My apologies - this post has been in draft for months. Because I’m nosy, one of my favorite bloggers posts are “day in the life” posts. So I decided to put one together here and show you a typical teaching day in Thailand.
5:20 Alarm goes off. (Really only about 1/3 of the time do I get up to go to the gym before work, but today was one of those days) Go lay on the couch and browse the internet for a few minutes before getting up. *This is harder than it sounds, because most of life in the US happens when I’m asleep and it’s easy to get lost in the timesucks of Facebook and Instagram
5:50 Short half mile job to our swanky hotel gym. Cross my fingers that the other early raisers haven’t taken all the equipment, even though the gym technically doesn’t open until 6.
6:30 Finish running or whatever I’m doing at the gym. Promise myself tomorrow I’ll go after school so I’ll have more time. (Spoiler: I probably won’t)
6:40 Arrive home. Shower. Gabber away at Dan.
7:10 Hop on the back of the bike and ride to school. Check out what fruits are at Warorot market. Watch out for lettuce ladies blocking the road. The ushe.
7:20 Finger scan in at work. Eat school breakfast. Usually rice with some vegetable and meat combo. This was rice, stir-fried cucumber, ground chicken, dried seaweed and spicy sauce.
7:45 Time for the morning assembly! Music plays throughout the entire school, the kids manically run from all directions in grade-specific lines and we sing the Thai national anthem and recite characteristics of a good student (some days in Thai,some in English)
8:00 Homeroom. Kids do Thai or English vocabulary. Snoozeville.
8:20 - 11:35 The first four lessons of the day. There are eight lessons in a school day and the first four are before lunch. Usually I teach between 2-4 of these lessons. It’s easy and it’s fun. Sometimes too many kids shake their whiteout pens at the same time. That’s about as rough as it gets.<3 teaching here
11:40 LUNCH We get a sweet, sweet school-provided midday meal and it is awesome. You choose 3-4 out of 12 options, plus salad and fruit or dessert. I didn’t take a picture of my lunch today but it was a delectable pumpkin and egg stir-fry, weird asian mushrooms, broccoli with mini shrimps and a sweet black rice and coconut milk dessert. I regularly eat too much. Also, I never eat rice at lunch. I want the other items more and, I mean, #riceeverydamnday already happens, but the students and Thai teachers think I am INSANE. It is practically a daily conversation. ”Teacher, no rice?!” Rice = food (as in, literally the same word) So I guess I’m basically having a giant snack, or something.
11:40-16:00 Final four lessons. Usually I teach 1-3 of these. Some days I even teach 4 year olds or 7 year olds. The rest of the time is spent grading (easy), lesson planning (easy), meetings and playing on the internet. It’s a very sustainable teaching job. I never leave overwhelmed or overworked. Not to mention, there are breaks built into the day for the kids to play and eat snacks.
16:00-17:00 ”Extra class” Even though the kids have been in school for 9 hours already, many stay for an additional hour of homework help. A lot of times this is just playing and reading.
17:00 Time to go home. FINALLY. Despite the relative easy of the day, it’s still a long time to be at school. Finger scan out and ride home.
17:15 Occasionally I go to the gym with Dan if I haven’t gone in the morning. Usually I do not. Instead I play around on the internet and/or read.
18:30 Eat some amazing Thai food. Yes, we always eat out. Yes, it’s always amazing. And yes, it’s cheap. Most often under two dollars.
20:00 Whatever the heck we want. Sometimes it’s trivia at the pub. Sometimes watching TV series. Sometimes it’s just some exploring. It’s wonderful to live obligation-free.
HELLO! I’m actually the worst blogger ever and I apologize for neglecting this thing so much, but I’m back! Stephanie and I have been in Thailand for 8 months today. That’s 2/3 of a year. HOLY CRAP. Do you guys miss us yet? Ha, just kidding.
