| I certainly wasn't expecting this. Thirteen months ago, if you had told me what my life would be like 3
months later, I would've had you committed to an insane asylum. A mixup in the Australian immigration office
made me have to leave the country almost immediately, so I came to visit my friend in Surat. Who, as a
backpacker/tourist, makes Surat their first stop in Thailand? Surat grew on me however, so that when I left to
do some proper traveling a couple weeks later, I thought that I would actually miss it. Two months later, the
opportunity to teach here presented itself suddenly the day before I was to fly back to Australia. The
semester was starting in two weeks and a teacher was needed desperately. Momentum took me to Australia,
but the desire to come back to Thailand and teach brought me back two weeks later.
It was a whirlwind, arriving on a Saturday and teaching my first class that Tuesday. I did not know what to
expect, but my fellow teachers were telling me that I'd be fine. I decided to trust them, and that was the best
decision I could've made. What do you do the first moment you see the faces of 55 six-year olds looking at
you expectantly? I discovered that whether or not I am a good teacher today, I had the sense and desire to
become one. Interacting with the children, helping them with their work, and genuinely caring about them
came so much more naturally to me than I could have ever imagined. It was so surprising to uncover that
part of me. The same guy who atrophied working in restaurants, office jobs, and call centers found
something he loved to do more than anything in the world.
It wasn't easy, but by no means was it difficult. Once your heart was in it, the rest was cake. Within two
months, I had memorized the name of every student - all 160+ of them. I loved every minute I was in the
class with them, and I hope the feeling was mutual. The way they would mimic everything I did was so funny.
Usually it was the good habits, such as speaking correct English. Sometimes it was funny habits, like saying
"eenie-meenie-minie-mo" while trying to choose a student for a game. Other times, it was not so great
habits, like when they were learning adjectives and instead of saying "It is a quiet student," they would say it
was a "be quiet" student because in my normal conversation with them, those two words were used in
conjunction all the time. But the best part was discovering something that would make them laugh while
teaching them. Whatever you were teaching them was thenn guaranteed to stick.
Teaching the six-year olds was not my only gig in Surat. If you make the effort to branch out and
experience other teaching situations, it makes everything so much easier. As it is, I taught at least one class
of every age level from Prathom 1 (the six-year olds) all the way up to the final level of high school. My other
main teaching experience came from teaching the adults at the hospital. That was a very unique experience.
While not as much fun as teaching six-year olds, it was still a very rewarding experience. Even if they are
used to seeing foreigners in their official work setting, I detected a sense of relief to actually interact with one
in a less restricted setting. And I also discovered, much to my surprise, that adults like playing silly games
just as much as children.
As rewarding as this teaching experience was, I wholeheartedly acknowledge the fact that it working at
Super English was the reason for such a great experience. It was very comforting to know that I had the
support I needed whenever I wanted it. It's difficult settling in another country, and looking back at the year
that has past, I never felt let down at all. Peter and Victoria always had my back, and for that I am very
grateful. Every other teacher here was supportive as well. I like to think I made myself available for them too.
Not to mindlessly spout a cliche, but you definitely will get out of this experience what you put in.
I am going to miss Surat very very much. It's nice to feel a part of a place, and doubly so when you are
such an outsider to begin with. Yeah, I still don't speak Thai very well at all, and I get a little nervous on my
motorbike. But life here is simple and pleasant. The people are so friendly, even though their driving leaves
a lot to be desired. The food is good and the most beautiful beaches in the world are within a day's trip.
Once you realize how some of the things you are accustomed to are so irrelevant, life is even better. So,
thirteen months after I first stepped foot in Surat, I leave with some sadness in my heart, but so much more
gratitude for my time here.