"My Thailand Journey" by Evelina

Read all about Evelina's journey with the TEFL Institute and making her way back to Thailand; the Land of the Smiles. Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions you can have, and what better place to follow your passion in? Read about all things you need to know before making the big move!

Hi everyone. This is Evelina and I’m here to talk to you all a little bit about my experience in Thailand. I am from Lithuania originally but moved to Ireland back in 2004. In Ireland, I graduated with an International Business degree in 2018. I’ve always wanted to find a way to travel and even live abroad. I wasn’t the happiest with my work/life balance and needed to find a way to make a career change. When I moved to Ireland, I actually didn’t speak a word of English! Can you believe that I am now a TEFL teacher in Thailand? So, how did I get here? 

Pre-COVID, back in 2019, I had travelled around South-East Asia for a few months. I had an amazing time but made the hard decision to come back home after the pandemic hit and borders started to close. It has been the weirdest couple of years of our lives, to say the least. It was also quite a struggle getting home with cancelled flights, but after some delays and then some connecting flights, I landed on Irish soil once again! 

Staying put in one place had been very difficult for me, as I’m sure is the same for a lot of you like-minded travel-obsessed readers. All I wanted to do at this point was to get back to Asia somehow. 

Coming home after travelling into lockdown is not a nice place to be, as a lot of people will know – jobless, back with parents and just yearning to get back out there! Unfortunately, the world had different plans for a while. At this moment, I decided to look into online courses, and in particular a TEFL course. I told myself that if I never used it, at least it would pass the time and long days during the lockdown. But in the back of my mind, I wanted it to be my ticket back out to Asia and the continent that I love!

Today, in November 2021, I am happy to say that I am back in the land of smiles as I am completing my fourth week as a TEFL teacher in Thailand. So how did this happen? When I set my mind to something, I am 100% in. After completing my 120-hour Advanced TEFL course, I applied for the TEFL Institutes Thailand positions. Funnily enough, due to my degree, I was offered a little bit of a different position; teaching math through English. This is something that had never even crossed my mind, and it just goes to show how vast the TEFL industry is! If you have a science background and even a geography background, there are so many options for you! I’m so excited to see the opportunities that lie ahead and so happy to share my journey with you all. 

Now, for a little insight on the journey to Thailand….

Getting my documents ready

I can not stress enough that your best friend is time. Going with a program, you do get a lot of support and getting documents ready shouldn’t make you shy away from going. Between post and embassies, once you have time, it will be all the less stressful for you. It does vary depending on the country you are travelling from, but I will fill you in on my experience coming from Ireland

  • A legalized university degree
  • A transcript from my university
  • Proof of residency in Ireland (use a bank statement, payslip, Revenue letter)
  • Travel insurance with Covid-19 cover
  • A police certificate 
  • A bank statement to prove sufficient funds for travelling to Thailand
  • Have a digital photocopy of my passport ready for submission

This is a good starting point and you may need more as you move along the visa process. This will all come in time. Depending on your nationality and your agent in Thailand, the types of required documents may vary.

What to put in your suitcase 

First things first, pack light! Thailand’s shopping districts are plentiful and affordable. Bring enough clothes and essentials to last you for the season ahead, but packing for a whole year is not what I would recommend. We all like a little shop now and then, so why should this move be any different? I would recommend bringing some of your favourite, comfortable clothes and maybe a few items of clothing for teaching – a black, knee-length skirt is a good shout for female teachers or plain trousers for male teachers. This is not necessary as buying ‘teacher clothes’ here is very accessible. If you are tall, it may be a little more difficult, but still achievable (and, of course, online shopping!).

evelina
Evelina

Thai schools, for the most part, do have dress codes for teachers, as well as students. Dressing sharp is key. You may also not be told about this until quite late notice, so my advice is to, again, pack light, and save a bit to buy clothes that are appropriate for work. 

In most schools, female teachers must wear a dress or a skirt and a blouse, covering both knees and shoulders. Tattoos must also be covered in most schools. Male teachers must wear full-length trousers and a shirt. All teachers must wear a closed-toe, dress shoes, so if you have a good, comfortable pair at home, bring these. In some classrooms, teachers may wear slippers/sliders if they want. This, again, will depend on your school.

Personally, in the school I’m in, we actually have a colour-coded scheme, where we will wear a different colour each day, such as yellow on a Monday and pink on a Tuesday. My favourite day is Friday because it’s a traditional Thai dress day! The students need to take their shoes off before entering the classroom but don’t worry, teachers can wear slippers or keep their shoes on. This is my experience, so it may not be like this in every school in Thailand.  

I also packed a lot of toiletries and bug spray, which I do regret, as this is easily buyable for much more affordable prices in Thailand.


My Thailand Experience

evelina
Evelina

Thai culture and attitude are like nothing else. You are greeted by friendly faces and students adore you and genuinely love to learn! There will be quite a lot of learning and preparation from the time you decide to enrol on the TEFL course to your first-day teaching. Saying that the TEFL industry and people within it are definitely ready to help, so make sure you ask lots of questions and talk to fellow teachers. There is a huge, but close-knit TEFL community in Thailand. One big piece of advice from me is to prepare yourself for a culture shock. You are no longer in the western world – Thai are friendly and super polite, you must also be respectful and sensitive to their traditions. What we think is a spirited debate may be looked at negatively in Thailand.

Quite often, you will hear people tell you that ‘things will happen when they happen. Things in Thailand are not as organised as we may be used to, so it can be a little frustrating at times, but it’s all part of adjusting to a new culture in a new country and once you are aware of it, you can adjust to this new way of thinking. You must always remember that when you move across the world, you will experience new things, some of which you may or may not like, but it’s all part of the adventure.

Food is absolutely amazing in Thailand! They have so much variety and it’s all so good! You will definitely find your hidden taste buds. Between curries, rice dishes, noodles and soups, you will find something that you like, even if you are not a foodie. My favourite has been Khao Soi, a creamy coconut curry noodle soup. This is native to Northern Thailand, where I’m based. I would highly recommend trying it if you do get placed in this region.

Moving back to Thailand has always been on the cards for me since I left back in 2016. Once you find a place you love and experience their culture, it’s hard to say goodbye to it forever. I have been so lucky to get back to Thailand. It’s a beautiful country, with the best landscapes, modern cities, and beautiful people and kids. It’s been such a rewarding experience so far and I can’t wait to see where I go from here! 

If you would like to get in touch with Evelina, make sure to follow her on Instagram  @evs_adventures  and she will be happy to provide you with some more information.

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