About Tom DiChristopher

Tom DiChristopher is a Brooklyn-based multimedia journalist who finished a tenure as managing editor for the  culture and lifestyle magazine AsiaLIFE HCMC in Vietnam in October 2010. He is a graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and works for CNBC as a producer. On this blog he writes about Vietnam, things Vietnamese, travel, culture, and whatever city he finds himself in.

Tom moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in March, 2008 to jump start his career in magazine travel writing. However, he soon fell in with AsiaLIFE and took over as managing editor shortly after. For the next two years, his life became a blur of deadlines, revised budgetary structures and Bierre Larue.

Prior to moving to Vietnam, Tom  worked in Manhattan for budget travel website eurocheapo.com as their New York correspondent and later contributed to the redevelopment of europeanhostels.com. In his free time, he broadened his palate, frequented dodgy bars and generally became snarkier due to prolonged exposure to New York. He also lived in Rome, Italy for a short period in college, during which time he traveled around Western Europe.

Also during college, Tom devised an independent study in travel narrative, which was mostly an excuse to travel for college credit. The capstone of the project was a 7200-mile road trip across the United States made in 11 days with two friends in a Mitsubishi Mirage. Miraculously, the three are still close friends.

His interests are comic books, politics, public transportation, and solipsism.

Email: tdichristopher@gmail.com

Twitter: @tdichristopher

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17 responses to “About Tom DiChristopher

  1. Hey TJ, your lovely friend Jerusha passed along your blog in the hopes of turning me green with envy. It worked. Very neat things you are doing. Just out of curiosity – how did you manage to get an internship with a travel company? And where would you point me should I want to attempt to find a travel correspondent gig-like-thing?

    Hope you’re doing well in Vietnam. I’m in Japan right now– have yet to make it over there! One day…

  2. TJ

    Hey Nicole, I’ve found the travel editing business is a little difficult to break into because it’s a pretty popular sector of the editorial world. I started interning with eurocheapo.com after applying to a listing on craigslist. The pay was almost non-existent (I did legal proofreading in the evenings), but the experience was great, as it turned into additional, better paid work. You can comb job listings for these sorts of internships, but if you’re going to be in the New York area, I might even suggest sending the people at eurocheapo your resume and a cover letter. They take on interns quite regularly. Outside of New York, I might do the same thing: contact a small travel publication and try to set up and internship.

  3. Taylor

    you got change for a 20?

  4. Hey TJ-

    I’m really enjoying your blog. I’m also planning on relocating to Saigon for a couple months (by way of Brooklyn), and was wondering if you knew of any reliable resources/guides about the process? Just basic logistics, things to take care of before getting there, etc. Any guidance you might have would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Anthony

  5. Many interesting in your blog:). Oh, Vietnam

  6. Hello,

    I was doing some research online and came across your website. I hope you don’t mind me reaching out to you. I’m a casting assistant in New York for a popular show about people relocating outside North America. It’s called House Hunters International and airs on the Home & Garden cable network (HGTV). We are casting people for this show right now in Vietnam – specifically Ho Chi Minh City – and I was wondering if you or anyone you know would be interested in participating.

    Our show consists of a family or couple who has relocated in the past few years and the property they live in. The purpose of the show is to demystify the process of moving and living abroad. You can learn more about our show and watch episodes here: http://www.hgtv.com/house-hunters-international/show/index.html.

    Putting together an episode with you would be a real treat for our audience and it’s a lot of fun for you too. Contributors to the show get a nice keepsake shot in HD video and also receive compensation for your time and efforts.

    If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more, please contact me directly at househunterscasting@leopardfilms.com. Thank you in advance for your prompt feedback on this. Have a wonderful day!

  7. TJ,

    I was doing some research on teaching in Vietnam and came across your wonderful blog.

    I think your travel blog is amazing and you have great photos!

    My name is Randy and I am currently teaching English in South Koreawith my fiance. We are looking to teach in Vietnam.

    We will have one year of teaching experience in middle school and we both have our TESOL certificate (100 hours).We are looking to move out
    to Vietnam after our contract is finished in late August. When we first made the move to Korea there were countless resources to teach in Korea but we are finding the process to be a bit challenging for Vietnam. What would be the
    best way to go about finding a job out there? How did you go about finding a job? Would you recommend any good recruiters or people to
    talk to?

    Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank You,

    Randy Pulayya
    http://www.ourkoreanteapot.wordpress.com
    Bachelor of Arts, Advertising
    University of Florida ’07

  8. tj,
    were looking at you, hope all is well. looking at old family photos today youre still as cute as you were when you were little.
    love, Uncle Danny,Aunt Patty,
    Dillon & Elliott
    p.s hope we didnt embaress you.

