Teaching in Thai Binh, a real ESL adventure!
My favorite thing about Thai Binh City is the people. The people are usually very friendly and eager to get to know you. Plus we have a Vincom with a Lotte Cinema. This helps pass the time when we’re having a slow day in the small city. The center still small so you won't be teaching in Thai Binh every day. You have time to explore.
It’s still a city so it can get a little busy but overall a lot less busy than bigger cities. The quality of life is good, we don’t get stuck in traffic for hours on end like we used to do when we lived in Ho Chi Minh City. We can walk to work and walk to coffee shops and just generally have a wander around so it’s a very walk able city too. It’s a lot more relaxed and slow paced. We also live near a supermarket and a market and have a kitchen in our APAX apartment so are able to cook and eat well.
Surprisingly Thai Binh is a bigger city, with a population of nearly 2 million people. At times the city can get busy, but not busy to the point where it is unbearable. Most of the time life is somewhat slow. All in all, the quality of life is good and the city is peaceful.
In Thai Binh we are lucky enough to have a Vincom. Within Vincom we have a Gogi (meat buffet). For all those non-vegetarians. There is always the classic Bia Hoi. If you want to get the small town experience and get offered a few free beverages. We also have a pretty good pizza place called pizza and chicken (it is good for small Vietnamese town standards). Pizza and chicken gets the job done, but it’s no Mamma Mia.
There is not really much of a night life in Thai Binh. Unless you love singing karaoke at the local bars. Although sometimes we (a group of foreigners from different centers) get together at a bubble tea cafe and have board game nights. I usually win!!!!
There are not any major tourist attractions that I know of in Thai Binh. But I have been to an interesting place called Keo pagoda. There is a legend about how the pagoda mysteriously moved from Nam Dinh to Thai Binh during a flood. Pretty interesting.
The center is located in the heart of the city, right next door to the Vincom. It is really close to everything that we need. Plus it is extremely easy to find.
What is it like driving in your town / city?
Driving is great because the streets are not as overpopulated as larger cities. Most foreigners ride bicycles, however it is perfectly safe to ride a motorbike as well. My wife and I have been riding our motorbike for more than a year and we have not had a single injury.
What’s your center like?
Although I have not been to many other centers, I’ve been told that are center is fairly big. In particular I was told that our classrooms are bigger than most classrooms in the larger cities. Also, that are JOM has fairly good English compared to other centers. I can also say that the great thing about our center is that both the Head Teacher and the JOM have both been here since the start. Meaning two things, (1) they both get along and seem to like eachother, (2) they have a full understanding of everything that has happened at the center.
Occasionally we get invited over to peoples homes, which is really nice. They tend to spoil us with food and drinks, even when we say that we’re full (they’re persistent). As far as having any close Vietnamese friends, besides the CMs, I don’t consistently hang out with any other Vietnamese people.
Honestly living in Thai Binh is great. It is a smaller city so there is that authentic feeling that can be hard to find in a larger developed city. Most of the people in Thai Binh are super friendly and more than willing to help if they can.
On the other hand, small cities, like Thai Binh, can come with a bit of a struggle at first. Coming from America I really miss the endless options of food (especially Mexican food). In Thai Binh it is usually Vietnamese food that you’ll find, and if you want some variety, you tend to have to cook. Also, at times it may seem a bit lonely, due to the low population of foreigners to relate to. But again, these are the realities of living in a smaller city, like Thai Binh. If you can get past these small struggles then you’ll love Thai Binh. At least we do.
By Sawyer & Jonel