Why I'm Leaving Thailand

At the end of October in 2015 I hauled my big pack across the world to settle down in Thailand for a year. I got a job teaching English before I came over and got an apartment the day after I arrived in a small city in lower northern Thailand, called Phitsanulok.

I moved to Thailand extremely hopeful, and definitely nervous. I was the first full-time English teacher at the language school where I work, but was promised a second and third teacher would be coming soon.

The food is delicious, and I learned to ride a scooter about 2 weeks after arriving. I was excited to explore, to learn a new language, to work with children, and to meet new friends who could relate with my crazy idea to move abroad.

But very quickly my hopeful attitude towards all the good things I wanted to happen changed. Now I’m no longer hopeful and am just down right sad, bored, homesick, and not loving life. (Those promised teacher’s? Still not here.)

Do I need to be loving life every second? No. But I need to be loving some part of my life enough to make me stay here. And the truth is that there is nothing I love enough to stay here.

A short two and a half months after I moved myself across the world I have decided to leave, and go right back to where I came from. I’m going home without traveling through Southeast Asia first, or to Australia like I thought I would. I’m going back to cold, snowy Canada to live with my parents (and I’m more than happy to).

Before I left Canada I told myself I would give it a full three months before I made a decision, to truly get a feel for the city, culture, and job. But I think I got a feel of it a lot faster than I expected and I knew my answer sooner.

The truth is that moving abroad is not easy. It’s not all fun and games and discovering new things. Yes, those are parts of moving abroad, but anyone who has moved abroad will tell you that it’s terrifying, exciting, thrilling, and nerve-wracking all at the same time. It’s a whirlwind of emotions everyday.

I like Thailand, I really do. But living here has me craving more things from home than things I like here.

I live in a small city with very few foreigners, tourists or travellers rarely pass through here and when they do that’s all they do, is pass through. And I know that looking for foreigners is not the way to go, but in a city where so few Thai people speak English I found myself heading for spots where I could find some friendly faces that spoke more than my awkward sign language and broken English to communicate.

Many Thais are scared of me, because I’m a farang, which made it all the more difficult to find people to communicate with. The ones that could talk English were so nervous to that I didn’t know who they were because they’d never speak.

Thai Friend

On top of that majority of the foreigners here are middle-aged men who have Thai wives, who are all very friendly, but not exactly a crowd I thought I would be spending my year with. And my teaching assistant’s English is so weak that our conversations usually involve me miming, or her showing me pictures of her travels.

So with a lack of friends (believe me I made an effort to find some) I was lonely, spending my days scrolling through Facebook and Instagram looking at pictures of other travel bloggers explore beautiful cities while I sit here day-dreaming of where to go next.

And with little communication I found myself going crazy. Majority of the people I talk to are under the age of 7 as I teach mostly kindergarten. The number of times I’ve said all the colours, and counted to ten…

Good Students

Not to mention that this city is an hour away from anything “major.” Sukhothai is the closest city, but nothing is easy to get to. Public transportation? Forget it. No car or scooter? You’re getting no where even just in the city. So even exploring nearby areas is challenging.

Sukhothai

I also didn’t love my job. I thought teaching would be more fun, but I found myself more disappointed than anything. Frustrated that I had to repeat the same thing for the millionth time, and losing my voice because I spent most of my classes yelling over screaming children.

I was told that I just had bad luck, that I ended up at a school that didn’t show me the real kids in Thailand that are enjoyable to teach. I was told that Chiang Mai or another more touristy city would be better.

I agreed, but still I wanted to leave.

With all the “bad luck” that I’ve had I’m a little turned off of Thailand. I still have every desire to travel here, but living here is not my thing.

Are these all excuses for me to leave? Maybe that’s what you think, maybe you think I didn’t give it enough time, or that I didn’t explore or try enough. Did I give it my absolute all? No. I could have tried a little more or explored a little further.

But I was tired of everyday being so challenging that I wanted to quit. And quitting is not the end of the world.

I knew that staying here would only make me more unhappy, and I know that the moment I decided to go home was the moment that I started feeling better. I stopped crying everyday over the smallest of things like thinking of my family or getting frustrated from driving on streets with no rules that anyone actually follows.

No, there is nothing wrong with Thailand or the school I work at. It had everything to do with me. We weren’t the right fit, and I’m not going to sit around any longer telling myself that only time will help. I know what makes me happy, and right now I now that only home will make me happy.

Students

Did I find all of the answers I wanted to while living here? Absolutely not. I definitely set my exceptions for self discovery a little too high. But I sure as hell learned a lot about myself in a short time that I never would have learned at home.

