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Cafetalk Tutor's Column

Tutor Graham Hibbins 's Column

My Life as an Expat

Weekly Topic: Struggles you Experienced while Living Abroad

May 3, 2021

I have been an expat for over fifteen years. In a previous 'life' I was a gas engineer for British Gas for 26 years. I met my then Thai wife in the 1980s, but continued working in the UK and holidaying in Thailand every year. We divorced after ten years of marriage and I decided I needed to change my life, so I sold my house, quit my safe, reasonably well paid job and signed up for a university degree in English and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Wolverhampton University. 

I really enjoyed the degree, especially the English Literature and finished it with a 2:1. My mother and stepdaughter attended my graduation. They were proud of me and I was very proud of myself. After my degree my plan was to move to Japan, but instead I found a job in Hanoi, Viet Nam teaching English. But the climate in Hanoi was not to my liking with cold winters and hot and humid summers. So, after a year I moved to Ho Chi Minh City and worked in several different language schools, mostly teaching general English to adults as well as IELTS. Viet Nam is less developed than Thailand and has a very low cost of living but my favourite products like French cheese, wine, etc, were difficult to find and were expensive. But altogether I enjoyed living with other expats and the Vietnamese lifestyle.

While living in Viet Nam I used to write a blog called Living in Hanoi, Saigon and Brighton and this blog can still be found at: 
http://lifeinhanoi.blogspot.com/ but I stopped updating it in 2012.

I have just started blogging again. You can see my latest post at:



I stayed in HCMC, known locally as Saigon, for 3 years before returning to the UK to do a Masters in English Language Teaching at Sussex University.

Master's graduation ceremony at Sussex University with lecturers and fellow students

After finishing my Masters I worked at Brighton University for a while teaching English for Academic Purposes. Then I got a job at a Thai university, out in the provinces, where I stayed for a couple of years, teaching many different subjects. But I still didn't get to Japan... 

I found it difficult and quite lonely living out in the sticks. So, I quit that job and got a job in Bangkok mostly teaching Japanese businesspeople one-to-one. Ten years later I am still with that language school but only work three days a week for them now, mostly online. At least 4 days a week I am in Jomtien, next to Pattaya, 2 kms from the beach, where I live with my Thai wife who I married 3 years ago. We have five dogs and some chickens.  I like DIY, gardening, going to the beach and teaching on Cafetalk. 

Me repairing cracks in my wall

My mother is now 90 and lives alone in the UK. My niece and her children often visit her, though. My siblings live in Bulgaria, Cyprus and the UK, so I don't get to see them very often, especially with Covid 19 making it difficult to travel. But I hope to go back to the UK with my wife for a visit as soon as it's possible.

So I have enjoyed my second life living as an expat but sometimes miss my family. But don't miss the English weather! 

Have you lived as an expat? Did you enjoy it or was it a struggle? 

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