Submit your own Great Escape


Melissa

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I went to work in Shanghai, China in October 2023.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for three years. I did a year in Bangkok mixing a full-time job at a Thai school with language centre work in the evenings. When the workload stressed me out, I moved way down south to Songkhla and did two years at a private college.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just felt that my time in Thailand had run its course and perhaps I needed a new challenge. A couple of foreign teaching colleagues from my time in Songkhla had recently gone to work for a school in China and they were giving me glowing reports so I thought why not give it a try.

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

Teachers have access to training programs, workshops, and networking events that can really enhance your teaching skills and advance your career, whereas in Thailand you were pretty much left to your own devices. As long as the students weren't moaning and passing their exams, you were deemed to be doing a good job.

Shanghai seems to have a larger and friendlier expatriate community, which has been helpful for a young female teacher who is new to the city. I've had the opportunity to meet other expats, make new friends and build a support network.

English teachers here get competitive salaries and benefits, including health insurance, housing allowances and even flight allowances. You just feel financially more stable than you do in Thailand, especially teaching at the lower end of the TEFL ladder.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the little things that make a big difference - the bag of snacks left on my desk by one of the students, the cheery waves from local shopkeepers as I passed by on my way to school, and how Thai teaching colleagues would go out of their way to help if ever I had a problem with the house I was renting and maybe something needed fixing or cleaning.

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

Thailand is a great country to get valuable teaching experience under your belt, and there is little or no pressure from the school management. Unfortnately that can mean getting too comfortable and finding yourself just drifting from day to day without really improving as a teacher. I want to make a long career out of TEFL if I can and just felt that Thailand wasn't going to provide me with a clear path. I'm grateful for my three years there though.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Not at the moment. I want to make China my home for the forseeable future and hopefully beyond.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Having a solid plan is crucial. Whether it involves returning to your home country, seeking opportunities elsewhere, or securing a well-paying international position if you intend to remain abroad. Being a TEFLer at schools in Thailand can often lead you up a dead-end. Witnessing numerous individuals in the business, well into their middle age, earning 35K a month with no clear plan, savings, or assets to fall back on in their home country was a sobering experience that made me reconsider my own future there. It's essential to continuously be investing in yourself and striving for personal growth.

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