Brianna, we’ve been following you on Instagram and it looks like you’re having an amazing time. Tell us, why Thailand? Had you ever been there before or even traveled much?
Before deciding to intern in Thailand with Premier TEFL, I had never been to Thailand before! It was always one of those places that I knew I would travel to though; it was just a matter of time. A few years ago, I had taken a solo trip to Bali and absolutely fell in love with South East Asia. I knew I wanted to spend some time living in this part of the world.
What was the move from the U.S to Thailand like? Had you ever traveled far from home before? Did you experience some culture shock?
The move from the U.S. to Thailand was pretty smooth. I am grateful to be a part of a program that helps with the legalities of moving and working in another country. It would have been the biggest headache to do it all on my own!
I had done a decent amount of traveling before moving to Thailand but I was not exempt from culture shock! Air conditioning can be sparse, coffee shops aren’t open at 8 am yet, markets are closed down by 7 pm. These minor things are so different than the 24-hour convenience of everything in Los Angeles.
At first, little things like this frustrated me but now it’s become my new normal. It’s been great experiencing the more laid back approach to life that Thailand embraces. The people are so welcoming and want to celebrate everything, all the time! I pay my utility & water bill at 7-11 and sometimes get a free face mask. That definitely wouldn’t happen back home! I’m finding so much delight in the little things here.
Featured Video: Highlights from Brianna’s time in Thailand
What do you wish you knew before moving to Thailand? What advice would you give to someone who wants to move there?
My first week in Thailand I learned how to say basic phrases like: hello, how are you, thank you, what is your name, my name is _____, nice to meet you, excuse me, how much is this, where is the bathroom.
Learning numbers is a huge help when shopping at the market. This helped so much! Write the phrases down, play around on Thai language apps, and practice as much as you can!
Once you are out of the major touristy areas, don’t expect people to be able to speak English. People really appreciate when you try to speak Thai. I think this is one reason I’ve had such a great connection with the locals.
What are your top three tips for settling into life in Thailand?
1. Learning basic Thai phrases will make your experience in Thailand so much richer! Also, download Google translate. It’s a life saver!
2. Wai (a slight bow with the palms pressed together) to people when meeting, greeting, or to show them respect. This is especially important when greeting monks, other teachers, or anyone you would like to display your respect to.
3. Be ready to karaoke, dance, and eat a lot of spicy food!
When you decided to teach English abroad, what made you choose Premier TEFL? It was a pleasure to work with you, we hope you feel the same
I chose Premier TEFL because I liked that I was able to get a TEFL certificate, get real resume-building teaching experience, get paid, and have the help of an agency the entire time. The fact that I had a team to help take care of my work permit and visa really helped. When you are in another country and can’t read or speak the language, the simplest things can easily become complicated.
The thought of moving to another country is incredibly exciting but can also feel quite daunting when it comes down to the details. It was great to show up and have a house to live in, a job, a bank account, and someone I could contact at any time if I had questions or needed someone to help translate.
What’s a typical day in the life of Brianna in Thailand like? Give us a run-through
Morning: I wake up and start my day with some yoga, meditation, or an inspiring podcast. I’ll usually hear some monks chanting as they walk down my street, it’s really lovely. Then I get ready for work and ride my motorbike down the street to school.
When I arrive at the school, we all attend the morning assembly and wai to all the teachers to show our respect.
Afternoon: I teach classes during the morning and afternoon. I have a lot of fun with my students. They love anything that involves games, music, and dancing. There’s also a good amount of time to work on lesson plans in the office and prepare for upcoming classes.
Evening: Most evenings I will ride my bike to the gym. It’s a similar routine to what I did back home, only I’m riding passed cows in a field and beautiful Buddhist temples. I usually stop to get a freshly made dinner at my local market for about $2 ($3 if I feel like splurging).
Night: This is when people back home are just waking up so I will chat with my boyfriend, friends, and family before going to bed. If I’m not chatting with loved ones back home, I am winding down with a cup of tea and listening to the frogs outside my house.
What’s unique about the programme? What’s unique about your experience so far in Thailand?
Something that is unique about this program is that it is only a four-month commitment. When I became interested in becoming a TEFL teacher, I found many opportunities required a 1-2 year contract. That is a huge commitment to a job and a country I have never experienced before!
I love the authentic experience I’ve been able to have here in Eastern Thailand. I’m not in a big tourist destination that caters to westerners. I am living like a local in an awesome community that loves to include me in their culture. Their mall is only a $2 and a 30-minute bus ride away if I need to get something that isn’t carried in my town. I’ve been able to save a lot of money since I’m not shopping as much out here as I was back home. The low cost of living and rent-free house definitely helps with that too!
What are the top three things EVERYONE should/know when in Thailand?
- “Pet nit noy” means “a little bit spicy”. You’ll thank me later. You’re welcome.
- Don’t expect there to be toilet paper in public/ private restrooms. I highly recommend always being armed with a pack of napkins or toilet paper from 7-11.
- When you hear the national anthem, stop whatever you are doing and face the flag. Whether you are at the market or walking around, it is the respectful thing to do.
What’s the nightlife like over there? We hear it’s AMAZING
In my small town, there is no nightlife with the exception of when there is a festival or the fair is in town. If you are in a big tourist destination like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Phuket, then you’ll be able to find just about anything you are looking for in the nightlife scene. I’ve had awesome experiences exploring night markets, fire dancing, and live music in these bigger cities!
What’s next for Brianna? Travel? More teaching? Another TEFL adventure perhaps?
Once the semester is over, my best friend is flying out here and we’ll be traveling around Thailand together for three weeks! We plan on exploring the Old City of Chiang Mai, splashing around in the waterfalls in Pai, and checking out the nightlife in Bangkok.
Then I’m headed to Vietnam for a three-week solo trip where I plan on visiting some islands, exploring by motorbike, and indulging in the Vietnamese culture and festivals. Lastly, I’m traveling back to Chiang Mai, Thailand for the Songkran festival. It’s the Thai New Year festival where the entire country has an epic water fight in the streets for three days!
I just couldn’t leave Southeast Asia without experiencing that! I’ve been able to experience so much in the five months of living here: from learning about the culture to the mind-blowing festivals to the different destinations of Thailand. I write about it on my blog, so be sure to check it out for more videos and insight at AdventureMadeMeDoIt.com. The adventures don’t stop here, but I’m so glad this is where it started!