Mark Newman

Ten reasons you’re a jerk! (an intervention)

Why you've now become a royal pain in the whatsit

The Thailand adventure is over, you're finally back home... and THIS happens!

Hi... I'm your mum/dad/brother/sister/best friend/lover/employer...

Sit down and listen for a few minutes, would you? Don't say anything, please - just listen.

You've been back from Thailand now for a while and I still love you, but you're starting to become unbearable. We've been close for so long that I feel that I can tell you this without risking our friendship. Hell, maybe it will make it better, because as things stand now, I don't care if I ever see you again.

Ah ah ah... just be quiet. You've had your turn. I've been listening to you for a few weeks. Now it's my turn. Ready?

OK... here's a list of ten reasons why you are just a pain to be around since you came back from Thailand. I'm hoping that you'll understand all of these issues and do something about them before our relationship is changed forever.

1 - You think you're a real teacher!

For heaven's sake please get over yourself as regards to being an ‘educator' is concerned. From what I've read, teaching in Thailand is an unskilled job pretty much anyone can do. Just be straight with us (and yourself) and admit that playing the part of a ‘teacher' was just a way for you to pay your way. Do you seriously think you can do this job for real back home in the real world?

2 - You're too used to getting your own way.

I don't know exactly how you were treating people in Thailand but that abrupt air of entitlement doesn't fly at home. Haggling for things, demanding ‘a better deal' and belittling waiters, etc, is NOT how we behave at home. Frankly, your ongoing abrasiveness is making you difficult to be around and is not something you should be proud of. I think you have spent too much time in the company of good-natured, reserved and acquiescent Thai people and they seem to have been a lot more forgiving of your rudeness than we are.

3 - Your friends don't care as much as you want them to.

Look, you've been abroad. We get it and we are a little bit jealous, but for God's sake, you didn't walk on the moon. It was interesting to hear about your adventures for the first day or so, but now it's getting rather tiresome. What initially set you apart as somewhat interesting has now just become too excruciating to bear. Just reign it in, please. We've all heard enough.

4 - You think you're a world traveler - you're really not.

This air of ‘mystical guru' that you're carrying around with you has just gone on for too long now. Other people have also sent their mum an email from a coffee shop in Chiang Mai, not just you! You aren't the only one to bungee jump into three feet of water, either. Sure, it's great that you sold your car and broke your lease to skip town for your big adventure, but for those of us that didn't, the shtick is getting old. You're not Richard Attenborough!

5 - You keep comparing things at home to Thailand.

I'm amazed you ever came back, what with stuff being so cheap over there. A hut on the beach was how many baht? A fresh crab salad was how much? Your water bill was how much? And renting a motorcycle... WOW! How do we make it in The West with our high prices and other assorted rip-offs? We get it - it's cheap in Thailand and a dollar is actually worth ten dollars!

6 - You come across as smug and sanctimonious.

Opinions don't always need to be expressed. Especially yours as they are always negative and belittling of pretty much everything we talk about. We get it - the Thais can't do a jigsaw without your help... We Westerners could learn a thing or two about handling stress and eating for less... Have you really unlocked the secrets of the universe in the year you've been gone? If so - keep them to yourself. We'd rather just carry on doing things the wrong way, thanks!

7 - We all think you're a sexual deviant!

Funnily enough, the one thing that we actually could talk about that would sustain my interest for any length of time, is the one thing you've been remarkably coy about. In fact, the way you seem to sidestep any conversation about the ‘ladies' and sex is a bit creepy. Exactly what DID you get up to over there? We only know what we've read on the internet about Thailand and you aren't giving us any reason to think differently!

8 - Employers don't regard your adventures as a skillset!

You've been on a few interviews now and each failure to secure meaningful employment seems to be the fault of the employer not recognizing you as the great company asset that you seem to think you are. Could it be that taking a three-year ‘character building' holiday isn't the asset you think it is? Employers are regarding your extended trip to Thailand with suspicion. Maybe it's time to revisit that CV and change a few bits!

9 - You are preachy about your ‘gift' to Thailand.