I have zero regrets about my choice to move here or move home, and I believe that I’m leaving this situation a better, stronger, more confident and caring individual. I even squeezed in a vacation to Phuket (no regrets ever when it involves a beach).

Phuket

I was told that everyone loved Thailand, that everyone who moved here to teach English had the time of their life. That’s great, but it isn’t for me. And listening to what everyone else had to say made me hopeful, but it doesn’t help change the situation I’m in here.

Moving abroad is not for everyone, but I like to believe that it is for me. Now that I know Thailand wasn’t the right place maybe I’ll make a smarter choice next time. Australia anyone?

Have you moved abroad? Was it an experience of a lifetime or not so great?

109 Comments

  1. I’m sure it was a really hard decision – but from everything you have described, it was the right one! After 5 years of teaching, I know for a fact that 95% of English teachers are in this for the people (most often other expats), myself included. I never would have lasted in a small town with no one else to hang out with but you should give it another try in the future! Moving to Daejeon (Korea) when I was 23 was the best AND the hardest decision in my life but I’ve never been able to move back to dear ol Canada. PS – I’m especially jealous if your parents are in Ottawa, I forget if you were there in the fall because of parents or work/school.

    • My parents live in Ottawa! And I love Canada, I just haven’t decided if I want to live there for the rest of my life. And yes teaching was not my main priority, I wanted to meet other people with similar life choices and the desire to travel. BUT, no regrets, an experience is always a good thing.

    • Exactly! I think just knowing that so many people enjoyed I thought that it was kind of like insurance that I had a pretty high chance of loving it too. But obviously that wasn’t the case!

  2. Sell All Your Stuff Reply

    Fantastic honest post! You have to do what’s right for you, like you said it wasn’t the right fit. Good luck back in Canada, we will be there April – October. Starting in ON and moving West. Hopefully we can meet up!

    • I’ll be in Ontario! I’ll be living in Ottawa so give me a shout if you’re in the city 🙂

      • Sell All Your Stuff Reply

        Don’t think we will be up that
        way. We are house sitting near Toronto. I’ll keep you in mind
        though just in case!

      • Don’t be down on yourself too much, I did the same with Australia when I was 18, and I have also lived in Thailand for several years but now have returned to the UK.
        All the teachers I met were raving alcoholics and did not seem happy at heart even though they had been there for 6 months, I sensed a state of loneliness in them, I married a Thai and have a small family but I hated the expat scene over there, for a holiday its okay but for living its a nightmare, its like a real life West world, girls line up in the bars and say anything to entice the men, the men try to turn the clock back and pretend they are 21 again but in reality are 61 and living the lie.I met the dark characters over there, worse of the lot were the local men who had a real low value on life, they would not think two minutes about killing someone for 10,000 baht.added to this you have the corrupt government and police who can be paid to look the other way for any crime, I have little interest in going back and I have half thai children , all the best

        • Thanks Kevin, all is good now, this all happened a couple of years ago and I have no regrets!

  3. Katie Macnamara Reply

    I love the honesty of this post Taylor. I don’t think enough travel bloggers shed light on the true reality of living abroad- while it’s an amazing experience, it can also be very difficult. The important thing is that you took a risk, and if you hadn’t you could have spent the past three months wondering what it would be like. I believe traveling is all about discovery, which means it can often be messy and rarely goes as planned. There’s nothing wrong with discovering that you don’t like something, it can actually help you understand your wants and needs on a whole new level so you can find a new opportunity you love! Congrats on doing what’s right for you, I think it’s really admirable and shows a lot of strength. Have a safe trip home and I hope that I’ll see you when I get home too!

  4. Thanks for your post, Taylor. I’ve lived in Bali – with my husband – and it was nice but not a place I want to put down roots. The traffic is horrendous, the trash is everywhere (when they’re not burning it and making the air stink like burning plastic), the cockfighting, pig sacrifices and constantly yelping dogs were not my thing. But then, there are many things I did like. So I do understand your perspective.

    I’ve also experienced expat life in Panama (better) and Ecuador (that was an improvement as well). Here’s what I’ve come to realize – Every country is not for every person. But every country changes you, and that’s not always a bad thing.

    Perhaps you will try again in a different country one day, but for now I wish you the best as you go home and recharge.

    • Thank you Linda! I’d definitely love to try living abroad again, maybe Australia or New Zealand, somewhere that isn’t such a culture shock!

