bachelor/ette parties. I find the scene a little too wild for me (though you may not). Instead, my favorite time to visit is for after-work drinks, when there is just the right amount of people to feel busy and exciting but not overwhelming. From Banger’s for Sunday brunch to Clive Bar, Half Step, and Bungalow for drinks, and Craft Bar for craft beer, Rainey is an eclectic and fun place to hang out — as long as you avoid the weekends.

First Thursday

People celebrating at an event in Austin, Texas
One the first Thursday of every month, the South Congress Hotel hosts a huge event with musicians and an all-night happy hour. It’s one of the biggest nights of the month for young professionals and a wonderful a place to have fun, meet new people (Austinites are very friendly), and drink cheap. You don’t want to miss this if you’re in town. It’s one of my favorite monthly social activities.

Drink a cocktail

Drink a cocktail in Austin, TX
While beer and cheap drinks are still king here, there is a growing cocktail bar scene in the city. I’d personally rather drink a cocktail than be at a noisy bar. If you’re looking for the perfect cocktail, try Firehouse Lounge, Floppy Disk Repair Shop, Midnight Cowboy, Garage, Whistler’s (see above), and Weather Up (but only for happy hour, as their drinks are slightly overpriced).

Whistler’s

Lots of whiskeys
This bar on the east side of the city is one of the coolest in town, and when I’m in Austin, you’ll probably find me here (it’s also pretty close to my hostel). You’ll also find a robust whiskey selection, knowledgeable bartenders, a cool crowd, and a giant outdoor patio space. On the weekends, an upstairs mescal bar opens. Whistler’s also hosts one of the most famous food trucks in Austin, Thai Khun, which serves some of the city’s best Thai food (the khao man gai (chicken with rice) is spot on). This is a must-visit bar!

Music

A crowd enjoying music at Stubb's in Austin, TX
Austin’s music scene is world-renowned, and there’s always some live music going on or a big musician in town. You’ll find a lot of music on Sixth Street and in the downtown area. Most of the bars host musicians. Stubb’s is a world-famous music venue downtown and hosts a lot of big-name musicians in its outdoor venue. Try to see a show there if you can!

Eating

Delicious Austin, TX BBQ
Austin’s food scene is damn good (though it needs a few more ethnic places). From BBQ to American to organic to Mexican, you can’t go wrong here. Here are my some of my favorite spots (longer list can be found here) that will help you put on 10 lbs. before you leave:

  • Bar Chi (206 Colorado St., (512) 382-5557, www.barchiaustin.com) – Decent sushi but an unbelievably affordable happy hour (5-7pm each day). My friends and I come here because it satisfies the sushi craving on the cheap!
  • Wu Cho (500 W. 5th St. #168, (512) 476-2469, wuchowaustin.com) – This is one of the best Chinese restaurants in Austin. It serves a very popular dim sum brunch on Sundays. Be sure to come early as it gets packed during dinnertime and Sunday brunch, and the wait for a table can be up to an hour.
  • Launderette (2115 Holly St., (512) 382-1599, launderetteaustin.com) – Located in an old laundromat, this restaurant is one of the hottest spots in town and serves an amazing menu of Americana and seafood, as well as a decent selection of wine. Some of my favorite dishes include crab toast, burrata, okra, Brussels sprouts, and grilled octopus. If you’re coming for dinner, come early, as it fills up fast.
  • Truluck’s (400 Colorado St., (512) 482-9000, trulucks.com) – This is my favorite steak restaurant because it’s one of the few places where you can also get fresh seafood (crab, oysters, lobster). It’s not cheap, but if you want an upscale steak house, try this.
  • Péché (208 W. 4th St., (512) 494-4011, www.pecheaustin.com) – A New Orleans–inspired restaurant serving Bayou food, with a very friendly staff, tasty cocktails, and an extensive whiskey list.
  • La Barbecue (1906 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 605-9696, www.labarbecue.com) – BBQ is a matter of perspective. A lot of people say Franklin’s is the best, but La Barbecue is #1 to me. It opens at 11am. Expect two-hour waits during lunchtime, so get here early.
  • Veracruz (1704 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 981-1760, veracruztacos.com) – The best food truck in town (conveniently located across the street from my hostel). It makes wonderful breakfast tacos, and the migas was voted #1 in the country. There is never really a line, but service is slow.
  • Torchy’s (multiple locations, torchystacos.com/in/austin) – World famous (and another spot where the president ate), this taco restaurant has multiple locations around town. It lives up to all the hype! The food here is pretty spicy. I’m a big fan of the fried avocado and “trailer park” tacos. Every location is always packed, so expect a wait, especially on the weekends.
  • P. Terry’s (multiple locations, pterrys.com) – This is the best burger bar in town. It’s delicious and cheap (you can get a burger, fries, and a drink for $6 USD), with filling portions. This is one of my all-time favorite spots in Austin, and since it’s close to my house, I tend to eat here too often!
  • Leaf (115 W. 6th St., (512) 474-5323, leafsalad.com) – This new lunchtime salad place is incredible (also the line is long). Its gigantic salad bar has anything and everything you could ever want to put in a salad. It’s one of my favorite places for a healthy meal in Austin.
  • True Kitchen (222 West Ave. #HR100, (512) 777-2430, truefoodkitchen.com) – This new restaurant is incredibly popular with people after work. All its food is natural and organic. You’ll find healthy wraps, salad bowls, sandwiches, and fresh and flavorful seafood, as well as an incredible selection of wine and cocktails.
  • Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar (1400 S. Congress Ave., (512) 291-7300, www.perlasaustin.com)Some of the best seafood and oysters in town!
  • Home Slice Pizza (1415 S Congress Ave., (512) 444-7437, www.homeslicepizza.com) Hands down the best pizza around!
  • Clark’s Oyster Bar (1200 W. 6th St., (512) 297-2525, www.clarksoysterbar.com) – Another awesome spot for seafood, with an incredible oyster happy hour from 3 to 7!

Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market in Austin, TX
Why visit Whole Foods? I mean, they have those everywhere, right? Well, this one is special. This is the original store — and it’s massive. Its salad bar goes on seemingly forever, there are very good restaurants in the store, the rooftop features patio seating, and musicians play on the weekends. It’s an amazing place that is also a popular spot for after-work drinks and Sunday brunches. Stop by at least once to get your fill (and enjoy the walk in beer fridge).

***
Austin is a perfect little city, offering visitors a plethora of activities to fill the 3-4 days most people spend here. It’s a city to live in. You don’t really sightsee here; you get active. You go out, hang out, and eat out. Skip most of the local museums, get outside, enjoy the food, the drinks, and the music, and get the most out of one of the best cities in the United States — and the place I call home!Source: http://www.nomadicmatt.com

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

An Inside Look At Living and Working in Saudi Arabia

An Inside Look At Living and Working in Saudi Arabia

Teacher in Saudi Arabia poses on sand dune

Saudi Arabia is a country of mystery: it’s not easy to visit as a tourist as tourist visas are rarely approved, non-Muslims can’t visit the holy sites like Mecca and Medina, and most workers live on special compounds. My friends who have lived there have told me that’s a weird life – you stay mostly on the work compounds, you can’t really travel many places, and it’s often suggested you don’t wander the streets alone, especially as a woman.

So when Ceil write me explaining that she was a Jamaican woman teaching English in Saudi Arabia, I was instantly curious! “What would that be like?!” I wondered. Saudi Arabia is a lucrative place to teach but what is life in the country actually like? Is it worth it? Ceil gives us insight:

NomadicMatt: Tell us about yourself.
Ceil Tulloch: My name’s Ceil Tulloch and I’m 44 years old. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in New York City. I’ve been teaching ESL/EFL abroad for the past 11 years – first, in the Far East and more recently in the Middle East. Currently, I’m teaching at a university in north-western Saudi Arabia and have been in the Kingdom for a total of two years. I’m a global adventurer who has traveled to 41 countries, a travel blogger and also the author of the nonfiction book, Remembering Peter Tosh (2013).

