teaching-in-thailand

Live and teach in Thailand!

Hey there!

I am Aida, a girl from Spain that recently finished University (wohooo!).

I decided to move and work in Thailand since there were not many possibilities of finding a job in Spain… also I wanted to travel around anyway, so I thought this was a good chance :D

I have a YouTube channel where I show my daily life here! Most of the videos are in Spanish, but oh well, you can watch my beautiful face and learn some Spanish hehe (jokes)

If there are any questions or anything you would like to know just massage me… I mean, message me! ;-) I had so many doubts before coming here and could not  really find someone to ask questions to, so I thought I could help someone out there who is willing to come here.


Ein Einblick in mein Leben als Volunteer Teaching Assistant in Thailand

Hallo! Sawatdii ka!

Heute bekommt ihr mal einen Einblick in meinen “Alltag” als Volunteer in Thailand. Dies soll keine Anklage sein, sondern einfach verdeutlichen, welche Rolle Kommunikation für viele meiner Mitmenschen hier spielt. Viel Spaß!

Vor dem langen Silvesterwochenende, hier in Thailand waren Montag der 2.1.17 und Dienstag der 3.1.17 “Ersatzfeiertage”, wurde mir von den Englischlehrern meiner Schule gesagt, dass wir in der ersten Woche des neuen Jahres midterm exams haben werden. Für mich hieß das im Klartext kein Unterricht und viele Stunden im Büro.
Demnach bin ich unbesorgt ins lange Wochenende gestartet und habe mir keine Gedanken um Unterrichtsvorbereitung o.ä. gemacht, dafür hätte ich ja während den midterms Mittwoch bis Freitag noch genug Zeit im Büro. Dienstag kam ich dann nach vier langen Tagen wieder in meinem thailändischen Zuhause an und abends erwähnte meine Nachbarin (auch Lehrerin an meiner Schule) beiläufig, dass die midterm exams ja nur Donnerstag und Freitag seien. Es lebe die Kommunikation!
Meine Gedanken haben sich überschlagen: “Ich muss morgen unterrichten!”; “Ich habe all meine vorbereiteten Stunden schon gehalten!”; “Ich bin nicht vorbereitet!”; “Ich muss meinen Unterricht planen!”; “Ich haben nur noch heute Nacht um drei verschiedene Unterrichtsstunden zu konzipieren!”; “AAaahhhhhhhh….!”; “HILFE!”; “Ganz ruhig, du packst das!”; “Okay!”; “Ich schaffe das!”; “Dann mal fleißig an die Arbeit!” Die folgende Nacht bestand aus der Planung von Unterrichtsstunden zum Thema “New Year” für die Stufen 7, 9 und 10 - zudem gestaltete ich noch eine Wortsuche als Wiederholung der Vokabeln aus November und Dezember. Am Ende war ich recht zufrieden mit meinem Werk.

Und jetzt die Pointe der Geschichte: Am Mittwoch komme ich in die Schule, drucke und kopiere noch schnell die Arbeitsblätter, gehe gedanklich erneut den Stundenablauf durch und bekomme gesagt, man habe sich überlegt, dass ich heute doch nicht gebraucht werde.

… xoxo, Sophie

I Understand, Teacher!

Every school probably has that one class that is just above and beyond on what they know. At mine, it’s our second graders. While they are the terror of the school, in terms of behaviour, they are by far our best English speakers. 

But you also have the classes that try so hard, but struggle. 

In my school, that’s our fourth and fifth graders. (We are a small school - only one class of each grade) 

The biggest problem is not their lack of vocabulary –it’s their frustration. 

They KNOW they are the weakest English speakers in the school. Nothing hits a 11-year old’s ego quite like a 6 year old out-scoring them. 

And they’re too old for the avalanche of ESL kiddie videos that teach the basics. 

“TEACHER, this for BABIES.”

I know, kids, I know, and I am sorry. 

The school, as a collective, has thrown the proverbial kitchen sink at them, trying anything to get their English to improve, but the techniques being used are too advanced, and the teachers are afraid that all the school is accomplishing is making the students too embarrassed and/or ashamed to even try to speak English. 