  5. Good on you for being so honest! Each person’s experience will be unique and there’s nothing wrong with having a go and realising that Thailand, right now, isn’t for you. Another time, maybe another place, living away could be. My hubby and I moved to the UAE in August and I must admit that we’ve found the move easier than expected but we’re in a city with lots of expats and I’m teaching in a British curriculum school. I’ll be following you with interest and would love to see you on our page – never know, you could end up in Abu Dhabi 🙂

    • Abu Dhabi is definitely on my list of places to visit! And I have heard good things about teaching in Dubai…glad to hear things worked out so well for you!

  6. Teacaketravels Reply

    I’m digging this post. You tried. You didn’t like it. It’s not for you. No problem! Wishing you an awesome 2016 back in Canada and enjoying the delights of home

  7. A great honest post. You never know until you try these things and it sounds like you are doing the right thing for you. And to acknowledge it isn’t right take courage in itself lady! Wishing you a safe journey home x

  8. I do love living overseas, but I wasn’t super impressed with Thailand when I visited. In fact, after spending a week there (in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket) we were more than ready to leave. Felt like we’d spent too long in Thailand lol. But living in Russia was AMAZING (but certainly not for everyone!) and Australia is DEFINITELY AMAZING (easy for everyone to do lol). HIGHLY recommend the AU work and holiday visa. Do it. I had no regrets. BEST year of my life!

    • Yes! I’d definitely love to give Australia or New Zealand a try. And I went to Phuket while I was here too and was disappointed with how touristy it was! I saw more foreigners and foreign food than I did Thai!

      • Yeah, we were super disappointed with Phuket! =( No one would leave us alone, constantly trying to sell us stuff on the beach and being really rude to us. We were so done by then. Chiang Mai was better. But still….
        Bali, Malaysia, Singapore…lots of better places in Asia.
        But go to AU and NZ and you will never want to leave. Promise. =)

        • Thailand is more than Phuket! Don’t judge from one over-touristy island 🙂 maybe do more research first into what kind of islands you’d like to visit…we have over a hundred!

  9. RunawayBrit Reply

    This is a very honest post, which is hard to write when everybody else is writing about how wonderful it is to move overseas. Kudos to you. The truth is, moving overseas is HARD. I have done it 5 times now (Japan, Vietnam, Sweden, Spain, India), with different degrees of success – but the thing that always makes it work is the people you meet. If there is not a community that you can become part of, you won’t stay. I left Spain after 3 months because I couldn’t find work and I didn’t have a group of friends. I am not ashamed to admit it. I am leaving India after 2 years because I have a very limited social scene here. Japan, Sweden and Vietnam I loved – not because of the job (always teaching), but because of the friends I made.

    Thailand didn’t click with you and that’s okay, you went home and you were happy to do so. You will never look back on an opportunity not taken and wonder ‘what if’? That in itself is success. Good luck in your future plans!

    • Karilyn (NoBackHome) Reply

      Thats pretty awesome you lasted 2 years in India. I lived in India from 2004-2012 and in the early years it was much more frustrating than the later years, but nevertheless its a tough place to live as a foreigner!

    • Thank you! And you are completely right, people move abroad more so for the people. I haven’t heard of one person who’s moved overseas and hasn’t said how many great people they’ve met.

  10. Karilyn (NoBackHome) Reply

    I lived in India for almost a decade. When I lived there, I had friends and a social group that i created, but I do remember at the beginning in 2004 it was tough to find friends local or foreign who i could really connect with. I was lucky that I had my partner, but I can totally understand your frustrations. I was in charge of a volunteer program and sometimes it just wasn’t the place o right time in their life. One girl left India totally disappointed, vowing how much she hated it. I was surprised to see 2 years later she was back and now she is still there. You just never know what life will give you. Kudos to you for doing what you feel is best for you.

    • Exactly, sometimes it just isn’t the right time. Luckily this hasn’t completely turned me off of Thailand, I’ll definitely go back!

  11. Brave article telling the truth. It’s hard to be honest about being unhappy. The first time I moved abroad I was miserable and homesick and swore I would never do it again…fast forward 5 years and I’ve done it again twice and now live in Bangkok! Don’t taint your experience by saying ‘never’, the reasons why you went in the first place might come up again in the future! Maybe you can learn from things, like what you want from a city, – bigger, international, maybe you want a teaching qualification so you can teach for a better company/school/university! Good luck!

    • Oh I never say never! I’m sure I’ll give living abroad a chance again…just probably not in Thailand! There’s too many other places to see!

  12. Very honest and interesting to hear. I am not able to move abroad until my kids get older so I see all the stories of moving and long for that. I’m not sure I’ll like it when I do it eventually but it is always worth trying. You don’t have regrets not going for it now!