  9. TJ

    No embarrassment here. I was a hella cute kid.

  10. Hey, I work with the CheapOair travel blog (cheapoair.typepad.com) and we’re interested in having you guest blog for us. Please contact me if you’re interested. Thanks! Aldo.

  11. Severine Minot

    Hi,

    I am conducting a research on CURRENT AND PAST EXPATS IN VIETNAM, and am wondering if you would agree to participate by filling out a quick survey online… it’s completely anonymous and confidential and on a secure site.

    THis is part of my ph.d. research. I am trying to gather quantitative information in the form of general demographic and occupational data of the expat population across Vietnam. I am also trying to gather some qualitative information on challenges in everyday life and in different labor sectors in Vietnam.

    If you would like to participate, I would be infinitely grateful! Just go to:

    https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dFdKUHZZZmlJa3ctTjE5SDhlOV9MaFE6MQ

    I will share my results with all my participants, who leave a contact email at the end of the survey and send them an executive summary in the fall 2011.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.
    Best regards!

    Sev.
    Severine Minot

  12. Hey TJ,

    Really impressed by the blog; it’s a great read. I can see that you get a fair number of questions from random people, so don’t feel obliged to answer this. I’ve been living in Saigon for about 9 months, and I’m becoming increasingly interested in trying my hand at writing (probably freelance at first) – either travel-related or cultural. I’m just wondering if you have any tips on how to get a foot in the door here, since I plan on staying in Vietnam for at least another 18 months. Would a publication like AsiaLife accept unsolicitited writings? I know competition in the field is intense, but any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    Mike

    • TJ

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the kind words. I got my first gig at AsiaLIFE by doing one simple thing: pitching a story. I was told by the editor at the time that it was the first proper story pitch they’d ever received. Pitching stories–rather than sending a complete, unsolicited article–is industry standard across the globe, but because many writers in Vietnam haven’t any professional training, they often email an editor saying something like, “I want to write about food in Saigon.”

      If you’re unfamiliar with story pitches, it’s a short letter of about 100-200 words outlining the story. A good pitch should 1) catch the editor’s attention with a SHORT, clever, stylistic “hook” in the first paragraph, 2) outline exactly what you will cover in the article in the second graf, and 3) tell the editor who you are and who you’ve written for in the third graf.

      Another note on the pitch: you’re pitching a section, not a magazine. Re: Look at the Table of Contents. So, the first line of your second graf should read something like, “I propose a 750-word article on the Weiner King of Pham Ngu Lao for the City Bites section. In this story I will…” (Okay, technically that’s your first-and-a-quarter sentence.) The key is to look through the magazine, get a sense for the type of stories they run (and the approximate word count) and then shape your story accordingly. A writing instructor I studied under once likened it to a toddler’s toy: Put the square block in the square hole, round block in the round hole. In other words, don’t pitch a magazine a story on your wild, booze-saturated weekend in Phnom Penh if it more typically runs service-oriented travel pieces, like “7 Tips for Traveling with Kids in Siem Reap”.

      Now the bad news. As far as I know, at the moment, all content at AsiaLIFE is being produced in house. We used to have a freelance budget when I was there, but that’s a story for another time. However, there is also The Word HCMC and East West. If you don’t have any magazine writing experience, and you feel like AsiaLIFE is the right fit for you, I’d suggest contacting the editor, Brett Davis, and inquiring about an internship of sorts, which they do offer. However, I’d still suggest putting together some story ideas. This will show the editor that you’re proactive and won’t need a ton of hand holding. Managing interns takes time, so those that sent me ideas were far more likely to score a meeting at Au Parc, or Centro, or wherever.

      Is an internship right for you? I don’t know. If you’re more interested in working with a good editor (which Brett is) to learn how to write magazine articles and you don’t have any clips (which you need to show to editors if you eventually want to start getting paying jobs), then I’d say the answer is yes. I will say one thing about interning for AsiaLIFE: the design team is fantastic, so your clips look really good. The writing is what really matters, but a sleek clip from an international standard magazine is far more likely to catch an editor’s eye than a few boring columns arranged with little effort or skill in a page layout. (Unless that boring layout is from, say, The New Republic. Sorry, TNR.)

      Feel free to shoot me any follow up questions.

      • Thanks so much for the reply…that was by far best advice on how to attempt to get into writing I’ve gotten. I really appreciate it.

  13. Annie Carroll

    Hi Tom,

    Do you have an email address I could contact you on? I have a couple of questions about Saigon.

    Annie
    Vice Australia

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