Which is obviously frustrating for everyone.

After a long class of fourth graders glaring at me for trying to teach the required curriculum of grammar (nothing, bar nothing, is worse than being required to teach ESL students entire classes devoted to grammar), I finally threw up my hands and pulled out my laptop. 

I was just going to find a funny video on YouTube for them to watch, but I saw something pop up in my “watch again” section - Stromae’s song Papaoutai

[Embedded music video below: Papaoutai by Stromae] 

Now, I don’t speak French, but I love Stromae. I love the sound, the feeling, and when I look into what the lyrics mean, I love those too.

While knowing French would obviously add to my experience, my lack of language skill does by no means hinders my enjoyment. 

That struck me as something I wished I could get across to my students. 

But what made my decision was remembering how stylised and expressive this music video is, and on a whim, I decided to play it for my kids. 

It was a hit. 

On the floor around me, 8 kids were absolutely enthralled by music they could not understand even a little. 

One boy with special needs, I have never seen his face so open and engaged. 

Two girls who are normally ‘too cool for school’ were bouncing their heads along with the beat, eyes not even blinking, for fear of missing something. 

Every kid, at the end, started furiously asking questions IN ENGLISH to me, asking about the meaning behind the song, the video. 

And every single kid “got it”. 

Not one of them didn’t understand the general feeling behind the song and the video. 

“Teacher, the boy, he want father to be happy.”

“Teacher, why the boy be like father?”

“Teacher, the boy be father because father teach boy?" 

They didn’t even notice that it was in French.

"Was this in English?”

“No?”

“Was it Thai?”

“…no?” (little more hesitant) 

“Did you like it?”

“YES.”

Good enough

Hong Kong

On Friday the 11th of December I was told that I would have no school the following week due to holidays, camp for the kids and a bike race. A few hours later I had booked a ticket to Hong Kong with no idea what I was going to do or see. It is extremely rare to have a full week of school off here and just the thought of sitting in my apartment with nothing to do made me bored. Chris unfortunately did not have the week off so I was doing this adventure on my own. We left the next morning for Khao Yai and on Monday I went to Bangkok to catch a flight and Chris went back home.

I haven’t traveled by myself in a long time so I was a bit nervous. I booked a hostel in a good part of town and decided I would just explore the city and figure out later what I wanted to do. I arrived in Hong Kong at 5am exhausted and smelly. Because my hostel wasn’t open till 8 and I didn’t want to venture out in the dark so I planted my bag on the ground of the airport and immediately crashed out. You know when you are tired when you can sleep like a baby in a very busy airport! I eventually made it to my hostel, unpacked my bag and decided I needed a proper nap. Right as I was about to sleep a bunch of girls staying in my room came in and invited me to go explore the city. I decided “why not?” and spent 12 hours walking around Hong Kong. I’m still not sure how I survived that first day… We went to different markets around the city: Goldfish market (known for selling animals and goldfish), Flower market, and Ladies market (any knick knack, souvenir you could ever imagine). We ended the night watching the light show over the city. Hong Kong has an amazing skyline that is best appreciated at night when all the buildings are lit up!  

Day 2 and 3 of Hong Kong were spent eating all the delicious food and pastries. I will go into detail in another blog post about all the food! We also went to the top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong and attempted to get a good picture of the view. As you can see Hong Kong has a haze problem – I would recommend going when it’s dark so you can actually see the buildings! I was also determined to go to a cat café while I was in Hong Kong. Unfortunately it was a huge disappointment because there weren’t many cats and one guy was hoarding all of them. I did enjoy a pretty cute hot chocolate!

Reflecting on my time in Hong Kong I am still perplexed by the city. You can feel the British influence (double decker buses, British food) but you also get an overwhelming feel you are in China. It was a nice departure from Thailand and I definitely enjoyed all the western influences.

