by Randy Rivers (May, 2006 – May, 2008)
After completing my TESOL course in January 2006 I was ready to start searching for a teaching job abroad. Choosing a school was overwhelming because there are thousands of jobs and schools all over the world to choose from. I accepted a position with Super English Language School in Surat Thani, Thailand because I was drawn to the school‘s commitment to fun and a creative learning environment for students. Super English is also dedicated to the training and support of teachers in their new positions while adjusting to life in a new country and culture.
I lived in a 3 bedroom home with 2 other teachers. A bed and wardrobe were provided and we shared the cost of a fridge, additional furniture, T.V., V.C.R. and speakers. We had a small, simple bathroom with a toilet, sink and wall hose to shower. The street we lived on felt safe and the neighbors were friendly. The lady across the street had a small store attached to her house. The store carried everything from noodles to toothpaste so we didn’t have to go far for our day-to-day necessities. The children on the street were surprised to see foreigners at first but soon warmed up to us and played at our house on the weekends if we stayed in town. The house was paid for by the school so my only monthly expenses were my cell phone and utility bills.
Motorcycles are the main mode of transportation for the people in Surat. Some of the other English teachers bought or rented motorcycles but my roommates and I used bicycles. The bikes have a little basket in the front and cost about $30. Riding the bicycles around was definitely hot but really fun and good for exercise.
I got along really well with the other teachers who worked for Super English and consider them to be good friends. They were fun, friendly, extremely supportive at work and great travel companions on weekends.
At Super English we never had to work on weekends and had more than 2 months off each year for our summer holidays. This is more time off than any other language school in Surat. This schedule allowed for the perfect amount of time to travel around Thailand. I went to Phuket, Koh Tao, Koh Phang-ngan, Khanom Beach, Koh Samui, Bangkok, Krabi, Trang and National Parks in Khao Sok and Kanchanaburi just to name a few. There is something for everyone in Thailand; beautiful beaches, shopping, amazing tropical nature and fantastic restaurants, food and nightlife.
I enjoyed living and working in Surat Thani because I feel like I experienced a real Thai city. There are very few foreigners who live in Surat. It was a great place to meet wonderful Thai people, eat spicy food and try to pick up a bit of the difficult language.
Being a first time teacher I was terrified. The director of Super English, Peter Meltzer, and head teacher, Victoria Biggs, provided excellent training and orientation. The training was ongoing and I felt continually supported throughout my experience in Thailand. I soon felt comfortable teaching; mainly because of the wonderful environment. The students were fun, loving and absolutely adorable which made the classes a joy to teach.
As a teacher at Super English I felt appreciated and was treated extremely well. We had monthly staff dinners and free nights at a private, beautiful beach resort in Khanom were provided. Peter and his wife Jeab would even take teachers out for birthday dinners. This extra care and consideration means so much when you are far away from your family and friends. I am grateful to Peter, Jeab and Super English for an invaluable experience and 2 of the best years of my life.