From Six Months to a Year: 10 Reasons Why I'm Saying "Yes" to Another Semester

Programs for this blog post

Teach in Thailand Program

Authored By:

Isabel M.

Today marks the day I have officially signed my contract to continue teaching in Thailand for another six months! Come May, I will return to Maryvit School Pattaya to continue teaching English to Prathom 6/ grade 6. I have a list of reasons for making this decision to continue teaching, some of which are as follows:

Maryvit Bag
This day I received a Maryvit bag from the President of the Maryvit School System (which includes 4 schools, mine of which is 1) to celebrate a beautiful end of the first semester. 

Reason #1: Strengthen my resume. A six-month full-time contract teacher already adds lots of depth to my resume, but there is something attractive in saying I spent a year (rather than six months) teaching in Thailand. Teaching abroad is my first full-time job out of college, and I wanted my position here to reflect this ongoing commitment to my role abroad. 

Reason #2: Job Stability. Realistically, the job market in the US is incredibly competitive for recent graduates. Layoffs are high, hours are long, and salary is not particularly high in my field of interest. Before coming to Thailand, I struggled to find positions that paid well and that I would enjoy. Now that I have a job that checks both these boxes, I do not feel prepared to return to a long job search that awaits me back in the States. 

Reason #3: Integration into my community. I am so thankful that I came here and went to a school with other CIEE teachers, as this helped me adjust to life in Thailand. Since then, I have branched out and made wonderful friends with other teachers at my school, mainly the Filipino teachers. I feel somewhat like a celebrity at my school, as my old students from last semester see me in the hallway, yell out my name, and flood me with hugs. I've been invited to teach many specialty classes and camps and have met many Chinese, Thai, and Filipino teachers outside my grade level who always say hi to me in the hall and strike up conversations with me. Everyone is so generous and kind, it is hard to imagine leaving this environment. 

Filipino, Chinese, and American Teachers
Polaroid photos from a dinner night at one of the Filipino teacher's houses. A group of us got together to celebrate our friend's last night in Thailand before returning to China to finish school. 

Reason #4: Work-Life Balance. For years, I spent my free time in high school and at university applying for scholarships, study abroad programs, internships, etc. Since beginning to teach full-time, this is the most time I have found myself having in years to pursue my interests stress-free without worrying about my finances or applying for new positions/ opportunities. I have time for leisure travel, reading books, writing, connecting with my loved ones, and more, all while making an above-average salary. 

Reason #5: Adjustment to Way of Living. Now that I have adjusted to my lifestyle here, I am not ready to pack my bags again and move back to the US. I have grown accustomed to my favorite noodle stand a block away and the easy commute to work. I am enjoying the lifestyle and habits I have made for myself here and do not feel prepared to uproot myself again.

Teaching 6/5

Reason #6: Improve as a Teacher. Now that the winter term is over, there are so many things I wish I did differently in the classroom: I wish I spent my first classes playing name games to learn my students’ names. I would have started my classroom management strategies earlier when they could be most effective. I also would have made my expectations for the classroom clearer. Now that I have this knowledge and experience of the ins and outs of Thai schools, I know that I can be a more effective teacher if I stay longer.

Reason #7: Low cost of living with a comparatively high salary. My Thai salary takes me pretty far, though it requires some strategic budgeting to make my travel dreams come true. If I had to estimate how much I spend each week, it's likely about 2,500 baht, which is about $68.61. My lifestyle has me going to the city once or twice a week, cooking dinner at home five nights a week (my school feeds me for breakfast and lunch), and going to the nearby noodle stand for dinner. I save about two-thirds of my salary from the simple life in Thailand. My salary is generous in Thailand, and the low cost of living has made me feel very financially stable. 

Picture of me in Ayutthaya. 

Reason #8: Desire to keep traveling. Since coming to Thailand, I've gone to Bangkok about four times, Khao Yai National Park, Erawan National Park, Ayutthaya and Lopburi, Koh Chang, and Koh Larn. Outside Thailand, I have been to Laos and Cambodia, each for one week. In the coming months, I will travel to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Pai in Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. I've been to so many places already, and yet there is still much more of Southeast Asia to explore. Six months just is not enough to make that dream come true. 

Reason #9: I have made healthy lifestyle changes. With the extra time I have to pursue leisure activities because of the great work-life balance, my health has improved. I exercise every day, I drink less alcohol and more water and green tea, I eat fresh vegetables and fruit from my local market, and I sleep great after a day of fulfilling work at my job. 

Reason #10: The Major Change. 

Before I began speaking with the administration team at my school about extending my contract, I told my family I was happy with my six-month contract. I did not have any intention of staying beyond that. I distinctly remember telling my mom, “Something major would have to change for me to stay.” In comes the major thing.

For my holiday break, I went on a solo trip to Laos for about 11 days and constantly conversed and spent time with backpackers from Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. We all spent our holidays alone but together, sharing stories of our journeys in Southeast Asia. It was not a single conversation, but a combination of many that made me realize how grateful I am for my job, and especially how much I love my students. So many of my stories started and ended with my students. I could hear myself sounding like an overzealous parent showing pictures of my students to these strangers and telling them hilarious anecdotes from class. 

Scrapbook/ Yearbook
On the last day of school I had my take photos with me and we printed photos with my polaroid zip mini printer and sign my scrapbook. Seeing this page brings me so much joy remembering my first group of students. 


Throughout my trip, I even remember getting dozens of follow requests from my students on Instagram. I could not hide the smile that crept onto my face when I realized with adoring joy that one of my students found me. I remember dreaming about school often and constantly finding inspiration for new lesson plans during this break.

Not everything about teaching is picture-perfect. Nothing is. Lessons that I plan with excitement sometimes turn out to be a disaster. Teaching the same lesson eight times over can feel painfully repetitive. Learning the names of all my 250 students has been more than just challenging. Last-minute changes to my teaching schedule have left me feeling like a deer caught in headlights. Disciplining misbehavior for my students is much harder for me than for them. 

And yet…

I can not think of another job that makes my heart more full than my job right now. Seeing my students collectively cheer and laugh when they teach me new Thai words fills my cup. Watching my students get creative in their writing assignments and learn new words relevant to their lives makes me feel like I am making a difference. Every day at least one of my students will crack a joke (many of them about Skibidi Toilet) or say something silly and make me laugh. Despite how repetitive my teaching curriculum may be, there isn’t a dull day when I’m teaching my Prathom 6 students. 

So simply put, my most important reason for deciding to stay is this: the students. 

Group pic
One of my favorite photos I took on the last day of classes with my students. They are now Mathayom 1 students/ are just beginning middle school in Thailand.