The Sacrifices of Living Abroad

When I first contemplated moving abroad I went over what the pluses and minuses would be. Traveling and living abroad has a magical appeal that could convince anybody to do it but it’s important to ground yourself and really think about what you would have to give up. Family is usually the first thing that pops into peoples head; missing birthdays, holidays and in some unfortunate situations, having someone close pass away. You sit behind a computer in your new foreign home and look at the pictures of everyone having a great time and how you’re not there. You start to wonder, is this worth it? I teeter on answering that question for myself most days. I am gaining experiences most people will never be able to have but I am also missing life moments in others’ lives that I would want to be a part of.

When I finally went back to Minnesota in October I had been gone a full year, longer than I had ever been gone before. The second I stepped off that plane it felt as if no time had passed.  I went back into my same routine, saw my friends and family and even went to the same restaurants. It felt so good to have a “normal life” back. I quickly realized this wasn’t how it would be if I came back for good. Chris and I had an amazing time exploring new places, eating out, and being completely lazy when we wanted to. But that’s not real life. Real life is getting up and going to work, coming home and making dinner, watch an episode or two of some show and then going to bed. I remind myself constantly that before Thailand all I wanted was to get out, to have something new, and to not have the 9-5.

One of my biggest sacrifices was saying goodbye to my cat Finn. It was the one person in my life that I couldn’t explain what and why I was doing what I needed to do. I got Finn when he was just a tiny kitten, he was the sweetest, cuddliest and wildest orange fur ball I had ever seen (and still is). He was my rock during some hard times and my days were spent being excited to come home to him. The thought of saying goodbye was heartbreaking. I knew my mom would be able to take care of him but I felt like a horrible cat mom abandoning him like that. I can’t begin to explain to people the emotional heartache caused by walking out the door and saying goodbye to your family, friends and animals. You feel guilty for causing them sadness, you feel sadness for yourself and then worry that this might be the last time you see them. I’m happy to say that Finn is a very happy and very spoiled cat who loves his best friend Macey and has created a great bond with my Mom and Lance.

Being thrown into a new culture was the hardest test for me, up there with the goodbyes. You can read all the articles, watch the documentaries, and talk to people but you won’t really get it until you are thrown into it. My first month in Bangkok was painless; I was with my friends, we were having fun and I thought the quirks of Thailand were really cool. Then I was thrown into my new town in the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden it’s not so fun anymore, you feel alone and you have no way of communicating with people. I will never understand this culture fully, there are things that go on here that make me want to pull my hair out and other things that I wish the Western world would do. After being here for almost a year and a half I’ve found that the best thing to do is to not fight the system. You will never win; you will never make a change to it, so just put up with it and save yourself the frustration. The unorganized structure here makes me go crazy at times, but after countless times of trying to help it I have found just to let it be. ‘Go with the flow’ is the best way to deal with it, even though I suck at it.

People are always intrigued about my travels and life abroad, and I always think about what I should say when I’m asked certain questions. Do I say that it’s not a fairytale? That I don’t live on a beach, ride elephants and eat pad Thai every day? You want to be honest but also not deter someone from doing it. The honest answer is this: Some days it sucks; I cry, moan, and get angry. Some days I am super happy that I get to do this and really enjoy it. Life will never be a postcard, and that’s just how it goes. When making a big decision like moving abroad you need to make the best decision for YOU. At the time Thailand was the best decision for me and now the best decision for me is to move on to new things.  Do what’s best for you and if it doesn’t work out then at least you can say you tried.

Family Matters: The Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden

22 December 2015

When asking my Thai friends for recommendations of places to take the family, the first one to always be mentioned was the Queen’s Botanic Gardens. 

[Image: A closeup of two large bright pink flowers, part of a field of the flowers.]

It is exactly what it sounds like - a massive flower park, complete with an absolutely terrifying walk in the canopy of the trees, on some completely UNSAFE metal grating that COMPLETELY justified by trepidation. 

My family was mocking me. It wasn’t nice. NOT NICE I SAY. 

The park has the option to take one of the park buses to the various sites around the park, or you can bring your car and drive yourself, which is what we opted to do. You drive to various parking spots, and then walk around from there. 