Here’s a bit of an update as of now: I am the sole 3rd grade English language teacher… and I FREAKING LOVE IT. My kids are 7 and 8, and I have 60 total split into three classes. My students are hilarious, creative, incredibly smart and lovable. They are the perfect age; they listen to me (because I think they are afraid of me) but they have amazing personalities that show through as they talk, draw, write and create. Not only are they great, but their English is top-notch… many of them speak three languages almost completely. They shock me every day! Last week we were learning the difference between facts and opinions… this lesson was hard for me to teach and I got frustrated because they didn’t seem to grasp the concept. I was proved wrong in my after school class! I wrote “My name is ______________ and I am ______ years old. Teacher Kyle is my favorite teacher because she is so beautiful.” Every time I write anything on the whiteboard, the students read it aloud. As one of my students read this, she started laughing and said “teacher, that is an OPINION!” I about cried! They are the best… have I mentioned that I love them?
I miss my mattayom students; however, they are in great hands. We have acquired two new OEG teachers at our school and one at the kindergarten. Anna, who is from New Jersey, took over my students in the B level of 10th-12th grades. Melanie, native to Canada, took Katie’s A level students in the same grades. The students seem to like them a lot. In fact, none of my past students even mentioned me as a favorite in their speeches about their favorite teachers. They have forgotten me already… I am now in a friendship time out with them all, so we aren’t talking! Just kidding :) I still see them a lot since my office is on the mattayom floor.
Along with grade 3 English, I am teaching 2nd grade health. There is SUCH a maturity difference between the two ages and the 2nd graders definitely wear me out. They speak Thai at me almost completely and I pretend to know what they are saying and respond in English… I would say I’m right about 70% of the time. At least we are both learning! Even though they are difficult, they are ADORABLE. Everyday they run up and hug me and say “Teacha Ky-yooooooo!” There’s not many things better than hugs from my 2nd and 3rd grade nuggets on a daily basis.
Other than teaching, I don’t do much. Stephanie and I are both teaching 6 days a week, and I might be moving to tutoring on Sundays as well. We are way over our heads at the start of this semester, and it is showing through with wear and tear on our bodies. I just got over a Bronchitis-Cold spell and Stephanie is experiencing the same thing now. The changing of “hot” season to “rainy” season is causing a lot of sickness to spread around the school. They don’t lie when they say that teachers are covered in germs all day. So many rug rat germs… not enough hand sanitizer in this country. I still try to make it to Bangkok on the weekends to escape campus a bit, but I am exhausted by the end of the week!
Last weekend, Stephanie, Anna, Ana (new OEG kindergarten teacher), Esther (OEG teacher in Chonburi) and I ran a race in Bangkok that started at Lumpini Park. Steph and I ran the 5 miler (32nd and 44th places for our ages, WE DIDNT COME IN LAST!) and the other three ran the 2-miler. They came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd! It was fun to get out of Samut Sakhon and run through the city with virtually no cars or people outside of the runners around. Since it is SO hot here, we had to be at the park at 4:30 and our race started before 5:30am. We were done and back at our hostel by 7am.
Okay, I know this is a rambling mess, but I can sum it up in a sentence. I love this country and I love my job! I have been incredibly blessed by the people I have met here; both fellow teachers and students. I do miss my family and friends at home (though I am still upset that my family went zip-lining without me for father’s day; strike one), but I am very happy here. I never thought I would love it this much. Sure, there are days where I want to rip my hair out and other days where my students are so naughty that I have to call for reinforcement teachers to come into my classroom, but the good days make the bad days worth it.
Hope all is well with everyone, wherever in the world you are! Please keep in touch and ask questions if you have them.
