What is your name, age and nationality?
Adeline English Rawl, 24, American
What is your education level and background?
High School- Ashley Hall (Charleston SC)
Bachelors of Science in Psychology from The College of Charleston
Have you travelled abroad previously, and if so where?
Yes, I have done a lot of travelling before I came to Thailand and have continued to travel while here. When I was younger I studied in a Marine Biology program where I lived on a boat and sailed through the British Virgin Islands for two weeks. I have cross country road tripped/ backpacked across the US. I was able to study for a month in Cambodia and Vietnam through the college of Charleston. I have backpacked through India two different times so far and definitely plan to go back (India holds a part of my heart).
Finally, when I graduated from the College of Charleston I backpacked to Costa Rica and ended up volunteering and living there for two months. Since I’ve been living and teaching in Thailand, I have travelled to Maylasia, India and a few the major Thai islands- my next big adventure is Chiang Mai and Pai !
What motivated you to teach abroad?
After travelling through South East Asia about a year ago, I knew I had to come back. I knew I wanted to travel the world and see as much of it as I could but money was a pretty big issue, because it costs to travel. After looking at all of my options, teaching just seemed to be the best fit for me. I love kids and want to see the world so it was almost too perfect!
So far it's been a great experience and I enjoy teaching my kids everyday. Plus when you are working and living in an area, you really get to know the people and understand the culture- I love backpacking but that style of travel is very fast paced and you don’t really get to know a place as well as you would living there.
What did you want to personally achieve with this experience, and have you succeeded?
Personally, this experience so far has been all about self acceptance and growth. I have chosen to teach in an area with no other TEFL graduates so for the past 6 months I have been breaking out of my shell and pushing myself far out of my comfort zone! Being here alone was hard at first because it was lonely but after a while I realised that I have been given this time to really learn about myself and what I want from life!
I have the ability to do what I need to do for myself and although I don’t have any TEFL graduates with me, I’m still making friends and meeting people. This whole journey has been about growing more into myself and realising my own strength. If you told me where I would be today 6 years ago I would have probably laughed in your face!
I’m starting to understand the direction I want to head in life and what I really want to gain from my experiences. I'm thankful for all I have learned so far and can’t wait to see what lessons will come in the future
Did you apply for the program with a friend or on your own?
I applied for the program on my own but found out that someone I knew also applied, so I had a friend on the plane ride over which was nice! She is placed near Bangkok so we’re far from each other now but it was nice to have a friendly face while making the transition from America to Thailand.
Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?
Yes, my friend Sydney was actually working and teaching at the same school I’m teaching in now. She was leaving right as I was getting my teaching certification, so I came to the school where I am now to replace her! Because of this I don’t have an agency and was just hired directly by the school.
What were some of your concerns before you began teaching abroad?
One of the biggest concerns I had before teaching abroad was of course missing home. But I think my other big concern was that the kids wouldn’t like me! This has been an interesting lesson because yes I’m the teacher and I have to be stern sometimes (especially when the students won’t stop talking!) But they have been so much easier to connect with and get to know then I expected- so that has been a major plus!
I was also afraid that I wouldn’t meet anyone or make friends, but that's literally impossible especially if you put yourself out there! In the beginning it was a little difficult. But with time I’ve become more comfortable and have actually made a good amount of Thai friends (who live in my town) this has felt like a major accomplishment!
The language barrier has made it a bit difficult but some people do speak English and its really cool being able to learn phrases in order to connect with the people who cant speak English.
TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION:
What made you choose a face-to-face TEFL course over other options?
I chose a face-to-face course because I thought that it would be easier to connect with and understand the Thai culture before throwing myself in completely. I had never been to Thailand before coming here to teach, so I wanted to have a month of getting to know people and the country, before just going straight into teaching. I’m really thankful I did because it was a great experience and I made a lot of connections around Thailand as well.
Which TEFL program did you do?
I did the TEFL program on the island of Koh Chang. It was awesome and so beautiful.
What did you enjoy about your TEFL Course?
I thought it was a great course and I was really sad to leave everyone at the end of the program! I really loved my trainers and the island of Koh Chang is so beautiful. It felt like I was at a camp for adults because that's basically what it was, plus classes. We got to stay in an awesome resort and explore the island as well. I’m thankful for my time there and am happy that I chose to take the TEFL course in Thailand.
How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?
I felt pretty prepared for my teaching position before I came to my province. But I also had a friend here working already, that was able to answer a lot of the questions I had. The TEFL program was informative, but I also think that I wasn’t fully comfortable teaching until I got here and started. You can prepare and train all you want but I think that it will be nerve wrecking no matter what because teaching is an experience that is usually very different from the practice. It took me a few weeks to get into the groove of things and really feel comfortable and prepared for all of my lessons each week. This isn’t the case for everyone but I am a very hands on learner so the preparation comes with practice and experience.
How long do you plan to stay in Thailand?
I have been teaching in Thailand for 5 months now and plan to stay for 10 more - after my contract is over I might stay longer or move on to another country but I am not sure yet.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
Like I mentioned above, my friend had been working and teaching in Thailand for a year (after getting her TEFL certification) and when I reached out and told her that I was getting my certification she said that she was leaving and her school needed teachers. I knew that I would be where I am before I even started the program but that’s only because I took over my friends position.
What does a typical working week look like for you?
I have work 5 days a week and I have to be in school from 8-pm. My class schedule is different each day and I teach a few different subjects, like English, sociology, geography and art.