What is life like as a foreigner in the country? Sum it up as best as possible!
First, it’s conservative and provincial. This is the first country that I’ve resided in where the genders are segregated so severely and there are numerous restrictions on mobility. Since I’m accustomed to interacting and socializing with males, plus coming and going as I please, it was initially difficult coming to terms with the policy of not associating with men who aren’t relatives in public, the separate entrances to public establishments for males and females, or being denied total access to a facility due to my being female.

Second, it’s quiet and secluded. Due to there being no social venues (amusement parks, clubs, movie theaters, bars, public swimming pools, etc.) in the Kingdom, socializing is confined to the compound. So, unless somebody decides to throw a party, or extend a dinner invitation, life’s very quiet here.

Third, it’s diverse. The expat population is approximately 20% of the total Saudi population; therefore, foreigners have the chance to meet people from the four corners of the earth right here. That’s pretty special.

Interesting. How did you end up teaching there??
Quite by accident. Although my master’s degree is in Education and my BA in English Literature, I never wanted to teach. While working as an admin at a firm in Manhattan, I saw an ad for becoming TESOL certified and decided to contact the Director of the Institute. He spoke so enthusiastically about his personal experiences of teaching ESL for a decade in South America, I decided to enroll in the course. The instructor was excellent and after I’d completed the program, I decided to go to South Korea and teach there for two years. I had so much fun I ended up staying for seven years.

The opportunity then arose to teach in Saudi Arabia – and I was curious about life in the Middle East – so I accepted the contract. Afterward, I worked in the Sultanate of Oman for two years. Now, I’m been back in Saudi Arabia for one final contract.

ESL teacher in South Korea with her elementary school students
What kind of work do you do in the Kingdom?
Since relocating to the Middle East, I’ve been teaching students at the collegiate level in what’s called the Preparatory Year Program (PYP). The English language PYP is a prerequisite for students prior to them being able to study their major. Its aim is to provide students with the rudiments of the four English language skills that will enable them to express themselves in English at the Freshman level.

Is it easy to find work as a teacher in Saudi Arabia?  What is the process like?
Understandably, retention is problematic here, so there are many teaching opportunities available in the Kingdom throughout the year – especially for males. The minimum credential required for native teachers here is a Bachelor’s degree. The preferred disciplines are: English, TESOL, or Applied Linguistics. Additionally, two or three references are usually required. If a candidate wants to teach at a secondary or an International school, a teaching license from his/her home country is mandatory. Applicants for university positions almost invariably need a Master’s degree or higher in one of the aforementioned subjects, plus a CELTA or TESL certificate with over 100 hours. Naturally, having prior teaching experience in the region is advantageous. Currently, the age limit for teachers here is 60 years old. The Kingdom doesn’t accept online degrees either.

Upon arrival into the Kingdom, the employer will request a notarized and authenticated copy of your university degrees, two color photos, and your passport in order to apply for your resident permit/work visa which is known as the iqama. It took me two months to get my iqama, but can take several months. Once an expat has an iqama, s/he is now able to conduct business transactions such as banking, getting phone service and internet, and mailing packages at the post office.

Due to the recent economic crisis and drop in oil prices, it’s becoming more challenging to find plum teaching positions here. In the past, I could pick and choose from several offers, but this last time, I only received one and the package offered wasn’t as lucrative as it was four years ago. My friends at other universities across the Kingdom have also shared similar experiences. They’re being offered less attractive packages and if they want to renew their contracts, are being asked to take a cut in salary.

Why did you take the job in Saudi Arabia?
To be quite frank, I wanted to do some more traveling in the Middle East and Africa. Saudi Arabia is the perfect location for me to achieve my goals because I can also save the most money here.

As a woman, how do you feel working and living in Saudi Arabia? It must be quite a different experience.
It’s been quite challenging being an expat here. As you already know, females aren’t allowed to drive or cycle in the Kingdom and many places such as parks, gyms, and eateries are off-limits to us. Plus, once I’m outdoors, I must wear the abaya – which is rather encumbering. So, being a very independent and liberal person, it took me a while to adjust to the Saudi lifestyle.

