|I’ve found that whenever I start talking about anything from here, I’ve stumbled and overworded it,
and made it more complicated than it really has to be. I’m therefore going to take a page out of the
Surat Thani book of life, and break it down. Simplify. Here now are the observations and lessons I’ve
learned during my year in Super English, each in 50 words or less.
•The spiders here will not kill you, and very rarely do you see one big enough to make you question
your decision of coming here.
•Getting hired by Super English makes me feel less like an employee, and more like an Island Getaway
•It won’t rain for long, but it will RAIN. That still doesn’t guarantee you’ll have water in your taps
tomorrow though. Conserve!
•The term “farang” is usually used not endearingly, not racially, but more in a sense of astonishment
that we actually leave our houses at night.
•Unless you have prior experience, 95% of you will just barely eke by with the Thai language. 99.9% of
you will not learn their alphabet.
•Just because that bug fritter stand in the night market is gross doesn’t mean that you’ll never buy any.
•I was here with a culinary connoisseur, and she couldn’t identify most of the ingredients in the food.
•It’s surprisingly easy to carry a guitar while driving a motorbike. A bag of unfolded laundry? Not so
easy. A basket is a sound investment.
•The children whose classes you’ll walk into will grab your heart from the very first word out of their
mouths. Make sure that you leave them with many more English words coming from their mouths.
•About classes, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When in doubt, dance.
•There are only a few Surat Thani locals that speak really good English. There is a good chance that
you will meet and befriend most of them.
•The majority of residents of this city don’t speak any English whatsoever. Their personalities are
sometimes enough to befriend them anyways.
•Kindness may be a universal language, but it took the Thais to truly become fluent in it. Remember
this when you struggle to get your point across: They’re already bilingual.
•If you hear the King’s Song, stop, stand, and pay respects.
•Read a little bit about the King before you get here. You’ll be surprised at how interesting a guy he
is. He really is amazing.
•Make sure you don’t tell everyone here anything otherwise.
•Do you like sports! Great! By the way, do you define sports as “snooker, takraw and English
football?” Ooh, I’ve got bad news for you then.
•Things worth their weight in gold: English movies and books, cheese, real coffee, beef.
•Food oddities: Sugar goes in your dinner, salt in your dessert. Corn is an ice cream topping, and
tomatoes are in fruit salad. Sandwiches are bitesize. Durian is loved by some, which is the biggest
oddity of all.
•Try everything at least once. You’ll fall in love with many foods you’ll never expect, and if not, then
at least you can brag back home that you’ve eaten congealed pig’s blood.
•Foreigners are not designed for squat toilets, so don’t feel too embarrassed the first time you attempt
•There are only about 100 English speaking foreigners living in this city. You’ll run into them all
•If people tell you that a place is worth checking out, that means it’s probably crawling with either
culture or foreigners. But it’s usually good for a reason.
•If you have a question about anything related to this job or country, read the website. If you can’t
make it to a computer, your co-workers are usually good for it.
•The best places in town get whittled down to [food type][gender] because they don’t have names.
For example, I ate at the Muslim rice lady and soup lady today. From that, everyone here knows
where I’ve been.
•The school systems in Thailand are chaotic. The only thing orderly in that school will be you, and
probably Sister Principal.
•The Super English classes are difficult. They will sap the day’s last ounce of energy out of you. But
when you see your class succeed so well within and outside Super English, you’ll feel like you can lift a
•Collared shirts are a necessity. However, you should see what the other ESL schools have to wear.
•Sweatshirts? No. I know, you think “Maybe…” But no. And don’t get me started on flannel PJ pants.
•Three sheets. Fold thrice. Apply. Fold in half. Apply once more. Fold and put in the bin. Toilet
hose optional, but awkwardly worth it.
•Riding motorbikes are only scary if you drive like you do back home. Conversely, driving back home
will be horrible if you pick up habits from here.
•One motorbike can fit five children along with the driver, if properly Tetris-ed in there.
•You can brag that back home you rode around on a motorbike for your entire stay here. Just don’t
mention that back home you’d be ridiculed for riding a scooter.
•Put it in perspective when you get ripped off by a Tuk-Tuk driver. I mean, he probably needs that
forty-five cents more than you do.
•If cars honk at you, it’s their way to politely let you know they’re coming up in your blind spot. If you
honk at them, you’re probably angry.
•The people who work ESL here are here not for money or fame, but for experience and adventure.
They bring that attitude to class. They make damn good teachers.
•Even over the scenery, the culture, the experience and the adventure, the best thing about Super
English are the people that you share all these things with. The best people in the world work for
•Thai music sucks. It’s like Nickelback, N*Sync and a second-string house DJ had a lovechild.
•Thai TV lesson: The Thai word for “Punchline” is actually a cartoony ‘boing’ sound. Also, Thai TV is
funny in that “home movies” kind of way.
•They’re not laughing at you… Actually, yeah, they’re laughing at you, but it’s in a nice way.
•I came to Thailand for three reasons: To gain experience as a teacher, to accelerate my class’ English
abilities, and to watch someone get kicked in the face. Lucky for me, Mui Thai kickboxing has me
•The beach is less than an hour away. A day trip to the ocean is commonly acceptable. A weekend trip
is much more enjoyable though. That month-long trip between semesters though? Flawless.
•Scorpions, upon further analysis, scare the living snot out of me. But not as much as groups of stray
•In schools, your kids will cheat at every game possible. Don’t let it drive you insane when kids from
other teams whisper answers, even though it defeats their own team. Watch out: it goes for tests and
•Creativity isn’t really promoted in Thailand, so when every kid uses the same answer you do, don’t
sweat it. Just give more examples next time.
•Super Students don’t have that problem as much, because with only 15 per class, WE CAN CATCH
•My favourite locations out of town are worth seeing multiple times, but many times, the ride there is
•Bring your camera EVERYWHERE. You’ll see.
•I may never see another gecko in my life after I leave here, and I’m actually very depressed about it.
•If you’re not picky with your alcohol, you’ll do fine.
•Never ever drink Sec and Pui’s magic elixir they keep in a giant mason jar in the kitchen at Earth
Zone. It’s good for joints, bowels, and tear-welling headaches the next morning.
•One day, in the box of a pick-up truck with my co-workers, eating a full roasted chicken and sipping
whiskey, looking out at the scenery whizzing by, feeling the wind in my hair, I had my first ever true
moment of peace. You’ll have one too.
•When you read your class list, try not to laugh too hard at the kids named Pee, Fuk, Model, Fluke and
Nut. It’s either call them that, or learn their real names.
•My last moment at Super English involved me hugging a student named Gun on the way out the
door, and weeping openly that this would be my last time seeing any of them.
•I will never have a job as good as this in my life ever again.
•I can’t believe it’s been a year.
•This isn’t the most glamorous job in the world, and the pay may look bad from where you are now,
but this is the best job you’ll ever work.
And that’s all I can think of. Thanks for the year. I’ll never forget it, and I’ll always wish I was still
Not really goodbye, because I’m leaving so much of myself behind.
-Christopher “Moss” MacInnes
|Super English Testimonial
by Chris MacInnes