How I became aTeacher in Thailand
When the idea to first travel around Asia came to mind, I had no real idea of how I would support myself. As I have said in previous blogs, it was more of a pipe dream when I first thought about it, and who needs money for a pipe dream. But, as time progressed and the dream started to become more of a reality, the need to somehow earn money became clear — and considering I currently had very little, this was a big problem. It wasn’t until I was having a conversation with a friend, and they had mentioned the possibility of teaching abroad that I had even considered it. I had heard of people teaching abroad before, but never really considered myself someone who could do it. Firstly, because if you put me in a room with kids I usually get awkward and try to avoid them (their lack of impulse control and habit of saying anything that comes to mind can sometimes unsettle me). Secondly, whilst I had made a promise to myself to improve my public speaking, throwing myself in the deep end wasn’t really my style. I preferred a casual toe dip. However, when I considered my options, there really were few, so teaching too, became part of the plan.
During Covid-19 I completed my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification, something they advise could be done in 2 months but in actuality took me nearly 5. I also worked as a copywriter for three months and used the money I made to pay for my flights to Thailand. I then found a TEFL consultant, an extremely nice man called Jason who both sourced a school hiring an English teacher and put me in contact with them. For those interested in this process I will be doing another blog on it, but what I will say now is it is a very tough decision deciding where to spend the next few months of your life when you have never visited the continent let alone the city. The time for me to leave for Thailand quickly came, and for something I had been thinking about for a while, the whole process went manically fast. After an 18-hour flight from London to Dubai to Thailand, I found myself Stepping off the plane at BKK airport, overpacked luggage in hand. The climate was the polar opposite to what I was used to any everything from the outset can only be described as a different world. Pumped up on adrenaline and slightly disorientated from the lack of sleep, I found my hotel approved and covid precautious minivan and made my way to the hotel.
The next 4 days I jumped from hotel to hotel, looking to find a room where I could spend the next 3 months. Something which proved quite exciting as I was being thrown straight in and didn’t have time to overthink that I had just moved to a country I had never stepped foot in. The week I started teaching was really when I first truly realised how different a culture I was in. My programme coordinator Pim had asked me to meet her at a location halfway from my apartment to the school. I would then jump in a taxi she had booked, and we would both proceed to the school for my first day. My first surprise was that Pim had advised me to get a ‘bike’ to meet her. It wasn’t until I asked her puzzlingly where exactly I would find a bike that she explained there were motorbike taxis all around and they could drive me wherever I needed to go. So, the morning of my first day I tentatively left my apartment donning my shirt, trousers, and shoes, sticking out like a saw thumb amongst the vests, shorts, and t-shirts of the locals. It didn’t take me long to find the motorbike taxis Pim had mentioned, they all wore bright orange bibs with numbers on them and would repeatedly call out to you to see if you needed a ride. After choosing one, I called Pim to act as translator, and soon enough I was on the back of a random man’s motorbike, far closer than I admittedly felt comfortable, and was on my way to Pim’s chosen meet up spot.
My next surprise came shortly after getting on to the motorbike. After a 7-minute drive through the streets of Pathum Thani, I found myself on what can only be described as a dual carriageway. A wide bumpy road with poorly marked street lines and overly eager Thai drivers. Next to it I noticed an open train track where many people were running over to reach the other said of the carriage way. It was no sooner after having the thought that it looked pretty dangerous to clamber over walls and track, that my driver had pulled to the side of the rode, beckoned me off, and pointed to follow those same individuals. In broken English he made clear that across the track is where Pim was to meet me, and I would have to jump over the small wall and cross to join her. I handed him 30 Baht, that’s about 70p in GDP, and followed the Thai kids and adults across. When I reached the other side a Thai man who turned out to be Pim’s drive accompanied me to his car where Pim was sat waiting for me.
It was from this moment that I can say my teaching experience really began and I look forward to sharing all the other crazy stories related to it soon.