#14: Teaching Abroad?

It should come as little surprise that foreign teacher’s rights are often abused and their responsibilities exploited. People go on midnight runs from horrible situations, never to return to the country in fear of prosecution. This is not a tale of such terrible circumstances, but rather how to avoid them. If you’re thinking of teaching abroad, these are some things you should consider.

Work Permit

The first words anyone hoping to teach abroad will read. Everyone starts off by reading into the legal processes – that’s good, at least then you know how it’s supposed to be, what your responsibilities are.

Soon after you start looking for a job or start working you will hear horror stories about teachers hiding in closets as government inspectors come through, abusive teachers, and more.

Do your research into the schools to which you’re applying to find out if they’re on anyone’s blacklist and, if so, why. If you’re coming to Taiwan, Forumosa is your new best friend. Otherwise there are plenty of Facebook groups out there should you need advice (just search “foreigners in [country]” and you should be good to go).

No Rest for the Travelled

Time off is scarce. It is typical to have no more than a week or so of national holidays and only five days personal leave. This isn’t worst case scenario, it’s just how it often is here. Combine that with working the occasional weekend and it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed and overworked.

Make sure you use your time off wisely. I’ve spent too many evenings and weekends just relaxing at home, rather than adding diversity to my life. But whenever I’ve pushed myself to go out and explore – no matter how much a solid recharge seemed to be in order – it has always been worth it.

Hourly or Salary?

This is a question that constantly comes up among foreign workers. While certainly not unique to Taiwan, these problems are often able to grow larger due to government oversights and loosely enforced policies.

Work hourly and you’ll find yourself able to have more time to yourself, but you’ll also find yourself doing the occasional unpaid overtime and lots of paperwork that cuts into your free time.

Work salary and you’ll find yourself with lower pay and more hours, but with a more easily accessible support system in place should you need any help with classes (which can be absolutely critical when you’re starting out).


Chances are you’re not going to find the perfect job for you on your first try. Whether you’ve got the job before arriving or plan to find one once you get here, you’re bound to run into things that you love and things that you hate.

The best advice I can give here is to stay strong and keep talking to other teachers, both at your workplace and elsewhere. It helps form a frame of reference for what is normal and is the best source of information for making hard decisions.

Feature image by pexels

Wisdom Teeth Removal Food Guide


As a foodie, getting my wisdom teeth out was especially awful.

Everyone’s experience is a bit different with wisdom teeth removal, but for the most part you’re stuck eating mushy or liquid foods for at least a couple days (or in my case upwards of a week).

You can probably imagine how boring that gets.

If you have gotten them removed, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, it’s your lucky day, I’m going to talk about surviving post-surgery (food wise anyway… The pain meds should do the rest).

Mushy Foods


This is the most common and perhaps the most important tip you will get when it comes to staying fed.

Applesauce, pudding and ice cream will become your best friends.

If you hate mushy foods, well, that makes things difficult. But don’t worry, there are other options!

Liquid Foods


Soups and smoothies.

If you go with this option then make sure you either have a lot of variety or REALLY like the soup/smoothie you choose to spend your 2-7 days drinking otherwise you’ll get bored real fast.

Best to go with something that is very smooth with limited chunks/bits, such as cream of mushroom.



One of the biggest challenges I faced within the first few days was getting sufficient nutrition. I don’t mean you should count every calorie and be overly meticulous here. What you do want to do is avoid eating less than 400 calories a day as I did.

With foods like applesauce, pudding smoothies and soup it is surprisingly easy to under eat, meanwhile having the pain meds and pain itself masking how hungry you really are.

Furthermore, it is not healthy for the healing process to undereat.

Fruit Juices


A good way to get the calories you need is through fruit juices – such as orange juice – that are high in sugar (yes, not particularly good for you so try not to overdo it).

I would recommend drinking this alongside a few meals if you find yourself under eating. Not to mention they taste pretty good, so you’ve got that going for you too.

After Initial Recovery


Once you’re feeling up to it, a good way to ease back into solid foods (and out of the incredibly boring ones you’ve been living with) is by eating fish.

Baked salmon was the first non-mushy food I enjoyed after getting my wisdom teeth out. It was glorious!

Since you still won’t be able to open your mouth fully for at least another few days, having a food that you can just slot into your mouth and barely chew makes things much easier.

