Are you a teacher who once taught in Thailand but decided to seek out pastures new? Has the grass been greener on the other side? Maybe you swapped Thailand for the financial lure of Japan or Korea? Read about those who have left Thailand, and their reasons for moving...

Submit your own Great Escape


Jamie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Just over two years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I am a profoundly deaf man who wears a cochlear implant to hear. This has meant I faced many barriers in the workplace which I overcame via a variety of solutions, mostly at my own expense. I was dismissed from my first job because a parent made a complaint about having a deaf teacher in their child's classroom. Unfortunately the view held by people over there is still rather antiquated when it comes to disabilities.

The job I took after that was initially great - I had my own classroom with a fully equipped sound system which I could use both to encourage the pupils to hear each other speaking English, and to help me hear them clearly too. When this was taken away from me in the new term and I was made to move from classroom to classroom, it affected my ability to carry out my job because the lower half of the secondary school had classrooms without windows. You could hear the traffic, the noise from neighbouring classrooms, and the acoustics were terrible.

At that point, I realised that I wouldn't be able to do any meaningful teaching, and I wouldn't be able to fight for my rights because, unlike the UK, there is no equivalent to the Equality Act where I could demand that my employer make reasonable adjustment to the workplace to allow me to carry out my job. On top of that, I felt my methodology was becoming stale, and I needed professional growth to become a better teacher. I applied to do a PGDE course, and moved back to Scotland to attend interviews at the universities across Scotland which I applied to.

I went to the University of Edinburgh after being accepted thanks to my experience working in Thailand and ability to reflect on it in the interview. As of this month, I am a qualified Secondary English teacher registered with the General Teaching Council of Scotland, and am working in a new school with the responsibilities that go with it.

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

I'm happier teaching English in a British school because I am able to teach literature, creative writing, and debate techniques with pupils who are fluent in English - my undergraduate degree is in English Literature, because that's my passion, and I want to be able to share that with everyone I teach. I couldn't do that as a TEFL teacher.

I am also able to access British Sign Language interpreter support in the workplace thanks to the Access to Work programme in the UK. This means regardless of the nature of classroom activities and environment, I am able to access all auditory information.

I am also protected here under the Equality Act and British Sign Language Act (Scotland) so I'm treated with respect as a fully functioning subject expert in the school, and not as a "necessary evil" like I am in Thai schools.

Furthermore, I have access to a pension plan, free healthcare, trade union representation and CPD to grow as a teacher. It's not so bad here when you're a qualified teacher, and the salary is surprisingly decent.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the low cost of life, the friendships I made while I was there, the beautiful neighbourhood I lived in, and the amazing dining scene. I also miss the freedom of riding a motorbike around Bangkok and the rest of Thailand.

The weather was the best part of living there - warmth all year round, with glorious sunshine. Summers are short here in Scotland. As I write this, it's August and from my seaview flat, it's looking rather cloudy and grey!

Also, the water here is too cold for me to engage in one of my favourite pastimes, diving. I'm almost certain I would freeze to death in the murky depths of the Irish Sea if I tried diving here.

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

If you're dedicated to teaching, and don't see it as a means to an end, I wouldn't recommend it. You don't gain any meaningful professional growth there, and you're treated as a necessary evil by school - merely tolerated, not respected as an educator.

I would recommend that instead, you volunteer at a local primary or high school for a few months to gain classroom experience then apply to do a PGCE/PGDE to qualify fully as a primary teacher or secondary subject teacher. That gives you far more freedom to teach wherever you like.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, Thailand will always be in my heart. Every night when I sleep, I still dream about Thailand because it's my happy place. However, I am not certain I will ever work there again, unless a job opportunity comes up to be a special needs literacy teacher because that's where my passion lies as far as teaching goes. I intend to buy property there so I have somewhere to stay every time I return for the holidays.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It's all well and good to move to a new country for work - it'll change you as a person and broaden your mind. Just don't stay there forever without a plan to sustain yourself in the future, because you're wasting your life. Foreigners don't have access to a meaningful pension fund or union representation to prevent unfair dismissal.


Ben

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in December 2017

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Nine years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Money pure and simple. The salaries in Thailand have remained the same for nearly 15 years.