    • That’s the best way to look at it. Not everyone loves it (which I think should be shared more!), but going in with an open mind that it’s worth trying will make your experience that much better.

  13. I’ve often thought about teaching ESL in another country, and your article shows what it’s really like. I’m sure there’s better places out there, but it’s good to know it’s not all adventure and glam. Thanks for sharing. -Josh/Outback Tales

    • Exactly. There are definitely better places out there, but finding a job overseas (like I did) makes it really hard to judge what it’s going to be like. Now I’d definitely recommend going to the country first and then finding a job.

  14. behindthesights Reply

    So get your point. I have traveled a lot and worked abroad several times. I am addicted to it and would do it again, but nor because it is easy or it always makes you happy. I understand your troubles and feelings. Just do whatever YOU think you should do. Take care!

  15. I teach english in thailand too! and you know what? I don’t like it either. The only reason I’ve chosen to stick it out is because I have 7 other americans teaching at my school. It’s the one thing getting me through this experience so i totally understand where you’re coming from. I have battled with the decision on whether to stay or go for awhile so good for you for doing what you want!

    Everything can’t be for everyone.

    Taylor
    http://www.whiskey-ginger.com

    • It’s very refreshing to hear that someone feel the same as me! I’m sure if I had more friends here I would have tried to stay longer, but not loving a job or the city makes it really difficult to find a reason to stay around!

  16. The 3 month mark is TOTALLY normal! I start to get antsy around 3 months gone…I start missing my dog, easy access to real cheese, wearing jeans….And what’s more, my mom was an area rep for a youth exchange program and ALMOST EVERYONE gets homesick around 3-4 months, no matter where they are or where they’re from. Don’t feel bad, everybody’s human. You just gotta do what you want to do when you want to do it, and don’t do what you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it. <3

    • Thank you! This is so supportive and not like the typical “you just need to stick it out!” like most people have been telling me. Like you said, you just gotta do wha you want to do when you want to do it.

  17. I’m sorry your job in Thailand wasn’t the great experience of a lifetime. It’s good you cut your losses soon and you still got to get the feel of living and working in a foreign country. Good luck in your future endeavors and don’t let this experience ruin your love for travel! Who knows, maybe you’ll find a better fit elsewhere!

    http://www.booksandtrips.com/

    • Oh it definitely hasn’t ruined my love of travel, my bucket list of places to go is still growing daily!

    • Oh I’ll definitely be writing more travel stories! I wish I had known how hard the first few months would be haha

  18. I really admire you for sharing this one….yes, agree, beginning are never easy and being happy is tough when you dont have the right people next to you.
    Stay strong girl!

  19. wow, I am glad you shared this part of a story that isn’t always shared. I have lived abroad several times but I always had a date when I would go back so I could hang on to that. I also always spoke the language of the country so making friends wasn’t so difficult. Still, when I was in Peru, the cultures was so different and in some ways in the end, I felt judged for my decisions, that I was really looking forward to going home. But I still want to go back because I feel that 2 months wasn’t enough and I loved the country. But I think I understand your decision. You are brave for making it and admitting it. So I hope if you go somewhere else next time, you’ll have a better experience!! 🙂

    • I hope so too! I think if I had be able to speak Thai it would have made things a lot easier. But you live and you learn!

  20. Its great that you are so honest with this instead of acting like everything is okay! And good job to you for trying something different-it is a lot harder than people actually think!

    • Oh definitely way harder than people think! But giving it just one chance isn’t the way to go either…I’ll live abroad again at some point!

  21. Gearoid McSweeney Reply

    Well done! You tried something, saw it wasn’t for you and moved on. Good choices and an intelligent post.

  22. Many times time and experience show us the way, there is nothing wrong or right, what is right for one may be wrong for the other. Each one needs to take his or her own decisions as after all it is their life.

  23. Sabine @ The Travelling Chilli Reply

    I have moved abroad a few times and every time for me it was a great experience and I wanted more. I does not mean that because this experience was not that good that your next one will not be better. Every experience is new. Unless you really don’t like it and just want to travel abroad but not settle anymore for a longer period of time.

    • I would definitely like to be able to settle for longer periods, and would love to try living abroad again. I for sure won’t let one bad experience affect my future decisions!

  24. 2TravelDads Reply

    That was some of the most honest writing I’ve read in a while. It’s so important to know what’s best for yourself.

