As we get to know you through the application process to study abroad, it’s only fair that you know a bit about us too! Read on to learn more about the programs team behind all the emails and phone calls and our in-country staff who you will get to know during your time in Singapore. And, of course, feel free to contact us anytime if you have questions!
Meet Team Singapore
Brynne’s first experience overseas was when she studied abroad with TEAN in Thailand. Captivated by experiencing a different way of life, she decided to go back and spend the year after graduation teaching English in a rural Northern Thai town. After the experience of a lifetime, she became hooked on the love of travel and international education and landed her dream job working for TEAN HQ in Chicago.
Where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with TEAN. I wanted to go as far away as I could and experience something totally different than what I had grown up with. I had always been drawn to Asia, and after some research I decided that Thailand was the perfect place for me. I also lived in Lampang, Thailand upon graduating and I’ve traveled to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia.
What inspired you to teach abroad?
I came back from my semester abroad feeling like my time in Thailand wasn’t finished. I knew I wanted to go back to Thailand after I graduated and the more I spoke to people who had taught English abroad the more I knew it was a good fit for me. I wanted to challenge myself and have an even more culturally immersive experience the second go around, and I also wanted to give something back to a country I fell in love with while studying abroad since it had given so much to me.
What makes Thailand a great place to study abroad?
Thailand is great because it forces students to step out of their comfort zone and learn more about the world and themselves as individuals. Not only are you experiencing a new culture, but you’re learning a new language, alphabet, cuisine, social norms, interactions, ways of life, etc. It seriously puts things into perspective. Thai people are some of the kindest and welcoming people you will ever meet – hands down. They make the experience so special and you can learn so much from them. Living in Thailand teaches you to slow down and enjoy what’s happening in the now and be thankful for what you have and who’s around you.
What should be on every student’s bucket list for a study abroad semester in Thailand?
A hike up to Wat Palad. This temple is on the way to the more famous Wat Doi Suthep, which sits on top of a mountain, but Wat Palad is tucked away in the forest surrounded by trees and a rushing waterfall during the rainy season. Students can hike up to the temple from their housing or hire a songteow to take them up the mountain. It is one of my favorite places in the world because of how quiet and serene it is. To me, it captures the essence of what Buddhism is all about. You can sit on the rocks and dip your toes in the waterfall while looking out at the spectacular view of the city that peeks out between the trees.
What is your favorite travel quote?
It’s not necessarily a travel quote, but one of my favorite Thai expressions I learned was “mai long, mai rue” which means “If you never try, you never know”. It inspired me to just say yes to everything and go for things even if I didn’t know what the outcome would be.
Kate studied abroad with The Education Abroad Network at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia where her passion for international education and travel was ignited. Her study abroad experience impacted her so much that upon her return stateside, she became a TEAN Student Ambassador at The University of Iowa while completing her degree in Communication Studies. After graduation, she returned to Melbourne for a year where she worked for a university on the Marketing and Student Recruitment team. Kate has since lived in New Zealand for a year, and is currently TEAN’s New Zealand and Fiji Programs Manager and team lead.
Tell us a little about what you do at TEAN?
I currently work on our New Zealand and Thailand programs. My role as team lead and Program Manager is to make sure everything on these programs is running smoothly working with our team. It includes everything from making sure students have pre-departure information on time to making sure they submit all of the items they need to study abroad (i.e. transcripts, courses, contracts, arrival details, payments, visa confirmations).
Where did you study abroad?
I studied with TEAN in Melbourne, Australia at Deakin University. It’s a more traditional campus, just outside the city but being able to live in the city and commute gave me the best of both worlds. Honestly, Melbourne has something for everyone – think sporting events, art, music, theatre, comedy, laneway cafes/restaurants/bars, shopping, the list goes on. Melbourne is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, so why wouldn’t you choose to study there? If you’re looking for a Melbourne equivalent in New Zealand, check out Wellington known as the coolest little capital in the world. It’s a smaller city, but that makes it an easy city to get around by foot. It’s a very accessible city for study abroad students.
