TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Taught English abroad previously
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Long term: Croatia and Italy. Traveling/Short Term: France, England, Ireland, San Marino, Austria, Montenegro, Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary, Laos
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I was living in New York City, completely unfulfilled and desperately trying to fill a void in my life. I have always spoken of traveling abroad and looked into teaching English as a way to fund it. Unfortunately, there was always a plethora of reasons keeping me stateside. Finally, I decided to put my own interests first and booked a one way ticket to Europe. Two years and thirteen countries later, I am still traveling and teaching English abroad. Currently, I am living and teaching English in Thailand and exploring the raw beauty of Southeast Asia.
What were some of your concerns before teaching English abroad?
I had a laundry list of concerns and worries - however "the risk not taken is more dangerous than the risk taken" - so I refused to let these apprehensions stop my dreams.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching English abroad?
They were a mixed bag of emotions but mainly proud of me for following through with my dreams.
TEFL CERTIFICATION CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I wanted a credible way to fund my travels. I am a teacher in America so it was only natural to look into being a teacher abroad. I do not have my Masters so job opportunities to work at an International School were quite slim. I did TONS of research on TEFL schools and found International TEFL Academy to be legitimate and affordable.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
How did you like the Online TEFL Certification course?
I absolutely loved it. I was happy to find that it wasn't just a blow off course and that it required thinking and work. We cannot expect to educate our children if we do not introduce educated teachers into the system.
I found that my instructor was EXTREMELY helpful and available. She answered all of my questions immediately and actually cared about what I had to say.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
My TEFL training has further enhanced my university education. I spent my undergrad studying Secondary Education so I am fully aware of teaching pedagogues and techniques. The International TEFL Academy Online TEFL Certification course built upon these foundations and taught me a lot about the unique ESL learner.
The TEFL training and International TEFL Academy have also provided me with a surplus of resources - country guides, school references, etc. - that has made living abroad quite easy.
TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD IN CHONBURI, THAILAND
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
How long have you been teaching English in Thailand and how long do you plan to stay?
3 months; undetermined
How did you secure your English teaching job in Thailand?
I contacted the school directly.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Anubanchonburi English School
How did you get your work visa? If you didn't get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.
The school provided a work visa for me. I had to make the initial 'Visa Run' to Laos to get my Non-B Immigrant Visa but that gave me a great opportunity to explore a new country. The school finished filing the rest of the paperwork and assists with the 90 day check-ins. If I went through an agency I wouldn't have had to visit Laos.
Tell us about your English teaching job in Thailand!
I work at Anubanchonburi, which is the largest Thai government school in the province. I teach 35 children in 2nd Grade and I am also the Team Leader for the grade. My students are full of life and energy and have a decent foundation of the English Language. The school has introduced a STEM Program so our curriculum integrates science, technology, engineering, and math into our everyday lessons. It is innovative and a lot of fun - I get to be extremely creative!
I must be at the school from 8am to 4pm Monday-Friday; however, I only have 14 hours of actual teaching. Our school is bi-lingual and I work in the English Program. Therefore, our students pay money to have half of their classes in English. It is a hectic but fun environment.
Thai culture prides itself on shows, performances, and competitions. There is always some sort of performance that the children are practicing for (Father's Day, Children's Day, Christmas Show, etc). Along with these performances, field trips and English Camps are mixed into our schedules. Finding the balance between teaching and these extra-curriculars has been the biggest challenge for me.
I make 35,000 Baht a month - so roughly $1,061. They direct deposit my salary into a Government Savings Bank that does not do international wires - so I can't send money home. However, I use this money to travel and it is PLENTY to travel Southeast Asia with. I travel almost every weekend and am planning to backpack through Southeast Asia afterwards.
There are plenty of random holidays that the schools have off (Father's Day, Children's Day, Makha Bucha Day,etc) The school year is Beginning of May to End of September, October off for vacation, Then beginning of November to beginning of March.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
The school set up housing for us and we were able to decide if we wanted to stay there or find somewhere else. I pay 3,500 Baht ($110 USD) a month for rent and internet, water, and electricity ranges from 500-1,000 Baht depending on how much I use my air conditioner.
I have my own room and shared bathroom. We have a kitchen area and fridge, which is unheard of! Apartments usually do not have kitchens or kitchen appliances since everyone eats out for every meal.
I live with another teacher at my school (who is actually a friend of a friend from home!)
