Teaching English abroad has been the greatest way of immersing myself in local culture and practices.
I`ve lived in a Thai style apartment with a cold shower, bucket flush toilet and had a mat-style picnic blanket as a bed. I haven`t had a movie cinema or McDonalds to go to. Instead, I have had the time to learn a new language, fish, talk to strangers in broken thai/english and enjoy the small joys of living in a Thai farming community. This lifestyle has been more fullfilling than any other I have experienced.
It`s taken me three months of living and working in Bang Luang to reach the point where I can say I got into my groove. It`s a sad goodbye.
Some of my friends back home have asked if its easy living and working in Thailand? The answer is definitely no. It`s not easy.
The idea of teaching English in Thailand is glorified somehow in the mind of many. People assume that its all peaches and cream over here. It`s not, and that`s why the experience is fullfilling.
Throwing yourself into a new job, amongst a new culture, in a country that doesn`t speak English, makes for a challenging experience.
During my time in Thailand I have stuck to a few things I have learnt along the way. I feel that they have really helped me in making my stay here enjoyable and successful:
1. Don`t rock the boat; there is a system. The system may have holes in it, but the last thing you want to do is try and fix it up. Just accept things for what they are and get on with it.
2. Things take time to happen over here in Thailand. There will be many situations where you will be standing around feeling like you should be doing something. Don`t stress - it`s a little thing called Thai time. Things will happen when they happen.
3. Slow down your communication. Remember that English is completely foreign to many people you will converse with. Don`t try and rush a conversion; let it flow slowly and you will be able to communicate a lot more.
4. Make friends with the local people and your fellow teachers. By doing so, you unlock a new world of experiences and learning.
Like with anything, it is what you make of it that determines success and enjoyment. In short, living and teaching in Thailand has been the best travel experience of my life.
My next adventure begins today as I hop into a time machine. Destination; Myanmar. A major perk of being a teacher in Thailand are the long holidays!