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Teaching English in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Alumni Q&A with Aundrea Connelly
Written by: International TEFL Academy
Last Updated: June 10, 2020
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
Charleston, South Carolina
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Some international travel with friends, family, business, etc
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
My mom is from England, so growing up we traveled to visit family in England and France.
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
After graduating college, the thought of finding a job and settling down didn't sit right with me. I'd lived in the same town for my entire life, and there was so much of the world that I wanted to see. I knew I eventually wanted to teach, but I felt that I still had a lot to learn myself. When I learned that teaching English abroad would allow me to accomplish all of these things, I couldn't say no!
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I was really nervous about moving to a new country without a job, house, or friends and communicating with people who didn't speak my language.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My parents had mixed feelings. My mom was super excited for me. She loves traveling and regrets not making time to do it. She was really supportive of my decision to teach abroad. My dad. on the other hand, was much more concerned for me. While he was proud of me for making such a big leap, he was really scared for my safety and job security.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I decided to get TEFL certified because I knew it would increase my confidence in the classroom. I also wanted to learn as much as I could about ESL teaching. I chose ITA because the representatives were so helpful. They answered all my stupid questions and made me feel even more confident in my decision to teach English abroad. Every e-mail I sent or phone call I made was responded to quickly, and it always felt personal. I never felt like I was talking to an automated system. On top of that, ITA only had positive reviews for affordability, flexibility, and assistance.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Course
How did you like the course?
I loved the online course. Usually it's really hard for me to stay motivated with online classes, but the deadlines helped keep me on track without making me feel stressed out. I'm really glad I ordered the textbook because it's full of amazing resources. I brought it with me abroad, and l use in my lesson planning. My online course instructor was great, and I really learned a lot from him. He gave me feedback on every assignment, shared some of his personal classroom experiences, and was always available during office hours to answer any questions. It made the class feel much more lifelike and less like online coursework.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
I am so much more confident in the classroom since finishing my TEFL certification. The practicum portion of the course initially scared me, but I'm so glad it's a part of the course. It really gave me an idea of what to expect abroad and how to conduct myself.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Thailand in the city of Chiang Mai. Thailand has an amazing culture based on contentment and respect, and I wanted to be a part of that.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
I've been teaching in Chiang Mai for a year now, and I plan to stay until my contract ends (six more months).
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Sarasas Witaed Lanna School
During which months does your school typically hire?
April and October
Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?
How did you interview for this position?
What kind of visa did you enter on?
Please explain the visa process that you went through.
I entered the country on a three month tourist visa. Once I passed the school's probationary period, I had to leave the country to obtain a Non-Immigrant Category B Visa (the school gave me the appropriate paperwork for this). Once I was on this visa, I was able to get my work permit through the school.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
Hours per week: I work 45 hours a week (7:30-16:00) and
Pay: I make 35,000 baht ($1,150 USD) per month.
Students: I am a kindergarten 2 teacher, but the school offers classes for kindergarten 1 through grade 9.
Ability to save: The school provides me with breakfast and lunch, so I can easily save 17,000 baht ($525 USD) every month.
Vacation time: It's a nominally Christian school, so I get both Thai and Western holidays off.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I found my apartment using Facebook real-estate groups. I live in a Thai style house with my boyfriend in the heart of the city for only 10,000 baht ($310 USD) per month.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
Chiang Mai is very commuter friendly. I have a motorbike that I use to get around, and there are loads of taxi that are really inexpensive to use. The city is the perfect combination of busy and relaxed. The city is surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and mountains that make great weekend getaways. Nightlife can be a bit tricky because of the strict drinking laws. Alcohol can be legally sold between 11:00 to 15:00 and 17:00 to 23:59. There is really only a few good drinking spots in the city, and illegal after-hours bars can be fun but a bit sketchy.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
Chiang Mai is a really inexpensive place to live. My telephone bill is $9 per month, and my rent with utilities is around $350 (I have a whole house in the heart of the city). Most meals cost between 40 and 100 baht ($1 and $3); drinks are a bit more pricey. Movies, gas, bowling, and bus travel is also super convenient and inexpensive.
How would you describe your standard of living?
I live in a Thai community. I tried to leave my Western standards of living behind when moving here.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
You can live very comfortably on 20,000 baht ($600) per month.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
I would absolutely recommend teaching English in Thailand. The people are amazing and have only been incredibly friendly to me. I've never met another group of people as friendly, giving, or kind. I love my job and I am paid incredibly well compared to the rest of the culture. It's nice being a rich person for once.
To see more of Aundrea's adventures, check out her Instagram!
Founded in 2010, International TEFL Academy is a world leader in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad & teaching English online. ITA offers accredited TEFL certification classes online & in 25 locations worldwide and has received multiple awards & widespread recognition as one of the best TEFL schools in the world. ITA provides all students and graduates with lifetime job search guidance. ITA has certified more than 25,000 English teachers and our graduates are currently teaching in 80 countries worldwide.
Want to Learn More About Teaching English Abroad?
Request a free brochure or call 773-634-9900 to speak with an expert advisor about all aspects of TEFL certification and teaching English abroad or online, including the hiring process, salaries, visas, TEFL class options, job placement assistance and more.
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