Our first stop was the terrifying canopy walk, where everyone wanted to take selfies just to mock my fear. 

[Image: On the left, a heavily freckled young woman smiles towards the camera, posing with an less smiley old man, her father.] 

My dad thinks selfies are stupid. He barely tolerated this.  

[Image: The same young woman laughs and smiles at the camera, this time next to an older woman, her mother. They look just like each other.] 

My mom, on the other hand, loves selfies and was much more enthusiastic. 

Can you tell we both colour our eyebrows? They looked particularly fake that day. Our eyebrow game was not good that day. 

Then we went to the greenhouses, each with its own theme. I liked the lotus one. 

[Image: A photo of a lotus, taken looking down at the yellow centre of the light purple blossom, leaves spread out on the water around it.] 

There are several other sections of the park, including many walking trails and a museum with an extremely section of optical illusions you can pose with. 

After a quick lunch at a little place along the road, where my father was finally able to order a whole roast fish to eat, they dropped me at home. I had a exhausting mysterious illness the entire time they were there, and I just had to go sleep. 

Hey everyone so today I thought I’d give you five reasons why I love living in Thailand. Don’t get me wrong, there are, without a doubt, five reasons why I find living in Thailand annoying, but everywhere has pros and cons and these are the pros I’ve found in my last four years living here.  It’s always nice to have a reminder of why I do love living here on those days when I feel a little homesick too! So let’s get started.


Reason one

The sunshine. Now don’t get this confused with the heat because sometimes the blazing hot sun (I’m not rubbing it in) gets a little too hot (believe it or not). What I’m talking about is waking up most days to the sun shining, it makes me feel happy and more ready for the day I guess. I definitely do not miss having to get up for work on those cold winter mornings in England (you know the ones when you wake up to it still being dark outside and climbing out of the bed covers is so cold that you rush to put on the warmest clothes you can find). Yeah, I don’t miss that.


Reason Two

I feel like I’m much healthier in Thailand. You can buy fruit and vegetables everywhere here, there are hundreds of stalls and it’s so inexpensive. I think the temperature forces you to make healthy choices like drinking a lot of water for example. When it’s super hot outside what would you reach for a chocolate bar or a slice of melon? Exactly.


Reason Three

Thai people are so friendly, kind and helpful. They really are.
I’ve lost count of how many times a Thai has helped me out or just given me something for free just because. It’s definitely a pro being surrounded by such lovely people.

Reason Four

Being able to go out often. Yep going to a restaurant for dinner or making your way to a nice coffee shop is something you can do here, on a daily basis, because it’s not expensive. At all. Instagram lovers eat your heart out! I definitely socialise and get out of the house a lot more. I don’t just sit in front of the T.V watching soap after soap (after soap after soap).

Reason Five

Being able to go to to paradise islands for long weekends and not breaking the bank!’

Family Matters: Doi Suthep

19 December 2015

My family is here! Let the tourist-y activities commence! 

Since arriving in Chiang Mai, I haven’t done any real site-seeing, beyond what I see in my day-to-day, and the occasional field trip. 

WELL, I HAVE NOW. 

When I first arrived in Chiang Mai I was told, in no uncertain terms, that if I didn’t go see Doi Suthep before leaving, it was a mortal sin. 

Well then. 

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, otherwise known simply as Doi Suthep (which is also the name of the mountain the temple sits on, and the surrounding national park) is the most sacred temple in Chiang Mai. 

Legend has it that a monk brought a relic, specifically a bone from the Buddha, to a king. The bone broke into two pieces, and the smaller piece enshrined at one temple, while the other was tied to the back of a white elephant. The king’s men followed the elephant to the top of a mountain, Doi Suthep, where it died. Taking this as a sign, the king ordered a temple built on the spot.

High up on the mountain, an impressive view of the city can be seen, when it isn’t too cloudy. 

It was too cloudy the day we went. 

We had a rental car, but songthaews (a truck-like bus that is common public and private transportation) regularly run up the mountain, so it was almost more trouble than it was worth to find parking for our rental car. 

