by Brittney Johnson
My time here in Surat Thani, Thailand has exceeded my expectations. I came here to essentially take up time until I started graduate school in Norway. I figured Thailand is beautiful, I can go to the beach, do yoga, make a little money, and I can teach again. Ten months is nothing, right? I wasn’t expecting to make amazing friends, realize how fun teaching can actually be, and come out of Thailand with a completely different direction and plan than when I came here.
On the teaching side, I had taught in Korea the year before coming to Thailand. But it offered no creativity, fun or challenge. Working for Super English has taught me to be an innovative, loving, and at times spontaneous teacher. I love the amount of freedom we have as teachers to teach what works best for us. Not every teaching method works for everyone, and Super English allows you to explore and discover what works best for you as an individual. SE also encourages you to not stop there, but to keep pushing yourself and strive to always become a better teacher. The classroom should be a fun, interactive and inspiring place and SE supports you to achieve that.
I definitely wasn’t expecting to teach again after Korea, but I’m glad I did. I very well may be teaching again after Thailand. Turns out I actually like it!
On a social level, I have made some amazing and life long friends here in Surat Thani. I think most people that decide to get up and leave their life for 1 year have to be pretty open-minded people. The expat community in Surat Thani is somewhat of a family. Even though some of us work for different companies, we all get along. We have weekend parties, weekend getaways to beautiful beaches, quiz nights, and there always seems to be a reason to have a party or dinner to celebrate a birthday or going away party. Surat teachers definitely make the most of the weekends and the long and short breaks and I love that! Even if we stay in town for the weekend, we go to a night or day market, go to Ko Lampu, out to a new or a favorite restaurant, or get together to just hang out. Most of the farang here are really laid back and easy going. Everyone knows everyone, so its easy to make friends.
Living in a tourist country has been very interesting. I came to Thailand one year ago for 2 weeks as a tourist. Honestly, I didn’t like it all that much. But now that I’ve lived here and actually experienced it, I have fallen in love with the country! Now that I have a feeling for the culture, food, language, and the people, it is 100 times more pleasant to be here. When you just travel through to all of the touristy places, you don’t get a chance to see the real Thailand. I’m glad that Surat Thani isn’t a tourist destination. Whenever I go to Phuket or Koh Panang or another beach or island on the tourist map, I tell myself that I’m glad I live where I do. Even though we have no McDonald’s or a cinema that shows English movies, Surat has it’s own unique charm that you can’t find in a touristy city.
The first three months of living in Surat were challenging. I was adjusting to teaching in Thailand opposed to teaching in Korea, and getting familiar with new friends and the country. SE management was there the entire time to support me as a new teacher.
Life in Surat is a completely different lifestyle than Korea and the west. I taught P2 classes and 2 classes at Super English for the first semester. I’m so glad I got to experience teaching at SE. The classes were smaller than my P2 classes so I got a chance to really get to know my students. It was a challenge, but I’m glad I stuck through it to the end of the semester. Working at SE was a rewarding experience. The 2nd semester I taught 4 P2 classes and 2 regular classes. I have really enjoyed my teaching schedule this semester. Some days I finish at 1:50 and the latest I finish is 3:30pm. I have the entire afternoon and evening to do what I want. I have been able to do yoga almost every night, which is one of my passions. I’m grateful for the amount of free time I have. I am fully aware that most people don’t have the luxury of having free time during the week. And aware that I may not have it again. But at SE, we work for that free time. We put all of our effort into the classroom, and spend our time outside of the classroom how we choose. Every teacher at SE seems to be very responsible about getting paperwork, tests and grades in when they are due. We don’t abuse the amount of freedom we have, because we value it so much. As long as everyone is doing their job, everyone is happy.
I can’t believe my time here in Surat is almost over. Feels like I just got here. Ten months has flown by! I can see why many people decide to extend their contracts. It takes awhile to get adjusted, but once you do, life is good! I wouldn’t mind staying longer, but plans are already in the works of what is to come next. Teaching in Thailand has made a huge impact on my life. I’m grateful for the amount of support I received from SE management and fellow teachers. I will miss the teachers and my students so much! Surat and Super English will always have a place in my heart!