Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I took a pay cut and joined the US Peace Corps in 2016. I served in Malawi and just finished three years of service where I taught two years in a village school and one year training teachers in a refugee camp. I've accepted a fellowship run by the US State department and will be moving to Burkina Faso in September to teach at a university for 10 months.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
My first job was fresh out of university in 2007 and I worked one term and left. I came back in 2012, worked at a secondary school in Mukdahan for three years and a university in Bangkok for one.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
It was a culmination of reasons. I was just finishing up my Masters and wanted a new challenge. I was tired of Bangkok and felt that the jobs in Thailand didn't have much career progression, plus having a Master's degree didn't seem to make much of a difference. I applied to Peace Corps on a whim, got in so decided to try it.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
The students in Malawi were some of the most motivated students I have ever taught. Life is definitely easier in Thailand but I enjoyed working with my students. Also even though Peace Corps is volunteer work and you definitely don't get as much of a monthly allowance, the readjustment allowance I received after three years is more than I was able to save in Thailand after 4 years.
It has also opened up a network of career opportunities. I found out about my fellowship through the returned peace corps network and I feel like I am more aware of different opportunities and directions I can take my career into. It has also been a great professional development opportunity. I'm definitely a more confident teacher after my service.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
The food! Malawian food is bland, their main seasoning is salt. So I definitely missed flavorful food and fruits.
Riding my motorcycle around is also something I missed as I didn't have much freedom of movement as a volunteer.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
I think Thailand is a great place for a new teacher IF they don't have debt they need to pay and are just looking for a new experience. It's a good place to get a start teaching, get some experience under your belt then move on to greener pastures. But if you have to pay off loans or are intimidated by looking for a job on the ground (and figuring out visa stuff on your own) then China and S. Korea are probably better places for that.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
Well, I'm here on vacation now so yes, I love Thailand and I've been coming here since I was a teenager. However, to live and work again, the job would have to be worth it. I'd prefer to live outside Bangkok but jobs that pay are in the city. I don't expect too much as a teacher but to be able to save a little something for the future would be nice.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
I've taught in five countries now in different capacities. I think no matter where you decide to teach you should go in with little to no expectations.
Definitely remember that being able to go abroad and teach is a privilege we have as native speakers and just being aware of that while searching, interviewing and working for different employers is something I think a lot people overlook in the moment. Appreciate it!