Was going to move to Bangkok or Chiang Mai this fall to teach ESL... but after hours of internetting I'm wondering if it is the loneliest country in the world for a single young white female!
I'm used to hostelling and meeting tons of people that way and would hate to cross the globe only to discover that hooking up in Thailand is impossible....
Ok, looking back at what I posted, it sounds a little wierd. I guess my main concern is that most of the ESL teachers I've found in Thailand are older men and I'm looking for a young woman's perspective on living and working in Bangkok. Maybe it's just nerves - it would be my first posting abroad and I guess I ought to be more concerned about visas and malaria! Still, if anyone has any great experience/advice to share, it would be much appreciated!
I am a young Thai woman. I was born in Bangkok and have been living here all my life. And to make this sound more useful to you, let me tell you that I teach English at a university in Bangkok.
About malaria, there's no need for you to worry. As I posted in another thread about a Traveller's Point's concern about malaria, our country is not the Amazon! I myself have never got any malaria shot. If you are a kind of person who tends to worry too much, then let me comfort you by saying that unless you teach in the deepest forest, just forget about malaria.
You said you'd be teaching in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. You'll be just fine. Bangkok is a lot more modernized than you'd ever imagine. If it's your first time to Bangkok, you'll be amazed.
As for Chiang Mai, it's attracting more and more tourists each year. In Thailand, everything is centralized in Bangkok. Chiang Mai may not be as modern as Bangkok, but it is not the Amazon, either. Whereas in Bangkok, you'll be commuting by sky train and subway (a bit more expensive but so much more convenient than a bus), in Chiang Mai, you'll be commuting by a tuk-tuk or song-taew (little open-air taxi). You'll get a different feeling teaching in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. In Bangkok, you'll get used to grabbing a sandwich from Au Bon Pain, sipping a cup of cappuccino at Starbucks, or indulging on a Whopper at Burger King. In Chiang Mai, in contrast, you'll get used to eating noodles at local restaurants. They're two different worlds. We have Diesel, Esprit, Benetton, MNG, Nike, Guess, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes shops in Bangkok. On the contrary, in Chiang Mai, there are small shops selling Thai-style dresses.
You say you worry about your visa. As long as you find a job, there's no need to worry. You'll get a working permit, and you'll do just fine. There are tons of computer/English schools - as we call it in Bangkok.
Thai people (teenagers and adults) pay for a course in computer or English conversation at these special schools scattered all around Bangkok. I think they pay you by the hour. In the Bangkok Post, Thailand's biggest English newspaper, these English schools post classified ads every single day hiring native speakers as ESL teachers. If you have a lot of teaching experience, then I think you should apply for a teaching position in bilingual schools, international schools or even Thailand universities. You'll get your salary and benefits such as your apartment expenses. However, it depends on your desired length of stay in Thailand. If it's more short term, then teaching at computer/English schools is better. If you're looking for a real job, then teaching at international/ bilingual schools or universities is better.
Check out www.bangkokpostjobs.com for updated available teaching positions.
Of course, there are a lot more male native teachers than female, but the same thing happens not just in Thailand but wherever you teach in Asia. You said you are worried about the age of men teaching English here. Some of men who come to teach in Thailand are old, but many are in their 30's. You'll get to see a lot of native teachers in Bangkok if you decide to teach here. However, if you decide to teach in Chiang Mai, that's a different story. Chiang Mai is an enchanting place to visit as a tourist, but to work there, I'm not sure. I would definitely get bored if I had to work there.
In Bangkok, you'll see lots of Westerners (tourists, managers, embassy clerks and English teachers) walking on streets, traveling by sky train and subway, hanging out at Au Bon Pain and Star Bucks. If you're a backpacker type, you'll be meeting tons of friendly foreign backpackers, who all like to hang out at the famous Kao San Road. There are pubs and night clubs at Silom soi 4, where locals and Westerners working in Bangkok like to chill out on weekend nights. There are also a few Irish pubs where they play cool music. You'll do just fine in Bangkok. If you are an outgoing person and have no trouble partying and making new friends, you WON'T be lonely here. Having a local friend who'll show you around is a plus.
The cost of living in Thailand is very cheap. As you are a native speaker, they'll pay you a lot more than local teachers. Though not much and not enough to make you rich, you'll enjoy a bowl of noodle that costs only 80 cents at sidewalk stalls. If you are concerned about hygiene, then choose an air-conditioned restaurant, where a bowl of noodle costs somewhere between $1 to $2.
One thing you'll have to make sure you can stand before making up your mind: the heat. It's year-round hot. Super Hot!
I have a friend who teaches ESL in thailand. She's been teaching it there for about 2 years now and absolutely loves it.
She's got tons of thai friends out there as well as farang, and there's always someone from England popping out to see her every couple of months (In fact, I'm off out there later in the month).
She loves it.
Hope this helps ease any worries
And on a completely unrelated note, I'd just like to say that I wish my Thai was as good as Jaruda's English
Thank you both for all the information and reassurance. I think I was just getting cold feet about leaving Canada for so long. I'm getting really excited now and have been eating Thai food every chance I get... which is probably some massacred North American version of Pad thai.. but it's better than nothin'