When I think back on Thailand, teaching in Mahachai at Samut Sakhon Burana is my most treasured memory. Being an ESL Teacher in Thailand was an indelible experience.
I went through Sine Education to teach at Samut Sakhon Burana School and they were extraordinary.
They were nice, understanding, and always helpful.
I had to go to Laos to obtain my visa and that was a fun one-day adventure.
All of the foreign teachers had to do it since it was our first time teaching at Sine.
We had to leave school early, go to Bangkok, and then take a bus from Bangkok to Mukdahan. Then from Mukdahan, to Savannakhet. It was a long and tiring process, but it was very much worth it. Even though I got kicked in the ribs. LOL.
Teaching in Mahachai was a bit different compared to Chaiyaphum.
At Samut Sakhon Burana School, our first class of the day started at 8:30 am and the last class ended at 4 pm.
However, we had to be at school by 7:50 because of the morning announcements.
I’d wake up at 7, walk out of my apartment, and start dripping. I wish I was exaggerating. It was also a bit challenging cause I had to cover my tattoos up and I have one behind my ear so I HAD to wear my hair down. Even after living there for ten months, my body never fully adjusted to the climate.
Sometimes one of my coworkers, Christina, and I would get breakfast in the cafeteria before our classes started. The cafeteria ladies always knew what we wanted 😂
There were five foreign teachers at our school. The other four foreign teachers at Samut Sakhon Burana School were Christina, Teddy, Robert, and the headteacher, Craig. Craig is from the UK, the rest of us are from the US.
From left to right: me, Robert, Teddy, Craig, Christina
One day a week, each of the five foreign teachers at my school had to do gate duty. My gate duty was on Wednesdays. We just had to stand near the entrance of the school and wave at all of the students as they entered through the gate.
The students had to wai all of the teachers upon entering the gates. Sometimes the students didn’t wai me and they’d just wave, or the opposite, or both. As time went on, I noticed some of the ones that never said hi had said hi or waved; it made my heart happy.
Side Note: In Thailand, when you greet someone, you are supposed to wai them if they are older than you. It is a sign of respect. When you wai someone, you just hold your hands with your palms touching in front of your chest with a slight bow. It is similar to how we westerners shake hands or wave at someone.
I’d usually have three classes back-to-back for three hours starting right at 8:30, then I’d have a two-block break and then three more classes.
During that two-hour break, Christina and I would usually go get lunch together in the school cafeteria. I’d get som tam (papaya salad), eggs and some veggies and a bag of fruit. We had a teacher’s room and it had AC which was nice. After eating, we’d sometimes take laps around the school to get some exercise in.
Sometimes we’d cross paths with Teddy or Robert.
Other times, we’d go to 7-eleven to get a quick snack or take out some money at the ATM. They were both right across the street.
We had English Camp one weekend. It was only for a few hours on a Saturday and Sunday morning. All of the foreign teachers were the captains of the teams and we competed in a few games but couldn’t help the kids. The days were packed with laughter and fun games.
In each class, I had around 40 students per class. Yup, you read that correctly. I taught 12 classes two times a week.
We also had school pets:
Being an English teacher in Thailand had its perks: we had school pets. The dog’s name was Nam Tan (brown sugar) and I don’t remember the cat’s name. They just roamed around the school. It was cool.
Teaching in Mahachai was never dull. There was one day when we got notified that there was a snake at our school. LOL. These dudes came to remove it. What an amusing day.
The students had a lot of activities at school that overruled their daily classes, especially English class. During the times when they’d have activities, the foreign teachers didn’t have to do anything. Sometimes we’d go watch them or participate in the activities and it was amusing. They had “science day,” “sports days,” singing contests, and many other cute activities.
For their sports days, we ended up going to a different part of town and watching them compete in games.
I loved when my students would see me and come up and talk to me. It made me so proud and happy. They would always try to talk to us and it was truly a great feeling that they felt so comfortable.
The weeks flew by. So did the months. Before I knew it, I was at Samut Sakhon Burana School for seven months.
Teaching in Mahachai at Samut Sakhon Burana School made me understand how teachers love their job. It isn’t about the money, but it is the way you feel when you start to build relationships with your students.
I woke up every single day and loved my job (even when they’d take my phone and take thousands of selfies). I honestly wish I could’ve stayed in Mahachai for a longer time, but Covid and life had other plans for me.
Looking back, I couldn’t imagine leaving Thailand after teaching in Chaiyaphum. I was able to experience another school and meet some amazing humans as an ESL teacher. Although teaching in Mahachai and Chaiyaphum were two different experiences, they were both wonderful.
When I tell you time flew by when I was there, I am not exaggerating. That is how you know you truly love your job. Being an ESL teacher in Thailand will forever hold a spot in my heart.