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


Rick Rezac

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I left Thailand to go to Madrid for 5 months (didn't really like it), then on to Korea where I have been for 2 years.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

5 years, '03-'08, Universities, High Schools and a lot of corporate work.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Well, mainly the people and attitudes just got on my nerves, and how they make it so difficult for a foreigner to live and work here. You know, sometimes its all the little things, that and a Thai gay English teacher at my Uni didn't like how I taught and forced me out! But hey, thats another story for the books!

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

Madrid was not that good, at least for an American. If you are not an EU citizen, then you are considered less, and it's so damn expensive for everything there.
Korea is a different story. I'm an EPIK teacher (work in Public School System) and was welcomed from day one. I was put in a Busan elementary school, they had never had a native teacher and they all treated me like a rock star. Still to this day!
Now I know from talking this is not always the case, each school is pretty individualistc, I just got kinda lucky. But they have done very well by me, anything I ask I get and sometimes more!
Free housing is a great bonus, the salary is good, this is really the easiest teaching I have ever done. Their curiculum is very simplistic so the kids get most of the good stuff at the language schools, which almost all go to.
Never a pay problem, pension/saving plan is good, and the internet is killer here! Oh, and they have baseball!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the heat/humidity-really! I hate the cold weather here! I miss the more easy-going lifestyle, and this may be strange but the 2nd-3rd world hominess. Being too modern for me is not all that fun! Except for the internet.
Generally, Thais are very friendly, same for Koreans but different. The women are far more friendly than Korean women. And I miss working extra places, Koreans make it much more difficult.

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

Well, Korea is clamping down, hiring Indians/Filipinos more now. Nothing wrong with this, they are just trying to get more for less money.
If you like seasonal changes, then Korea might be good for you, but I find it a bit boring here, just not that much to do.
I think Thai is better teaching, kids are more fun and really more into world things. Oddly enough, Koreans are more ethno-centric, meaning outside music.movies/tv is not as popular as in Thailand. Hey, just an opinion! But, if you have the qualifications, I would do Thailand first!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes! My contract finishes April 30, and will be in Thailand May 1.
I have my batteries recharged and now appreciate Thailand more. Sometimes one needs to distance themselves to really see how it is.
Thailand this time is my final destination.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Security is nice, staying put, working one country, one job, but there is something to be said for floating around a bit. Experiencing other systems, countries and seeing which one best fits you. I have had a little bit of this, not as much as others and more than some. It has made me a more open person/teacher and given me more perspectives on how to deal with different situations. The bottom line is- what is it that really makes you happy. Where to go to get it and how to make it work for you.


Johnny

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Guangzhou China.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

From 2002 to 2006 at three different schools.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The lack of education in this country and the lack of professionalism from Thai teachers (having a 6 year old boy crap his pants 45 minutes before my class and she did nothing ) I cancelled class and took the boy out, told the dean - he didn't care

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

My students speak English !

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The sunshine ? and my dog. Oh and I miss the stupid bars in Chumporn... buy 5 beers get 2 free.. Good deal !

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

No, I am not that nasty !

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Just for est and relaxation. China has so much more to offer. I have meet some many wonderful people in China.. Strangers on the street will help you find your way if your lost. All they want out of it is to practice English ..

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Not really.


Phil Roeland

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to from Thailand to China in August 2009.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Five years, from 2004 to 2009. I did take a six-month break in 2008 though.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Difficult to pinpoint really. I guess I was fed up with the place and needed a new challenge. Although paperwork was done for me, jumping immigration rules still remained a hassle. Although my fellow teachers and I really tried hard to make lessons effective and interesting, not many students tried hard or became proficient in English. At times, the lack of qualified, enthusiastic teachers or applicants was somewhat demotivating as well. Often teachers in Thailand are merely foreign entertainers or even zookeepers.

