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Dessie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back home to the UK (a small town between Sunderland and Gateshead) and this would've been in late 2019, so just before Covid became a thing.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I lasted around nine months, working at a Thai school in Songhkla Province. I was 46 years old at the time and going through a bit of a mid-life crisis (messy divorce, etc). I'd previously been to Thailand many times for 2-3 week holidays and I'd always fancied the idea of teaching English there because I met many foreigners over the years who had taken the plunge. I didn't want to work in Bangkok though (far too hectic and busy for me) so I hooked up with a dodgy agency and they found me a teaching job down south. All I had was an online TEFL certificate and a City and Guilds but I still managed to get the job.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

How many times had I heard someone say 'there's a big difference between holidaying and working somewhere'. When it comes to Thailand, never truer words were spoken. I was constantly in awe of fellow teachers who were surviving on 30,000 baht a month (Filipino teachers at the school were scraping by on even less) and I found myself dipping more and more into my savings as I craved more Western comforts. I was paying 10,000 baht a month for rent purely because I didn't want to live in the cheaper places, I couldn't get on with Thai food all that well (I like my Western food) and my weekend nights out were costing another third of my salary. I just couldn't live cheaply! In the end I thought if I carry on this way for another year or two, I'll be broke!

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

I wouldn't say there are any real advantages because England is England. I guess it's just easier for me to fit in. I'm a carpet fitter by trade and I've never had any problems picking up work. I've also got a decent flat and a nice little van. It's not that expensive to live well up north if you've got a trade. I actually feel like I have a much better standard of living.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the female company, I won't lie about that. And I made some good Thai friends from all walks of life while I was there. I could also walk from my school to the beach in 20 minutes. I just never felt I had the income to live like a king and that's really how I thought I'd be living. I was naive and I quickly realised that.

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

It will depend on your expectations. I probably set mine way too high. I did enjoy the teaching though, although it's difficult to make any progress with classes of 30-40 teenagers. When I started teaching, my students couldn't string a sentence of English together. After 9 months, they still couldn't string a sentence of English together. That was frustrating because I tried my hardest. I was up half the night doing lesson plans and whenever I was asked to attend a school function, I never said no. I'd like to think I was the model teacher but when I told the school I was leaving, they were more concerned about me handing my textbooks back in than what I was going to do with the rest of my life. They found my replacement a day before I left.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'll come back for a holiday once the entry restrictions have been dropped. It's a terrific country to visit as a tourist with a nice fat wallet riding on your hip.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I only taught there for nine months but it's something I'm so glad I did. The TEFLing didn't really work out for me but it seems to work out for many others. Maybe I was a bit too old and once a carpet fitter, always a carpet fitter!

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