  25. I understand ‘homesick’. I really do. I relate to your situation. And I respect the decision you made!

  26. Am sure you tried your best but I can so understand the feelings. Glad you were honest enough to move ahead. 😀

  27. Wow, I know Phitsanulok. I’m one of these travelers who spent a couple of hours here then continued her way. I’ve visited the temple of your pic. They were making new wall paintings, it was nice. The town have not so much to offer, otherwise I’d have spend more time… I haven’t live in Thailand, but I’m not a big fan. I spent almost 3 weeks with burmese monks in Mae Sot for a major 7 days-long cremation (the Master of the temple died 6 years before and kept in a glass box until this big event). My problem with the thai monks was hypocrisy : they spent their time blaming my burmese friends because I was there, but had no problem to ask me for sex when they were alone around the temple or streets. That’s why I think that thai smile is not honest. And as I travel for interacting with local people, Thailand is not for me also…

  28. Taylor, At least you can take a way some great learnings from the experience and I am sure you learned a lot about yourself as well. Next time you head abroad you will have more of an idea what you need to provide some support for you.

  29. Lili's travel plans Reply

    Looks like you did what felt right for you Taylor, and that’s the only thing that counts! I wish you all the best back home in Canada!!!

  30. Travel Lushes Reply

    Wow! A very honest post about the realities of packing up and moving abroad. It isn’t for everyone, you’re right. I don’t think I would ever do it. I like traveling and coming back home to my friends and family. Glad you don’t regret it though 🙂

    • Personally I think coming home to friends and family, my bed and shower are one of the best feelings of travel. I love comforts, but some people can seem to go on forever without them!

  31. I just want to give you a hug and say I hear you! I’m Canadian (from Halifax), and I’ve been traveling since Sept 2014 with only a few weeks back in Canada. I’ve hit a couple of rough patches … really really rough patches and a lot of what you explained I am going through right now. I’m in beautiful Portugal. It is a wonderful place, lovely climate, food is great BUT I’ve been here four weeks and haven’t even made one adult friend. (despite my best efforts!) It is down right draining to not be happy where you are at. Just want to say that it sucks to make the decision to leave early, but you always have to take care of yourself first. No point in being miserable and alone just to prove you can do it. And I, too, need to make these same decisions! All the best and thanks for sharing your story! http://ipicturetheworld.wordpress.com

    • Thank you Shari! You are completely right, there is no point in being miserable. I hope everything works out for you! Wishing you the best 🙂

  32. Wow a touching account. All admiration for anyone stepping out on their own and giving it a try. I am in my second expat posting with a hubby and kids and we adore it, love every minute and soaking it in,I’d be heartbroken to now leave. But if you asked me to be absorbed daily in a new language and feel like a minority without day to day communication completely different story. your bravery to admit and tell your story is commendable. (and the best part of travel is that first shower at home!)

  33. Alexandra Turner Reply

    Nice to read an honest article about this! Social media and all the perfect blogs and instagrams make you feel like every moment of every day has to be jumping into waterfalls and sipping cocktails on beaches whilst bonding with locals, making tonnes of cool backpacker friends and speaking fluent Thai or whatever. When the reality actually involves boredom, loneliness and hard work, whilst struggling around with your basic language skills and not really loving it that much, you feel like you’ve failed. Some places are for you, others are not. I feel like I should be having the time of my life in Italy, but I’m not really either. Nothing to be ashamed of!

    • Thanks girl! I appreciate your comment. I hope you are at least enjoying the food in Italy! It can be tough, a lot tougher than people think.

  34. I can totally relate to this! September 2015 I moved to Australia hoping to be there for 1-2 years and travel around Asia after, but decided to go back home in December 2015. I loved Australia, Aussies and their culture, but I was having a terrible time. Bad experience after bad experience and my mental health was plummeting so far that I was falling apart. I realized that I really needed to be home, especially after those experiences and still not being able to find a job. I definitely want to return to Oz at some point, but to visit. Moving abroad and doing these crazy life-changing things are a lot harder than people like to say it is. And there’s absolutely no shame in quitting if that’s what you have to do and it sounds like you definitely did. Thank you for being honest about this! I hope more people will be too.

    • I hope so too! It’s so hard, and is definitely way more difficult for some people than others. Sad to hear that you had bad experiences, but at least you want to go back and it hasn’t ruined the country or your sense of adventure!

  35. Its definitely a culture shock for sure at first. Some people are not cut out for it and thats totally fine. I moved from the US to Toronto for 5 years and now Im in Phuket Thailand for 5 years running now. Granted I have settled down creating a thai family of my own but I prefer to hang out with thai friends and I make so many friends at the local thai disco partying until 5am. It’s kind of fun being the only white person at a place like that, everyone is so surprised to see you there but you end up making new friends by the end of the night giving a cheers and clinking glasses with almost everyone there.

