Are you a teacher who once taught in Thailand but decided to seek out pastures new? Has the grass been greener on the other side? Maybe you swapped Thailand for the financial lure of Japan or Korea? Read about those who have left Thailand, and their reasons for moving...

Submit your own Great Escape


Albert

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in August of 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for seven years. I worked for the same school the entire time I was there.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

If you are an ambitious person like I am, you will want to move up in your career and not downwards or sideways. I realized that was never going to be possible or easy had I stayed in Thailand.

People don't get promoted on the basis of experience and qualifications in my experience there. It was frustrating to see being passed over for people that had no business being teachers, let alone administrators. So when the offer came from China to be an administrator I could not pass it up.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

The pay is a lot better and the amount of hours a week that I work is a lot less than back in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Like most people I miss the food, and all the friends I made over the years.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

I would encourage any teacher to try Thailand or China. They both have their pros and cons. What I would say however is that you need to have an exit plan. Unless you plan to marry a local and live there forever you should have set goals of when its time to go back home.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Only to visit for now, but if they make me an offer I can't refuse, then why not.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Moving to Thailand is not the hardest decision you will make. The hard decision will be when to call it quits. Like I mentioned before, make a plan. I went to Thailand not knowing how long I would be there and looking back my biggest regret is not leaving sooner.


Jay

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I went to work in Vietnam in 2016

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

On and off for about 7 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I loved working in Thailand. I liked the climate and the cost of living but the main reasons were two-fold.

Firstly, I really couldn't stand the poor attitude and racist behaviour. Sure, there are some nice people but on a daily basis I experienced a level of rudeness that was completely uncalled for.

Secondly, I worked at a so-called international school in Pattaya. It was a glorious looking building in glorious hilly, green surroundings. All looked great. The owner seemed nice enough and the expat headmaster was full of promises and guarantees. Sadly, the head decided to kick out all the existing foreign teachers including Filipinos in favour of young, untried qualified teachers. Working for him was impossible as he had no idea how to run a school. He forced people out one by one and created a culture of complete paranoia.

I love teaching, especially the subject I graduated in and decided to make my own business instead. Though it didn't go to plan, it beat facing that man and his mismanagement each day. I'm an easygoing chap but working for people like that destroyed my confidence and my sense of self-worth.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

I miss the way of life in Thailand. I miss the food. That's it really. I have the advantage of being single so I can travel around at will and Vietnam has lots to explore, especially on a bike.

The people are nicer here on the whole, certainly more genuine. I love taking photos and there is an abundance of variety on offer here.

The money is better too.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Food and the low cost of living.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Yes but read the reviews first - especially international school reviews. The one I worked for is all over the internet with teachers, both past and present, relaying the same horror stories.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Maybe but certainly not to one particular school.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

People talk about bad Thai management in schools. Be very careful regarding expat management, especially if they have their own agendas to achieve, regardless of who suffers.


Tal

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I first moved back to the UK and then to Saudi Arabia in 2013.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

For three years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

To do a master's and then to try to earn proper money in order to save for the future.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

The salary is NINE times what I made in Thailand. Also there are opportunities to move out of the classroom in the Middle East, which I have done for over two years now.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I still regularly visit as I am married to a Thai. Many things I miss about Thailand such as food and bargains. There is also so much to do and see.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Work in Thailand first for 2-3 years, then try to upgrade to another country in terms of salary.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I visit often but will do another 2-3 years in The Middle East, then go back home to do a PGCE, and hopefully then move back to Thailand permanently.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Moving away from Thailand eventually helps to get the love and appreciation back for the place.


Donna

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

The Midlands, UK in November 2017, although I'm moving back to Manchester soon.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

A year. Worked in two different schools, six months in each. First school was a government run one in Bang Lamung, second was a private school in Pak Chong.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Family reasons and I decided to do a PGCE and become a qualified teacher. That way I can work abroad earning more money and have slightly more stability visa wise.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Better money and shorter hours of work. Also knowing that I won't be asked to come in early/stay late without any warning.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Pretty much everything. I miss the weather, the food, the people, the friends I made and even the kids! Although I earn considerably more money here my lifestyle was of a much higher standard while in Thailand. Here I've ran out of money before payday. In Thailand I could save every month even while travelling lots.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Depends what you want from life I suppose, but I would encourage anyone to give it a go. From my experience of working in UK schools and Thai schools they are very different, but it's definitely a worthwhile experience working in Thailand.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Definitely. I'm hoping once I have the PGCE and I am a fully qualified teacher that I will be able to find better paid work that will allow me to start saving for the future. In the meantime I'm hoping to go on a holiday back there - I still have so much I want to see and do there.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I wish I had moved to Thailand years ago, as I could have stayed a lot longer without having to think about retirement plans and savings. But for anyone considering it I would say give a go, you've nothing to lose and you'll probably have the time of your life even if it's only for a semester.


Chris

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Lismore, Australia. It's a regional area in New South Wales. I moved back a month ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

A year. Two jobs in Bangkok. The second one didn't even last half a semester before I resigned.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wasn't qualified enough as a teacher and the ESL industry in Thailand doesn't allow for any sort of nurturing or learning of teaching abilities, except in a really cruel and counter-productive manner to the actual idea of teaching.

The way Thailand immigration and work laws are set up simply doesn't allow for any sort of real growth in teaching or for students learning ESL. I wish I had done my research better and I had more realistic expectations to start with, because it really didn't end well.

The first job, I got sacked from a high rotation agency for little reason and extremely roughly in a way that went directly against the contract I signed.

