Myanmar / Travel

A Crash Course Guide to Myanmar’s Culture and History

Grace Martens

Grace Martens

May 26, 2020

It might not be time to wipe the dust off your luggage just yet, but the time is drawing near. In the meantime, take heart in the fact that the ancient Pagodas and rich history of the raw and authentic Myanmar, will still be there when this is all over, as they have been for thousands of years. A place of rich and rare beauty, Teaching English In Myanmar offers a unique opportunity to see a place while it is still in its infancy. This is, of course, a rarity in this day and age when there are footprints on the moon.

Myanmar: Land of the Golden Pagodas

If you’re considering teaching in Myanmar, you’re someone who does things a little differently. You’re not afraid to venture out of your comfort zone, and you often pick the road less traveled. When it comes to teaching abroad, that’s Myanmar in a nutshell. In the “eat, pray, love” of Asia, Myanmar is the pray. You have the opportunity to learn more about the deeply rooted Buddhist culture and the awe-inspiring temples and unique celebrations that go along with it.

Whether you’re doing the 6-month or 1-year contract, your impact on Myanmar will last a long time. You’ll also make the most enormous impact whilst there given the history and previous lack of exposure to English. Imagine being able to visit a place before it’s touched by industrialism and international tourism to see it in all it’s raw and authentic beauty!

To get you prepared for your exciting adventure to Myanmar, or to just expand your knowledge on a fascinating place, we’ve rounded up a few of our best resources to sweeten quarantine. 

Burma and Chill: Documentaries on Myanmar

If you, like me, have taken to rewatching old Adam Sandler movies, it’s probably a sign that you’re running a little low on TV content. As great as Mr. Deeds and 50 First Dates are, we have a few really great documentaries for you to add to your list that definitely add some awesome information to your Burmese knowledge repertoire. 

two people in boats

Dip your toes into the history of Myanmar through these documentaries!

They Call it Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain

A 1.5 hour look into the landscape of a country today, after being isolated since the ’60s. 

Burma Story Book

A portrait of a country emerging from years of military dictatorship told through Burmese poetry. Watch the trailer here.

Nama-stay home and stay safe! 

Exchange hot dogs for downward facing dogs and use yoga for a look into an important practice in Burmese culture. With Yangon being the new hotspot for yoga retreats and it’s deeply spiritual landscape, why not download a few yoga apps to get you into the swing of this cultural practice.

people doing yoga

Click here for a comprehensive list of the best yoga apps. Personally I use Down Dog because no two workouts are ever the same, the music is fantastic and you have a lot of freedom and flexibility to choose your own workout features. 

Theravada Buddhism – The Lifeblood of Myanmar

Ninety percent of the Burmese population practices Theravada Buddhism. In the bustling streets in Yangon and throughout Myanmar, monks in orange attire are never far out of sight. The particular Buddhism practiced in Myanmar Theravada Buddhism (“doctrine of the elders”) is the oldest and most orthodox of Buddhism’s three major sects. 

Theravada Buddhism stresses spirituality, the enlightenment of the individual, self-discipline, the importance of pure thought and deed, the importance of the monastic life, and the strict observance of the ancient Vinaya code. It has distinct roles for monks and laypeople, emphasizes that each individual is responsible for his or her salvation and takes the position that only monks are capable of reaching nirvana. Theravada Buddhism believes that it has remained closest to the original teachings of the Buddha.

young buddhist monks in robes

Learn the basics of Theravada Buddhism, and how Buddhist values take shape in the classroom!

Whatever your religion, there is something we can all learn from mindfulness during lockdown and quarantine.

Click here to see books on Theravada Buddhism for under $10! 

Reading between the wines

burmese days by George Orwell

For a peek into past and present Myanmar life, literature is a great source!

During this time, people have read more books than usual. It’s a great opportunity to read something outside of your comfort zone and books on Myanmar are a great place to start broadening your literary horizons. 

Click here for a list of the top 9 books about Myanmar, including Burmese Days by acclaimed classic author, George Orwell. 

Ready, set, pack!

suitcase being packed for a terip

Sometimes packing can be stressful and a bit of a chore. But after being cooped up for a while now, I think most of us would be thrilled to consult a packing list indicating travel is about to happen in a big way! Taking into account the culture and religion to be mindful of, you should carefully consider what to stuff into your suitcase when traveling to Myanmar. Luckily, we found a travel blogger who did just that for you so that you don’t have to! 

Here’s the ultimate Myanmar packing list.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, we can all take the time given to us, even under difficult circumstances, and with the glorious, far-reaching access to the internet, learn more about cultures of distant lands, from our living rooms. And if you’re ready to begin your journey Teaching Abroad in Myanmar, you can click here to inquire today!

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