Our last stop on our list was China. We, of course, chose to come here to meet up with my friends who are former Chinese teachers at STS. Michelle and Joyce (thankfully) greeted us with smiles at the Beijing airport and helped us find our hostel. We quickly found out that almost no one speaks English. Aside from our Chinese friends and the people who worked at our hostel, we were on our own. The first stop, the day we landed, was the hair salon. Michelle promised Allison that she could get her permanently straightened for cheaper than she could in the states. We went to the salon and Joyce and Michelle left to grab some stuff from their apartments. There was no communication made between those who worked at the salon and us, thus Allison got 4 inches of hair cut of, unwillingly. In the end, Allison will tell you that this was ‘the best decision she has ever made’ and might have to make annual trips to Beijing to get it done. That night, we met up with 5 former Chinese teachers from STS and their boss, Amy at a restaurant pretty close to our hostel. This was my first time see Xiaoqi and Fan in 5 months and I was so excited to hug them and catch up.
The next day, Allison and I caught a cab and met up with Michelle, Joyce and Fan at the 798 Art District. We stayed there for like 5 minutes until Michelle was bored and mad that we had to walk so much. We promptly opted for lunch and a mall trip. Bus to subway to subway and we were there. The Chinese teachers ordered us some beef and noodle dishes and dumplings (pretty much the only thing aside from green beans we ate in Beijing) and we wandered around the mall. After finding DQ and wifi, I FaceTimed Katie so she could join in on our reunion. That night, Allison and I napped and ate at our hostel’s restaurant.
Wednesday was our biggest day out. We went to the Great Wall! I never thought I’d ever step foot on it, and I was super excited to have the opportunity. We met up with the girls “super early” (8am is apparently really early to Michelle) and caught a train for 2 hours to the Badaling area of the Great Wall. First stop was a movie, completely in Chinese, that gave the history. Then, we began to ascend the south side. Apparently there is 12 towers on the south side, but we only made it to 4. THIS WAS SO HARD. I should probably mention that Michelle hates exercise and this includes walking. There are no flat surfaces on that wall and there are about 10,000,000 steps up to each tower. We spent our time taking pictures, playing the Mulan soundtrack and complaining while hiking up the wall. Once we were past the 4th tower, we sat and ate some lunch. On the Great Wall. What? My life is great. A group of teenage Korean boy tourists insisted in taking pictures with us, which we found to be hilarious. After finding out that the tram down the wall cost like $12 each to use, we decided to climb down the wall, which was probably scarier than going up. All in all, we got some beautiful pictures and got to do something I never thought I’d do. It was an amazing trip. That night, Allison and I decided on pizza for dinner and found a restaurant owned by an American (!!!!). You can imagine my surprise talking to him on the phone. Anyway, we got deep dish pizza, wifi, Anchorman 2 and salad with RANCH DRESSING!!! I haven’t tasted it in 18 months. Shout out to the owner of Pie Squared Pizza for making our life that night.
Thursday, Allison and I were on our own as the Chinese teachers had to work on their thesises. Thesi? Theses? Whatever that word is. Allison and I decided on the Beijing Zoo. We made our way there and stop at McDonald’s for lunch first. The zoo was awful and I hated literally every minute of being there. The animals didn’t seem happy and their enclosures were super small. I have little to say about this time except that it was awful and it’s not recommended. For dinner, we ate Mexican food and went to bed.
Friday, Xiaoqi and Joyce took Allison and I to a walking street in the ancient city called Nanluoguxiang. There were little shops and restaurants that we wandered through and shopped around. For lunch we had traditional Chinese hot pot, which seemed to be hard for the two of us to wrap our heads around. Allison shot food at Xiaoqi, we annoyed the waitresses with requests for spoons and cold water, and Allison also knocked our napkin container off the table and broke it. Fail. We soon left and went to Starbucks instead. Friday night was one of my favorite parts of the entire vacation. We all met for dinner (3 Chinese teachers, Allison and I) then we went to a hookah bar to hang out for one of Michelle’s friend’s birthday. Allison and I introduced the Chinese teachers to hookah and we ordered some beer for the night. There was a mixture of English music and a live Chinese band that we sang and danced around to for hours. After which I had to say goodbye to Joyce, Xiaoqi and Fan. I left almost in tears and I hate saying goodbye and I will miss them so incredibly much. Who knows when I will see them again. We had a blast dancing, singing, drinking, and laughing and our send off was really positive.
