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


Brendan

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to England in late 2011.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for about five years. Prior to that, I did a one-year stint in Japan. That was a total disaster but I'll save the details for another time.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

This is a strange one to explain but I got up one morning and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of 'homesickness'. You wouldn't expect to have such emotions after being away from home for six years, but my mother had suddenly become very ill, my nieces and nephews were all growing up. I just felt like I didn't want to be away from 'home' any longer. I carried on through the day think that perhaps the homesickness would go away - but it didn't. If anything, the urge to get on the next flight home just got stronger and stronger.

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

I was very lucky inasmuch as a relative had passed away and been very generous to me in her will. Add to that a bit of money I had stashed away during my time as a teacher, and I returned to the Uk with a fairly nice financial buffer. I was able to use that cash to set up my own small software business and it's now doing quite well in just a few short months. I would have hated the thought of returning to the UK with no money and a five-year gap in my CV and kipping on someone's sofa until I get myself sorted out. Fortunately that was never going to be the case so I was lucky in that respect.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Thailand was a great adventure. There is so much I miss about the place but mainly the warm weather I suppose. Standing at bus stops in February with an icy wind howling around your eyes brought me sharply down to earth I can tell you. I go out for a couple of Thai meals every month at various Thai restaurants and I suppose I'm trying to recapture some of the old Land of Smiles magic or at least keep some kind of connection. Alas, the Thais who run these places are all very westernized. They never want to chat about home. It's surprising how quickly Thais turn their backs on Thailand once they are settled in a new land. It's quite comical in a way.

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

Oh, absolutely! You'll have the time of your life. But I would give serious thought to doing it for more than one or two years. I never met that many people who had made a career out of teaching in Thailand but I did meet many folks in their 40s and 50s who just seemed to survive from paycheck to paycheck. I didn't want to end up like that.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Hopefully I'll come back for holidays. In fact I've already pencilled in a trip for January 2013.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand has its downsides for the foreign teacher (and we all know what they are by now) but it's very easy to get complacent and stuck in a rut. Looking back - and hindsight is a wonderful thing - I would have liked to have done two or possibly three years and left it at that. Five years was a bit too long. I'm glad I pushed myself and got on the plane home. If I hadn't made the effort on the day that homesickness kicked in. who knows how long I would have stayed.


Rebecca

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

From the U.S. to Thailand and back to U.S.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

One year.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Initially, I was taking a new teaching position in Taiwan. However, an expat Taiwanese living in the U.S. who helped me with the contract the Taiwanese university forwarded to me (which was in Chinese for an English teaching position!?), recommended that I not take the Taiwan job because he did not believe the contract would be honored. Well, that was enough to scare me away from that teaching position. So I went back to the U.S in hopes of establishing myself at a University in the U.S. Well, that was seven years ago and I'm still only teaching part-time, am low-income, have no benefits and no retirement plan!

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

None. I'm a teacher by profession and the education sector in the U.S. is quickly collapsing. Yeah, there is the private sector in the U.S. and it is growing -- but at the expense of the public sector of education, which I just can't abide by.

In addition, my partner and the father of my two children is Thai, grew up in Bangkok, where we met, and has not been able to make it here in the U.S. The problem with the U.S. is that if you come here with work experience and a college degree from Asia, good luck finding a job here outside of waiting tables. My Thai partner comes from a good family and had an exceptional education in Thailand, but none of that counts for anything in the U.S. He was a manager for his mother's company in Thailand (a multi-million baht company), has a university degree, but today is serving tables at restaurants because his experience and education from Asia means nothing to the U.S job market, and he makes more waiting tables part-time than he would working in the translation or international trade markets. It is so ridiculous! The U.S. is myopic.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The dedication and respect for the institutes of learning and the work that they do to keep a society above a 3rd world status. You can't beat the fact that your students in Thailand, and all over Asia, fundamentally respect their teachers, what they do, and what they stand for. The majority of students in Thailand do the work you ask, read the texts you ask them to read and do not take naps in your classroom.

