When asked if ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ (often abbreviated to TEFL and in this case used by someone who likes to pretend he is better than it) pays well, my answer is often, ‘yes thank you, fine – if you know where to look’.
Which I believe is true to an extent. What I wanted to add, but didn’t, is, ‘but I don’t do this job because I want to be rich’.
Don’t get me wrong, I have skills, I’m a good teacher, and have recently looked for a new job that I feel values my input, and reflects my worth and quality as a teacher. I know I deserve to be paid a fair salary, not only do I have certain qualifications that took time to achieve, I put in effort and time to plan lessons, and to realise students weaknesses and nurture them to be more confident. And I love it. But I do this job because I want to be here, as much as anything else.
I’m grateful for Thailand for letting me stay and experience the culture, and live here for a while. I’m proud to go to places using public transport – I use the skytrain, motorbike taxis, buses, I love walking even if I do get a little sweaty for my liking. I enjoy popping into 7 elevens a dozen times a day to get ‘snacks’. I enjoy eating firey food from street stalls and restaurants with fold up tables, drinking iced water out of a tin cup with a straw. I enjoy trying to communicate in very-limited-but-getting-there Thai with smiling locals.
It’s funny, because for a while I’ve felt a little uninspired, a little too settled here, a little too ‘normal’. I now remember what my goal in life is: to experience, and to learn. And that’s why I’m here. To feel at home in a completely different culture to the one I was brought up with. I think I’ve still got a fair way to go with Bangkok yet, and with Thailand as a whole, I’m sure I have. Sometimes I need to have my feathers ruffled a little bit though, to remind me why I came here in the first place. I’d rather be rich with experience, please and thankyou.