Guide to Work, Study, Travel and Living Abroad    

Focus on Latin America Volunteering, Travel, Study, Work, Teaching, and Living &
2013 Narrative Travel Writing Contest Winners

 Featured TAzine Articles
 Columns by Experts
Latin America & 2013 Narrative Travel Writing Contest Winners
Secret Lives of Nomads
The Secret Lives of Nomads by David Joshua Jennings
(1st Place Narrative Travel Writing Contest)
Nomads in Turkey

...The word “discover” first appeared in English in the 1300s. It comes from the Old French word descovrir, meaning to uncover, to unroof, to unveil, and, also, to betray. To maliciously expose, more or less; like ripping someone’s clothes off to expose their nakedness. “Discoverer” originally meant “informant.”

Then, beginning in the 1550s, its meaning shifted. To discover meant “to obtain knowledge or sight of what was not known.” To discover meant to make known. The discoverer was now the frontiersman, going forth with a lantern into darkness they thereby dispelled.

For the traveler, discovery takes on both meanings: to make known, but also to expose and, in some ways, to betray.” Read more

Inside the Monk’s Cave by Paul King
(2nd Place Narrative Travel Writing Contest Winner — tie)
Monk in Thailand
The monk has his living quarters in a small house at the foot of the cliff. He invites us inside, where he has prepared a wok full of steaming pad see iw noodles. He says nothing, but his smile lets us know the meal is for us. I thank him, and the boy and I help ourselves. After we finish, I wash the dishes and put them on the drying rack next to the sink. Then I turn and face the monk, who stands sweeping his small living area. He smiles again, and says something to the boy in rapid-fire southern Thai... Read more
The Motherland by Amanda Formoso
(2nd Place Narrative Travel Writing Contest Winner — tie)
...This time I have a better understanding of what this all means. I realize just how fragile life is. My life, this baby’s life, Sithembre’s life, every human being’s life. The most valuable thing we can ever do is take care of one another. I wrap the newborn in a brand new orange and brown chitenge cloth and hand him to Sithembre... Read more
An American Girl in El Salvador by Sarah Danielle
(3rd Place Narrative Travel Writing Contest Winner)
Children in El Salvador
El Salvador is the red-headed-step-child of the Americas. And given that Central America is itself not a prized member of the Americas' Family Tree, that says a lot about El Salvador. Its siblings — Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Nicaragua (well all right, Nicaragua probably gets the same bum rap as El Salvador), while not exactly exploding with an overload of visitors, enjoy a respectable and fairly stable tourism industry.”... Read more
Teach English in South America
The continent has long been attractive for English teachers eager for new experiences involving such activities as Samba music, mountain trekking, and other long, hot summer nightlife pleasures while earning a living teaching English to the locals. But unlike certain global areas with a much more rigorous application, interview, and hiring process that involve visas or housing appropriations, many countries in South America often utilize less a rigid system of employing teachers... Read more
Teaching English and Living in Brazil
There is a very high demand for English teachers in Brazil, and that demand will only increase in the foreseeable future. Demand is fueled by a number of factors: flourishing tourism, expanding international trade, a burgeoning oil and gas industry, and the looming World Cup and Olympic Games... Read more
Teaching English and Living in Brazil
Currently, I live in one of the most NGO-dense countries in the world: Guatemala. Here, there are NGOs that provide aid in education, build schools, houses and industries, work to save the environment, provide medical and nutritional assistance… something to fill just about every type of need. Of course, this does not completely solve those annoying money issues, but I have found a great way to do so... Read more
Volunteer Art Teacher
Productive short-term volunteering is not always as easy as showing up somewhere to dish out meals or teach classes, and it should not be. While there are many needs, responsible NGOs should have long-term employees taking up the daily tasks. Organizations strive to have most areas covered because, even if it may impede volunteer opportunities, that is a part of sustainability. If an NGO is doing what it should be doing, then provisional help should just be a bonus—to perform lingering tasks that can be completed as "grunt work"—not by being central to the organization... Read more
Teach English in Guatemala by Jonathon Engels
Earth Lodge Guatemala
Guatemala is better known as a cheap place to learn Spanish than a place to teach English, yet, as tourism increases, the inevitable need for English only grows. Additionally, many American companies outsource their service call centers to Guatemala, and Guatemalan students with any post-graduate ambitions, especially going to a US university, ultimately will need English. Thus, while the pay is humble by U.S. standards, an EFL teacher will have no problem finding work and living quite comfortably here... Read more
Volunteer in Mexico at Casita Linda
Casita Linda is a volunteer organization founded by expatriates providing essential new free homes for the poor, who also participate in work on the construction. Many families, who previously lived in shanties, have inherited their land through generations due to Mexican laws... Read more
Zocalo in Mexico City
The Visitor Visa is laminated card, and it comes with an official-looking letter. The letter explains which field you have permission to work in. As a teacher my field is education. This means you can have as many jobs as you want as long as they are in your field, and anywhere in the country, not only in the state where you applied... Read more
Find Teaching Job in Mexico City
Did you know that you could get a teaching job within just one week of arriving in Mexico City?

