We arrived at Bangkok Patana in August 2000 and continue to thoroughly enjoy our time in Thailand. We wrote the following piece after our first term in Bangkok and it contains our initial thoughts and feelings, having moved 6000 miles from home! They are still important and relevant because they relate to our first impressions of the move we had just made. What is interesting to note, having re-read them, is that we still feel the same way now! Our youngest, who started his school life at Patana in K2 (Reception), has moved into Year 13 this academic year to complete both his IB Diploma course and his journey through Bangkok Patana. Our middle son is now in the third year of his University course in the UK. This year, he is doing work experience at University developing sport in the Community. He continues to have a love of sport, inspired at Bangkok Patana and although he works hard he enjoys his social life too! Our eldest is working in London, having graduated from University in the summer of 2011. He is thoroughly enjoying all of the freedom that living independently from his parents can offer and we feel that the education that he had at Bangkok Patana, starting in Year 6, has been instrumental in the way in which he has successfully adapted to the challenges of university, starting work and life away from home. All three boys have loved their education and the many different experiences they have had here. They have made many good friends that will be part of their lives for many years to come; in this regard the Bangkok Patana Alumni is a great link and allows staff and students, from both the past and the present, to keep in touch. We now know that we came to one of the best decisions we have ever made when we decided to come to Bangkok Patana. We both continue to enjoy our work, our colleagues and most importantly of all, the children we work with. The job continues to be demanding but the benefits and rewards are enormous in many ways. We wish you the best of luck with your applications.
For us, the decision to work away from the UK was made a long time ago. The question was – where? The first question most people asked us, when they found out where we were going, was “Why?!” Our answers varied, but generally, we would reply “Why not!” Bangkok is such a contrast to where home was in the UK that we could not help but be excited about the prospect of working in the Far East. Both of us had some experience of this part of the world as children when our parents worked in this neck of the woods. We wanted to give our boys the opportunities to experience a different kind of life, while they were still at a young enough age to enjoy the challenge of change with us and flexible enough to start over and make friends in a new environment.
Reports in the media and the way in which Bangkok is sometimes portrayed in the press, might not lead you to think that it is the sort of place to volunteer to bring young children to live. However, after our first few hectic months, we can quite honestly say that our family life is much better now than the life we had back in England and our three boys are revelling in the new lives that they are making for themselves. Our two older children are being challenged academically in ways that they would never have been in their schools back home and our youngest is getting his first taste of education here and is loving every minute of it. After having received the first of two reports on all three of them (yes, it is something we have to do more of than before!) we realised that they confirmed the decision which we made for our family had been the right one. We are very proud of their achievements so far and it is Patana that has made all of these possible. We have also found that the school has staff, both academic and business, that are aware of the special needs of families and this has made both us and our children feel valued members of this very large community. They have been able to provide support for us in various areas of life outside school and no problem that arises seems to be too big.
The children’s extra-curricular activities are just out of this world in comparison to those they have experienced before. They are able to swim, play football, basketball, rugby, short tennis, water polo and take part in the biggest production we have ever seen in a Primary School. All of these activities and many more take place during the course of a normal week at Patana. Their horizons are being widened, almost on a weekly basis. Their exposure to different cultures, languages and friendships are making sure that they will become children and young adults with a more rounded perspective on life than if they had stayed at home. Talking of which, we have been told by our middle son that we cannot talk about the UK and refer to it as “home” while we are here. He tells us that this is not the right thing to do as we are “home” now because this is where we live and we are happy to stand corrected!
The mundane aspects of life have been made easier out here by our ability to have help in the home that was never an option in the UK. It was something that was hard to get used to, but after a while, having your meals prepared for you and having your laundered clothes appear back in your wardrobe a day later meant that you could start to enjoy life in a way that was just not possible previously. It has given us the opportunity to spend time with the children that we have not been able to do before and also spend more time with each other. This was just another adjustment to make, but one we have discovered to be a pleasant one! We have been able to take time out to go away for weekends and half-term too. The children have ridden on been with elephants, snorkelled in clear blue seas, seen the jungle and associated wildlife, been in more hotels than they can remember and experienced parts of history that most of us have only read about in books. These are experiences that we have been unable to offer them before and it is down to the quality of life we have working in Bangkok that we can do so now.
Amongst all this “wow, doesn’t it sound great?” stuff, you must not forget that your decision must ultimately be made on your desire to teach in a school in Bangkok; a city in a country miles from home and with a culture and climate so vastly different to that most of us will have experienced in the UK. Although your classes will probably be smaller, maybe better behaved and possibly brighter, the expectations from the school and especially from the parents are exceptionally high. Here you will find that the pressures are not really any different from the UK. There are meetings to go to, presentations and consultations to provide for parents, residential visits away and on top of all this we have the National Curriculum, with an added international dimension, to deliver! You are also expected to work very hard and also to give up your time to ensure that the extra-curricular activities we described before are offered at the level expected in an international school. Do not even think of applying to Patana if you believe that coming here is going to be easy as you will be greatly disappointed. However, if you are prepared to give freely of yourselves then the rewards can be appropriate to your efforts, and sometimes more. Good luck with your application. If you are successful, your life will never be the same again ……. we hope that you will enjoy the change and the challenge as much as we have!