In terms of teaching here, it’s a bit frustrating because education isn’t really valued and most students aren’t interested in learning. They basically come to school because their monarch gives them a monthly stipend (approx. $265 USD) to attend an institution of higher learning. Additionally, due to the culture, fun learning activities with music and film that can be implemented in the classrooms in places such as South Korea are prohibited here. So, the teaching experience for me hasn’t been as rewarding as it was in other places.

What advice do you have for people who want to live and work in Saudi Arabia?  Are there other jobs open to foreigners there – or is it mainly teaching positions?
I’d recommend that people who desire to come to the Kingdom do a bit of research on the culture to ensure that this is the right place for them. If they opt to come, they must remember that the only thing that matters here is Sharia law… To survive here, they’ll need to leave their Western moral sensibilities behind.

Other employment opportunities in the Kingdom are in the fields of Energy, Health, Construction and domestic work, but tend to be restricted by nationality. I’ve noticed that the male engineers at the oil companies such as Aramco are from the USA, the UK, and South Africa. The doctors and pharmacists are predominantly Egyptian, the nurses are females from the Philippines… The laborers/construction workers are primarily from India and Pakistan; while the housekeepers hail from Africa and Indonesia.

Woman teaching in Saudi Arabia at a camel farm wearing Middle Eastern clothes

How does one get a job teaching if you aren’t in Saudi Arabia?
The best way to job hunt here is by networking. If you don’t have any contacts, the next best option is to use websites such as Dave’s ESL Cafe and Serious Teachers. They were very helpful when I was job hunting. Going through a recruiter is also an option since many institutions here seem to be leaning more towards the third-party method instead of the traditional direct-hire method. Once you’ve been offered a contract, you’ll have to return to your homeland in order to start the application process that I mentioned earlier.

I tend to prefer schools that are well established as opposed to start-ups. If I’m unfamiliar with the universities that I’m interested in working at, I’ll do a Google search of teachers’ reviews of those institutions to learn their experiences and opinions. The three things that matter most to me when considering a university offer are:

  1. The length of contract – I prefer one instead of two-year contracts because if it isn’t working for me, having a commitment for more than a year will be very painful.
  2. The promptness in paying salary – There have been many horror stories of institutions here not paying teachers on time or in full. So, I want to ensure that isn’t an issue at the university I elect to work.
  3. The standard of accommodation –  I like to see photos of the compound / hotel where I’ll be residing. I’ve been lucky to have decent housing, but other teachers haven’t been as fortunate. Some live in decrepit spaces and have to share rooms.

Why do you think teaching is a good option for people looking to live abroad?
I believe that teaching overseas is an excellent way for people to immerse themselves in a new culture, plus hone their teaching and communication skills. Since there are numerous teaching positions around the globe, this is a wonderful employment opportunity for people who enjoy traveling and want to stay in a particular country for several months or years. Most teaching contracts offer generous vacation/leave days during the school year and summer break, which is ideal for teachers to indulge their wanderlust.

For someone looking to live and work in Saudi Arabia (in general, not specific to teaching), what are three pieces of advice you would give them?

  1. Bring as much Saudi currency (riyals) as possible with you to tide you over until you receive your first paycheck. Depending upon your arrival date and the employer’s policy regarding payment, an expat might have to wait a couple of months before receiving his/her first wages.
  2. Expats need to understand that contracts here aren’t as binding as they are back in the West. Sometimes benefits that are initially promised don’t materialize. For example, relocation allowances and bonuses.
  3. A positive attitude and sense of humor are essential for enjoying your experiences in Saudi Arabia.

If you want to read more about life in Saudi Arabia, check out Ceil’s travel blog.

Become the Next Success Story

One of my favorite parts about this job is hearing people’s travel stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way, but there are many ways to fund your trips and travel the world. I hope these stories show you that there is more than one way to travel and that it is within your grasp to reach your travel goals. Here are more examples of people who gave up living a typical life to explore the world:

We all come from different places, but we all have one thing in common: we all want to travel more.

Source: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/