    The only problem I come across is the pain of making new english speaking friends that actually stay here. But given that my wife and kids speak english now it doesnt bother me as much. I have probably visited home 3 times in the past ten years but right now im on a streak of 5 years. All I know now is that Thailand is my new home and I wouldn’t dream of moving back to the US. Aside from the idiots on the road I feel like the quality of life here is much better and its so relaxed. I love it.

    My advice for anyone is to just continue meeting people. Soon enough you will get a solid group of friends and you will forget about all that homesick feelings. But also first timers should definitely start in a tourist area or at least the burbs of the tourist area like I am.

    • I completely agree. That was my biggest mistake, moving somewhere that was too far from touristy areas. I would have loved living on Phuket, it would certainly have been nice to have some beaches close by! And I see how you feel that life is better in Thailand, the relaxed feeling everywhere is something I definitely miss!

  36. what a loser….. grow up your article has absolutely nothing to say for itself other than you are a weak character who gives up too easily. That was one of the most boring things i have ever read and why do you think people care about how your crummy job failed and your attitude failed anyway?

    • Obviously I think otherwise or else I wouldn’t have written this post. This is a blog dedicated to the mistakes that I’ve made while traveling and so I tell it as it is, sharing my experiences and if others can relate, which many have, then that’s a bonus.

  37. It can be a culture shock for real! I moved abroad to a “small” city in Germany (250k inhabitants), and it was really hard — not speaking the language very well is extremely isolating, and makes it hard to really make friends besides my coworkers (who were also foreign). It’s the closest I’ve come to depression. I’ve since moved to Berlin and am MUCH happier — just the fact that you can find a doctor that speaks some English is a huge relief, and also make friends that aren’t speaking English just because you’re there. I also have friends who live in Asia (China and Japan), and it sounds incredibly lonely and exhausting — constantly trying to parse your environment into something that makes sense. Everything looks wonderful in photos, but it’s really not glamorous all the time. Respect for writing this post — I would say, maybe you’ll find somewhere that’s a good balance, and Thailand is just not it 🙂 Keep looking!

    • Thank you! I completely agree. Berlin would be an awesome place to live, glad to hear you are enjoying it! I think there is definitely somewhere that is a much better balance, I’ll stick to Thailand for nice vacations and live somewhere else that isn’t as harsh as a culture shock!

  38. honey milk Reply

    I come back to this article again and again. Because it is the closest I have to comfort me because I want to leave my job teaching here in Japan. It’s been almost 3 months and I’m feeling all the things you have described. Lonely, frustrated, crying every night, not happy at my job, everything is a lot different than I have imagined it to be. I plan on putting in my resignation letter, but I’m so anxious and nervous about the backlash. However I know I’m doing something right for myself, because I cannot stay here for a year, I need to be home because I think my mental sanity and happiness is more important than what others think. You are so brave, thank you for this article!

    • The most important thing is to not stress about what others will think. Whatever decision you make affects you and others shouldn’t influence that. For me going home was the best decision. I decided to not think of it as a failure or giving up but instead as a learning experience.

  39. Melissa Hamilton Reply

    traveling and moving overseas is not for everyone. There can be a number of things that can make it difficult. I LOVED teaching my children in Singapore. But I had a boss who was a bully and put me under a lot of stress it even became physical with screaming and her throwing paper in my face. I was feeling very sick and didnt want to be seen as a failure. I didn’t want to quit but was forced to and shortly after was in hospital for a 2 month stint and still recovering from a virus. Although you left because of different reasons. The feelings of tears and wanting a family unit and familiar faces was the same. Its a huge risk moving overseas for a job and a lot of stress and emotions are involved. Thank you for sharing

    • Definitely! I hope all is well now and I’m sure you came back with a lot of new lessons learned which I think is one of the best parts of the whole experience!

  40. Wading Wade Reply

    Such an amazing post! There’s so many things that affect whether an experience is enjoyable, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with coming home! I’m glad to hear another type of perspective. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Exactly! I think a lot of people are scared to admit defeat, though it isn’t really defeat. I learned my lesson and was ready to move on!

  41. Hello from a fellow Canadian and thanks for sharing such a candid post! Too often, I see posts of people moving away and how wonderful their adventures are. Rarely do I ever come across a blog post about the downside of moving overseas.

    • I agree! That’s why I thought it was important to share my story. Though there are definitely good things that come from the whole experience!

  42. I’ve heard similar stories about teaching in Thailand, have you thought about teaching in South Korea? I was looking in to both but not sure if I’d last a full contract in SK because I practically live in my bikinis! haha

    • I was comparing South Korea to Thailand when I was looking into it and ultimately opted for Thailand. Maybe I’ll teach in Korea eventually but for now I’m living abroad in Melbourne!

