Faith Nelson hails from Bolton, Manchester and has spent the past 4 months teaching English in Thailand with her TEFL course. She studied Graphic Design at Falmouth University and recently completed her MA at Manchester School of Art in Illustration (which she finished a week before flying out to Thailand!)
Read all about Faith’s Thai adventure …
Faith! Your internship in Thailand has come to an end. What made you pack up life in the UK and move to Thailand? Were your parents/family supportive of your decision to teach abroad?
Hello hello! Teaching in Thailand is something I’ve wanted to do for many years, I actually started my TEFL in 2015 and just never took the jump abroad. After a stressful year completing my Masters I thought the time had come for a break from education and work, so booked the trip spontaneously one weekend. My parents encouraged me to go, after seeing my brother work in America for the last five years they understand how rich an experience moving abroad can be.
In your opinion, what has been the most unexpected thing about the Thai culture?
I was apprehensive about the food, I didn’t really know what to expect and with being a person who has to have a glass of milk with even the littlest of spice, I was certain I was going to lose weight. How wrong I was… the food is delicious and after figuring out the Thai for no spice (Mai pet) I couldn’t get enough of it. Obviously, once in a blue moon you’ll think you’ve ordered pork and then some fish dish rocks up but it’s all part of the experience.
If you could go back in time to your first day of teaching, what advice would you give yourself?
Just to relax and enjoy the lessons! I was so nervous when I started teaching, on my first day I ended up bursting a whiteboard marker all over my white shirt in front of the class. I had absolutely no idea how to deal with the situation! When you stop putting pressure on yourself to get everything right and start focusing on the children themselves, the experience becomes a lot more enjoyable.
Would you describe yourself as a “tough” teacher or an “understanding” teacher?
My teaching style changes from class to class, being a ‘tough’ teacher in a classroom of four-year olds is near impossible. Have you ever tried to tell a four-year old off? I would say overall I’m an understanding teacher (others would say soft), but you do have to be occasionally strict otherwise the children will just walk all over you especially with the language barrier. Thai children are very cheeky, lovely but cheeky!
From following you on Instagram ( @faithmelissa), we know you have a great eye for photography. What were your top 3 places that you photographed on your travels?
Thank you! I do like a good photograph. Top three is a tough one… With having traveled to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam it’s a real mix. My favourite place in the whole of Thailand for a good photograph probably has to be Wat Ban Rai, which is an elephant temple near Dankhunthod – it’s absolutely breathtaking and decorated with more than 20 million pieces of mosaic. Second has to be the incredible Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, a popular destination but popular for a very good reason. My third choice is probably the secret beach in Koh Phangan, the island is known for the full moon party (which is fantastic!) but besides that the island itself is beautiful.
What have been some of the most formidable challenges you’ve faced on the road to living abroad? How did you overcome them—any advice for our readers?
Fortunately, I didn’t have any problems living abroad. I had a fab support network and made great friends during the orientation which made the transition easier. Mosquitos were probably my main annoyance, I’ve never disliked anything more! Every day I was collecting a new bite, they just loved my blood. If you know you’re likely to be bitten start taking allergy tablets, they help so much. If you forget you can buy 10 tablets from 7/11 for 10 baht – a steal.
What does the future hold for Faith? Can you see yourself doing TEFL again?
It’s already on the agenda! I’ve popped back to England for the summer as my best friend is getting married, but while I’m here I’ll be working at a summer school in Bath teaching English and Photography. I fly back to Thailand in October. The plan is to see the world while I have no commitments and I urge everyone to do the same!
Thank you Faith, for taking the time to share a snippet of your adventure with us!