While working full time over the summer saving up money, I found myself visiting the TEFL Heaven website regularly to dream up this plan. There was usually someone online ready to chat, so any questions or worries I had could be resolved! When researching about the country and culture of Thailand I was won over straight away by 'the land of smiles!' It wasn't long before I decided to go for it and pay my deposit for the course!
I flew out to Thailand in September to start my teaching adventure! I had got to know people from my TEFL course already through the facebook group set up for us and a big group of us decided to stay in the same hotel in Bangkok together for 4 nights to explore the city before heading South to start the course. It was amazing to have this support and have friends as soon as I got to Thailand!
Living in Chonburi was such a big contrast to rural life in the North. It was great to be so close to the sea and the islands and a 1.5 hour minibus ride into Bangkok so I could plan lots of fun weekends away! There was many foreign teachers living in Chonburi and there was four of us from Media Kids teaching at my school, so it was fun to have lots of friends from around the globe!
It was a luxury to have my own apartment and a pool I could use. It took a lot of time to adjust to this new kind of living and looking out from my top floor balcony I sometimes felt I was living in a lego town!
It was coming up to the end of term and 7 months living in Chonburi and a whole year working for Media Kids. I had been so well supported in my first year in Thailand through TEFL heaven and then working through Media Kids who set me up with a bank card, visa, work permit, accommodation and I had personal consultants at the end of the phone 24/7 whenever I needed help or advice. I am ever grateful for my time working as a teacher for Media Kids but I knew that it was time for me to try going it alone now!
I had taken a solo trip up to Chaing Mai in my school holidays earlier in the year where I enjoyed the soulful city life and I fell in love with the surrounding nature and mountains. I met up with some friends from my TEFL course there and we spent a week in the bohemian mountain town of Pai. We all talked of what a dream it would be to live in this part of the country. As term time was coming to an end in Chonburi I had seen many posts on the Ajarn recruitment site for teaching jobs in Chaing Mai. Most of the adverts stated that they were only interested in people who were in the city already and available to come to an interview. I had a good feeling that if I moved myself there I would find something.
When I arrived in Chiang Mai with all my things I spent the first week living in a budget hotel searching and applying for as many jobs as I could. I was lucky and within my first week I had a few interviews and I managed to secure a job with NAVA School of English! I had just over a week till the new term started so I used this time to find somewhere to live. After a couple of days of hot cycling around the area I wanted to live in and some help from some long-term expats that saw me struggling in the heat I managed to find the perfect place for around £150 a month!
My agency gave me a mini laptop and speaker to borrow for my time teaching and all the books and flashcards I needed so I felt well-prepared to start class!
My timetable was split between two schools - Chiang Mai Christian School and Sacred Heart Catholic School. I was a 5 minute cycle from each school and I had to pinch myself most mornings cycling through the beautiful city streets and across the Ping River into work!
I was teaching mainly high school again but with 4 classes of kindergarten that I spent 20 minutes with each class twice a week! It brightened my day singing and dancing with them!
I definitely made the right decision to follow my heart to Chiang Mai! I found the most amazing friends there and the city soon became home to me.
As an artist it is so inspiring to be in such a creative vibrant city where there is people from all around the world doing lots of really cool things! With so much live music, street art, yoga, workshops, festivals and all of the delicious food you can imagine every day is different and full of new experience!
Although Chiang Mai is the city for me I had so many amazing experiences in each place that I lived and worked. I grew and learnt so much in the 20 months I spent in Thailand! If anyone is thinking of doing something like this too I say go for it! I have been back in the UK this summer for some big family celebrations. I'm travelling back to Chiang Mai this weekend to spend 7 months as a student of Thai Language and Thai massage and I can't wait to see everyone and for this opportunity to learn and grow further! :)