It is quite the opposite in the U.S. In the U.S., a teacher has to compete with facebook, itunes, and angry birds for the attention of her students. Many U.S. students do not do the work you ask, are not prepared for class, often never even buy the books that are required for the class, and are not even apologetic about it. They actually seem quite proud of themselves!

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

Go teach in Thailand if what you want to do is teach. In Thailand, you will teach in an environment where it will be rewarded for what it is -- a profession that helps to raise the standards of living for families, whole communities and a nation. Yeah, Thailand has its problems. But so does every other nation on this planet.

A teacher's salary in Thailand may not amount to very much in $$'s or euross. However, it amounts to a very comfortable middle-class life-style in baht. 30,000 baht is a good income in Thailand, but it only comes to about 800 or 900 in U.S. dollars, which is well below the poverty range. You can travel to most places throughout Asia and experience all the same joys that we do in the U.S. on that income. You would have a hard time traveling on it in the U.S. or in Europe though.

On the other hand, in the U.S., not only does a teacher make a low middle-class income, but she will always be suspected of not doing her job, and being in education for the paycheck, or because she is incompetent. Your income will only be enough to pay for your necessities--car, house, gas, food, and clothes and insurance for car, medical and home. Your "free time" will be consumed with paper grading, meetings, etc. Even going on a weekend camping trip is a major ordeal--forget about going to Disneyland or skiing! If your not making over $75,000 with benefits in many parts of the U.S., then you are low-income and only just getting by.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Absolutely! I'm so disillusioned with the whole profession of teaching here in the U.S. Teachers in the U.S. do not make a good living, receive no respect from society, and are not consulted about curriculum decisions. The politicians only pay lip service to what the teachers in the classroom tell them needs to be done. Then, the same politicians go around complaining about how teachers are getting all these benefits and are not teaching our kids--like teachers are a bunch of bloodsuckers who are in it just for the paycheck. Seriously?!! Teachers in the U.S are horribly mistreated right now.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Do not go to the U.S. thinking that you will find a nice job teaching. As a teacher, you are better off in Asia. Maybe things will change in the U.S., but I predict that it won't happen in our life times. I'm starting to hear similar problems in Europe now, too. So, Asia seems to be the one part of the world where education is still a top funding priority. So be it, Asian nations will rise up as the next global powers.

Go where what you do is rewarded and not just in economic terms, but also in terms of being respected for the service you provide the community.

My partner and I have both come to realize that the grass is not always greener.


Sam

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Korea, Thailand, Korea, USA

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

One year

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Trying to advance my career

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

I am progressing professionally, gaining real-world skills, actually working in my field, making a real income and saving for retirement.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Feeling alive for the first time in my life. Seeing the gritty side of life first-hand made me feel like a human. I woke up everyday feeling invigorated rather than like a robot. Back in the U.S., as I am sure is the same with other countries, we put ourselves in this safe cocoon where we remove all things unpleasant from sight. Corruption is still there, but it is less obvious.

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

First, I would recommend China and not Thailand. Although China does not pay as much as other places, there are many, many opportunities in different areas of teaching and teaching leadership. Not to mention it is not too difficult to move out of teaching if you would like.

Second, if you are going overseas to get the experience, not because you really want to be an English teacher, give yourself a deadline. As you can see on here, it is all too easy to get sucked in and you end up in a Bermuda Triangle type life. You have no idea where the past years have gone and you really do not have much to show for it. When you do return back home, it is almost as if you have a black hole on your resume because those skills do not transfer well.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

It would be a dream come true, but only if I am to return on a corporate assignment with a western company.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I had a wake up call recently that changed my life. I was stuck in my fun life in Korea before I realized that this was not what I wanted. Gaining international experience was important to me, but I also had dreams and ambitions. Yeah I was a university professor, but that was not my dream.

I can only compare it to being on an addictive substance. Leaving my life overseas was like going cold-turkey. I had the withdraw symptoms at home and I did try to get back in the game. It still hurts sometimes, but I am doing well. At first I had to take a lower paying job but I just found a job that pays $15,000 more a year than I ever made overseas. I'll be starting grad school this year too at a very good school.