Second job was for a school that was little more than a prison for rich boys with an unbelievably toxic bully culture - and they had no curriculum, exam papers or even textbooks. I resigned from that one.

Even the international school I applied for was super wrong. They couldn't even arrange a demonstration class for me properly and got me to travel back and forth three times before they threw me into a science class to demonstrate an English class I had prepared. Of course I didn't get the job and I now understand I was set up to look incompetent because they couldn't be bothered to manage things right.

My self-esteem plummeted and I guess I must have "lost face" with my own partner, with whom I'd arranged to marry after the school year ended. I told her I didn't believe I was qualified enough (to be honest I don't think anyone is except for local teachers) to teach in Thailand. We couldn't realistically keep the same date for marriage so I suggested postponing. She kicked me out - taking my bike and leaving me in a hotel with only what luggage I could carry (after a 3-year relationship).

It's a terminal issue that goes way beyond me. I met other teachers who were either alcoholics drowning their issues into oblivion, losers, sex pests using the local women for their man-ventures, people running away from their own countries for whatever reason, ditzy backpackers or gap year folk looking for a working holiday (probably the best way to do things), actual teachers who were extremely bitter (for good reason), or good folk who were stuck in relationship quagmires like me. The long-termers all seemed stuck in a toxic situation and all seemed miserable.

I realised that I was contributing to a more ingrained pattern of a toxic education system that is highly budgeted but highly ineffective in teaching English.

I got burnout from teaching and got treated badly by immigration and country in record time, and then everything I had built just fell apart. That could have been a good thing because it could have gotten worse. I saved money from the dowry (for a relationship gone bust) and I have that to get me by back at home.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

I'm not working full-time right now and I am actually pretty traumatized after the whole affair. The beauty of my country is that as a citizen, I'm able to have welfare support and also free psychological consultations in order to help me through the disintegration of a relationship.

The advantages and blessings of my own country are massively apparent to me now and I count my blessings. I live amongst friends and am making reconnections with my own family after losing my partnership. It could have gone a lot worse and now I can rehabilitate my life after what was frankly a disaster. However, I don't regret the experience and insight. The lesson was very powerful.

Now I'm working on music events and media as a therapeutic experience and I now wish to work and participate in working with my own community as a social worker. Think globally and act locally! I also have the option of pursuing whatever I like here in terms of future careers.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

My girlfriend that I had a great relationship with prior to moving to Thailand. She was great before we experienced cultural misunderstandings. Also the motorbiking, adventuring, food, etc.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

For new teachers, it might be easier to get a job in Thailand as an ESL teacher but you might get yourself played in the first job. It's an experience and can help make you a stronger and a more resilient person, or alternatively a burnt-out and jaded shell if you spend too much time making excuses for a bad position you might get in. Know the ledge. Just have an escape budget and a plan ready if things aren't working out.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I have no idea at this point, it's hard to say. I lost almost everything and am thoroughly disappointed in my experience of teaching ESL in Thailand. It soured my perception of the country in very little time. Maybe that will change and I can come to peace with things in the future.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Quite a lot. They're random sort of tips in no specific order.

Don't overestimate your own threshold tolerance and mental stability. You aren't invincible. You should be aware and ready to confront your own vulnerabilities. Just remember, you really do come first in your life.

Don't go to live in Thailand out of desperation to make a life with your girl. Don't have children without a great deal of money first. Don't agree to making payments on houses, cars or goods. She can keep it all on a second if you're not savvy.

If you're not a teacher before you go to Thailand, be aware you're adding to a more widespread issue that feeds greed and corruption.

When things sour in Thailand, they can get a whole lot worse. There are people who started teaching there who have lost everything after continuing to try to satisfy the ones they live, then they have children, then they burn out from teaching, then they lose everything.

Watch out for dodgy education agencies. Check out reviews and listen to the bad reviews first, as the good ones are often constructs of the agencies themselves.

Don't say anything related to work to local teachers. It'll get skewed. Be nice to them and make social pleasantries. Give them compliments, smile, bring small gifts and snacks along.

REMEMBER NAMES. Treat people as individuals. Ask them about themselves and what they like. But dont get too close...

Your lesson plans can get destroyed in a blink of an eye. How will you keep things running?

Know the ledge when you reach it. Cash in and get out early...treat it as a working holiday with zero permanency. Keep at least 100,000 baht saved as exit dough.

If you must fall in love, fall in love with a rich or skilled girl who is not interested in traditional Thai marriage and wants to come back to your country after a year or so. Socioeconomics really does make the difference in countries with draconian immigration and working laws for foreigners.

Save every cent you have. Don't drink or go out at bars. Dont overspend on food and restaurants. Don't see bargirls. Don't go on holidays all the time. If you have other money saved up, ignore and do as you please :)

Treat everyone well but be careful what you say. Don't get caught up in what others say and keep non-commital in both speech and action.

Get the most out of the culture and beware of your own colonisms and pressing your culture onto the very resistant national one.

Speak some Thai, do their culture.

At the end of the day, for me, ESL teaching simply doesn't work in Thailand for most students. My view is to let the local teachers (mis)handle it and give the country a break from the farang teachers they clearly despise. Go teach in another country where you're more appreciated and where you can earn more dough. Thailand's for visiting - and then leaving. We're helping this perception of terrible teaching through our colonial insistence that Thai people speak English. Let the students decide for themselves if they have the passion to learn another language.

One more thing - please don't fake it to make it.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 228 total

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