Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved to Busan in South Korea about six months ago.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I worked in Thailand for five years. Most of that time was spent at a large government school in the south but I also worked in Bangkok for a couple of years at several private language schools. They were very different experiences but I enjoyed them both.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I needed to make more money and I suppose I was looking for something with a more defined career path. Thailand was great but it was very much a year-to-year existence. Very often it felt like I was going nowhere and when I hit 30 years of age, I had a moment of clarity and realized Thailand just wasn't a long-term option. I also split up with my Thai partner of several years and that made the decision to move to Busan even easier.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
Much like anywhere else in the TEFL world, there are good schools and bad schools in Korea but I've managed to land myself a position with an institute that really looks after its teachers. Things aren't great at the moment with the coronavirus but we look to be over the worse here now and during the months of downtime, while my school has been closed and we've had no students, teachers have still received a basic pay package that has been more than enough to live on. Hopefully it won't be long before life gets back to normal.
I had been to Seoul a couple of times on my travels and really liked it but I decided to give Busan a try and it's a great city. Yes. it's mainly known for its industrial port but it has excellent parks and places to go hiking. The subway system is very good and it has a vibrant nightlife and plenty of Western food options.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
Although I'm enjoying Korea (or I was until the virus struck), Thailand will always have a special place in my heart. I love the simplicity of life there and how some days you can manage quite easily on a couple of hundred baht. If you are willing to move out of Bangkok, the pace of life can almost be too relaxing.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
I think Thailand makes a great first TEFL destination. It's not too demanding on new teachers and you'll gain plenty of great experience before perhaps moving on to something better.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
I'm not sure whether I could work there full-time anymore. Looking way ahead into the future, when perhaps I've got enough money saved up, a lifestyle of semi-retirement with a part-time teaching gig might appeal to me.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Only what many others have said in this great escape section - don't get stuck in a rut in Thailand for too long. Before you know it, you might be a 50-year old teacher that despite years of service, your employer no longer wants. I think it's very easy to get 'too attached' to Thailand and feed yourself with too many reasons for not facing up to the reality and moving on. But as a place to teach for a couple of years (three at a push) Thailand would be hard to beat!