Adapting to Teaching Abroad in Thailand

Adapting to Teaching Abroad in Thailand

You have your TEFL course in the bag, ticket booked to a land far away. Excitement levels are through the roof, you’re leaving home to go explore the world and work abroad. You have your collections of pins marking where you want to go and what you want to see, but you still have no idea what to expect. No matter how many people tell you about their experiences abroad, you will only get a true sense of what it’s about when you arrive.

It will all be new and amazing, and if you are going to teach at a reputable language school then you will be well looked after. Still feeling a little unsure, then have a read below on some of the things you may have to adapt to when moving abroad.

Interested in Thailand as a teaching destination? You can see more on arriving in Thailand here: Teach English in Thailand.


Many of the countries you move to, and teach English in will have a different climate to back home. Especially if home is the UK. The majority of places in the world are warmer than the UK. This is something you will have to adapt to. Places like Thailand and Vietnam are very humid, but the bonus is the ocean is warm enough to swim in and have a quick dip to cool off.

Many of the apartment buildings in the busier cities have swimming pools, not only will you have a great tropical climate to adapt to but you will need to adapt to that poolside lifestyle too. Similarly to having central heating back home, all shopping malls and schools you go to will have air con units to keep you cool. Be warned though: the sun is hot, so even if it is not rainy season invest in a good umbrella or hat to protect yourself from the rays when outdoors. Living in a tropical climate gives you a permanent holiday feeling, however, and this is something I am happy to adapt to.

Living Standard

This entirely depends on where you are moving from and to. Many of Asia’s bigger cities have become incredibly developed over the past few years. With huge investment in luxury condo blocks accommodating expats, as well as the introduction of many western brands such as H&M and Tesco’s. In these more developed areas you are guaranteed to find all those home comforts you are used to, but be warned these often do come at a higher price than the local goods.

The local products and brands are just as good as the ones we are used to if you are looking to save then get familiar with a local brand or product you like. They are much cheaper. The main things you will need to adjust to may be the types of public transport and their reliability, but if you learn to go with the flow and take a deep breath, you will soon get used to the relaxed, no rush attitude of the public transport operators.

You can see some more on living well in Thailand here: Budgeting in Thailand: Part 1 and Budgeting in Thailand: Part 2.

Foods and Diet

Again this is completely dependent on what you are used to eating, but moving to Asia you can expect a change in diet. Many people working and living in Asia eat out most meals as it is convenient and inexpensive to do so. Doing this you will need to get used to local cuisine. Look up some popular dishes in the country you are moving to, and learn how to order them.

In Asia, you can expect a lot of dishes with rice, noodles and eggs. In Thailand, it seems every dish is better with a fried egg on top of it, and I tend to agree. There is also a range of hot and spicy soups or broths, like Tom Yum in Thailand and Pho in Vietnam. Have a look at the dishes online to see what you like, maybe pop into your local Thai restaurant while back home and try the dish out to get a sneak peek of what is to come.

Here are some of the delicious options: Eating in vs Street Food in Thailand

Workplace Structure

Working in a different country will mean a different way of working. You will need to get used to the way your school is run and structured. Due to cultural differences, daily tasks may be planned differently, as well as the way they deal with confrontation and workplace criticism. For example in Thailand the majority of Thai people are Buddhist and because of their belief system they do not hold grudges or show aggression towards people. If a Thai manager is unhappy with the way you are working they will tell you in such a polite way, you may take it as a compliment.

It may take some getting used to but you will learn to see past these nuances and learn how to interact with them appropriately. If you are unsure of where you stand, then it is best to consult with a western member of staff who has experience. I am lucky at Shane, as our schools guarantee you have a western line manager and I am able to consult with them before offending anyone or speaking out of term.

Shane English School also provided me with a thorough breakdown of the cultural differences and how to deal with them, this way in a very helpful orientation manual we are given to read over while still at home.


As outlined in the introduction, there will be things which you may need to adapt to. Depending on what kind of background you come from there may be more or less of a difference for you. If this makes you feel a bit unsure, then double check with your recruiter and ask the questions you need in order to make your decisions. Don’t be shy, rather be sure.

The best way to know you will feel comfortable is to check the school you will be teaching at, offers this settling-in support. It is often referred to as a welfare system or structure. Shane English Schools offer a great welfare system from the time you contact them all the way through to booking flights and having medical checks, you have a helping hand throughout. Contact one of their recruiters at …

About the Author

Tatum Condon a 27-year-old South African girl with Irish family. Her dream growing up was to be a mechanical engineer for Formula One’s Team McLaren. Any sport which is in water, she does it. Even if the water is frozen, count her in. She is currently teaching and living in the land of smiles, Thailand, while sharing stories of my life adventures and experiences. She hopes you enjoy.