What brought you back to Melbourne to live and work after graduation?
When I graduated, I knew I wanted to return to Australia. My time studying abroad had given me that exposure to living abroad and I wanted to spend more time there as a professional. For my career, It was great to gain work experience at a university abroad. I’m so glad I went down this path or I might not have ended up at TEAN today!
Packing for study abroad is always a challenge and popular topic, as a frequent flyer – what insider tips do you have for someone packing for the semester?
I’ve become pretty good at packing light over the years since there have been so many times earlier on where I’ve overpacked. I took half of my closet and never touched the majority of it. You will hear the advice – pack everything you think you’ll need then take half of it – and it’s so true. My other advice is to pack articles of clothing you can mix and match to create different outfits to help reduce items. Also try to keep the shoe situation under control, they take up a lot of room. Bring a couple pairs that are super versatile (and comfortable).
If you were going to study abroad tomorrow on a TEAN program where would you go?
I’m biased, but I would study on one of our New Zealand programs. Since working with our TEAN New Zealand students, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand several times and have visited all program locations. I also recently lived in New Zealand for a year based out of Auckland. I love the idea of going for a semester, joining a tramping club on campus and getting out into the beauty of New Zealand in my free time!
Andrea McKenna Brankin
Resident Director - Singapore
Andrea is an American who has been living in Singapore for seven years. A professional journalist and yoga teacher by trade, Andrea writes about life in Singapore for local publications, blogs and websites and also teaches yoga to adults and kids around town. Her first stint as an expat was in London in 1993 when she was finishing her journalism studies at Boston University. She is married to a financial services executive and has one young daughter, who was born in Singapore. Andrea is a native of Mystic, Connecticut, but had been living in Chicago since 1995 before moving to Singapore in 2012. She is a former field hockey and rugby player, but now prefers walking around the beautiful and numerous Singapore parks. Local claim to fame: Andrea met the first female President of Singapore Halimah Yacob in 2017 for her volunteer work with a girls home. She is also featured in the book, Dear Ms. Expat, which details women’s expat lives in Singapore.
What is your role at TEAN and what is the most rewarding part of your job?
I’m the Singapore Resident Director and responsible for welcoming students to Singapore for summer and semester programs. The most rewarding part is getting to know TEAN students, their views, mindsets and goals.
What are some of your favorite foods that you’ve discovered living in Singapore?
Curry chicken noodles, Hainanese chicken rice and nasi lemak (Malaysian-style coconut milk rice with toppings) are some of the most popular dishes in Singapore…everyone loves them!
What are some must-do activities for a first-time visitor to Singapore?
Visit Gardens By The Bay for the Supertrees Grove, Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. The billion-dollar park is incredible. Also, try out all the local food at hawker centres like La Pa Sat, Maxwell Street or Newton Food Centre.
Where else have you traveled in Asia Pacific and what have been some highlights from those travels?
I’ve been all over Southeast Asia as well as to Japan, India, Nepal and Australia. Borneo was very interesting staying with the Iban tribe, Nepal had beautiful trekking, and I love the beaches in Indonesia and Thailand. I also love the jungle and rice fields in Bali, while Japan is an amazingly beautiful country to visit with its stunning parks, gardens, forests and temples.
What is your favorite travel quote and why?
“Not all those who wander are lost” from Tolkien. I know who I am; I travel to learn, to grow and remember what my values are. It strengthens my character.
Resident Assistant - Singapore
Eerik is born and raised in Singapore and loves sharing his knowledge of the “little red dot” with others. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate and Facilities Management at Heriot watt Edinburgh. Eerik is currently a realtor with Orangetee in Singapore and has vast experience in helping expats from all over find suitable places to live. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and the values of the multi cultural Singapore with students. In his free time Eerik loves to paint and takes muay thai to keep fit.