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

It's cleaner.
Crime-free.
People don't stare and gossip deliberately in front of you.
More money and less to pay.
Taxi system.
Weather is better on the whole.
Organization
Rules are adhered to.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Food
Freedom
Weekends
People from outside the major cities (I don't miss those from Bangkok, Rayong and so on.)
Being able to do as I please.
Diversity
Communities.
Beaches and natural beauty.

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

Thailand for sure. China earns you big money but it is as boring as can be. If you want to do both, make sure you hit China first so you can appreciate Thailand more. If you go from Thailand to China you will drive yourself insane with the mundane way of life here.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Definitely. Hopefully within the next three years, maximum five.
I always look back with fond memories of Thailand. China has nothing to offer other than cash.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Make sure you research the school in China you will work at. Other than the established international schools the rest will sell an image that is not realistic. Their ideas of international schools are not what we think of. Speak to the teachers of the school before you join.


Albert

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in August of 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for seven years. I worked for the same school the entire time I was there.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

If you are an ambitious person like I am, you will want to move up in your career and not downwards or sideways. I realized that was never going to be possible or easy had I stayed in Thailand.

People don't get promoted on the basis of experience and qualifications in my experience there. It was frustrating to see being passed over for people that had no business being teachers, let alone administrators. So when the offer came from China to be an administrator I could not pass it up.

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

The pay is a lot better and the amount of hours a week that I work is a lot less than back in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Like most people I miss the food, and all the friends I made over the years.

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

I would encourage any teacher to try Thailand or China. They both have their pros and cons. What I would say however is that you need to have an exit plan. Unless you plan to marry a local and live there forever you should have set goals of when its time to go back home.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Only to visit for now, but if they make me an offer I can't refuse, then why not.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Moving to Thailand is not the hardest decision you will make. The hard decision will be when to call it quits. Like I mentioned before, make a plan. I went to Thailand not knowing how long I would be there and looking back my biggest regret is not leaving sooner.


Jay

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I went to work in Vietnam in 2016

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

On and off for about 7 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I loved working in Thailand. I liked the climate and the cost of living but the main reasons were two-fold.

Firstly, I really couldn't stand the poor attitude and racist behaviour. Sure, there are some nice people but on a daily basis I experienced a level of rudeness that was completely uncalled for.

Secondly, I worked at a so-called international school in Pattaya. It was a glorious looking building in glorious hilly, green surroundings. All looked great. The owner seemed nice enough and the expat headmaster was full of promises and guarantees. Sadly, the head decided to kick out all the existing foreign teachers including Filipinos in favour of young, untried qualified teachers. Working for him was impossible as he had no idea how to run a school. He forced people out one by one and created a culture of complete paranoia.

I love teaching, especially the subject I graduated in and decided to make my own business instead. Though it didn't go to plan, it beat facing that man and his mismanagement each day. I'm an easygoing chap but working for people like that destroyed my confidence and my sense of self-worth.

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

I miss the way of life in Thailand. I miss the food. That's it really. I have the advantage of being single so I can travel around at will and Vietnam has lots to explore, especially on a bike.

The people are nicer here on the whole, certainly more genuine. I love taking photos and there is an abundance of variety on offer here.

The money is better too.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Food and the low cost of living.

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

Yes but read the reviews first - especially international school reviews. The one I worked for is all over the internet with teachers, both past and present, relaying the same horror stories.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Maybe but certainly not to one particular school.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

People talk about bad Thai management in schools. Be very careful regarding expat management, especially if they have their own agendas to achieve, regardless of who suffers.


Tal

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I first moved back to the UK and then to Saudi Arabia in 2013.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

For three years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

To do a master's and then to try to earn proper money in order to save for the future.

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

The salary is NINE times what I made in Thailand. Also there are opportunities to move out of the classroom in the Middle East, which I have done for over two years now.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I still regularly visit as I am married to a Thai. Many things I miss about Thailand such as food and bargains. There is also so much to do and see.

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

Work in Thailand first for 2-3 years, then try to upgrade to another country in terms of salary.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I visit often but will do another 2-3 years in The Middle East, then go back home to do a PGCE, and hopefully then move back to Thailand permanently.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Moving away from Thailand eventually helps to get the love and appreciation back for the place.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 235 total

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