  43. Bobby Kane Reply

    The educational system in Thailand is a joke. The kids need to be entertained constantly by playing games or singing or they just lose interest. The faculty that runs the school only goes through the motions. Teachers in Thailand have a pretty good retirement plan compared to most and that is all they are waiting for. Thai students are lazy and never plan for the future. Also, those that do go on to college will end up in a non accredited university that will give a diploma that is worthless in most countries.

    • It is quite sad to see how weak the education system is. I only hope that it will improve soon!

  44. Molly Loonam Reply

    Hi Taylor,

    I recently moved to Chongqing, China and found your blog. I just wanted to say thank you for writing about this! The job I was promised is MUCH different from the one I’m doing, and already I’m getting really nervous that I’m going to have to bail early. I was told I would be just teaching English at a kindergarten, but it turns out that kindergartens here are more like daycares. I’m helping kids eat, go to the bathroom, and undress/redress after nap time. I told myself that if I still feel this way by the third month, I’m out (which is really unfortunate, because I love to travel and was SO PUMPED to live in another country for a year). I’m still hopeful that things will get better, but it’s not going to be worth it to stay for a year if my work situation doesn’t drastically improve. Do you have any advice for how to meet other foreign teachers (ie. is there an expat website you used when you went to Thailand? I know Thailand and China are obviously very different! I’m just having a really hard time finding people near me that speak English)? Anyway, thanks again for writing this! It makes me feel much less alone to know that I’m not the only person whose moved across the globe and found out it wasn’t going to be what I thought. Fingers crossed everything turns out okay for me here, but…… well, it’s not looking great at the moment.

    -Molly

    • Hi Molly! You are absolutely not alone in wanting to go home, so many people like to hide that fact though because they feel like they failed or are giving up which is completely not the case. And kudos to you for giving China a go, I was too nervous and thought China would be even more difficult than Thailand! My best advice is to enjoy the time as much as you can while you’re there. I suggest searching for some Facebook groups of expats in China as I know China is huge for teaching so there are many expats but I’m not sure about your area. I do have a friend who is living in China who may be able to give you better help since she’s a bit of an expert! She has a ton of info on China itself and teaching in China and I know she’d be more than happy to help you with any questions you may have! Her blog is adventuresaroundasia.com. Best of luck, I hope things turn around for you and I know that whatever your decision is that you’ll have learned a ton.

    • Hi Molly,
      I just read your comment and was wondering how things turned out for you? I am currently teaching in Thailand, I have been here for 3 months now, and I feel like my experience has been similar to yours. I am trying to stay positive, but in reality I do not truly want to be here any more.
      Best,
      Jessica

  45. I am currently teaching abroad in a town in northern Thailand (5 hours north east of Chiang Mai on the Laos border) and I have been here for almost 3 months exactly, and I am miserable. I have been struggling with whether to go home or not for a while because I am scared that people will see me as a failure, or that I will see my self as a failure. Reading your article was so refreshing, so honest. Everyday I look for advice but everyone just says “stick it out and it will get better” and every one online just posts about how amazing it is. But the reality is that is is not amazing and it is not for everyone, and I do not think that it is for me and that is ok.

    • I know how you feel, all the advice is the same and sure that way work for a ton of people but you have to do what feels right in your gut. To me it wasn’t worth staying in a place that I felt miserable, I want to be happy and if what I’m doing isn’t making me happy then I move on. I think 3 months is a really good amount of time to decide if something is working for you or not. I also took a mini holiday to Phuket to see if that helped. Perhaps just take a few days away if you can and see how you feel when you come back. It’s a hard decision and nothing is black and white. Just remind yourself that if you do decide to move on then you’re not a failure. You took a big step moving to a town in Thailand to teach English and a lot of people are too scared to even do that. Teaching itself isn’t for everyone either and whatever decision you make just know that it’s right for you and no one should judge you for what you do.

  46. I am really glad I came across this post. I’m teaching in South Korea and have been getting a bombardment of anxiety and stress and feeling guilty on top of it for feeling that way after making the big leap to come out here. I’ve also had previous teaching experience where I dealt with similar feelings but thought I had gotten past them with some time and maturing. But now that I am back to teaching in a classroom setting in Korea, the familiar stress is back again and I feel foolish that it took flying across the world for it to sink in. I’m realizing that teaching is not for me. It’s been really difficult to give myself permission to just give it a go for a few months and if its not working out that it’s ok to leave. I’ve only started recently so I wouldn’t want to leave now, I think.

