Like many of you reading this site, I've been an avid follower of ajarn.com for quite some time. It's been an invaluable resource, assisting in my transition to Thailand.
I'd been teaching within FE and HE in the UK for many years and I'd always held the dream of teaching abroad.
What a place!
Back in 2007 I made my first trip to Thailand with my Thai fiancé. I fell in love with the place and we got married. At that time my wife was making preparations on laying foundations for building our home in N.E Thailand. Teaching back in England was becoming more of a challenge, and after one stressful Ofsted inspection too many, I considered it time to move on and make the leap.
I'm a fully qualified teacher with nearly twenty years teaching experience. So why not, life's too short.
By that time Mrs Q had moved back to Thailand to oversee construction of our home. My brother in law is in the building trade and he commenced building us a comfy bungalow on my wife's land.
Looking for work
I'd been scouring the internet for teaching posts, reading up on Thai culture and a few great help books. I arrived in Thailand on a tourist exemption visa and took the month off sourcing work. I'd met with an English manager at a local school who'd offered some sage advice on his fifteen years in Thailand.
We had a long talk, probably been a while since he'd spoken with an English native. I also visited a couple more local schools with my resume at hand to find potential teaching posts. There weren't many opportunities in August, yet it wasn't long before the job offers came in from a few schools, agencies and a local university.
Within FE and HE I'd become accustomed to lecturing students from sixteen years old plus, so Mattayom level or university was more suited to my skill set. The university offer was appealing, but it took them so long to arrange a job interview I grew impatient. Not a good sign, on their behalf with the administration.
I then met up with a small, local teaching agency that was growing its business, and I got on really well with the CEO. After an informal interview and checking my qualifications, I was offered a job there and then. I was keen to visit the government school I was to teach at, which was located in a rural area. With approximately five hundred students, at Mattayom levels one to six, I got a good ‘vibe' from the lovely location.
Meeting the director and students was a plus too and it all seemed rather laid-back. Something I've had to get used to, from the manic pace to teaching in England.
Despite being seventy kilometres from home I was more than happy to make the commute. I'd previously worked at a grade one college in London, which was a fair commute. Believe me the salary, i.e. ‘danger money' was good, but not worth it.
So I needed a car. That proved more complicated than expected. But the car salesman was happy to make concessions when he heard I was a teacher. One thing I begun to learn here, the amount of respect teachers lauded upon from the Thais. More than I received in the UK.
So after two months arriving in Thailand I was to start teaching. My only regret is that I hadn't moved to Thailand sooner.
The Thai visa and work permit have been a bit of a kerfuffle sorting out. That's another story altogether, and now I'm a popular visitor at immigration. We always end up having a photo opportunity of sorts. Imagine my surprise when everyone wanted a picture with the ‘farang' despite the fact I'd overstayed my visa. Seriously though, get on well with your local immigration and visas become far easier.
But overall, the most stressful part of my job is the drive to work. Yes, driving in Thailand is an eye opener, to say the least. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre? Manoeuvre, what's that indicator for, oh look a nice mirror to do my make-up/hair etc. I'm still amazed at how many young kids I've seen zipping about on mopeds, covering their faces from the dust kicked up by the cattle truck they're tail gating.
The right decision
Anyways, my teaching contract will be up for renewal soon and I hope I can continue to teach at the same school for next semester. It's been a great adventure whilst teaching here.
Even ‘working' on Christmas day was fun, as I played the role of Santa Claus in the students Christmas pantomime.
I would recommend anyone wishing to teach in Thailand, to seriously give it consideration. I'm here for the duration and yes, it has its downsides like anywhere else, but I still have to pinch myself to realise that I'm living my dream, working and living in Thailand. Just be prepared to take each day as it comes, and go with the flow.