Alumni Spotlight: Rachan Jaroen


Teacher Rachan, from Orange County, California, served in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer for ten years. After the service, he worked as an area manager at in Fernley, Nevada, and safety and performance consultant on Chevron oil rigs for seven years. He has high school math/physics teaching experience at international schools in Bangkok for five years.

Why did you choose this program?

I had a good meeting with HR of BFITS. She was understanding and helpful. She was even willing to wait for my decision when I was considering other offers. In addition to that, I love the choices of locations. BFITS let me choose between three locations all over Thailand to teach--all of which needed a science teacher.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

BFITS paid for some of my moving costs, like the airfare. The head teacher helped me find an apartment, but I already have a place in mind. The school staff gave me many suggestions of where to eat, drink, party, travel, and pray. In the classroom, BFITS equipped me with a complete teaching package, including PowerPoint lessons, worksheets, classroom activities, lab activities, quizzes, and tests. This helps me save so much prep time for each class.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If you care more about your quality of life than the amount of money you will make, then Thailand may be the answer. You won't make much money here, compared to other countries, but you can still have a lot of fun. You can eat at a restaurant, go out drinking, listen to live music, or just hang out with friends at fancy coffeeshops or bars... EVERYDAY.

You will get a house or big apartment with AC, water heater, or even a dog at the location of your choice to cut down the commute time. People are friendly. It is easy to find someone you like. There are many holidays with plenty of opportunities to travel. Bottom line is, if you want a fun, comfortable life, try teaching in Thailand.

If you are career oriented workaholic, I recommend more industrialized countries.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

On typical day, I have three teaching periods. Each period is 50 minutes long. I teach life and physical science to grades 7, 8, and 9. I see them four days a week, one period a day for three days and double period for one day. The double period is designed to be for experiments or activities, which works out very well.

I arrive at school between 0730 and 0750 hrs, but my first period is not until 0840 hrs. Then I make tea, coffee, or ovaltine and chat with other foreign teachers. There are three of us in the English Program office (EP). There are 20 more foreign teachers in the other offices. I have a desk in the EP office, but I find it more quiet and comfortable to just stay in my lab.

Normally, I teach two periods in the morning from 0840-1020 hrs. Then I go out of the school to get lunch. Food at the cafeteria is good for students, but many teachers, including me, don't like it. There are many restaurants and coffee shops within a five minutes drive of the school. After my lunch, I often go and hang out at a coffee shop with good wifi to prepare for my next class. I need wifi to access the PowerPoint lessons on my iPad (provided by BFITS).

After two periods of lunch (1020-1200), I go back and teach one more period (1200-1250), then I am free for the rest of the day. Sometimes I go home if I have things to do there, but often times I hang out at the school until 1530 or 1600 and go home.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Money was a major concern, but when I get to know the town and know where to eat, drink and have fun, then I don't need to worry about money anymore. In Thailand, you can live on almost any budget comfortably. Food on the streets is $1 a dish. Food at normal restaurants is $2 a dish. Food at fancy restaurants is $5 a dish.

Do you have any advice for a future traveler?

The bottom line is this: Teaching in Thailand as a whole is fun, not stressful, and very enjoyable. If you are not serious about making a lot of money and if being happy is more important than making money, then I highly recommend you to try teaching in Thailand. You can pursue any of your interests here or find a new one. I love hiking, scuba diving, live music (playing and listening), traveling, and the outdoors in general. I was able to enjoy all those activities at the fraction of the cost if I did them in the US.