    After reading blog post after blog post of people who loved teaching abroad or who had struggles but got over it pretty quickly, it’s very refreshing to hear of someone who decided this wasn’t for them. I’m definitely very worried about being judged about making a decision to come home early. But I think without the permission to leave early, I won’t even be able to make it through a few months. Thank you so much for writing about a different perspective. It has helped me feel more secure about giving myself an out, although I still struggle with feeling like I’m letting myself and others who supported me down.

    • I felt the same way but when I got home I realized that I had 100% made the right decision for myself. People will judge, of course, but in the end it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks as long as you’re happy.

  47. How did I find your blog? Being able to say out loud that your dream of teaching in Thailand was not what you had envisioned, is very wise. It shows that you are stable. So many people move to Thailand and can never say what they feel due to embarassment for moving there. Living in Thailand turns into fantastic photos for Facebook or Instagram, and everyone not with you buy it, hook, line, and sinker. Expats find out soon that the average Thai will have nothing to do with you unless they are making $ off of you. Some do fall in love while there and have happy life and marriage with a Thai, but that is rare. Mostly, it is old men who move for sex and have the belief they will have a subservient wife, someone who doesn’t think for herself, a huge mistake on their part. Most people who teach English are male and have issues with sex, drinking, etc. On Phuket, one expat who was a hero with the tourist police, was busted dealing meth. What you are back home is what you will be in Thailand only ten-fold. Thailand wants the young expat to teach their children. The teachers I have known, especially on Phuket, say they are babysitters for the children of Thai bargirls. The quality of teaching, or what the government wants to teach the children, is lower quality, and in reality, Thais do not care if their children learn English. People have bought the Thai Tourism push of ‘Land of Smiles’. It is not a land of smiles unless someone is booking a room for you or offering sex for a fee. The farang is looked at as a lower being. That is the way it is. Do not quit traveling though and meeting people, it is a wonderful part of life.

    • A lot of what you say is true, unfortunately, but I hope that this stereotype isn’t always a stereotype and that things to improve! It’s sad about the education system too, it’s definitely lacking and this is common knowledge now because of the amount fo foreign teachers in Thailand. Thailand is one of my favourite countries though (Phuket probably my least favourite place in the country though) so I will definitely return!

  48. Hello Taylor! I am so happy to have found your article because i feel like i can relate to what you went through.

    I am currently having my internship in the US in the hospitality industry. I have a 12 month contract with the company. It is currectly going to be my second month here and i am starting to feel extreme homsickness and depression. My job is fine, i dont love it and i don’t hate it either. But lately, i’ve been feeling like i’m losing myself to loneliness. Every day i wake up and feel an “emptiness” and i just can’t stop thinking about my family and friends back home. I am starting to think i made the wrong decision coming here and i can’t imagine living this and feeling all these negative emotions for the next couple of months. I am happy i got to experience what it’s like living and working abroad, so i won’t have to live with the “what if i just pushed through abroad” mentality if i didn’t come, but i just don’t think i can last 12 months here.

    I even talked to my manager about going home earlier and she offered me to go home after my third month and that she would still give me a certificate for participation. I was so relieved after talking to her and was considering her offer, too. I talked to my parents about ending early and they told me it’s fine if i am no longer happy where i am. However, the only thing holding me back is the thought of my parent’s disappointment because they constantly told me how proud they were of me going abroad by myself and i don’t want to let them down. I am also worried of what the other people back home might say about me especially my other relatives and friends, i don’t want to seem like a quitter. But at the same time, i am starting to worry about my mental and emotional health here, too. This is the dilemma i’m facing with for the past couple of weeks. 🙁

    But after reading your article, i realized you’re right. Just because others in our place seem to be happy it doesn’t mean we have to feel that way too. We feel what we feel.
    Your article gave me more confidence with the decision i am going to choose and now i realized that maybe what other people think don’t really matter as long as the decision i make makes me happy and feel emotionally and mentally secure.

    Thank you again so much for writing this, it was such an honest article and there aren’t much articles like these around.

    • I am so happy that I could help! Your mental and emotional health is so much more important than what others think. Who knows, maybe the USA isn’t for you and you’ll end up living somewhere else abroad that is better suited for you. Just because one place didn’t work out doesn’t mean that others won’t and if people want to judge you as a quitter then that’s their own problem, at least you went out and tried and that’s the biggest step that most people don’t take. The fact that you realized what you needed too is another huge step. I’m happy that you’re in a good position and your boss is still giving you the certificate. Make the most out of your last month! 🙂

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