My busiest day is teaching 5 classes a day and my slowest day is 2. I come to school and we have assembly in the morning where the students sing the national anthem and pray and have morning announcements. After assembly my day starts and I either have a morning class or work on papers/ exams/ read/ write (depending on how busy I am). I eat lunch around noon everyday and can either go to the lunchroom where the kids eat (where the meals are pretty cheap!) or I can walk outside and get something from a close restaurant or food cart. We also have a 7/11 right next door if I want something from there. After lunch I go back to working and classes then leave school around 4 and head to either home or the gym…….. depending on how much energy I have from the day!
I’ll eat dinner from the market or cook at home most nights. On the weekends I’ll either stay home and chill and organise, go kayaking or just explore my town. I’ll travel too, we have a really cool island that’s only an hour away that I will go to on the weekends if I need a break or want to go to the beach. I don’t really do much intense travelling on the weekends just because I don’t like travelling for a day and not spending much time in an area. I think people overthink what it’s like to live and teach abroad because when you're home it sounds so foreign and unknown. Honestly, I’m doing what I would be doing if I were home just in a different country. Yes a lot of things are different but they have become normal in time and it feels like home to me now.
What age group or range do you teach?I teach high school, so my students are from the ages of 13 to 18 years old. I teach in an international program so all of my students can speak at least a little English and classes are very small. My largest class is 10 students and the whole program consists of around 60 children. We even have an exchange student from Norway and a few of our students are part Thai part Australian or Polish. There are only a few kids in our program who I have trouble understanding but the majority of them speak and understand English very well.
What do you most enjoy about teaching your students?
I have absolutely loved getting to know them! At first I was scared to be teaching high school because back home in America I was teaching pre-school and was afraid that high school would be too hard! But I was wrong. I am so happy to be teaching older students because I am really getting to know them and they’re all at the age where they’re independent in themselves and it’s great to have conversations with them too. My students are funny and caring and it’s been awesome seeing them grow and become more and more comfortable with me over time.
How did you get your work visa?
My school helped prepare the paperwork for me to get my work visa. I came over to Thailand with only a travellers visa. When I got to my school, they prepared all of the documents I needed and then I had to travel to Malaysia in order to get my work visa. Getting to Malaysia was easy from my town- I had to take the bus from Ranong to Hat Yai Thailand and then from there I got a van that took me over the border and into George Town Malaysia. In Malaysia I went to a visa agency and they took me to and from the embassy in order to apply and get my work visa.
All in all the process was very easy and I got to spend a week in George Town, which was really nice and cool to see. I had a little problem with some of my paperwork but I was able to contact my school and have them email the documents over and still get my visa in the same day! This is just like teaching for me and before I got my visa I was really overwhelmed with having to go through the experience but doing it was a lot easier then expected and it was a cool trip.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?
My friend again, she recommended that I stay where she lived, while in my town so that’s what I did! I have a very modern apartment and it’s definitely big enough for one. I have one room with a bed, a chair, a table, a closet, a bathroom and a kitchen area. I love where I live, because it’s right on the river and I have a huge window that overlooks the river so it’s nice to wake up to. The only thing that is a little difficult is that I live about 10 minutes outside of town so if I want to go anywhere I need to have a motorbike (I really love the bike but it’s not awesome when it rains!)
What are your monthly expenses?
Rent: 5,500 baht
Electric: 600-1,000 baht (depends on if I use my air con or not!)
Food: Between 4,000 and 5,000 baht per month (some of the more western places where I live are expensive, but I splurge because I want it haha! You can also spend less than 4,000 baht if you’re only eating from local markets and food stands or trying to save money!)
Phone: unlimited internet and phone usage for around 600 baht a month
Motorbike: 2,000 baht a month for rent
Travel: Depends on where I go! There's a small island close by that I go to a lot and it can cost my anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 bhat (depending on what I buy!)
We have an airport where you can fly to Bangkok for around 2,000 baht, but we also have a bus station and you can get to most places around for under 500 baht).
If I want to travel, I’ll try and save some of my salary for the month just so I’m secure. It’s pretty easy and cheap to travel to most places here so that’s a plus. It’s also nice because if you’re on a budget you’ll be able to work out travelling cheap but you can also spend a lot! It depends on the kind of person you are and the level of comfort you need!
Misc.: I like health food- like chia seeds, avocados and organic peanut butter- so I will splurge more on food then most. I’m also a vegetarian and although I can find options in the local market and food carts, its normally the same types of food, so I like going to restaurants and buying good food with more options. I will also buy veggies and such at markets and cook at home, which isn't always cheaper but worth it to me! Alcohol can also get pretty pricey but it’s easily avoided.
Would you say you are able to live comfortably on your monthly salary?
I am definitely able to live comfortably on my salary! I haven’t really had to use any of my savings unless I want to do major travelling. Like over Christmas, I travelled to India for a month and I had to use my savings then but for little weekend trips I make enough.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS:
Don’t allow your thoughts to overwhelm you and keep you from saying yes to an experience of a lifetime! I promise you that everything will be okay and although it won’t always be easy, you will come out of this experience stronger and more confident!This is something that I always wanted to do but was terrified of taking the steps necessary in order for me to accomplish this goal.
Being here in Thailand now I realise how much I built it up in my head, but in reality it feels so normal and is much easier than I initially expected. If you have any doubt in your mind, stop and ask yourself if it’s out of fear of the unknown and don’t allow that fear to stop you. Jump headfirst into the unknown because it is there where you will learn and grow so much more than you ever expected and it’s a beautiful process along the way.
Life is meant to be lived and you have the world at your fingertips, if you choose to experience and explore, and there are so many beautiful things and people waiting for you. If i can leave you with any advice, it’s: Please don’t let fear keep you from living your life, accept and acknowledge it but keep moving forward- you never know how far you can go until you try!
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