Travelling to Thailand from England had me continuously thinking about living and teaching there as I wanted to live abroad and live the dream for many years which I did but could I afford it with my thoughts on the cost of living in Thailand with the money I had? It was a huge decision not to return home to England on my Five-Week plan which was at this point about one month into my trip. I had made my mind up to go to Australia for a year, save money then go back to Bangkok and study for my TEFL certificate which was around $700.00 but well worth it. A friend sold my car back in England and placed the money into my account which funded my trip to Australia with the Manchester lads whom I lived with in Bondi Beach and worked with at a company called the Holiday Club in sales and marketing.
After my Australia trip I resumed with my amazing plan to take up my TEFL training which was exceptional and although difficult I enjoyed the lessons and the course content which was guided by several course content books that highlighted the science behind the language and skills needed to complete the certification that was aimed solely at teaching Asian students. My course team members were all interesting and well-organised new teachers and our mentor teacher trainer Camilla from Canada was amazing. She taught us in Japanese her previous country of residence for one whole lesson to concentrate on our skills of learning a language overall. It’s strange to learn Japanese in Thailand but effective to learn a language to see how we developed as a team to teach English 6 weeks afterwards. My dream of Living and Teaching in Thailand was reaching that ever closer episode of my life that I knew would change my life overall.
I made lots of friends and hooked up with another teacher who studied with me in my apartment organised by the school as we still hadn’t gotten used to the cost of living in Thailand so wasn’t sure how much we should spend until we started teaching. I was happy and willing to learn a little Thai and have a few nights out but I knew I had to concentrate on this overpowering need to succeed in something I never thought would lead me into such an amazing life of Teaching English as a Foreign Language. As the weeks unfolded I managed to eat out, make friends and maintained my studies to complete the course and begin a new life. I was nervous at the end of the course when we had to construct several demo lessons to teach for the first time to students and our mentors but it all seemed easy after studying for final course tests and I was on my way to teaching for the first time in a full-time job after a successful course pass and appraisal from the training school’s owner. I had to think about where I was to live and what I needed to buy for my apartment and also what sort of home entertainment I needed such as internet and satellite TV. later on I had all of these luxuries as a qualified TEFL teacher in Thailand.
Most people who have never taught English in Thailand, The Land of Smiles would think it’s a great place to start and you wouldn’t be far wrong but there is more to it than meets the eye. Student expectations are becoming harder from the Ministry of Education wanting all schools to implement expected outcomes to enhance learning skills to teach the students for a better learning curriculum that suits the lessons created to improve the students in their studies overall. There were more trips to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for proof of address which we dreaded with a three thousand baht cost to check our work permits which were stamped every three months. Some teachers I recall could not afford this at the best of times so I wonder what happened to them.
Thailand is a beautiful country with blue seas, long winding beaches, forests, rivers, landscape and fantastic people but the teaching aspect of things is looked upon far more than you would think. Teaching English in Thailand often means teachers giving as much respect to the monarchy as possible and so it should be because its their environment and they know it. There are poor people in Thailand just like there are in the west and they must ask their own people for help. The truth often deludes foreigners that feel uncomfortable with beggars and homeless people who need help and foreigners wonder why or more like how can this be in a place of paradise. There are no pension schemes in Thailand for the poor so consider getting an extra meal and sharing it out if you can. Many times in Thailand, the land of smiles I’ve even seen the occasional foreign beggar so my advice here is to make sure you have enough money to budget your trip accordingly to get you home if needed.
There are lots of pros and cons in Thailand but it is by far my favourite country for teaching. I was stationed there for five years and learned their language the best I could to be heard when needed and to become almost a citizen of their county. Teachers of English are easy to attract and Thailand know it or the educational departments do hence the low salaries which in turn brings in the less attractive teachers to educate their students. I was extremely lucky when teaching in Thailand with a good salary and nice condominium and enjoyed lots of friends and company but it never stopped me having at least a few problems that came with been away from home England far to long. If you have heard of reverse culture shock however you’ll understand what happened to me when I finally did make it home to the United Kingdom and everything seemed fast paced.
These days it’s hard to imagine what could have happened to me if I had of made the wrong choices when teaching over there with all the fun and frolics I had but there were close shaves like not been swallowed up by the the Tsunami in 2004 where I choose not to go on holiday that week to Koh Phi Phi which was a good choice. I could have been killed and in fact lost a Thai friend who drowned under the huge waves that swept across the shores. After around 4 years in total in Thailand I should have gone back home due to total burn out and tiredness, basically I had over taught, tried to hard and got as far as I could professionally. If I were to return it would be on holiday only because deep down inside living there does not cross my mind. I have to mention there are lots of things I miss about it and the culture that had changed me so much. Thai culture if fascinating to me and I still favour Buddhism quite a lot and have never lost my respect for the culture of Thailand in all these years.
The right to practice any religion in Thailand is protected by the constitution. Buddhism, however, is the faith of 95 percent of the population, 4 percent are Muslims, 0.5 percent are Christians, and the remainder Hindus, Sikhs and other religions. placed on the extended family than it typically is in western countries. If you’re shocked by the number of siblings a Thai person has, it’s highly likely many of those are cousins—there’s no word in Thai for cousin and people refer to cousins as their brothers and sisters
If you live in Thailand you will know It’s normal for extended families to live in close proximity to each other, with many Thais maintaining strong attached links with their home villages even if they move away for work which for most Thais is a must due to the hardship in various poorer regions in the north or other areas. It’s common for children to be raised by grandparents or aunts also uncles if their parents need to work elsewhere as mentioned such is the role of extended family in everyday life. Younger members of the family are expected to help take care of older members. This can be financially, or by doing a range of chores. There isn’t a so called state pension in Thailand so it’s important for a foreigner to realise that families often need money so it’s a good idea not to flash it about. If you have ties with a poor family buy the family a meal and allow the brothers and sisters to have a drink afterwards with some light entertainment such as music or dancing. Remember Thai’s in general love to have fun and it’s your duty to allow them to have fun as long as you can afford to entertain them for an evening to make them happy and nurture lots of fun and smiles during your time with them.
Respect, shame, and the concept of face are important in Thailand, perhaps more so than in many western countries. The use of language and the Wai are just a couple of ways for Thais to show respect. It’s considered bad and disrespectful to visit somebody’s home without taking at least a small gift. Not removing shoes before entering a home is also a big sign of disrespect. Disrespecting someone, in a variety of ways, can cause a person to lose face, that is, to be embarrassed or shamed publicly. Yelling at somebody in public is another way of causing that person to lose face.
There can be strong repercussions for causing loss of face, with violence an extreme example of what can happen. It’s not uncommon for Thai, particularly in rural areas, to deal with perceived injustices according to social norms (and outside of legal frameworks), with individuals, families, or communities dishing out punishments as they see fit. I’ve lived in Thailand in total for about four years and have seen very little disturbances, however the ones I have seen due to a Thai loosing face have at most be defused in a few minutes or less.
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