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Emily's Journey- Living and Teaching in Surin (Elephant Town), Thailand

Updated: Mar 14, 2020

Emily is from South East England yet has moved around a lot during her 27 years. She enjoys immersing herself in unfamiliar cultures and learning about people. Human interactions are what she loves, but she is also happy to spend time alone.

How did you decide to teach abroad?

I have always wanted to try it since a teenager, I wanted to live in a new place and try a new skill.

Can you tell us where you taught and how long you taught for?

It was in Surin Province in Thailand. A place called Ban Ta Klang village. I was there for 2 months.

Can you describe a typical day?

I would drive my scooter to the secondary school which was only a few minutes away. We then would have morning assembly in the courtyard before class started for the day. Depending on the day, would decide what classes I was teaching. Then I would break for lunch, eat in the school canteen with other teachers or students. In the afternoon, I taught at the primary school so would travel there (few minutes again).

What are your favorite games and activities in the classroom?

I enjoyed playing hangman, hot seat and wordsearches. Generally, all the children liked these games!

What was the biggest challenge inside the classroom? How did you overcome it?

I think starting with a new class is quite difficult. The kids are excited, sometimes don’t listen or have too much energy that they cannot calm down. I found that this subsided after a week or so. Also, if they aren’t listening to you then I found that being totally silent and not continuing to teach works, as the other children will then tell the loud children to be quiet.

What was the biggest challenge outside of the classroom? How did you overcome it?

Being the only westerner in the village and teacher. I would spend time with other Thai teachers, try to learn some of their language, try their foods and listen to their conversations through their body language and words I knew. This helped me to understand their culture which I found helped being the only westerner.

Did you live comfortably with your salary while living abroad?

Yes, very comfortably with ability to save money. (US$1000 a month).

What did you do in your spare time after school and on the weekends?

Depends, I would go to local markets, go to teachers houses and eat food. Visit temples, one time we travelled a far distance to a national park for the night. After school, I would usually eat with teachers or eat alone at a local restaurant. I would lesson plan, catch up with friends and family from home and relax. Sometimes I would run errands or just do whatever the local teacher’s plan was; seeing her children, seeing sick relatives, going to ceremonies etc.

Why is it important to travel and experience new cultures? Is teaching abroad a great way to experience meaningful travel?

Yes, I felt that I will never have an experience like that again. You immerse yourself into living in a particular area and therefore are living their culture rather than just visiting and not embracing it properly. You learn more about yourself and also take away meaningful life lessons from the people you meet.

Can you tell us about one of your favorite travel experiences?

I have many but I will do one that is related to teaching. I was living very rurally and decided to take a solo day trip one day to a cool looking lake. I had never driven far distances in Thailand alone, and didn’t speak a lot of the language but wanted a challenge. It took me about an hour to get there, through rural roads. When I arrived, there was an Australian man who lived there and was very friendly. I then continued the day by relaxing on a shack on the lake, reading, and having a swim. I felt accomplished, independent and happy after this day trip!

I talk to many teachers about their fear or doubt in trying something new or "putting themselves out there". What advice would you give to these teachers?

Give it a shot! If you don’t like it, or you are struggling too much then at least you gave it a try and had a new memorable experience. Always good to try something new, you won’t regret it.


About Journey to Teach Abroad:

Become a global citizen and discover life TEACHING ABROAD. Journey to Teach Abroad is a teacher training TEFL certification course in Los Angeles that GUARANTEES a teaching job abroad. They also offer Job Placements to amazing schools in Thailand and SouthEast Asia for those who are ready to go!

If you have questions: please email



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