Moving to Thailand with a recruitment company, like Greenheart Travel, has its benefits. One of them, by far, is the amount of information they provide to you about budgeting, living abroad, and previous teacher-placement locations. For me, this was hugely important because I love doing research.
I didn’t know much about Thailand’s regions prior to my departure so it was nice to be provided with a list of different cities that I had the possibility of being placed. It also gave me a chance to narrow down where I might want to be placed to let Xplore Asia know more about my preferences. (They sent out a questionaire about a month prior to my arrival)
Can you believe that I’ve been in Chiang Mai, Thailand for an entire month already?!!!! It’s gone by so quickly that it’s hard to imagine in less than 6 days, I’ll be teaching Thai children/teenagers; just slightly terrifying. (this blog post was late so I’m technically a week into teaching- oops…blogger fail)
One of the benefits of teaching abroad through Xplore Asia, is that before starting your TESOL course, you go through a week long orientation. This orientation provided myself and the other teachers informative lessons about Thai language, culture, government and politics. Michael, the owner and executive director of Xplore Asia, is so passionate about teaching new Foreigners making the transition to Thailand, about the new country they moved too.
I never thought this would be beneficial, especially with the internet, but it was so helpful hearing it first hand from someone who experienced the same thing. Plus, I’m a nerd, so I love learning about my new home. The Thai language lessons were extremely helpful as they started helping me think in a new language and provided me with basic conversation skills to be able to start engaging with the locals. Sawaddee Ka! Kapkunka!
Outside of the lessons, Xplore Asia sets up several excursions within the community to help us dive right into the culture! The excursions in Chiang Mai were perfect for the region; rice planting, Muy Thai, trips to the market, a visit with a monk to learn about meditation and a trip to the famous Doi Suthep Temple! It was quite a busy week between class and excursions, but these excursions grew my love for Thailand! These excursions showed me an introduction into the details of what makes this country so special!
In addition to those excursions, we had some free time to explore on our own. I was blessed that I was able to experience a few extra adventures during my month long stay.
One of the first things I did, along side many of my classmates, was journey to the famous Bua Tong Waterfall, a.k.a “Sticky” Waterfall. It’s honestly so hard to put into words how to describe this waterfall. It was nothing like I’ve ever seen or experienced. You literally climb this waterfall, barefooted. There are a few sections with ropes to help, but for the most part, you climb unassisted. AND IT’S EASY. It was so refreshing being back out into nature with the water and the plant life!
Another big excursion was my day trip to Chiang Rai with my roommate. When I first met Karen, one of the things we talked about was HAVING to go to Chiang Rai! We made it happen as were blown away. Chiang Rai is known for a few things. 1) The Golden Triangle; 2) history of being a high producer of opiums; and 3) The White Temple. The White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun, was our main reason to venture the 3.5 hours northeast of Chiang Mai and it did not disappoint. The intrigue details of this temple and the sheer size took our breath away. And that wasn’t it.
Chiang Rai had a new temple that was completed in 2016, called the Blue Temple or Wat Tong Suea Ten, and I only recently found out about this particular temple. Now, I love all things blue, so when I heard of this beautiful temple, I knew it was a must see! It did not disappoint. It was stunning inside and out. And that still wasn’t it.
We had a couple more hours to before our bus ride home, so Karen and I wandered the city and came across this hidden gem of a temple, that looked to be under renovations. It was so unexpected. It had elephants build around it, had colorful, shimmery plates all around it, and it was quiet. No one else was around so it was just us and the temple. Unfortunately, it was closed on the inside, but it didn’t matter. The exterior was magnificent.
My last big adventure in Chiang Mai came in the form of FOOD!!!! I was extremely blessed to be hosted by A Chef’s Tour on their Chiang Mai Northern Food Tour by Truck. This is a food tour focusing majority on the Thai cuisine from the Northern region. It is unique type of Thai cuisine that most Westerners haven’t likely heard of or eaten. My tour guide, Moui, was very knowledgeable and very helpful with explaining the variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, and pre-made foods, like curries, cooked fish, etc. This tour took me to several places, including two different markets. These markets had several similarities but were vastly different.
Some of the food I tasted included a century egg (delicacy in China), several types of curries, spicy minced pork, fermented pork, and Northern Thai sausage, sticky rice, stinky fern omelet, crickets and silk worms, 3 different Vegan Burmese influenced salads (pennywort, fermented tea leaf, and tamarind leaf), and several desserts. It was heaven and honestly, SO MUCH FOOD. I was so full but kept on eating. This tour is HIGHLY recommended if you ever go to Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai).
There is so much to see and do throughout the entire country of Thailand, but Northern Thailand has a unique unity between the various surrounding countries that make it so special. I highly recommend taking your own trip to Chiang Mai and experience all Northern Thailand has to offer!!
I can also tell you this…I’m not even close to being done exploring this region and the entirety of Thailand!
Have you ever had a moment where you knew you needed some type of a chance to get you out of a funk or bad habit?
This was me back in February.
After the hurricanes, life changed and almost everything on the island became a challenge. Work was harder: more children to see, more schools to drive to, and lack of internet to be able to access files (thankfully, we did have hard copies). Driving was life or death on every road due to little to no stop lights/stop signs. Even obtaining basic necessities could take a full day if not a couple days. So by February, my mind knew it needed a change…the challenge was the “Where and What” factor.
When I first started thinking, Arizona became the first thought. After all, it is where my family lives and it is where I spent majority of my life. I could…but when I truly started putting my heart and my head together, the pull to Arizona just wasn’t there. So it was back to the drawing board…
It took two days before an old roommate’s story came to mind. When our house in Seattle decided to each go out separate way, one of my roommates took the opportunity to move abroad to Thailand to teach English. I started doing my own research and reached out to her for more information. It didn’t take me any time before my heart and my head started lining up and I knew this was it. This was the change I needed.
The opportunity to travel, learn to speak a new language, put myself in difficult situations, and experience a new type of career, being a teacher…SOLD. My heart, soul, mind, everything lined up. This was it.
I immediately went online too apply for the position. I decided to use a recruitment type company called Greenheart Travel, a non-profit organization to run an extensive amount of programs for people of all ages. These programs include but not limited to homestays, exchanges, teach/work abroad, and volunteering.
Choosing to go through a teach abroad program vs. independently moving abroad and finding a job wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I liked the idea that I’d have endless amount of support in obtaining the necessary visas and work documents, setting up accommodations, completing and obtaining the appropriate TESOL certification, setting up a bank account, setting up a phone number, AND even help find teaching jobs and placement into schools.
Don’t get me wrong, it probably is cheaper to find a job by simplying moving to Thailand, but I personally LOVED having someone assist me and knowing I had a guaranteed job as an English Teacher takes a LOT of the stress out of moving to a new country.
From the start of the application process in February, to interviewing in March, to paying off the program cost in June, and purchasing the plane ticket in July, the adventurous spirit inside me slowly began growing again.
I was sad to be ending my time on St Thomas and leaving the children I truly adored and cared for and leaving behind an amazing group of lifelong friends, but a new adventure was waiting for me and I was ready to pack up my life and move to Thailand.
So here I am writing to you in Chiang Mai, Thailand about my “WHY” and my “HOW” I made the leap into moving to Thailand! It has only been 12 days and I’m in love. Stay tuned for “My First Week In Thailand” blog.