Months ago, I resigned from my job as a lecturer in a private university college in Malaysia with the intention to travel Asia. It was going to be a one-year break from my regular work after having taught for six years, or so I planned.
It wasn’t a spontaneous decision. It was one I had carefully planned. As I have a mortgage to pay, I just had to be disciplined enough to save money for three years before I could even make such a bold decision.
So after my resignation, I packed up things in my apartment, bought myself a one-way ticket and a 65-little backpack, and was all keen to start my long travel.
Except that three months later today, I am in Thailand and STILL teaching.
Many a time we find ourselves making a lot of plans. But then nature makes the best plan us.
Yes, I got a job and am now teaching in a government school situated in a small, laid-back town in the southern region of Thailand, about 6 hours from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
Some of my friends who have followed my journey on Facebook have expressed shock over my decision, asking why I had decided to teach in Thailand.
Why, did they seriously think I had decided to teach in Thailand after watching “The Teacher’s Diary”?
Well, my professional role has evolved from being a lecturer teaching in the comfort of an air-conditioned and properly equipped environment, to a teacher teaching in a small school in a remote area of Thailand where students hardly speak the same language as I do.
Some would perceive it as a form of “downgrade”. But I am not slightly bothered by such a change in the status.
At the end of the day, it is all about teaching and teaching with the heart.
It is déjà vu all over again and a repeat of what happened in 2010 when I quit my tutorship in a full-fledged research university to lecture in a university college.
“Why would you quit your job in a good university to teach in a lesser-known university college?” my aunt asked.
My aunt had a point. I didn’t at all think she was being judgmental.
The previous university I was working in was an established one. They paid me a competitive salary and contributed 18% to my EPF savings, and that was among the highest in the country.
But I chose to move on to what was next in my life.
I have my own decision-making philosophy and a set of needs and wants different from my aunt or anyone else. As I don’t have much commitment, I am not very apprehensive about leaving the comfort zone. But at the same time, I do not take any job for granted given my perfectionist attitude.
It is true that my subsequent company, a university college, which remained the same one that I resigned from three months ago, had given me a better pay.
But beyond salary and an institute’s level and reputation, there are also other worthy considerations. When the right time comes, we naturally want to move on, explore different areas within our profession, and pick up new skills and knowledge.
Being a teacher in Thailand, though I receive lesser remuneration than what I was getting in Malaysia; though I now have to rent a house that has nothing in it except for the simplest of bedding and the things I brought with me in my backpack; though I have to work twice as hard because I now have a different target audience who speaks a language I understand little of, I am content.
I feel blessed to be here and given this opportunity.
I have no regret quitting my job in Malaysia for a journey that comes with many uncertainties and changes. I have no regret taking up this teaching job and having to work hard to improve my students’ standards when I can choose to be at the seaside in Da Nang, lying on a hammock and sleeping the day away.
At the end of the day, it comes down to how we feel we can do something meaningful in our lives and to the society as we progress from point A to point B.
After this stint in Thailand, what will I do next? Will I continue travelling?
I most likely will, but only nature knows best. Meanwhile, I just want to live my life as meaningfully as possible and do my part well as both a traveler from Malaysia and a good teacher who can contribute positively to a place I dwell temporarily.