Beyond this stage it’s just a matter of slowly trying out tougher foods until you’re back to your normal self, minus some holes in your gums.

Best of luck with your wisdom teeth removal experience!


Ellis Koifman

Images courtesy of Pexels (6)

Slow Cooker Roast Beef


Making food during exam time is probably the last thing on your mind, but if you’re looking for something easy and tasty to last a few days, you should strongly consider making slow cooker roast beef.

Students turn to ordering in pizza, going for late night runs to the nearest fast food joint and making frozen meals; that’s fine, if you want to do that by all means go ahead. But if you have a slow cooker and like beef, this recipe is a must try.


Portions: ~8, Cost/Portion: ~$2

Prep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 8 hours +


~4tbsp ground Thyme
~2tbsp dried oregano leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
~2tsp salt
1 tomato, chopped
3 shallots, sliced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted beef stock
Beef roast (boneless blade)


1) Combine thyme, oregano, garlic and salt in a bowl to make seasoning
2) Take out beef roast and rub seasoning onto it, let sit for 15-20 minutes, add to slow cooker
3) Add chopped veggies and beef broth to slow cooker
4) Set slow cooker to low for 8-10 hours (depending on how tender you want it)
5) Remove roast beef and pull apart to serve, top with veggies

Grab Sushi Safely


Not many people are aware of what exactly makes a sushi restaurant trustworthy. This is pretty scary considering you’re eating raw fish – a lot can go wrong. I’ll spare you the details, but let me just say food poisoning is only the tip of the iceberg. Here’s some tips to help you stay informed about quality when it comes to sushi places:

Chef’s Experience

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A lot of health risks are associated with bad fish. If it doesn’t smell right, if the cut isn’t good, if the supplier isn’t reliable, if it’s strangely cheap, if the quality isn’t checked upon arrival, you can be put at a serious health risk. These are all things that an inexperienced chef can easily mess up. So if they don’t look like they know what they’re doing, it’s probably a good idea to walk out.

Proximity of Wholesalers

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Many sushi places in London get their fish from Toronto – this is considerably less fresh than getting it that morning from the market. When it comes to sushi, it’s almost all about freshness, every second counts. This is why a lot of small towns won’t have sushi places – they simply cannot get fresh enough fish for it to taste good.

Proximity to Body of Water

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This ties into the previous point and is also useful for getting live fish, a step up from the already fresh market. If you were in a desert town and they said “fresh atlantic salmon” on their door, would you trust them? You shouldn’t. Where the hell is that fish coming from? I can guarantee it’s anything but “fresh”. The fact of the matter is, if you’re far from any body of water, you’re not going to have have high quality fish.


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Going for sushi during the week is ideal because chances are the restaurant isn’t getting another delivery of fresh fish until Monday morning. Unless it’s an upscale place that gets special delivery, on the weekend they’re likely to be using leftovers from Friday night. That means Saturday isn’t very fresh and Sunday… Just don’t. Monday you’re probably fine unless it’s a less-than-trustworthy place still trying to unload the last of Friday’s shipment through some Monday lunch special. (I highly suggest reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, as he goes into a lot more detail about this sort of thing).



Don’t get sushi from somewhere that looks sketchy. If they can’t keep their workspace relatively clean or handle it with care how much do you want to bet they don’t treat their food with much care either. Of course this isn’t always the case with restaurants – there are some really crappy looking restaurants out there with spectacular food – but when it comes to raw fish, it’s best to play it on the safe side.

Images: GIPHY (6)

6 Reasons to Invest in a Slow Cooker


Come Home to a Nice Hot Meal

After a long day at work or on campus you likely want to just get into comfy clothes and relax a bit. But then there’s the problem of dinner. Do you cook? Do you order in? Do you scrape together leftovers? It’s always a hassle to decide and put in the effort. With a slow cooker, you can just come home, take out the food and eat it while doing whatever.

Easy and Quick to Prepare

Chopping up ingredients the night before

Slow cookers don’t just displace the work that goes into meal-prep, they greatly reduce it. If, like me, you aren’t much of a morning person, you can use spare time (10-20 minutes) the night before to get everything ready so the next day all you do is throw in the ingredients and turn it on.