Saturday, Allison headed home to the states. We met Michelle at the airport after we made her order us lunch over the phone at a restaurant close to our hostel (remember no one speaks English and I only know bad words in Chinese). We said our goodbyes and Allison was off to Shanghai, New York, then eventually Oregon. I couldn’t have asked for a better 3 weeks with her and hope that she enjoyed her trip here. It was fun to see a familiar face and introduce her to the important people from my life in Asia.
On Sunday, Michelle and I took our own flight to her home town of Zunyi. Her parents greeted us at the airport and took us to her house. For the first time in 18 months, I was staying in a house with a kitchen and bathrooms and showers and a family! Seems silly, but I was excited to not be in a hotel or hostel or dorm. I spent the week not understanding a word that was said, but being incredibly blessed by her family and extended family. For two of the days, we spent the day with her 1 month old cousin who was super sweet and happy! I loveeeee babies and loved getting to hold and love on him. Another day I got to make and eat dumplings (my 2nd favorite Chinese food). I’m not good at making them at all, but they still tasted good. On the last day, her parents drove us to the city of Chongqing where I flew out of. We had our last dinner of my favorite meal: spicy green beans and rice. I literally ate this 7 or 8 times during my 10 day stay in Thailand. At the airport, I CRIED leaving Michelle. Cried. Like an idiot in the airport.
I had the best 3 week vacation and miss my friends more than anything. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to see them in their home country.
"I will pay you double what it cost to go to Thailand if you stay..."
Okay, so I know I have posted a lot before I am actually in Thailand… BUT there is so much to say about the support I have felt here in the United States. Last night I went a praise and worship show down in Harrisburg to see a bunch of my favorites from camp. I went in knowing that I would get a lot of hugs and goodbyes, but I never expected to feel just how much others cared about my well-being.
We didn’t even get to the music before my camper Megan was in tears; we are very close and she has just started her first year at college. I assured myself that I wouldn’t cry, assured Megan that I would come back, and moved on to listening to the band play. After the show, I said goodbye to some more people as everyone trickled out of the church and chatted with those who were cleaning up. Now, what I didn’t expect was for a group of my closest friends to surround me, pray for me, cry for me and declare that as my church body, they were sending me out into the world.
I lost it. I was crying. I don’t usually cry. Well, I cried all the time at the Farm Home, but that’s a story in itself. The point is, I am BEYOND blessed to have a “church” family from Camp Wi-Ne-Ma. I was promised prayer, I was given encouragement and I was lifted up. I know that even though it sucks to be away from good friends for a year, I will have a strong family to come back to and share my experiences with.
I love you guys so incredibly much, it’s actually ridiculous.
We boarded our plane to Hong Kong on Friday to meet up with one of my coworkers from STS, Emily, who had already been there a couple days. Since Allison and I are eternally 12, we literally booked this part of our trip so we could go to Disneyland! We stayed true to that plan but were completely pleasantly surprised by how much we loved this city! Our bus from the airport to our hostel had free wifi! We watched the surroundings while on the bus and noticed how much HK reminded us of Portland. Green rolling hills, water, tall buildings, bridges, a good mixture of nature and city. We finally arrived at our hostel on the 16th floor of a building equipped with only ONE elevator (super annoying). Our room, shared with Emily, was about half the size of my dorm at STS including a “bathroom” (toilet with a shower above it). Despite our tiny, uncomfortable room, we loved it there. Everyone spoke amazing English. They were friendly and helpful and everything was clean. HK is expensive compared to Thailand, but we made it work out. Saturday, Allison and I headed to Disneyland. There’s a subway that takes you straight to the DL front gates, convenient and easy! Compared to the park in California, DLHK is much smaller, but just as magical. Allison and I were the only people in our mid twenties who were there without kids or boyfriends, but we felt no shame. We spent the entire day riding rides and shopping and eating and were surprised by how few people were there (we waited 5 minutes for space mountain). Holler. After Disneyland, we wandered around Hong Kong to find the SoHo district, grabbed some pizza and salad for dinner and posted up at a small bar with Emily. Perfect day in my books! Sunday was spent shopping and eating and complete with a light show at Victoria Harbor. We can’t really explain how much we loved Hong Kong and were sad we only booked a weekend there. Allison describes it as a perfect mixture of New York and Portland. I’d have to agree.