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc. about your country:
Thailand is a culturally rich and extremely interesting country. I wanted a culture shock after living in Europe for so long and that is exactly what I found.
Everything is different here - and it's not a bad different. Thailand was not colonized like its neighbors so it is still catching up to the rest of the world.
I live in a VERY Thai city. Chonburi is a suburb of Bangkok. It is 45 kilometers (28 miles) south east of Bangkok and on the sea - although you cannot swim in the sea here (quite polluted). We have an EXCELLENT night market and a huge shopping mall is 5km down the road from us. There is a 7-11 on every corner. Motorbikes and Songtaews rule the road and the sun shines through that hazy Thai smog.
Thailand is a Buddhist country so it is extremely conservative in many aspects; however, it is also very liberal in other ways. You must have your shoulders and knees covered when entering temples and it is recommended to do so in the city as well. Unless you are on a beach surrounded by expats, you shouldn't be baring your cleavage or midriff. You are expected to wai (bow) to everyone that is your age or older than you. You do not wear your shoes in the house nor put them on any furniture. Thailand is called the Land of Smiles - even if you are disgruntled, they appreciate a smile and kindness.
Public transportation is here very very underdeveloped. You have to make 3 changes in transportation to get from point A to point B. But that being said, Thailand is the size of France so it IS a large country to navigate! The bright side, the majority of transportation is CHEAP. There are plenty of buses, trains, and vans to get you around. I take a lot of overnight transportation to save on accommodation.
Flights are also relatively cheap in and out of the country. Most of the websites are in Thai - however there are AMAZING travel blogs online where people have outlined their travels. Even though it may take you 14 hours to get somewhere that should only take you 8...the end result is worth it!
There is a HUGE expat community in Thailand. Many people, especially from Europe, retire here. Down south by the islands, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya are all hubs for expats. In these areas the cost of living is obviously more expensive (especially on the islands) - however it is significantly less than America.
The nightlife is eclectic - there are pubs, beach bars, restaurants, clubs, night markets, and boardwalks. Beer and whiskey are the only cheap and readily available adult beverages around.
The food in Thailand might be the best part - aside from the gorgeous landscape. You need to be willing to try anything and everything and like spice! The food is delicious and they know how to do it right. If you think you like Thai food at home, that is nothing compared to the real thing. They freshly prepare your dish right in front of you. You can ask them to make it not so spicy or without certain ingredients, but from my experience it is better to just let them do their thing! I have met some teachers/travelers out here that don't eat rice, pork, or are very picky eaters - it must be very difficult for them to eat and for the vendors to prepare their meals. I encourage people to be open and embrace the culture of your host country - and that includes its food.
That being said - also try to learn the language. Thai is a tonal language and extremely hard. I picked up Italian and Croatian quite easily but I just can't grasp Thai. However, know your numbers and greeting phrases and you will be okay.
Thailand is a wonderful country that is centrally located in Southeast Asia. Within this one country you can find beaches, islands, jungles, mountains, cities, forests, and rice fields. The views are breathtaking, the people are warm and welcoming, and the culture is so rich. If you are nervous about traveling or living in Southeast Asia, Thailand is the best country to start in.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
Rent: 3,500 baht ($110 USD) per month
Internet: 200 baht per month
Electricity: 300-1,000 baht per month (depending on air conditioning use)
Transportation: Songtaew is 10-20 baht to go 10km. Overnight buses can be 500 baht. Vans to go city to city can be 100 baht. All relatively cheap.
Phone: 200 baht for 2 months
Travel: as cheap as you want it to be. You can fly or you can take an economy bus. Just depends on what type of traveler you are.
How would you describe your standard of living?
High for Southeast Asia
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in to live comfortably?
30,000 Baht to live and travel.
ADVICE FOR THOSE CONSIDERING TEACHING ENGLISH IN THAILAND
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching English in Thailand?
Research the country you wish to go to:
What is the culture like?
What do the people value?
What is the standard and cost of living?
Then, you must decide if you can immerse yourself in it and RESPECT it. There is nothing worse than a person trying to create America/Home in a country abroad. You are here to experience something new and to learn about a different way of life - embrace it.
I would highly recommend teaching in Thailand; however, you must have an open mind to Thai culture and the Southeast Asian lifestyle.
Check out Amelia's Blog: www.befearlessandhopeful.blogspot.com