You can arrive in Mexico City with no experience, no idea of what to do, and nothing more than your personal items, and you will be employed within a week—provided you know how and where to look for good English teaching jobs. I arrived in Mexico City with a family of four. No idea of how or where to live. One week later, I had a steady job that lasted for 18 months and paid more than enough to cover my living expenses... Read more
Freelance teaching in Mexico
I got my teaching jobs here the old fashioned way—writing my resume in Spanish and hitting the streets. I never received an answered email or returned phone call. Maybe it is a cultural thing. I put on a suit (Mexicans are very formal) and visited every school in town... Read more
Teaching in Chiapas, Mexico
...I am an English teacher in Chiapas, Mexico. Most of these children have never seen a 5’5” pale-skinned white woman with freckles, red hair and blue eyes—except on television— and they seem to be mesmerized, if not slightly frightened, by the sighting. At the end of day one, they line up to kiss me on the cheek before saying goodbye. One little girl with the bouncy curly brown hair whispers in my ear “you have beautiful eyes,” before she scurries out the door to join her friends... Read more
The Rebel Saint
...This brings us to San Simon, or Maximon—the same guy with two names. San Simon is the unrecognized Spanish saint, and Maximon is the Mayan shaman. He is the primary saint in Guatemala and you can see effigies to him everywhere, some in special shrines which change houses every year, and some in less likely places like bars or worse. He always looks somewhat the same—with a mustache, cowboy hat, cigarette hanging from his mouth, and surrounded by any number of colorful and odd decorations... Read more
Camping in Columbia
Colombians are incredibly generous and open people and incredibly sensitive to being away from one’s family and friends. I am constantly invited to spend time with friends and their families and checked up on throughout the week. Sunday afternoons are family days; I appreciate the importance they put on spending lots of quality time together.

The pain and loneliness I sometimes feel are opportunities, making me reach out to neighbors and develop projects on my own. I am able to write, travel, teach and meet people in ways that I wouldn't be able to in other places. The herbs and plants on the farm are teaching me about the beauty of taking root in a place, letting some of the dead leaves fall and continuing to grow, looking for sun... Read more
Buenos Aires on a Budget by Suchi Rudra
Buenos Aires Street Scene
Argentina, home to Buenos Aires, the "Paris of South America," was once thought to be a paradise for foreigners who were seeking out an inexpensive and relaxing way of life in an ever-sunny climate. The relaxed locals and the nonstop sun remain, but as for the country being inexpensive—that is a now a different story... Read more
Guyana School
I forget what first attracted me to Guyana, but the more I learned about the little South American gem, the more I became obsessed with a desire to work there as a short-term volunteer. Finding a project, though, turned out to be a challenge. The very few facilities I found that welcomed volunteers required stays for a full year. Finally, after following up on many contacts and sending out dozens of emails—mostly unanswered—I discovered the Rupununi Learners in Yupukari... Read more
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Rounding a corner on a wooded headland, I was immediately engulfed by the overwhelming solitude so characteristic of Lake Titicaca. The thin air was still, the surface of the great lake unruffled. Not a sound interrupted the silence. The intensely blue, icy lake, surrounded by glorious vistas rimmed by snow-crowned peaks, is sacred to many cultures, and was the cradle of Andean civilization. According to legend, the first Incas Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo rose from its mysterious depths to begin their ministry to bring civilization to a chaotic world... Read more
Relaxing at the top of Machu Picchu
The morning of November 14th was the most exciting morning of my life. We woke up at the crack of dawn to the coldness of Cusco, piled into a bus, and a few hours later we stood at the starting point of the Inca trail. It was surreal, primordial, and romantic hiking this ancient path to be rewarded by the discovery of the remains of an impossible civilization... Read more
With Llama in Ecuador
Before I really looked in to traveling to Ecuador, I had always thought that studying abroad would not be a possibility for me due to a lack of finances. However, once I inquired about the options associated with my institution, I found out that studying abroad would actually be cheaper than staying in the United States for the same period of time due to the scholarship money I was able to apply for... Read more
TAzine Editorial
TAzine returns full-force with another packed issue full of information about options for those who wish to make informed decisions about teaching, volunteering, traveling, and living abroad. We have chosen to explore Latin America in this issue, as there are such a myriad of teaching/volunteering/traveling options available in countries from Mexico to Argentina. Each country offers its own unique character and challenges, and some, such as Brazil, are becoming huge economic players on the world stage with the Olympics and World Cup in their future.

