An interview with Trevor Lowell Clements
Trevor is a Canadian secondary English teacher. He has been teaching in Brunei since 2017.
CfBT: What do you like most about Brunei?
TC: The people are polite and friendly. It is a relaxed pace of life surrounded by beautiful tropical nature.
CfBT: Please describe where you live.
TC: I live in Manggis which is nice. It’s not quite as busy as downtown but has all the conveniences I need. I live in an apartment that is connected to a mall which is quite convenient as there is a movie theatre, shopping, restaurants and hockey rink. I also have good neighbours and the staff are very polite and quick to respond to any needs.
CfBT: Please describe a typical working day.
TC: In a typical day, I teach both O level English and IGCSE English classes. On average I have three or four classes a day. I arrive by 7:15 am and teach until 12:30 pm and then have until 2 pm for other work, planning etc.
CfBT: What school do you teach at? Describe what the local students and teachers are like.
TC: Everybody that I work with at my school has been very friendly and helpful and has made me feel most welcome. The students are very friendly and often say hello in the halls. Some of the IGCSE students are less motivated than the O Level students but they are all nice kids.
CfBT: What are the teaching resources like there?
TC: CfBT provides lots of resources in the way of workbooks and materials and my school also has resources I can use. Some of the classrooms have computers and projectors but many do not. My department has a projector I can borrow if I want though in most cases I would need to use my own computer. There are a few computer labs so that is an option if I want to go to another room.
CfBT: How does teaching in Brunei compare to home? (e.g. discipline teaching hours, admin load, etc.)
TC: I think the workload is less than in a Canadian school for sure. Teaching hours are fewer since the students are always finished by 12:30 at my school. I think there may be some schools that have an afternoon schedule instead of a morning schedule but am not sure how many schools that occurs in. The admin load is not too bad in general. Like any teaching job there are parts of the year that are busier than others so there can be busy spells but overall I don’t feel like the workload is unreasonable.
CfBT: What do you do in your free time?
TC: I play drums in a band and I play ice hockey. Occasionally I’ll go to the pool at my apartment or go rent dirt bikes, ATVs or dune buggies and every once in a while, I’ll go to the beach. I also get together with friends for the occasional BBQ or party.
CfBT: What do you do in your holidays?
TW: I usually travel: either in and around Brunei and Malaysia, or other countries in South East Asia and Asia
CfBT: What is healthcare like in Brunei?
TC: I haven’t had major issues or problems with healthcare. It’s not too expensive and seems to be good quality.
CfBT: Please describe how you get from place to place (transportation in Brunei).
TC: Always by car. The public transportation is not that extensive so all teachers pretty much get around by car. Gas is cheap here. CfBT does provide an initial free loan to get a car and also gives a period of free rental until you get your own car. I was quite pleasantly surprised when, on my first evening in Brunei, I was given the keys to a rental car as well as a sim card for a phone.
CfBT: What advice do you have for teachers who are thinking about moving to Brunei?
TC: Come, enjoy, have a good time. People are easy to get along with and friendly. There may be a few odd things from home that are a bit difficult to find but most things can be found if you ask around. If it’s not in stores most things can be gotten online. If there is something in particular from home that is a big creature comfort perhaps enquire before you came and pack it, but in general I haven’t had many issues not being able to find what I want.