In This Interview:
For anyone who has an interest in traveling to Thailand, whether it’s on an internship with us or just to travel and visit, we have a real treat in store for you! We collaborated with two of our outstanding TEFL interns, who are living and teaching there now, to create this interview and blog article to provide more in-depth knowledge about our teaching internships in Thailand.
If you would like to, you can watch the interview on YouTube. Don’t forget to comment, leave a like if you enjoyed and share it with any friends and family that may be interested! Let’s crack on with our interview!
Where our interns are staying: What is life like there?
Aneeqa: I live in Chiang Mai, which is northern Thailand. It is amazing being here and the weather is not too hot. I think it’s really nice because when I was moving to Thailand, I was afraid by this point. We have aircons and it’s actually cold in the morning, so you kind of feel a little bit at home. It’s also super “western” in a way: it still feels like Thailand, but I can get McDonald’s delivered to my front door and I get to live in an amazing flat. Plus, it is quite a busy city, with a lot of tourists, an airport, so it’s pretty much got everything.
Chiang Mai is such a beautiful place not only to visit but to live in too. It’s so reassuring to hear that Aneeqa wasn’t overwhelmed or feeling lost thanks to the more western features. We love that busy city vibe in Chiang Mai that keeps you on your toes! We provide unique internships specifically in Chiang Mai but also across the country of Thailand. Let’s hear what Kyla has to say about her experience choosing the nationwide option for her Premier internship.
I am actually based in Bangkok, so it is very busy and as Aneeqa said, it has western parts but then it also has street food everywhere. I really enjoyed living here so far: I have good access to traveling around, I just learned how to use the subway and the buses around my areas, which help me get around and save a couple of dollars where I can.
Their experience with food in Thailand:
We couldn’t have an interview with our graduates without asking about the food, of course! We love exploring new cultures and trying new things, so that is always on out to-do travel list. From flavourful street food to abundant buffets – we love it all!
Kyla: I’m a pescatarian and here it’s pretty easy to get food that doesn’t have meat in it. If it’s hard to communicate with the person selling the food and you are not sure, don’t risk it. But most people know if you say “pork”, “chicken” or “beef”, they know what that means. If you just say “vegetables” they will understand that you don’t eat meat. Then if I say “fish” that’s safe to eat. So, I haven’t found it too hard, and I do cook for myself as well just to get a couple of extra vegetables and stuff.
The food here is really good. I’d say the more limiting your diet is, the harder it will be, but like it is anywhere else. However, the supermarkets have everything that you could want. If you are vegan, it’s a little bit more pricey but there are vegan meats and vegan cheeses in “western supermarkets”.
Wow! Our stomachs are rumbling after reading that! We suddenly all have a craving for barbecue, how about you? You are probably wondering if you are eligible to teach abroad and try these delicious foods. Let’s take a look at Aneeqa and Kyla’s academic backgrounds and find out!
Could I teach abroad with no experience?
If you’re reading or listening to this interview and wondering: “Could I teach in Thailand?” or you may be thinking “I don’t have a degree to teach English – there’s no way I could do that!”, our interns will talk about how they ended up teaching despite their academic backgrounds.
Aneeqa: I did English literature at university, which is nothing like teaching English. It’s literally just reading books and I knew as I was graduating I really wanted to teach abroad. I did a similar internship in Vietnam, which was around five months. I really enjoyed it, but I wanted to go back home, start my career, catch up with my friends…So I worked in advertising for about three and a half years, which I actually really loved! But It got kind of exhausting, and I did get burnt out a little bit.
Prior to that, I was planning to go abroad again and I did want to do an internship, maybe in Cambodia. However, the entire pandemic happened, and I just put it off even though I still wanted to do it. Then sort of it got towards a year and a half and I finally decided to go for it. I found this internship and that’s how I ended up teaching English in Thailand.
Kyla: I was in college, in environmental studies and anthropology, double major. I did end up doing environmental education and realized I did love teaching and traveling. Similar to Aneeqa, I did an internship in Vietnam through Premier TEFL. However, because of Covid, I had to go home early, and I was working from home online. Just a basic job until I could get back out abroad, which took longer than I would have liked. But I eventually said, “I need to go”. I was looking for a good opportunity to get on my feet and I found this internship! Thailand was always a place I wanted to go to. It was a place I was planning on visiting when I had started my internship in Vietnam and I thought, “Is there a more perfect way to get to the country, go teaching and live there?”
So, after studying with Premier TEFL and completing an internship to gain experience, both Aneeqa and Kyla decided to return to complete another internship – although neither of these wonderful girls had studied to become a teacher at University.