For the King’s birthday, SKW (my school) wanted to the foreign teachers to dress in traditional Thai costume to celebrate with the city of Sisaket at the city hall.
It was such an experience, all the teachers and people who were celebrating appreciated us being dressed up. As the national anthem was playing, I was stood in between two teachers who were singing along and it really did feel an emotional moment that I felt a part of and it will definitely be a life long memory.
Population: 6,355,144 in the city, a total of 11,971,000 in greater Bangkok.
Over 11,000,000 tourists visit Bangkok each year
Stephanie and Hannah went into Bangkok this morning, really fricken early, because Hannah had a ultimate tournament. I left my room around 10:45, hailed a cab, and went and met Stephanie off the Mo-Chit stop on the BTS at the Chutachuk Market. This market is BEYOND amazing. It’s huge, relatively clean, and you can find anything and everything under the sun for sale. It’s fun to walk around or even just people watch. Since I arrived around lunch time, Steph and I chose a random little restaurant and were seated promptly. We sat across from this father/daughter duo from Hawaii and began to talk about Oregon and the UO and other miscellaneous American things. Well, the daughter received her food and the father did not. He called to the waiter and asked where his was. At the same time, a woman, who was two seats down from me, said “and me too! I was here before them and haven’t received mine!” I looked at her and asked where she was from. She said “New York, but I actually lived in Oregon.” I didn’t want to be creepy, but I had to ask. I said, “Ummm… did you work for the Oregonian?” She looked at me like I was crazy and said “Yes, I did!” I responded, “Yeah, you definitely interviewed my best friend and me for an article like 7 years ago when I was in high school.”
This whole time I was looking at her and thought she looked super familiar. Being that we are in Bangkok, you never really know what nationality people are, let alone if they are actually from the states. She was writing in a journal for a good chunk of the time she was next to us and I was trying to see if she was writing in English so I could ask her. I thought it was a pretty far stretch for me to randomly meet up with someone 9000 miles away from home with no planning whatsoever! The Hawaiian family was shocked, I was shocked, Luciana (the woman) was shocked, Stephanie was shocked.
So out of 6,000,000+ residents and 11,000,000+ tourists, I sat down to ONE person I knew from the States. If this is not a God thing, I don’t know what is.
It’s bittersweet, this satisfyingly sad and overwhelmingly powerful farewell with Chachoengsao, a place that’s become one of my many leaping points for personal growth. Its details I will share with many people I have known and will meet along the way. Like Som Dent Park that’s busy everyday with yoga, fish feeding and markets; a main road that extends through the city, connecting my school, the Bang Pakong River, the hospital, the college, the Big C and the Sothon Temple that’s marble grandeur towers over it all. But the unique closeness I’ve shared with my students and new friends will always be my own and that relationship may be impossible to convey to anyone.
I came here solo with the intention to steer my mind into the abyss after college. The reality of being stuck in one place for four years, living a routine and yearning for something more inspired my desire for a discovery of truth. And the start of this journey has been one of stimulating simplicities and clues through the everyday discovery of just about anything – from finding a fruit that has made an eternal mark on my taste buds and learning the language a little everyday just to get by, to photographing a Thai boxing session. Ironically, my ‘yearning for something more’ has been my contentedness and pleasure in simple findings and solitude.
