So firstly, here’s a little video taster of what to expect when moving to teach and live in the North of Thailand…
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Now to tell you a little bit about us and our experience from starting the TEFL course to finally upping sticks and moving across the world…
My partner and I had been talking about travelling since we met and we both wanted to take some time out from our careers, so we decided to embark on a TEFL course.
The idea of being able to travel across the world with a skill that would provide the means to live in different countries and cultures seemed too good to be true. We had both considered a TEFL before we met, but we’d each also had our own worries that being in our early 30’s we’d left it too late. It seemed something that people did when they first left University. However, we signed up for the 150-hour TEFL course, and everything started falling into place.
The classroom days with our Teacher Asif were brilliant. I’m pleased to say, that ‘Being too old’ was a complete misconception, there was a broad range of ages.
We were also worried that being a couple would put potential future employees off, or that it would be harder to acquire jobs. But Asif put our minds at ease – and we were assured that it actually it isn’t a problem at all. That is definitely something that I wish was spoken about more on the internet, as we couldn’t find much information about whether it would be a problem or not.
Thailand was our first choice destination as both of us had been to Thailand before we met, and we both had really great memories – in particular, the North of Thailand. We set our sights, and got researching…
We applied for a handful of jobs and were offered Skype interview for every application, before choosing to go with a company called Media Kids Academy.
They’re experienced in what they do, friendly and really enthusiastic about their company and Thailand. We just had a really good gut feeling about them.
It all felt pretty daunting to pack up everything and move continents, we worried about paperwork, visa’s etc, but Media Kids handled all the stressful paperwork for us and talked and walked us through everything.
They really listened to the sort of place where we wanted to end up, and gave us three options. We researched all of the places we were offered and could honestly have moved to any one.
We had an orientation week in Bangkok when we landed, where they provided us with a curriculum to follow, what to expect in a Thai school – all the stuff you’d expect and more.
That and with everything I’d learned on my TEFL course (I still carry my TEFL booklet with me to every lesson) has been invaluable.
Additionally – Media Kids has a team that’s designated to each area of Thailand that they outsource to – which is great. We really love the team that we have supporting us; they are there, on the phone or email, whenever we need them – whether it’s about the curriculum, our accommodation (which they sorted and is ace), or even when we need a sign translated! They come and visit us once a month to check in and make sure we’re ok. They’re really sound, so we enjoy seeing them when they come to say hello.
Now that we’re here and living the Thai life – it’s brilliant.
We were drawn to the North of Thailand for the food, the people, the arts and local crafts, and all of the jungle landscapes. The scenery is so beautiful. We bought bicycles and we’ve seen waterfalls, incredible mountain vistas, paddy fields, villages, temples and even ginormous scorpions!
AND another plus with living in a small town is that English really isn’t that widely spoken which means that slowly but surely we’re learning Thai. Often I don’t think the Thai’s have any idea what we’re trying to say, but it’s all pretty funny (I hope!!).
Teaching pretty much immediately lets you be more accepted into the community. If we’re out and about and people ask us where we’re from and how long we’re here for – as soon as we say that we’re teachers and living here, people really open up, inviting us to their homes, taking us for dinner or secretly ordering food to our table; dishes that we would never have know how to order or even seen before.
Although our town is small, we’ve made friends with other TEFL teachers from some of the other schools, which is also really interesting to see their perspectives.
It’s great to meet up and chat about totally barmy stories from what happened at school or share stories about places we’ve seen or heard about for our trips.
We’re really making the most of our weekends and putting time into exploring the North of Thailand, particularly amazing sights and places from the local’s tip-offs that we’d never know existed, and Chiang Mai is only a few hours bus ride if we need some city life.
We also have our school month-long summer holiday coming up, so we’re starting to plan where to travel around SE Asia during that period – we feel Thailand is a launch pad to so many amazing places – which is, of course, a huge perk!
Thai schools are great. We’d done our research before we came, but we weren’t prepared for how many extravagant school celebrations there are. Literally every week there’s something going on at school – whether it’s from a carnival style procession through the local community, assemblies with skits and fire breathing, fun fairs, or a science exhibition to rival London’s Science Museum. That’s not to mention the countless Buddhist festivals, which all generally result in a day off. Teaching can be a challenge, but it’s nothing compared to my previous stressful career – and ultimately the plus points completely overshadow any hard days. You have to be prepared to go with the flow, realising you won’t always know what’s going on. Teaching in another culture means you don’t always get answers to questions straight away, or are understood at all for that matter. But the last five months have proved that everything works itself out in the end.
I’m so glad we bit the bullet, I would totally recommend it to anyone who is thinking about it. What’s the worst that could happen??!!
Lydia & Emlyn