Most importantly to us, cultural immersion and language immersion options are available and welcomed everywhere, and we urge all travelers to follow the "golden rule" when traveling in accordance with our editorial since 1977. Please try to ensure that your money remains in the local community and respect those who are hosting you in their "home" country.

We lead in with a salute to the very talented winners of the 2013 Narrative Travel Writing Contest, which includes a sardonic yet serious essay on El Salvador.

TAzine is a monthly Webzine which continues the 30-year tradition started by Transitions Abroad magazine. TAzine features many of the same columnists who wrote for the magazine, a growing group of new columnists, while featuring talented freelance writers who wish to share their experiences and expertise within the context of our trailblazing coverage of work, study, travel, and living abroad.

Founded in 1977 by Dr. Clayton Allen Hubbs, Transitions Abroad magazine was the only print publication dedicated to work, study, living, volunteering, and immersion travel abroad. Its purpose—in print and now as a Webzine—is the dissemination of practical information leading to a greater understanding of other cultures through direct participation in the daily life of the host community. will be expanding upon the material covered in each monthly edition. We will be working on developing each issue with a specific focus—be it regional or thematic—and are always seeking contributions from professional and freelance writers alike.

Budget Travel in South America
Resourceful Travel Columnist Tim Leffel
Tim Leffel
South America has a lot to offer budget travelers, but it takes some planning and prioritizing to keep from breaking the bank. Just as Mexico’s costs are far lower than in the neighboring U.S. and Hungary’s are far lower than those in Austria, regional differences in South America can be dramatic. Urban Brazil, Chile, the Galapagos, and celebrity-filled beach areas of Uruguay can be surprisingly expensive. On the other hand, stretches of Peru, Bolivia, and mainland Ecuador are some of the least expensive places on the planet for backpackers... Read More
Budget Travel in Mexico and Central America
Resourceful Travel Columnist Tim Leffel
Tim Leffel
Mexico and the countries of Central America attract plenty of budget travelers, and for good reasons. The coastal resort areas of Mexico cater to tourists on a short vacation—and are priced to match—but the rest of the vast country offers plenty of value and a good infrastructure. Costa Rica and Belize have gotten expensive for the same reason as parts of Mexico, but there are plenty of other options for those on a budget. In their own ways, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala offer some of the world’s best bargains... Read More
Lies Ouwerkerk
Imagine waking up to the first rays of sunshine casting their spell on smoke puffing volcanoes and a lush valley just in front of you. And then realizing where you actually are: in a comfortable, rustic king size bed inside a secluded, window-walled tree house, with a hammock waiting for you on a private deck, your own bathroom with a hot shower just down the stairs, and a message pinned on the wall: "Welcome! This tree house is built into the oak tree. If the wind is strong, it will sway a little bit…" Read More
Traditional Guatemalan Cooking in Antigua
Senior Contributing Editor Lies Ouwerkerk
Lies Ouwerkerk
When I lift the doorknocker of Restaurante La Peña de Sol Latino at 8:55 AM sharp, eager to take their Saturday morning cooking class, a cleaning lady answers the door with a surprised "it only starts at 9:00 am!" Nevertheless, she invites me in and offers a delicious Guatemalan cafecito while I await the teacher who is yet to arrive. Welcome to the Latin American pace! Read More
Working Abroad in Brazil: The Guide
Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
Volker Poelzl
An extensive guide by a former expat in Brazil that explores
  1. What Makes Brazil So Attractive?
  2. Employment Opportunities in Brazil
  3. How to Prepare for a Job in Brazil
  4. The Red Tape
. Read more
Retirement in Latin America
Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
Volker Poelzl
Retiring Abroad to an exotic location with a pleasant climate and friendly locals is a dream for many soon-to-be retirees. But to make this happen requires loads of commitment, research, tenacity, and patience. To help you with your research of suitable retirement destinations, I have compiled a list of attractive countries around the world that might be suitable for retirees from North America, in terms of climate, quality of life, affordability, and safety... Read more