Why they chose Thailand:
But why Thailand? There are so many options to teach worldwide available on our website. Let’s find out why our interns chose Thailand:
Aneeqa: I always thought Thailand looked really fun. There are also things there: the beach, the mountains, it’s got a bit of everything and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. So, when, before the pandemic, I was planning to travel, I was going to come to Thailand for one month, maybe not teach here but it was definitely again on the list. Thailand was one of the countries that’s the most accommodating in terms of bringing people in. You didn’t even have to do a two-week hotel quarantine at that point which most other Asian countries that you want to teach in you have to still do. I just thought this was quite a good place to go so I ended up here.
Kyla: When the Vietnam internship that I had ended because of Covid and I got stuck at home, I immediately started looking for stuff abroad to see if other countries would let me in. It took a long time to find a place that I was comfortable going to, and that place was Thailand. It had entry requirements but I could see that people had already started getting in and how the sandbox was working for some people. When I first started planning at the sandbox it sounded like an amazing way to get into a country. I didn’t have to stay in a hotel room for 14 days and I could start exploring as soon as I got there.
We completely agree: the sandbox quarantine system that Thailand is running is genius! It is definitely enticing to anyone who is seeking adventure and would like to explore while on their internship abroad.
Do you think you could take that leap, to leave boring everyday life behind you and start the adventure of a lifetime? Kyla speaks on working up the bravery to go for it!
According to our interns, what do you need for this kind of experience?
Kyla: I was a nervous wreck, I’m not going to lie and say that I was calm the whole time. You see, at the end of the day if it’s something you really want to do, and you know you saved up for it, you worked hard for it, then take the leap and do it. I didn’t want to sit home, thinking of everything that could have gone wrong, I could have gotten stuck at my layover, I could have been missing something… But I had a lot of help, making sure I had all the right papers and I knew all the processes. Plus, I contacted my airlines to make sure that I had done everything accordingly, I took my precautions about Covid… That is all. If it’s something you really want to do and you’re brave enough to do it I definitely would.
Details of the ‘Sandbox Quarantine’ in Thailand:
Kyla briefly mentioned her experience of the sandbox quarantine in Thailand. But what is a ‘sandbox quarantine’? Kyla fills us in:
Kyla: At the moment it’s seven days. You can fly directly into Phuket so you can still have a layover, but you need to have your first point of entry in Thailand in Phuket. When you get to the airport, they do a PCR test and then you go straight to your hotel. I think I had to stay in my hotel room for about four hours until I went out for dinner with the other interns. I got my test results back; they were negative. I had to do two more tests. I think that was because of my sandboxes 14 days. We just got to stay on the island of Phuket and the islands that are within the province. It didn’t even feel like quarantine.
What an amazing way to encourage a safe but still interesting quarantine for visitors to Thailand. We think it’s genius! After your sandbox quarantine, you will spend a short time being introduced to your students and colleagues so you can learn the ins and outs of teaching at their school. Aneeqa and Kyla discuss their orientation experience:
What is involved in the orientation before teaching?
Aneeqa: When I did the Vietnam internship, we had a one-week orientation. It was honestly ‘freshers week’, it was so much fun! You get to meet loads of other people from different countries and you learn loads of stuff during the day. Then, let you go out every single night and explore. They take you on tours and you do cultural orientation. It was amazing! So, I knew if I was going to go back and do it again. It gives you a ready-made group of people just to start off with. Moreover, learning was really useful: we did some practices so that when you start your first day at school you don’t feel nervous.
Kyla: One of the reasons I really like going in through a chain program is to meet people. It’s really nice to have a support group on the ground where you’re moving. You’re moving to a completely new country, most of the time people don’t know the native language, they don’t know anybody here so it’s good to have that kind of group. You can start exploring and meeting new people together. Plus, just learn how to teach in the country you’re going to. If you travel and teach abroad, every country is going to have different ways to teach. So, I feel more comfortable going into a training program where they can teach me how to teach in this country, how to be respectful, and be an effective teacher here.
What is a typical day in the life of a TEFL teacher in Thailand?
Whether you will teach in-person or teach online, we can guarantee these internships will be much better than the stereotypical 9-to-5. So, when you’re not hopping around the tourist destinations of the country at the weekends, what will your day-to-day life be like as a TEFL teacher?
Kyla: Some things are different obviously: my school provides me the antigen tests for once-a-week I have to make sure they get tested. We also have to wear our masks all day. The class sizes are actually smaller: I have 14 students, instead of 28. But the kids still get to interact with things.
There, they definitely keep track of where you have been in a crowded area. I have a paper to fill out every Monday, to make sure that I haven’t been in a risky area. Aside from Covid, my daily routine goes as I walk to school, I teach my lessons, I help the kids with breakfast lunch. They’re very young so they take naps, so I have to help them with that as well. Then, they have snack time free time and just generally speak English with them all day as well. So, it’s actually a lot of fun and I do enjoy it!