Oh, and since when has working in another country been an act of charity. You're crowing about your value to third world countries as if we should be pinning medals on you and thanking you for your service. Get over yourself - you did a menial job for kicks and lived on rice and the kindness of strangers. If anything, this so-called ‘charity' seems to have come from the Thai people for allowing this to happen!

10 - You think your social media accounts are interesting.

I've ‘unfriended' you on Facebook. You probably haven't even noticed. I've seen enough poorly lit photographs of sand and Thai curry to last a lifetime. Actually, all your friends have, too. What started out as an interesting diary of someone we loved and admired, quickly became a tedious slideshow of cheap crappy food and anonymous beaches in God knows where.

I hate to say it my friend but you've become a boorish nuisance since your ‘fantastic voyage'. We want the old ‘you' back and unless you start to get back to normal soon, you'll be distancing the few remaining friends you have... perhaps permanently.

Your mum/dad/brother/sister/best friend/lover/employer.


How dare you tar everyone who lives in a country and / or works in a profession with the brush that clearly paints in your colour. I am am English teacher, and I have a CELTA, DELTA, PGCE, Masters Degree, several other professional qualifications and 20 years' experience. I chose to work in Vietnam and Cambodia, which folk like you commonly berate in the same terms as though we are all sexpats and good-for-nothings. I have had good jobs, I make good money, I take my work seriously, I AM a world traveller having been to five continents and over 30 countries in the last 10 years, I don't bore people back home about my life, I don't screw hookers and I treat people nicely and with respect.

Some of us like it, are good at it, have made a decent career out of it and enjoy the lifestyle that it can provide if you commit and work at developing your career.

By Simon, China (9th October 2016)

Hilarious!! though yes this applies mainly to the gappies and young fresh teachers straight outta uni. I used to be one of them and probably have been guilty of at least 7 out of the 10 things on the list especially moaning about how expensive everything is in the west!!

By Danny, bkk (7th October 2016)

Great article and a bit scary. Been overseas for 35 years and in the beginning my return home was numbers 1-10 me all the way. Bottom line is nobody really wants to hear your stories, see pics, and here your acomplishments for more than 5 minutes tops. Its so easy to alienate close ones if you continue to act in this manner

Great piece!

By gringo, BKK (7th October 2016)

Certainly some good advice here for people taking gap years, not so much for English teachers. That's fine as many teachers over here are doing the whole gap year thing. Maybe that could have been worked into the title, ie '10 reasons you're a jerk after your gap year!'
I would say that the article, particularly the first and eighth point, only applies to those who teach without qualifications. If you have a degree and gain a TEFL or CELTA then you are an English teacher and likely could gain employment back home in a language center. TEFL experience in Thailand is valuable if you want to teach English. Many teachers begin their careers in Thailand before moving on to higher paying work in other countries such as Saudi Arabia.

By John, Bangkok (6th October 2016)

This article is a miss. While these experiences might have been what the author experienced (doubtful since it appears he is a lifer in Thailand) it is certainly not true for me or anyone else I know that returned home. If I had to find any connection, it would maybe be #5 - comparing things to Thailand. However, this is mostly just in terms of costs, and I am not verbal or outspoken about it.

I will agree that #8 is 100% true..."Employers don't regard your adventures as a skillset" Seems pretty obvious, but if anyone in Thailand believes that going home and applying for a job after a few years will be easy, you might be surprised. Virtually all employers ask about those Thailand years, and there is no good answer.

Looking back at Mark's previous articles, there are a lot of top 10 lists,do's/don't do's, checklists, etc. He certainly comes off feeling that he is an expert in all things teaching-related.

By Tim, Tampa, FL (5th October 2016)

This article seems a bit hit and miss. The strange thing is one week Mark writes an article about how wonderful we become having taught in Thailand, then shortly afterwards he writes an article about how insufferable we have become. So, which one is it?

By John, Bangkok (3rd October 2016)

Excellent. I am sure that you could write a cutting piece about what bores some of these people are even when they are still in Thailand. I stay quiet about my life here when I am home in the UK, unless I am specifically asked. Most people in the west are having a much more interesting life than some 'cheapskate tefler/shopping mall wanderer, in Thailand' anyway.

By Jeremy, Udon (2nd October 2016)

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