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Cass

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the UK in 2018. I intended to work in education but my teaching certificate from Thailand (University of Perpetual Help, Las Pinas) did not count for anything, so I became a teaching assistant. That was a tough move as I felt like I had to bite my tongue most days. Then covid hit.

Fortunately the school I worked for saw my potential and employed me as an unqualified teacher while I completed my on-the-job training. Being in my 30's, I found some of this process very patronising considering I have taught for 8 years and studied for one.

I am now fully qualified, finally.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I moved there in 2010 and worked in Sawangdaendin, in Sakon Nakorn for 6 months. I gained a TEFL with a company called 'Teach Abroad Thailand' and 'Media Kids' who secured the Essan placement. It was lovely there but very far away from everything. I Christmassed in Bangkok with other teachers from the same company and heard about amazing places they had travelled to. I decided after 6 months, I would go to Chiang Mai and search for a.position there.

Luckily, I bumped into a friend from the company who had a position in Lamphun: there was still one opening so I went for an interview.

I successfully worked there for one year however, in the meantime, I would spend many of my weekends in Pai, Mae Hong Son. I fell in love with that place so that, after a year, I decided to move there and approach the school. I did and was successful, I volunteered for.a term before moving back to the UK for winter in 2013.

I spent the Christmas with family but had always intended to move back to Thailand, in particular Pai. I had made many friends there, who I am still friends with today, and it felt to me like home. I approached the school again and they agreed to take me on. I was only receiving 10,000 baht a month at that point!

I stayed there for a further 5 years as well as helping out the local NGO project: Kwah Dao who supports Shan children in Pai. I developed my own curricula for Kwah Dao and the high school which is very etensive and has helped me in my qualification status here in the UK.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Unfortunately, my auntie was sick with lung cancer and I couldn't know what was going on, being so far away. I decided to move back to the UK to be close to family. It was a hard decision to make.

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

Now I work in a middle school in Dorset. There are many advantages and disagvantages: pay is considerably more but the cost of living is also; no language barrier; centralised planning - this can also be seen as a disadvantage as takes away the creativity; time and extra duties- unions fight for your extra time, however, I struggle to get everything done and work long hours.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Food!! Definitely food!! English quinine is very mundane. Luckily, my partner is a chef and loves Thai food, however, it still is not the same.

I miss the mai pen rai attitude. The welcoming feeling I got from everyone. I miss not being judged and the freedom of expression.

I miss the heat of the dry season. Living in Pai, it would.get chilly in the winter time so I experienced my fair share of chilly nights by a fire, with some Scandinavian friend traipsing off into the undergrowth to obtain more.wood to burn.

I miss being able to live where you pick; being able to afford it; not being held to ransom for everything.

I miss riding a motorbike, albeit a Honda Dream, I still miss that mentality of popping to the market and squeezing everything into the basket.

I miss the people. Even though we were from different countries, there was a strong sense of acceptance and friendship and that is something I do not experience in Dorset unfortunately.

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

Both. I would recommend someone to experience a different reality and to make their own minds up about which one they prefer.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I will return to Thailand in the future, but I feel obliged to stay close to family at the present moment.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Please contact me if you have any questions: cassandra.watters@gmail.com

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