I lived and worked in Thailand for five months. Honestly it is surreal being able to say that - living abroad has been a lifelong dream of mine. I have only grown through this experience and I truly appreciate and understand how lucky I am to be able to have participated in this program.
I have been back home for about a month now. I have been thinking about writing this but I couldn’t figure out how to put all my thoughts into a succinct post. There are so many emotions wrapped up into my time in Thailand, so many experiences and so many lessons.
Lesson #1: The skills you get from teaching are applicable to every job.
Not everyone in this program is a teacher, nor do they want to be one in the future. That is the beauty of teaching abroad - meeting so many people with different backgrounds and aspirations. I myself am not a teacher but the skills and abilities I gained from this job will help in the future. The great thing about soft skills is that they are useful to everyone. Everyone can benefit from adaptability, conflict resolution, time management, creative thinking, empathy just to name a few.
Do not let not being a teacher deter you from this opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and experience the world. Take the leap!
Lesson #2: Teachers are still students
Expect the unexpected. That's what I would say to anyone who is teaching abroad. No two days are the same and no two classes are the same. Your methods and approach has to be tailored to every class and more often than not - tailored to each student. You have to learn how to best teach them. What you think will be a hit rarely ever is and what seems boring to you the kids will love. Even beyond the classroom the kids can teach you different ways of thinking, different perspectives and also teach you a little bit about their country and culture during down time.
Be flexible. There is no right and wrong, just different.
Lesson #3: Your experience is your own
One thing about being in a program like this, is that everyone is in the same position. All in a new place trying their best to adjust to their new normal. It makes it easier to make friends and meet people - that being said, it is best not to compare your experiences to other experiences. Maybe you did not get your preferred location or age group but that does not mean you won’t love your school and town. Go in with an open mind. Everyone’s experience is different even if you are at the same school, all you can do is make the best of your situation.
Your experience is yours and yours alone and that's ok.