Casey shares her story of teaching in Thailand, in the northern province, Tak!
“I think you definitely have to be prepared for what you signed up for. Teaching in Thailand is a rewarding and amazing experience. You have to reach out- don’t stay in your room and shelter yourself just because you feel uncomfortable. Reach out of your limits and you will find a community and a home wherever you are.”
Teaching in Thailand can be a great way to explore the culture and live like a local. In this series, some of our teachers tell us about the challenges and rewards of living in a town previously unknown to them. As much as going somewhere unknown can be daunting, we hope their experience and advice will help you settle into your teaching placement more easily.
After completing her TESOL course in Hua Hin, Casey found herself moving north to teach in Tak. In this blog, Casey describes how she was able to build a community of other foreign teachers and Thai teachers alike. Keep reading to hear more about Casey’s Thai adventure and check out our TESOL courses if it makes you feel inspired to take the leap yourself!
When you found out you were going to Tak, how did you feel about your placement?
“I had never heard of this town before. I’d asked for the north, so I was excited to be up here. I’d asked for Chiang Rai, but I had been told that wasn’t likely, so I was open to anything in the area. I also really wanted kindergarten. Getting kindergarten in the north, I was really happy.”
Did you have a first choice of placement in your mind before you started teaching in Thailand?
“Before I came here, I wanted a city, but when we landed in Bangkok I realised that wasn’t what I wanted. So, I spoke with my placement coordinator and asked to switch it to a smaller town in the North.”
What was it like adjusting to life at your placement?
“It was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. I thought the hardest part would be leaving my friends and family in the states, but when I got to Hua Hin, I felt like I made friends and family and I didn’t expect leaving that month to be that hard. I think my first real culture shock came later than I expected it to.”
Now that you’re more settled in, what kind of connections have you made in the local community?
“There’s not a lot of foreigners aside from the handful of teachers. I don’t think anyone really comes to this town for travel. My co-teachers have been really helpful throughout the whole process. We’ve been able to communicate on a daily basis and have been very welcoming into the school community; so them and the teachers I live with do dinners and stuff like that together sometimes. It’s nice to have someone to show you around.”
What is your favourite thing about the town you’re teaching in?
“So, my town is pretty small and a lot of people would say there’s not much to do, and I agree with that, but in the week, it’s nice to have that place that’s calm and collected. When I travel at the weekends, I’m thankful on Sunday night that I’m coming back here instead of a bustling city that never stops.”
What would you tell people about living in a small town in Tak?
“I think you definitely have to be prepared for what you signed up for. It’s a rewarding and amazing experience. I don’t think it’s for everyone though. You have to reach out- don’t stay in your room and shelter yourself just because you feel uncomfortable. Reach out of your limits and you will find a community and a home wherever you are.”
Related to your last answer, is there any advice you would give to teachers who are going to a town without many other foreigners?
“I would say the most important thing is staying connected. Sometimes it can be hard to reach out to friends and family as it makes you miss them more, but it is helpful to keep that open line of communication. I think both overseas, and with the people in your community; even if you don’t have many English speaking people around you. You should have teachers at your school that can help you so make sure to reach out.”
We love hearing our teachers’ stories. If you’re an alumn and would like to share your experience, please get in touch. If you’re looking to start a new adventure teaching overseas, check out our TESOL courses and international placement services. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more updates!