Jessica Watson

One year later

Thoughts from a first time teacher on living and working in Thailand

The end of the term is fast approaching and with that my one year anniversary of living and teaching in Thailand. The last few weeks have been a mix of excitement and anxiety as grades are finalized and the reality of saying goodbye to my students, some of whom I have taught for the whole year, hits me. When I started this job, I didn't realize how attached I would get to children I can only communicate with on a basic level and who drive me crazy with their antics in class while I'm trying to teach, but I have and there are many I will miss immensely.

The end of the term has also made me very contemplative. A year ago I was in a very different situation than I am now; I was jobless and overwhelmed with debt from a degree that was beginning to seem useless and I was very confused about how to lift myself up from that desperate situation and pursue my dream of living abroad and traveling. Out of the blue I found a website promoting a TEFL certificate and taking a deep breath, I phoned the company and booked my space, thus beginning an online course that would be the catalyst in my life changing in ways I had only dreamed about.

The final push came when a friend suggested for jobs in Thailand and after browsing the website the direction of my life was forever altered. I applied to one job and within two weeks my position was secured, a plane ticket was bought and the reality sunk in that I was leaving the U.S., my home, for a Thailand, a country I knew little about in a part of the world I had never been to before. When people ask, "Why did you go to Thailand?", I don't have a definitive answer, and I'm content with that. All I can say is, it just felt right. The climate, the culture, the location, everything seemed to click and my heart soared at the prospect of starting this new career and new chapter in my life in Thailand.

My intuition was right and the last year has been the most amazing and life-altering yet and I am forever indebted and thankful to my friend, to Ajarn and to the wonderful people of Thailand for taking me in and making my transition to living abroad as comfortable, and exhilarating, as possible!

I don't have a purpose in mind as I write this blog entry, but I feel compelled to share my "one year later" thoughts and my thankfulness for the many people who have shaped my life in the last year. Perhaps, this will help others who are feeling nervous about taking the plunge into living and teaching abroad to be little bit crazy(like me!) and throw caution to the wind and take a chance on a new career, a new country and a new direction in life. Honestly, I know there are about a thousand and one "What if?"'s, but I stand beside by my belief that you have so much more to gain than to lose.

If you enjoy my ajarn blogs, then feel free to e-mail me. And why not take a look at my personal blog site as well.



Sounds like things have been working out pretty well for you, great! It is kind of cool for an old timer, like myself, to vicariously experience once again the excitement of living abroad for the first time through reading your blog posts.

It is nice to see the occasional positive and inspirational piece alongside all the rants here on Ajarn.

However, it might be a good idea to realize what fits your needs so well at this point in your life might not be the perfect fit as you move on in life. Teaching ESL in Thailand a year or two after graduation in one’s 20s is one thing, doing it in one’s 30s and 40s with a family to support is something quite different.

Nevertheless, it is hoped you keep your positive attitude during your time as a teacher in Thailand and also if or when you choose to change career paths.


By Scott, China, at the moment (18th September 2011)

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