Living and teaching in Thailand is an incredible experience and that's probably why so many foreigners come to the country each year to teach English.
Many new teachers are tempted to the kingdom by YouTube videos showcasing Thailand's tropical beaches, magnificent waterfalls, colourful festivals and raucous nightlife, but while these things do make life in Thailand ‘amazing', they're not the kind of things that teachers are able to appreciate on a daily basis.
Furthermore anyone who has spent time dealing with the realities of life in a Thai school will soon tell you that the living here is not without its share of challenges.
To get an idea of exactly what teachers love and loathe about life in Thailand, we conducted a brief survey and with foreign teachers based in Chiang Mai.
Research methodology - how we did it
Thirty foreign teachers from Varee Chiangmai School were asked to write down the best three things and the worst three things about living and teaching in Thailand. The teachers who took part were from a range of countries including, the UK, the US, Ireland, South Africa and Australia.
The participants also ranged in age and experience from fresh-faced enthusiastic graduates to jaded veterans long past their prime.
Living and Teaching in Thailand - The Pros
There was a pretty clear consensus about what makes life in Thailand so good with the most popular answers being - friendly people and great food. Interestingly, the third most popular answer was great students, with many teachers commenting on how friendly and polite Thai students are.
The quality of life in Thailand also featured high up the list of pros with natural scenery, Thai culture, Thai festivals and the climate also being popular answers.
The graphic below ranks the most popular answer. The full report, which can be found here has all the teachers' replies including some rather random answers such as ‘lack of feminists'!
Living and Teaching in Thailand - The Cons
There was also some common consensus on the greatest challenges for teachers living in Thailand, with the top two places going to road safety and immigration.
It may be worth remembering that this survey was conducted in Chiang Mai where the roads are notoriously dangerous and the immigration department is..... well, I have to go there next month so let's just say it could be a lot better!
General inefficiency was a big complaint from many teachers - this referred to situations both inside and outside the school grounds. The summer heat and poor air quality were other popular factors and anyone who has been to Chiang Mai during the burning season will know how bad the air quality gets.
Interestingly, annoying expats (you know - the ones who spend all their time complaining and saying how much better everything is ‘back home') also made the list.
Further down the list there were a few other random answers including - ‘Thai people are too polite'.
While this is hardly scientific research, it does provide some useful insights to life in the Land of Smiles. For westerners contemplating a year or two living and working in Thailand, I'd say ‘just do it'! It's great country, you'll met some great people, enjoy some awesome food and visit some beautiful places.... things won't always go according to plan, and there may be days when you just want to scream - but hey - that's life, and you probably couldn't truly appreciate Thailand without experiencing the ups and the downs.
Varee Chiangmai School