Book review: surviving in the Orient

 

The title says it all: Teaching English in Asia: 39 Tips and Tricks for Surviving and Thriving in the Orient By Michael Hetherington. Written by the man with writing credits including “Chakra Balancing Made Simple and Easy” and “The Little Book of Yin”, this minimalist guide offers less on the formatting side and more on the frank advice you wish you’d heard before you make the jump to Asia.

It’s clear Michael is drawing from years of experience, though I sometimes wish he was clearer on which pieces of advice regarded which countries. I’ve never taught in China or Thailand, but references are often country-specific in paragraphs of general advice. The warnings about having big feet, for example, are entirely relevant in small-town Korea – though around Seoul there are fewer issues…

A list of pros for each country is more specific, and may help you make up your mind on which country (or countries) should make your short-list. There’s no sugar-coating here, but each of the 39 sections requires time and effort to implement the advice. Some are shorter than others (as short as a paragraph), and I wish there were more personal anecdotes. It’s optimistic, written by a knowledgeable author aware of what you’re in for, and best thought of as a collection of tips.

It’s a short, breezy read – experienced Asian expats would find themselves knowing most of the tips, while those in the ‘coming to Asia’ might be a bit disappointed in its brevity. For anyone coming to Asia looking for a few quick words on what to expect before they arrive, this’ll be what you’re looking for. For someone seeking a bit more meat (especially when it comes to Korea), check out Valerie and Griffin’s selection of e-books, including ‘Coming to Korea’ and ‘Living in Korea’.

Recommended, with reservations, for newbies.

Buy it on Amazon.

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About The Author

Chris Backe is an author, travel blogger, and entrepreneur. Beyond One Weird Globe, he's working on a book about unusual destinations in Thailand and running a self-publishing business. Chris lives in Thailand with his wife, Laura.