Expat Interview – Teaching In Bangkok, Claire

About Claire

Claire – 22 years – Teacher
I come from Johannesburg South Africa and I am currently single. I play the piano as a hobby, although I have not been able to do that since I have been in Thailand. I also do road cycling as a sport which I really miss. It is almost impossible to do road cycling in Bangkok for fear of being run over. I love cats and dogs and I miss my animals at home terribly. When I see homeless dogs and cats wondering around in Bangkok, it saddens me. I want to take them all home. I also love writing – when I am in the mood. I started a blog a few months after I arrived in Thailand.

Living In Thailand

Where do you live in Thailand and how long have you been here?
I live in an area called Sathorn – close to the BTS station Saphan Taksin in Bangkok, I have been here for 8 months.

Why did you decide to move to Thailand?
To gain some teaching experience. It is also a fantastic destination for travelling to some exotic locations.

What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Thailand so far? 
I would definitely say that one of the ‘negative’ aspects of living in Thailand is the language barrier. It makes everyday tasks, such as getting from place to place, quite difficult. Transport here can get frustrating. It takes a long time to go short distances because of traffic or because you have to use various forms of transport just to get from one place to another.

Positive aspects are that you are immersed in a completely different way of life that makes you really appreciate what you have. People can also be really friendly. It is also a great hub for travelling if you have the time.

Do you live on a budget or do you live luxuriously?
When I first got to Thailand I was living on a huge budget. Now, my job pays a lot more then my first job did. I would not say I live luxuriously, but I so splurge every now and again. My accommodation is also not that fancy. I would say that I live like a middle class citizen. I also try and save a bit at the end of each month.

What is the strangest/funniest thing that has happened to you since moving here?
I have had so many strange/funny experiences it is hard to remember them all. I would say that funny experiences come to trying to communicate with Thai’s that can barely speak English. Your charades skills definitely improve. I have also had many funny experiences with the kids in my class. I have definitely have adventures in Thailand – too many to put here. Most of my adventures come out of the most unlikely situations.

How is your Thai?
I have a VERY basic understanding of Thai. I know simple phrases to get me around. I learnt some of these phrases from a one week Thai course I did and some from being in situations where I just had to learn some phrases. I would definitely say that being able to count and ask how much is quite important. The minute you can say a few simple phrases in Thai, the locals think you are brilliant.

Renting in Thailand

I am currently renting a studio in a condominium. I have had my fair share of experience in renting in Thailand. I would advise not to rent long term in a serviced apartment. Normally you get ripped off with your water and electricity. I was also not in the best serviced apartment when I first arrived in Bangkok – it was expensive and the air-conditioning barely worked. Aircon is a must in this country.

The studio I am currently renting is in a condominium. If you rent in a condominium you normally have to sign a year’s contract and pay a two month deposit. However, you do not get ripped off on water and electricity as it all goes through the municipality. I have been quite happy with my condominium. I have had one or two problems, but that is normal.

Working In Thailand

What are the challenges you have come across in your job in Thailand?
I am a Biology teacher at a Thai private school. It has its ups and downs. It can get rather frustrating as the Thai culture can get in the way. For example, if a Thai teacher has an issue with you about something that you might or might not be doing, they will not tell you directly, but rather tell someone else who then has to tell you. My classes also get cancelled on a frequent basis which can get annoying.

What are the positive things you have come across in your job in Thailand?
The experience. I have definitely gained some invaluable experience.

What advice would you give somebody about to start working in a similar position to you?
You learn to be patient. This is Thailand – nothing ever happens on time. If you need something done now, it will only be done tomorrow. Patience, patience, patience is all I can say.

Thailand Visa

What kind of visa do you have?
I currently have my non-immigrant B visa
How do you apply for your visa/ renew your visa?
To get the visa I had now, I had to get a bunch of documents from the school. They then took me to Thai immigration to get it.
Have you had to do any visa runs before? Where?
Yes, when I had my tourist visa I did a border run to Cambodia.
Have you experienced any visa problems?
Work permit problems: They do not recognize South Africans as a native English speaking country so I had to do a TOEIC test which is like a TEFL test.

Travel In Thailand

What is your favourite area of Thailand so far? What places would you recommend visiting?
So far, Koh Chang. It is not full of tourists and it is a beautiful island. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are also really beautiful.

Things To Do In Bangkok

What would be your recommended must-see places, activities, bars, clubs or restaurants in Bangkok?
Hmm – tough one. There are some nice areas in Thonglor. Basically you just need to walk around and try anything that looks cool

Do you have a favourite place to shop?
I do not buy from markets anymore as the quality is so bad and the clothes don’t fit me. So I tend to buy from international brands such as H&M and Mango.

What do you do for fun in Bangkok? Any hobbies or activities?
Relax with friends. Don’t really have any hobbies yet :/

Expat advice

What advice would you give to newly arriving expats?
Be patient…the culture takes some time to get used to.

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