John Clites
Editor's Note: This is John Clites' introductory column as our TEFL Abroad Columnist, where he will approach in practical ways issues relating to teaching English abroad. John has spent many years of his life traveling abroad, visiting 25 countries at last count. John has a particular penchant for travel off the beaten path and for mixing with the locals. Through the years he has sponsored numerous children abroad through, in Bolivia, India, Ecuador, and currently in Peru and Brazil. He has lived and taught English in Brazil since 2008, and has written a book on teaching English in Brazil... Read More
Ecuador's Volunteer Opportunities for "Grown Ups"
Senior Travel Editor Alison Gardner
Alison Gardner
It is not hard to identify volunteer needs in many developing countries like Ecuador. ...I was fortunate to discover Quito-based LEAD Adventures... While the majority of their clients are still young people, they are measuring a rapidly growing clientele among adult travelers as well... Read More
The Networking Guide for International Employment
Volunteering Abroad Contributing Editor Zahara Heckscher
Zahara Heckscher
This guide is targeted to people who seek their first international job. Most of the examples will be taken from the nonprofit, journalism, and educational sectors, although the principles apply to business and government as well. The tips can be used to find short-term or long-term assignments, and will be helpful for recent college graduates, mid-career professionals, and retired people eager for new adventures. We’ll cover virtual networking as well as in person strategies. Happy networking! Read More...
In March 2012, IES Abroad surveyed 1,008 study abroad alumni to “assess the impact study abroad has on a recent graduate’s prospects in securing employment and/or attending graduate school directly after earning a degree from a four-year college or university in the U.S.” Elaborating on an earlier IES Abroad survey investigating the benefits of study abroad and published by Transitions Abroad, the key findings of the 2012 study showed... Read more
Nora Dunn
...Retrospect is a brilliant thing for travel. It is often in the aftermath of an experience that we can see the romance—or sometimes tragicomedy—of it all, and appreciate it for what it was. There’s usually a silver lining, even if it's simply a great story to share... Read more
Matt Gibson
The talk in (travel) marketing and web publishing circles continues to rise to a crescendo regarding the importance of social media of all types, using ever-evolving and invented software to manage the marketing process. A viral picture, video, blog post, tweet, or traditional article can expose a website to thousands—or even millions—of new visitors. Users sharing content on social networks generate all of that exposure. Sharing is also a common way for people to discover new websites... Read more
Book Review
Travel Writing 2.0
Earning Money from your Travels in the New Media Landscape
by Tim Leffel
Reviewed by Gregory Hubbs
Award-winning and prolific travel writer Tim Leffel's highly informative "Travel Writing 2.0" book/ebook reaches us at a time when travel writers find themselves confronted with far-reaching changes in the media landscape, with no end in sight. The full-throttle acceleration towards electronic media and away from the printed word has not only largely changed the way written text is created, but also how travel content is published, marketed, and "consumed" by an ever-growing global readership. Tim Leffel’s book focuses like a laser on these recent changes in travel media. With great insight and experience, he presents a very engaging, conversational, analysis of today’s travel writing market... Read more
Become a Published Travel Writer by Martin Li
Reviewed by Volker Poelzl
There are plethora of books that teach you about the business aspects of travel writing, how to do taxes, take decent photos, go on press trips, get article assignments, etc., but Li's ebook tackles the essentials and focuses on the first skill any travel writer has to master—that of good writing. Li gets to the point from page one and demonstrates to readers the general principles and styles of travel writing that are most commonly used in publishing... Read more
Current Issue and Focus
2013 Narrative Travel Writing Contest Winners and Latin America Volunteering, Travel, Study, and Work and Living
Previous Issue and Focus
Narrative Travel Writing Contest Winners and Latin America Volunteering, Travel, Study, and Work and Living
Magazine Cover for Latin America 2013
Magazine Cover for Latin America 2013
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