Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved back to my hometown of Hamburg, Germany in January 2019.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I was there for four years. Two years at a large government school in Bangkok and two years at a much smaller private school not far from Chiang Rai.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I think there were two main reasons. Firstly, I was beginning to feel a bit homesick. A couple of family members passed away, my sister had her first child and I just felt that I was missing out on too many important events. I started to feel guilty about missing out on all the special moments where my family would all come together and either mourn or celebrate. We have always been a very close family and it didn't feel right that I was living so far away.
Secondly, I hit 30 years old and it felt like I need to re-evaluate my direction in life. I wasn't saving any money and living pretty much from month to month. You can do that in your twenties I guess but at some stage you have to think about the future.
Actually, make that three reasons. One of my best pals back in Germany was starting a small-scale graphic design business and he offered me a position. Being as this was my area of expertise before I started travelling and teaching, it felt like too good an opportunity to miss.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
Well, it's nice to be a part of a new business that's doing quite well at the moment. I am not drawing a huge salary (just enough to live on) but I'm sure that will improve in the future as the business grows. There is definitely more of a career path and a future doing this when compared to teaching in Thailand. Or doing the TEFL thing in any country for that matter.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
Oh, so many things but especially the food. I had a real hard time adjusting back to German food and the portion sizes. I have put on at least six kilos in weight since I got back (I suppose the German beer doesn't help either!)
I miss the cheap cost of living also (although I think Thailand is becoming noticeably more expensive at this present time) and the simple way of life. When I taught in Chiang Rai, I got up in the morning, rode my motorcycle to school, taught my classes and chilled in my apartment every evening. Then I would go out and party at weekends with close friends. It was all very routine but I liked it that way. There are very few problems cluttering up your brain.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
I think it is a great place to teach for a year or two while you are young and probably the best TEFL destination in Asia. I had several colleagues who went off to seek riches in places like China and Vietnam but they all came back within a year. Thailand gets inside your blood and makes other countries feel like 'hard work' if that makes sense. Thailand is easy to get along with I think.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
I will certainly come back for a holiday but I am not liking the exchange rate too much at the moment. If you earn a modest salary in Germany, a decent two or three-week trip to Thailand becomes quite expensive.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
If you live in Thailand as long as I did (four years) or stay there even longer, it's very easy to get too comfortable and take your eye off your future goals. But there is nothing wrong with going off and having some adventure. Your home country will always be there waiting for you if you would like to return.