Recently I joined a boxing lesson led by a colleague, Tim. He had invited me in advance to take photographs. I was really excited because it’s not everyday that an opportunity presents itself like this one. The boxing ring area is adjacent to a temple where many of the kids live and are cared for by monks. There were two monk onlookers, one surprisingly jumped into the ring to help teach – this is forbidden for monk practice so he asked me not to take photographs of him. While photographing the kids, I began to notice their forceful but controlled movements as they worked with but competed against one another. What I captured looks like intimate moments rather than aggressive interactions - like something one might see watching a dance. It was very much like a performance. When the two hour session was finished, they were soaked in each others sweat and probably happy to hear my camera stop clicking. But with that camera, I became somewhat part of the community through the lens. I can recall sitting on the back of Tim’s motorbike heading home, my legs covered by the thin cloth of my pants that quickly collects moisture from his sweaty limbs, so fulfilled by this opportunity and blessed that it’s the first thing that I’ve done in my process of transitioning out of my teaching routine. Also, one monk asked me for my Facebook too.
Chachoengsao’s just the starting point before I set off an extraordinary trip through the tangles of Southeast Asia with my brother, Philipp for a bit and then with two friends I’ve met in Thailand, Talia and Chelsea. Philipp arrived in Chachoengsao yesterday and already things feel different, now that I have a big piece of familiarity here in the space that’s been my own for the discovery. A simple tweak, like his adjustment of the bathroom mirror has made it clear that things are quickly changing. All of these small changes contribute to the transition for a trip that officially starts tomorrow.
Our trip: Cambodia > Vietnam > Chiang Mai, Thailand > Bangkok, Thailand > Myanmar > Bali, Indonesia > Jember, Indonesia (volunteer teaching) > Central Java > Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia > Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia > Khon Kaen, Thailand (monastery volunteer)
For the past three weeks, my best friend Allison came and visited me in Thailand. We spent a week here and then ventured to Hong Kong and China for the last two. Since I’ve been here, I haven’t left the country, so this bit of “traveling” was big for both of us.
Allison arrived at 2 am on March 10th. We spent 1 1/2 hours sleeping in our hotel room before making our way to Sunflower Kindergarten where I was teaching that day. She had literally not slept for 40 hours or something at this point, and then was forced to watch me “teach” (more like wrangle) 15 toddlers. Luckily one of the actual kindergarten teachers, Melissa, came back and helped me that day. I am not cut out to teach babies. We went back to STS and slept for a couple hours and welcomed Allison with a great Thai dinner of pizza. 555
During her flight to Thailand, Al lost her glasses. On day 2 of our trip, we went to my local mall to eat and she got an eye exam and prescription sunglasses made for a fraction of the price she would have paid in the states. I also introduced her to our street food and market area. She got to experience “the best pad Thai in Thailand” (coined by other teachers at STS) as well as sweets, popcorn and our favorite 7-11.
The rest of our week was spent in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. This city is close to the border of Myanmar and is one of my favorite places to visit! The first night we walked to the famous “death railway” Bridge over the River Kwai, grabbed dinner and spent some time at a bar. Allison’s one request for her trip was to see elephants. Instead of the usual trekking tours you can book (I’ve felt so convicted by them and the mistreatment of elephants over my time here), I signed us up for a day at an elephant sanctuary. Elephants’ World is a non-profit that rescues and takes care of elephants that have been forced to work in the streets, performing tricks, in shows, in the logging business, etc. Currently, they house 9 elephants. For about $60 each, you can spend the day feeding, bathing, growing food, making snacks and swimming with the elephants. All the money goes back to their care and to pay their keepers. I immediately noticed a difference between this and the trekking tours I have been on before. We had an English speaking guide that explained everything thoroughly to us. She knew the backstory of every elephant; the trauma, work and jobs they held before being rescued. The elephants didn’t have to carry us on their backs, but we got to swim with them and play in the water! This was obviously the best part of the day. Fun fact: did you know that elephants are categorized as cattle in Thailand? This is why they are easily forced to do work and are not as protected under the law as they should be. The elephant sanctuary was a great way to see and interact with the elephants without exploiting and hurting them. The last day in Kanchanaburi was spent hiking Erawan Waterfalls. We met two girls from Germany the previous day at the elephant camp who we split a cab with to the falls. I had previously done this hike with Stephanie and Anna in August. I apparently was in much better shape then because we struggled the second time around.