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

As I am in a similar position (head teacher in a private language school) as I was in Thailand, there aren’t many differences for me personally. Teachers in China usually work fairly regular hours. There aren’t many that work seven days a week or teach 50 periods each week (and then drop dead). Standard 40-hour weeks with 20 to 25 teaching hours seem the norm. Salaries are relatively high in big cities – slightly higher than Thailand – but can be rather low in rural areas (like in the LOS). Most teaching positions offer free accommodation or a housing allowance. Most expats fall in the category ‘Normal’, although some could be labelled ‘Hippie-ish’ or ‘Slightly odd’. There are definitely much fewer dubious characters and washouts than in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Not that much. The food, maybe. Not really the food itself, but the omnipresence and availability of it. Chinese food is great, but there aren’t nearly as many food courts and street stalls as in the Land of Smiles.
The toilets, for sure. Although China has come a long way and is in many respects more western than Thailand, they don’t seem to be able to get those right. Smelly public squat toilets still prevail in the Middle Kingdom.
Some rays of warm sunshine in winter probably completes the list.

Things I don’t miss include the stifling heat, the narrow pavements, the air and noise pollution, the ‘kreng jai’ and ‘mai pen rai’ attitudes, the airheads in the classroom and the dual pricing. It gets a bit chilly in winter here, but walking remains a joy. Wide pavements are everywhere and oven-like temperatures are rare. There is some air pollution of course, but where I live it’s definitely not as bad as Bangkok. The Chinese I’ve met so far are quite open and speak their mind; many also seem to enjoy learning English more and try harder than Thais. Travelling and prices for tourist attractions are much higher than in Thailand, but at least everyone pays the same price.

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

Either country would do for newbies. As the average level of English in both Thailand and China is still pretty low, new teachers needn’t worry about explaining the use of the third conditional or the present perfect continuous. They’ll mainly teach conversation lessons. By the way, local Chinese teachers seem to be fairly skilled at grammar, like their Thai colleagues.
Classroom sizes are similar to Thailand: small classes in private language centres and international schools and super-sized classes in government schools (30 to 60+ students).

Whereas Thailand is a slightly easier country to live and get around in (especially when you’re fresh off the boat), China is a bit more challenging because of the language barrier. Chinese restaurants (except those in the high-end bracket) often have menus in Chinese only and staff are rarely fluent in English. Getting settled in, renting a flat and arranging visas needs to be done with the help of a local.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I don’t have any plans or intention to return to Thailand in the near future, but my motto remains “Never say never”.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Never take anything for granted. Never stop learning. Don’t wait to travel the world until you’re retired (What if you drop dead at 60?). Practice makes perfect. Don’t let your teaching techniques become rusty. Keep an open mind. Think Darwin and evolve. Adapt yourself to local customs. Don’t whinge or complain excessively. Listen and learn from negative feedback and constructive criticism. I’m sorry, is this the section where you start waxing philosophically…?

More China photos available on www.flickr.com/photos/philiproeland


Michael Watson

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in 2004 from Bangkok.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand just shy of three years. I worked as a consultant for a large logistical company and then taught for one year.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The hassle of obtaining the necessary visa and work permit (when I was teaching) Working as a consultant was much more straightforward when applying for these documents.

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

I make a lot more money each month. Currently, I work seven days a week. The money is excellent (equivalent to THB67,000). I get nearly three months paid leave each school year and the school I am working for is much more professional. Sure, there are still annoyances, but overall it is much better.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss so many things. Food, culture, climate, cheap travel, islands, other foreigners, nightlife, entertainment, etc...etc...

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

I would advise someone who is young to try out Thailand before going to work in other Asian countries. I think Thailand is a great stepping stone into Asia.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Perhaps when I am near retirement I might opt to live my remaining years in the LOS. I have traveled back to Thailand on holidays and will continue to do so...as long as the country doesn’t implode.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Nope.


Sam Cordero

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Singapore and then later to Dubai.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Two years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The monetary benefits for teaching in Thailand is only enough for a single person I think. Leaving my competitive MEP Government School was a mistake on my part. Having entered the university teaching project with farang and Thai officers in the university not able to assist, facilitate, defend and show real concern for their teachers proved to be very stressful. They wore me out and killed my passion for teaching children. English teaching became so commercialized that schools were hiring backpackers who hadn't even achieved a secondary level of education. It was sickening. It was pretty obvious that English teaching wasn't rooted in education anymore.

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

The big advantage is money!.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the simplicity and beauty of Thailand. I miss the shops, the local foods, the beaches, the historical places and the warmth of good old Thai friends.

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

If they have the money to extend their stay for at least three months (worst case scenario) then why not.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes. I have been visiting Thailand but only Bangkok. I miss the Isan food so much.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I wish everyone well especially in the face of the ongoing political turmoil.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 246 total

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