My time in Thailand is coming to a wonderful, amazing, bittersweet end.
Why, just the other day, I received an email asking to review my contract with WordPress (this website).
Has it been almost a year?
Why yes, yes it has.
Prior to coming to Thailand to Teach, I did extensive research on Teaching in this magical country. I wanted to know, all the good, the bad and ALL of the ugly; Ignoring generic, TESOL blogs I knew would have nothing but positive posts from “Real Teachers”.
Obviously, opinions very widely depending on whom you talk to. I scoured blogs, and emailed many of their authors. All of whom wrote wrote me back and shared more on their experiences.
So with all this in mind, I thought I would take the time and write about my own experience and give advice for those whom might be considering the same path:
Its Very Easy To Get A Job.
I called a number on a Thursday, had an interview on Saturday, and started that Tuesday.
Yep, it was that easy. Any recruiter that charges you an exuberant amount of money while you are still in your home country to help you secure a job is ripping you off. If you want to teach in Thailand, literally show up, apply on the various Teaching Sites (Aka Ajarn.com) and ask around. If you are open minded and flexible about where and who you are teaching, you will have no problem finding a position.
Read Your Contract Thoroughly.
You were offered the position! Hooray! What a minute, it says here if I leave before the contract I have to pay X amount back?
If the contract isn’t suited to your best interests or doesn’t “Meet in the Middle” ask to amend some things, if they aren’t flexible, clearly, they don’t care about you and just want to fill the position. Onto the next offer you got because seriously, you will have a few.
Don’t expect to be BFF’s with your Thai Co-Teacher.
Yeah, this isn’t “Anna And The King”
The Thai Teacher knows you’re only there for a short time, they also know that you, the English Teacher, make a lot more money than them. On top of this, you, the English Teacher don’t have to deal with the parents and the administrative staff of the school at the same level as the Thai Teachers do. Your responsibilities, duties and workloads are much less than the Thai Teachers. Also, there is the language barrier to attend to. My Co-Teacher and I kept it “Professionally Pleasant” but mostly, the conversations were “Good Morning, Good Night and ‘What is this Student Saying?’
In my opinion, Thais overall, are jealous people. Do not get me wrong; I have met mostly kind, warm and very generous Thais, but the women in particular, have never been the *warmest*.
Don’t Expect To Make A Lot Of Money
Remember that one summer in high school, when you worked at that camp for two months? Remember those paychecks? Thats about the same salary you will make in Thailand.
My paycheck, after Thai taxes, was about $1100 a month, which is pretty high for Bangkok standards. Teachers that go out to more rural areas, or the islands, will make a little less. The positive side to that is costs (rent, utilities, food etc.) will be a little less, and if you’re hired in Krabi or Phuket, you’ll also be near the beach, making entertainment costs lower if you were to live near a big city. These examples all depend on your lifestyle though.
You Will Work Long Hours
My hours were 7:30am – 4:30pm everyday. Not to mention, once a week “Duty” Where you have arrive at 7am to assist in taking crying, screaming children from their parents and bringing them inside the school when they are dropped off in the morning and making sure they don’t kill themselves in the afternoon until 5:30 when the parents are late picking them up. Theres also meetings, events, and other activities that you are
required (made) to attend. Overtime? Whats Overtime?
You Will Get Sick.
I awoke at midnight, sweating, my stomach feeling like it was doing flips, this can’t be good, I thought to myself. Sure enough, it hit me like a wave; I spent the next six hours making trips to the bathroom to vomit. On my third trip, I replayed all the things I ate and drank that previous day, and then I remembered how half my students were out sick due to a “Virus”. Joy.
Whatever sniffle, cough, or runny nose that is passed around the class you can bet you will eventually get. “I’ve had this irritable cough and sore throat the last, like two weeks”, “Yeah, I have the exact same thing” I said to a colleague. The rainy Season especially, you will feel like you are perpetually sick. Embrace it, wash your hands regularly and deal with it.
Some Days, You Will Feel Like A Rockstar.
And some days you will feel like the complete opposite; it depends entirely on the class. I have had classes where we finished early and others where if I literally stapled whatever we were working on to the ceiling, the students would still try and get it. Be adaptable, which brings me to my next point;
Try And Be Adaptable.
There will be days where you want
lock the kids in a closet and runaway walk out of the classroom. Just ride the wave. One element I took away from being a teacher for 10 months was when a lesson is going downhill; aka, the students aren’t paying attention, are super hyper and generally give zero f*cks, try and sing a song, put on music and have them dance, change their state of mind or “Change State” as we very qualified Teachers do.
You Will Get To Travel.
Three day weekend here, 1 week there- there are a lot of Holidays during the school year. Its all VERY affordable to travel around Thailand and South East Asia in general when you are in South East Asia. Book that budget airline and GET OUT THERE!
You Will Be a Better Person From It.
Being a Teacher obviosuly made me become more adaptable and certainly lifted a lot of anxiety; if my co-teacher was out, or the printer wasn’t working and I didn’t have the work pages ready, no biggie, I can handle that. Its been a marvelous experience, one that I have enjoyed so much I have decided to go Teach in South Korea for another year, stay tuned to read more about that in the coming months! Yeah, certainly, no regrets.