We spent the following weekend with Stephanie in Bangkok, as she would be heading back to the US while we were gone. We took Allison to Chutachuk Market (the actual bane of my existence) so she could do souvenir shopping, terminal 21 to get some clothes and to see some other parts of Bangkok. That night, we met our Thai friend Aing for goodbye dinner on the Chao Phraya river. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to Stephanie as I know she was excited to go home, but she was also the one that did this entire journey with me. So many feelings!
Monday, Allison and I hopped on a plane and headed to Phuket for some time on the beach. We spent a little too much time sunbathing on Tuesday and were pretty burnt despite putting on sunscreen 8 million times. On Wednesday, we had a groupon for an all day snorkeling tour of the Similan Islands. They. Were. Beautiful. The tour was nice, an hour or so at each island where we could either snorkel or lay on the beach. By island #4, I knew something was wrong with me as I was laying in the 100 degree weather and freezing. I toughed it out til the end, but wound up feeling pretty sick that night. I took the hottest shower imaginable, refused to let Allison turn on the air conditioning and put on 2 pairs of pants, socks, uggs, 2 shirts and a sweatshirt. The owner of our guesthouse sent us to the pharmacy where I took my temperature and learned I had come down with a fever. I got some ibuprofen and went to grab some dinner and started to feel a bit more human, though still worried I had the plague. Lesson learned: stay out of the sun or you’ll get sunstroke. The day was great other than the sickness and the group of 6 French bros and their stupid girlfriends on our boat who held up the boat because they believed the world revolved around them. Thursday was our last full day in Phuket. We knew that sunbathing wasn’t an option, but we also couldn’t stand being cooped up in our room all day. We headed to the beach and opted for 2 chairs completely protected from the sun by umbrellas. We napped and swam a bit before grabbing dinner and packing for part 3 of our adventure.
I got away to Chiang Dao this weekend. My friend, Jenna, and I took our motorbikes about an hour north of Chiang Mai. We arrived Saturday afternoon and found some bungalows with vacancy. After that we explored Chiang Dao cave. Saturday evening was spent at a very bohemian/free-spirited music festival. To counteract the cool 55° F weather, we sat in a tee pee with a warm fire burning and beers in our hands most of the night. The next morning, we had a leisurely breakfast where we were staying (they baked the most delicious bread), and headed out to see the main temple in Chiang Dao. The temple was built into a cave in the mountain and to get to it, we climbed 500 steps lined with Buddhist quotes. We’re back in Chiang Mai now and gearing up for our final week of teaching!
With our RTW 2.0 behind us, it’s hard to believe that a whole summer has gone by. It’s also hard to believe that we’re already into our second year of teaching at ABAC. Given that we’ve been here for some time now and are really feeling like we know the ropes, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the past year and also look ahead to the new one (and I’m talking in terms of school years…
Everyday is getting a bit smoother. Who would have known that teaching could be so freakin’ stressful. Standing in front of fifty expecting kids is tough and my mind almost always starts to race when I enter the classroom. Games are the best but even simple games can be hard to explain. Classes can be soooo rowdy but even when they are not rowdy, I feel shockingly overwhelmed. I am learning very slowly but surely how to teach. Getting tossed into a class of fifty students with almost no preparation is AMAZINGLY scary. I am doing my best to plan appropriate lessons and to enjoy myself. The key is having FUN, if you are having fun your students will sense it and have fun too. So what if the students don’t really know what you are saying, so what if the kid in the front seat is drawing a really large penis, so what if you freeze in the middle of the class thinking “shit, what do I say next”, so what if only 20% of the class is listening…. try your best not to worry and just laugh. The students really don’t care if I mess up (in fact I doubt they notice it)… so I shouldn’t worry about it either but believe me this is easier said than done.