Aneeqa: So, it fluctuates quite a lot between online and in person. They decide pretty much every week, the Chiang Mai provincial government will look at the case numbers to see if it’s safe to open. If it’s safe to open then we’ll open, if it’s not we’ll go online. If I’m online it’s super relaxed: I teach 15 hours a week, I can wake up at 10 am, teach a couple of lessons, go about my day, go to the mall in between classes, go out for food, whatever I want to do. Then if I’m in person I wake up around 10 to 7, me and my friend get a taxi to work, then we just teach our lessons, we sit in the staff room in between, plan our lessons and chat,we can leave the school and get coffees.
I don’t think I’ve ever had an evening where I haven’t had plans. Today I’m going to go bowling then I’m going to go for some drinks, and I pretty much go for dinner go to the cinema or do something every single day and then every single weekend I travel so it’s pretty good!
Some of the challenges our graduates faced :
Moving to a new country and starting a new job all at once in the middle of a pandemic does come with its challenges. A venture this big can be stressful, confusing and overwhelming. This can be minimized with the help of some detailed planning. Let’s see what kinds of challenges our interns have faced on their journey so far.
Aneeqa: There was a lot of paperwork involved. I think me and Kyla had to fill out a bajillion forms. But it wasn’t too expensive. I would say one of the best things was in the first week: I stayed at the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at in my entire life and the price of one week was literally the price of like one-night pre-pandemic. So that had its bonuses but there was a lot of paperwork to get through. Then the anxiety of every single PCR test because they do a lot! You feel really safe, but you are thinking of things going wrong. We also had canceled flights on the way to Chiang Mai, but everything just worked. Even getting an apartment was stressful but it took me one day to have the keys.
Kyla: One of the things definitely was pre-stress to whatever I had to do. A lot of things did just happen. You get used to things, and there’s no reason to stress out about some things. But a hurdle that you do have to overcome a lot is immigration and constantly getting your visa renewed and making sure you have all the papers. They don’t make it easy but at the same time, it’s nice that they have the option for people to renew their visas and stay in the country instead of having to leave and come back.
I would say, moving by myself and starting in a new area is also pretty difficult… but you start talking to the teachers at your school, you can join a little sports group, and you start to meet people there. It’s like you’re starting over and over again but it’s not like I can’t visit my friends in Chiang Mai when I want to, or travel with them as well.
Kyla and Aneeqa’s Highlight so far:
Although every day sounds like a dream, we asked Aneeqa and Kyla to pick their favorite moment from their internship so far that stands out as a highlight of their journey. They said:
Aneeqa: We had a week off for Christmas. I and four of my friends from Chiang Mai went to Koh Samui for five days and then to Koh Phangan for the full moon party. It was just insane; it was so cool!
Kyla: My moment is kind of funny because it’s the opposite. I was traveling by myself down to Krabi and I decided to take a little weekend trip up to Khao Sok. It’s absolutely beautiful. And I met three people and they just decided to hop on the bus with me and go to my hotel and we ended up staying overnight on the lake in Khao Sok. I just remember waking up surrounded by mountains, hearing monkeys and birds, just thinking: “This is my life! I cannot believe it’s happening to me!”
What our TEFL interns recommend:
After experiencing a Premier TEFL internship in Vietnam and a couple of months as interns in Thailand, Kyla and Aneeqa have some recommendations and tips for anyone reading/listening:
Kyla: I would say: make sure you know it’s something you want to do because it’s a big leap. Make sure you’ve done your research on the area and just understand who you are and if you want to travel. If you want to go do it, then do it. I also would suggest to make sure you have enough savings. Make sure you have good enough insurance to cover you in case you do get Covid. Just take your normal precautions. Also, you’re going to want to do things every single weekend and you don’t want to miss out on those chances while you’re here. So just make sure you’re prepared to come, and you won’t regret it.
Aneeqa: I would say you’re not stuck here, why not try anything you want to try. Why not? You’re never going to regret trying something! You’re only really going to regret not trying something. I was also nervous about being a bit older (I’m 26). Ends up, everyone seems to be 26 so don’t let these things. It’s actually always better than you think it’s going to be.
So, there you have it! An extremely detailed and insightful interview with some of our star interns who are currently in Thailand. Teaching in Thailand seems to be very popular because of the beauty and culture of the country – not to mention the tentative and welcoming people in the country.
If this piques your interest and you would like to learn more about our internships in Thailand or any other country, check our website! Hopefully, we will be chatting to you for an interview of your internship experience with us in a few months!