When I made the decision to live and work in another country I knew it was going to take research, preparation and saving money. So I set about doing just that. The plan was to teach English overseas for one year and once there decide if I wanted to stay another year, try another country or head back home. Initially I wanted to go to Czech Republic but decided on Thailand because the cost of living is way cheaper.
Someone I worked with gave me the name of an agency called Work Explore Abroad. I applied and a few days later I received an email advising me that my application has been approved for teaching in Thailand. I then received my info pack, made the necessary payments and booked my plane ticket. My agency then put me in touch with the TEFL school XploreAsia and paid my course fee and placement fee. I successfully completed the month-long course. So far everything went smoothly until the owner of XploreAsia called me aside one day and told that he will not be able to place me in a school once I have completed the course and that he might only be able to find me work in May (4 months after the course). In Thailand most government schools re-open in May and October, those are the months when the big intakes happen and as I missed the October intake they could only place me in May. He said he never received my application for approval from Work Explore Abroad and if he had to see it then he would not have approved it for December. Instead he would have told me to come in April instead which would be in time for May placement. He said that Thai schools prefer hiring Caucasian teachers. Basically my lovely caramel skin was just not gonna cut it.
This is what I don’t understand when Work Explore Abroad emailed me to tell me that my application was approved who did the get approval from. The lady at Work Explore Abroad could not find the email where Xplore Asia gives the approval and Explore Asia claims they did not receive my application nor sent an approval.
The only thing that Xplore Asia could offer me was a volunteer position which I still had to pay an admin and processing fee for. They put me in touch with another company called Dragon Fly who places volunteers in Thai schools who cannot afford to hire full-time ESL teachers. So after graduating I moved to the south of Thailand to a in the middle of nowhere rural kind of place. Luckily the school offered free accommodation so I would be able to keep costs down until May intake. Unfortunately I couldn’t do much as there was nothing to do where I stayed. My daily routine entailed going to school teaching and going home. That’s it. I managed to stay for a month but realized that I was going to run out of money if I stayed there. I posted my CV on Ajarn.com which is a job website for ESL teachers and received replies from schools who wanted to interview me. That was when I decided to move to Bangkok. Bear in mind all this moving around, travelling, visa extensions was money coming out of my own pocket.
I then started going for interviews and here’s the thing all my interviews went well but if you wanted to teach at a Thai you need a degree as this is now a new legal requirement (which Xplore Asia knew about). Which brings me to my second question. As a second English degree student why did these agencies “approve” my application? Xplore Asia said that even though it is a requirement that there will not be enough teachers with degrees that schools will have to employ some teachers who do not have degrees. Ok, that did not happen for me. It is important to note that neither company wanted to take any responsibility for my predicament that I found myself in. I then tried to get partial refunds to get a plane ticket home. That’s right I was ready to head home but again neither companies were prepared to help me in any way which is quite disappointing seeing as I paid them both large amounts of money and did not get much in return. In fact the info pack Work Explore Abroad sent was stuff I could have Googled and I still had to apply for the visa myself. All she did was give me contact details for Xplore Asia, that’s all I really paid for, the name of another company.
I have managed to find myself employment at an amazing International school in Bangkok. I’m currently teaching at their summer camp and the head of the English department has advised me that they are looking for a primary school teacher for the new term and wanted to know if I would be interested. My ticket home is in October and after all I have been through I am really looking forward to going home.
I’m not sure how long I will stay once I get back home because there are so many places I want to see. One bad experience is not enough to stop me. I still have my qualification to teach English as a second language and I have more than enough teaching experience.