Guest Post – Kevin Cook from Monkey Abroad

More than 40 screaming Thai teenage students goofing off and I’m the only teacher in the classroom. My job is to make these kids actually learn a thing or two about English. Everyday, this is what I have to face at work. And I’ve never been happier.

Guest Post - Kevin Cook from Monkey Abroad (3)

In 2012 I yearned for something different. My other 20-something friends were entrenched in the hunt for financial success while I poked my head through different doors. There’s more to life than seeking a rich bank statement, I thought. I wanted a rich life experience.

November 2012 — I signed up for a TESOL certification course with the American TESOL Institute (ATI). That was the best decision I’ve ever made. At the time when I signed up, I had 6 months to save up and prepare for my journey. Come April, I departed from home in the USA to begin a new life abroad.

I boarded a plane to Phuket, Thailand, along with 40 other aspiring English teachers, to learn the basics of ESL instruction. The 3-week, 120-hour TESOL course was a blast. We worked, studied, and learned the basics of creating games and lesson plans by day. By night, we were eager explorers, tasters, drinkers and merrymakers.

The TESOL training wasn’t just beneficial in a teaching sense. The networking opportunities it provided were perhaps the best feature. Now I have 40 friends living and working all over Thailand, a country in which I previously hadn’t a single contact. A comforting thought for a solo traveler.

Another benefit of ATI’s program structure is that it provided me with a guaranteed job immediately following the course. It was great to have somebody holding my hand through the unfamiliar processes of obtaining a visa, work permit, etc. Problem was: I didn’t get to choose where I was going to be placed.

Most of my friends were placed with jobs in and around Bangkok, Thailand’s urban jungle. I on the other hand was placed 700 km north of Bangkok in Pua, a remote town in the mountainous province of Nan.

Guest Post - Kevin Cook from Monkey Abroad (1)

At first I was apprehensive. I mean, not only was I about to live in a totally foreign country, but I had just signed a contract to live and teach in a tiny rural town for 4 months. Culture and social shock were approaching steadily. But what ensued from my drastic life-changing move was a rebirth of sorts. I began to discover who I really am. I wrote a fun article: 3 Reasons Why Small Town Living in Thailand is Better than Bangkok once I realized that the urban life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I lived in America for almost 24 years before I left in search of a more fulfilling life abroad. Toady, my life is finally starting to come together. I spend my days teaching English and my nights working on my travel blog, I can’t imagine a sweeter life.

Teaching English full-time in a Thai high school is the best job in the world. I consider myself a full-time game show host. I’m not waiting tables, pushing papers or making cold calls any more. Now I show up to work and make a difference in kid’s lives every day. It’s the only satisfying job I’ve ever had.

Guest Post - Kevin Cook from Monkey Abroad (2)

As a teacher in Thailand, my salary is 30,000 baht per month ($1,000). Doesn’t sound like much. But during any given month, living like a king and eating exotic food around the clock, my overall expenses total to only $400! It’s outrageously affordable to live in this beautiful country and experience its culture.

When making travel decisions, my philosophy is that if you can, you should. The decision to sign up for an on-site TESOL course and buy a plane ticket was the best choice of my life. I reap the soul-refreshing benefits of long-term travel every day, and the personal growth I’ve experienced thus far in only 3 months in Thailand rivals that of my days at university. The best part: it’s only just begun for me.



  1. hurricane laubsauger

    Good day! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!
    hurricane laubsauger recently posted…hurricane laubsaugerMy Profile

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