Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I initially moved to the UK and then took a job at a university in the Middle East, after 7 months of being back.
In Thailand, I refused to be experimented on in 2021 and as a result, I haven't had any issues with my health. Due to making this decision, a friend and I were shown the door, right before Christmas, from our so-called 'international' school.
When I got to the UK, things were bad. I found myself living in my brother's garage and wages were stagnant and inflation was high. I was also shocked by the state of schools in the UK and by the standard of education there, nowadays.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I was there for just over 8 years. Initially, I arrived with nothing more than a diploma and a TEFL certificate, but I managed to do a BA in TESOL and an MEd, during my time there. I worked in a range of different schools from kindergarten to high school. I also worked in all the low-end establishments and also through agencies. plus I worked for private schools and at government schools.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
Apart from having the audacity to make decisions about my own body, I was sick of the appalling management, the lack of gratitude and respect for foreign teaching staff, and the hardnosed sense of entitlement from Thai schools.
In the 8 years I worked there, I worked at many schools, even spending a couple of years as a substitute teacher at an agency. In all that time, I only visited a couple of schools where either I wasn't abused in some unnecessary way or I didn't witness the abuse of other foreign staff. You're often made to feel unwelcome.
In addition, to the contempt and the passive aggressiveness, you also have to contend with the lack of resources provided and you're often expected to fork out from your own paltry salary.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
I am paid at least 3 times what I was making at a supposed 'international' school in Thailand.
My expertise and experience actually means something where I work now.
I don't have to deal with archaic, feudalistic management. The managers here have their egos in check.
The local staff aren't passive-aggressive and are unlikely to stab me in the back.
You get paid for overtime and extra work.
Pay rises are a thing here.
You can actually get promoted where I am now and progress in your career.
I'm not expected to compete in the job market with people who have the same level of English as my students.
Almost all of the teachers here are NES and there's no bitching and moaning about nationality or ability.
I don't know what the government thinks of foreigners here because they don't try and make outsiders feel unwelcome. The same can be said about the local press.
I'm not constantly having to fork out and grease palms.
Visa runs are few and far between and are paid for.
The rules aren't changing every five minutes.
My apartment and utilities are provided free of charge.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
I miss the food more than anything else. The nightlife has become quite expensive and is no longer what it once was. I also miss riding around on my motorbike.
The banks are a lot better these days in Thailand.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
No, absolutely not.
5 years ago, I would have recommended to a teacher without a degree that they enrol in the same programme that I did. However, that course is now twice as expensive and salaries are basically the same as they were 20 years ago. I would recommend that new teachers think about other regional countries to start their careers or take their gap year. They would likely be paid more and treated a lot better. Most of the things that allure would-be teachers to Thailand can be found in neighbouring countries.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
I have been back twice and plan to go again at Christmas. My girlfriend works there as a Filipino teacher and has just been hired at a top international school.
I cringe at the thought of having to work there again in a Thai-managed school. There's basically no stability and it only takes one vindictive member of staff to ruin everything for you.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
I think that there's a massive sense of entitlement in most schools in Thailand. You're offered crappy, stagnant salaries and schools have no shame in demanding the most prestigious of qualifications to apply for such roles.
Many schools are more interested in your age or appearance than your qualifications and experience.
When I arrived, 10 years ago, most foreign teachers were native speakers, who could at least speak English fairly well.
I basically only survived the first 5 years because I was on an Ed visa and could walk out of a school that day if the games started.
Over 8 years, I watched the standard of foreign teachers drop considerably.
Many of the places I used to work are still advertising the same salaries they were offering a decade ago.
For these reasons, I don't see salaries rising and I would urge NES with qualifications to consider looking elsewhere. Have a bit of self-respect because there are much better deals abroad. Don't get sucked in.