Wide Range of Recipes

Slow cooker cake
Apple spice cake made in a slow cooker

Meals you can make in a slow cooker aren’t limited to just stews, soups and roasts. You’d be surprised at the amount of things you can make! Examples include paella, apple spice cake, shepherd’s pie and beer-braised corned beef. You can find a ton of slow cooker specific cookbooks at the book store. I am currently using Canadian Living’s New Slow Cooker Favourites.

Large Meals

When you make a recipe with your slow cooker you aren’t cooking for just one meal or one day; slow cooker recipes typically make 4 to 10 servings. This leaves you with plenty of leftovers and takes even more time away from cooking during your busy week.

Hands-Free Cooking

Slow cooker ready to go

With the food being being prepared by the slow cooker, you’re free to do whatever you wish while it’s cooking, without worrying about it burning. Need to go out of the house to run some errands? No problem. Want to study at the library all day? Go ahead. Planning on taking the day to relax? Let the food take care of itself.

They Are Inexpensive

Unlike some helpful kitchen appliances that are super expensive, a slow cooker can be bought for around $30-60 (unless you get a big advanced one for $100+). Walmart is a great place to get one, offering a large variety of slow cookers for cheap; I got the Crock Pot 4Qt Slow Cooker for just under $30.

Buying Guide

Things can quickly get confusing when you go to buy a slow cooker, so here are a few tips to help you decide which one is best for you.

Programming: Best to get one you can set a timer for (either custom, or set) amounts of time and that automatically switches to a warm setting.

Programming with set amounts of time

Size: 4qt is a good size for one person. Anything bigger is great for entertaining.

Shape: Oval is better for roasts. Round is better for soups and stews.

Insert: Look out for one that’s dishwasher safe, it’ll make your life that much easier.

Handles: Heatproof is best, otherwise make sure you’d be able to hold them with oven mitts on.



Ellis Koifman


Almost any (if not every) grocery store sells potatoes in large bags for a rather small price, which can be a huge help to your student grocery budget.

The other night I went to Loblaws at 10:30PM and on somewhat of a whim bought 10lbs of white potatoes for $5.

You might think this is insane for one person, or normal, or just a really boring thing to buy. To an extent you’re right. My actions were largely driven by excessive studying all about the potato in my “Food in World History” course, which put me in a weird zombie state that we all experience during midterms (except zombie me likes potatoes… a lot).

On that note, here are a couple of recipes that you can use potatoes for:

Mashed Potatoes:
1) Bring pot of water to a boil, while you’re waiting,
2) Peel 3 to 4 white potatoes
3) Quarter the potatoes and add them to the boiling water
4) Let cook for 15 minutes
5) Drain water, add a cup of milk and 3 tbsp of butter
6) Mash the potatoes and milk with a potato masher until smooth
7) Season with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream

Baked Potatoes:
1) Set the oven to 425F and line a baking pan with foil
2) Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork
3) Rub some olive oil on the potatoes then sprinkle them with salt and pepper
4) Put the potatoes in the oven for 45-60mins, or until tender, turning them halfway
5) Let them cool then serve with sour cream



Covent Garden Market Must Trys

Field Gate Organics

While most groceries stores in London will give you a standard cut of meat, this deli offers good quality organic beef, and trust me, you notice the difference. For $10 you can get a portion of organic striploin steak.

I seasoned mine with salt and pepper, coated it with a bit of olive oil, then cooked it on a cast iron pan on high, 3 minutes on each side, and rubbed it with butter and garlic as it was cooking. It came out amazing.

The Chocolate Factory

For $4 you can get a good-sized slice of amazing fudge from this chocolate shop. They have several flavours to choose from including Rocky Road, Skor, and Vanilla. My personal favourite is Heavenly Goo- a mix between chocolate and vanilla fudge, with caramel in the middle.

Pétit Paris

This is the only place I know of in London where you can get good quality French Macarons. They’re sold for $2.25 a piece, or $12 for 6. There are always several different  flavours which change daily, such as Black Currant, Key Lime, Birthday Cake, and Raspberry.


To be totally honest I’ve only ever had the Chicken Melt (Panini) here, but for that item alone this place needs to be on this list. On several occasions I have come all the way downtown just to have it for lunch. It has chicken, havarti cheese, bacon, green onion, and garlic aioli.