Submit your own Great Escape

Christopher Smith

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Korea on the 1st of October last year.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I just worked there for a year. However, it was my third trip to Thailand; I went to Thailand on an Australian Bicentennial scholarship to be an exchange student for a year when I was 16, and again for a three month holiday when I was 21. Both these times I lived in Kantralak, in Sisaket; last year, I made the big move to Ubon.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

My motivations to move to Korea were threefold. Firstly, I had a Korean girlfriend to whose arms I wished to return – a relationship that, upon my return to Korea, fell through in very short course (sheesh). Secondly, I wanted to perfect my Korean language skills. Thirdly, I wanted to save some money.

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

The advantages are more money and faster internet.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss life in the country – I was born and lived in the country when I was a kid, and Sisaket/Ubon are just like my home. Now, of course, I'm in the super-metropolis of Seoul. Life was also a lot easier for me in Thailand because I speak Thai and Thai Isaan – I'm trying to address that issue by studying Korean as hard as I can. I miss the hot weather, especially when it's winter in Korea. Finally, I miss how multicultural, caring, sharing, life-loving and attentive to their lessons my students were in Thailand.

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

It would certainly be far easier to learn how to teach English, and to engage for the first time with another culture, in Thailand. But I wouldn't like to put anyone off Korea either, here is excellent too. I reckon that when I can speak Korean as well as I can Thai, I will like Korea just as much.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm a man with no plans. I still, however, have the other half of a return ticket to Thailand that I bought when I came here to Korea; I have to use that before October. And I constantly pine for my life in Thailand; also, if I didn’t go back there, all those years and all that effort I spent learning the language would go to waste.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you're going to teach in either of the places I do, don't be lazy and cranky. That's how so many farang/wheregooks shoot themselves in the foot. Learn the language of the place you're in; it's not hard, and it makes life enormously better. Being an ESL teacher, as long as you don't you blow it and make the students run amok, rips.

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