There are numerous personal and professional benefits of spending time Teaching in Thailand, with a huge one being the incredible people you meet along the way. While all of our teachers leave their placements with new life-long friends, some even find love. In celebration of Valentine’s Day this week, I sat down with my close friends Pat and Jakub to talk about their love story, the challenges of an international relationship, words of wisdom for those with anxieties over such unique dating dynamics.
“Alexa, play International Love by Pitbull“
Pat and Jakub met and started dating when teaching in Thailand in 2019. The two have been going strong for nearly three years now, even when faced with a global pandemic that made 2020 literally the worst time possible to be in an international long-distance relationship.
Let’s start with the story of how you guys met.
Jakub and Pat’s story begins with two right swipes on an impeccably timed weekend in Bangkok. Pat had just finished his first semester teaching in Thailand and was having a last hoorah with friends he made during that time. Jakub had just finished his in-class TESOL course in Hua Hin and was celebrating in Bangkok with his coursemates before heading to his teaching placement in northern Thailand.
“We were staying at different hostels and were both out on a pub crawl when we matched and started talking. The two pub crawls were in competition, and somehow we kept missing each other at the stops,” Jakub said. Though they didn’t meet IRL that weekend, the guys kept in touch and made plans to meet up the following month after Pat returned from Bali.
When did you guys finally hang out in-person?
“My friends and I rented a huge Airbnb and I invited Jakub to spend the weekend with us so we could hang out in person and he could meet everyone. But then the day we were all set to arrive my friends missed their flights so it ended up just being the two of us in this big house all weekend,” Pat said. Coincidentally, they had the whole weekend to get to know each other.
Ok, talk about a meet-cute. Isn’t there a Hallmark movie like this? Where did things go from there?
Pat soon got a job teaching in Chiang Mai, just a few hours from Tak by bus. This made it easy for the two of them to spend weekends together, alternating between Chiang Mai and Tak. As time went on, they began to talk about what would happen when their time in Thailand was up. They planned a trip traveling through India together, spending five weeks there in November of 2019. “The India trip was a big turning point for us, I think,” said Pat. The guys recalled separate occasions of illness and travel stress, and how they felt that after this trip, they’d seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Long-distance Love in the Time of COVID
Following the trip to India, the guys returned to their pre-Thailand homes – Pat went back to the States and Jakub to England. When COVID hit, it became difficult to plan visits as visas were not being issued. In the face of pandemic uncertainty and over 3000 miles of distance, the guys found themselves overcoming any challenges this posed. When asked what was the hardest part of their relationship, they simultaneously blurted, “COVID!” “It wasn’t a question of having funds or time to go, it was simply not possible for an undetermined mount of time.” Jakub said.
Communication is key.
I also asked the guys what they think was key to sustaining a relationship that’s had so many logistical obstacles. Their answer? Communication & working things out. “We don’t see each other every day, and a lot of the things couples usually get upset about or argue about seem pretty menial when we’re over here trying to figure out how to get visas, planning visits, and navigating time differences for FaceTime dates.
I asked Pat and Jakub what advice they would give to someone who maybe finds themselves in a situation where they’re unsure about the future of a relationship that developed abroad. “I think we were successful because we went into it with no expectations, taking things one trip or visit at a time.” Communication of feelings is key, they agreed. “Also, as cliche as it sounds, we don’t go to bed mad,” Jakub says. “Except that one time,” Pat retorts with a big cheesy grin that elicits a returned smile from Jakub.
Relationships are about compromise, right?
Finally, I asked what the boys were up to next! “Well, I want to live in a van and travel around the US for 6 months, but Jakub wants a house and a mortgage and stability. So we’ll see.” Pat said, as Jakub rolled his eyes and shook his head.
Finally, I asked about how teaching abroad brings people together, and how it’s so easy to make friends while traveling.
“I think the kind of people that taske part in experiences like this all share some qualities and characteristics making them compatible as friends and sometimes more.” Pat said. I’m certainly glad that I had the pleasure of meeting these guys during my own teach abroad experience, as well as the dozens of other friends I made along the way.
While we cannot guarantee a whirlwind romance, we can guarantee high-quality job placement, an in-depth cultural immersion, and friendships and memories that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life! Submit your inquiry today to get your Teach Abroad adventure started!