Folks, this is your wake up call. For those of you who came overseas for the experience and not to really be a teacher, take a look at your life. Are you really where you want to be professionally? How long have you been "weathering out" the bad economy? Are you really gaining any skills that will make you competitive? Is your quality of life improving?

You had your time and it was fun, but it is time to wake up. It is time to live. For those who know who I am talking to - it is time to wake up.


Sean

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Los Angeles, CA in June of 2011.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

For about 3 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

To be honest, I was having a pretty good time as a single guy in Thailand. but like so many others, I fell in love with a sweet Thai girl who works in one of the 5-star hotels in Bangkok. Once I had a 'link" into the life of a Thai person, and the mistreatments and nasty behaviors she would have to deal with from her employers I needed to get her out of there. Her chance for a better life, fulfilling any of her dreams, and growing as a person were next to none. And I believed her growth would not only be slowed down, but she may regress from her current state. She deserved a chance to experience a better way of life, professionally and emotionally.

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

Every place has some good and bad. For me I am working at a job that pays five times as much as I would make in Thailand, and my wife is making three times as much. But of course things are more expensive here. But we do get to have more experiences, food, entertainment, and travel here. She also gets to grow her independence and self confidence.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I do miss my free time and my mini vacations around Asia. I miss the varity of expat friends from around the world. The random silly stuff we hear,see,smell, and taste.

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

If you are young and you have zero experience and you have a decent amount of money saved in the bank, then yes. Plan a 2-3 year tour, but save your money because you'll need it for your next move to Vietnam, China, or Korea.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Oh yes, I love Thailand. I hate the people..( This is what my wife says too now that she is out) Thailand is an amazing 5 senses at 100% 24 hours a day. It is great at first because you are so jazzed up and love the feeling. It's like a major drug at first. But it will crash you out after a while. I will visit often, and maybe set up a retirement there, but will limit myself as regards the amount of interaction with the "nation" .

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Do not go to Thailand if you are broke, you'll never get out because you can't make enough to move anywhere else. Starting a business is so hard that it's not worth it. Teaching is a joke and don't expect any..ANY results. And if you get annoyed easily or get angry quickly - please don't move to Thailand.


Wanderer

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Moved back to my home country in 2009 for about a year and half to get certified and licensed as a teacher. Currently I'm in the Middle East working for a large international school.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

About 5 - 6 years, though I spent a year working in one of Thailand's neighbors during that time as well.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

It was more of a combination of reasons rather than just 1 main issue, but the thing that pushed me over the edge was the introduction of that bogus Thai Culture course and the laughable Thai teaching license that the government was pushing at the time. I flat out refused to do any of it, and I knew then it was time to leave. I was also fed up with working for Thai principals and bosses.

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

Where do I begin? I'm on an 'expat' contract here with all the benefits and freebies that go along with that like housing, professional development, worldwide insurance and paid summer flights every year. I have a qualified director and principal at my school who actually know what they are doing - something I never had in Thailand. The locals here are much more worldly, friendly, and easier to deal with than Thais. Believe it or not, in my neck of the Middle East imported booze is actually cheaper than in Thailand and the variety is much better as well.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Where do I begin? The weather, the incredible food, the smells of Bangkok, late afternoon rainy season thunder and warm tropical nights, the Andaman sea, durian, lychees, a few expat friends that I still keep in touch with, the travel opportunities you have from Bangkok, and the generally low cost of living.

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

That depends on how we define 'new teacher'. Someone who was doing something completely outside of teaching and then decided to give TEFL a try? That person would not get a job where I am now, so Thailand all the way. If we are talking about a newly qualified & licensed teacher looking at international schools, the opportunities here are better. International school jobs at the 'real' international schools in Thailand are highly competitive and a new teacher would be unlikely to land one.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

For a visit - of course, at least once a year. To live and work - only if I manage to get an offer from one of the top international schools in Thailand. I will never work for a Thai-managed school or principal again - been there and done that. Retirement - maybe.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand can be a wonderful and addictive place to live and play for a few years, but if you feel yourself stagnating you really need to assess your situation and get the hell out if necessary.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 330 total

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