Once parked, we headed up the 309 steps of the Naga Stairs. (naga means snake, but is also specifically a mythical form of sacred snakes common in Hindu and Buddhist stories and art.) 

[Image: A photograph taken with a view down a stairway, curved snakes forming the sides, and many people walking up the brick steps. Trees form a canopy-like effect overhead.] 

Along the steps will be high school-age students asking for donations, and small Hill tribe children dressed in bright costumes who will pose for pictures in exchange for a tip. 

[Image: two young Hill Tribe girls smile for the camera. They are dressed in elaborate colourful coats, and wear beaded hats.] 

Once at the entrance to the actual temple grounds, tourists pay a fee to get in, which goes to the maintenance of the temple grounds and the temple school, which is for students too poor to pay the regular school fees. 

As per usual, there are signs posted to ensure that visitors are dressed appropriately. Cover thine shoulders! 

Do remember that this is a working temple, and many people are here for true religious purposes- don’t forget to be respectful of those worshipping. 

[Image: a gilded peaked roof rises against a partly-cloudy sky.] 

The architecture of the temple is beautiful, an interesting mix of Buddhist, Hindu, and traditional Chinese styles, and talks on Buddhism, as well as meditation lessons, are given on the temple grounds, in Thai and English. 

[Image: A wooden and gilt roof sits on carved pillars. The edges of the roof are carved with the animals of the Chinese zodiac, and the interior portion of the roof is carved with images of the Buddha.] 

Try and count the bells! Throughout the temple grounds, is a plethora of bells of all kinds, from giant bells taller than a grown man, to small bells hanging from the eaves. Rows of large bells are hung at shoulder height and are not meant to be touched by just anyone. Despite what you may see if you visit, the signs clearly state, in English, that the bells are not to be rung by visitors. I was unable to find the specific purpose for the bells at this temple, but from what I know of Tibetan Buddhism, bells are used during prayer, and I imagine a similar purpose for these bells. 

[Images: Top: a long row of large (2-3 feet tall) bells are hung from a pole. Bottom: A closeup of the carvings on the top of one of the bells, hung also with smaller inscribed bells.] 

A neat way to give back to the temple in a less monetary way (although there are ample boxes for cash donations) is to purchase a roofing tile and donate it for the purpose of the temple’s upkeep. 

[Image: Dozens of clay roofing tiles lay in haphazard pile, each tile inscribed with some message. Many languages can be seen, such as Chinese, English, and Thai.] 

You can purchase a tile from people in the temple grounds, and then write your name, a prayer, good wishes, etc. upon the tile before donating. As needed, the tiles will be used to repair the roofs of the various buildings. 

It was very crowded, and made sticking around to soak it all in less than desirable, but it was definitely worth the visit. 

We left to explore the park, and ended up at the same waterfall that I had visited with my students a few weeks before. I decided to chill at the waterfall as my family did the hike, and while “exploring” fell into the stream, and temporarily broke my camera. 

NOOOOOOOOO. 

It's a small world afterall!

Bangkok facts:

  • 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.”

UM WHAT?

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.

"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.

Dying in Thailand: What to Do When You Get the Flu

Or, you know, tonsillitis, as is the case this week. 

Or dengue fever, as was the case with one of my TESOL mates, for the past FEW weeks. (It required hospitalisation. Stay safe, kids. Wear that bug spray) 

So the biggest difference(s) between the US and Thailand is when and where to go to the doctor. 

In the US, people (those who are middle class and up and have insurance, etc. as I was) go to a smaller office, you have a GP, if you get sick you go to them first. After a week of contemplating whether you *really* need to go to the doctor. Hospitals are for emergencies or really bad things. 

Here…you go straight to the hospital. 

Got a cough? Splinter? Broke a bone? 

Go to the hospital. 

And because it’s relatively cheap here (when I broke my foot, I paid 100 Baht [~3 USD] TOTAL, and it was just for the crutches because my bank [yep, everyone with a bank card has basic auto insurance] paid for everything else. Including x-rays), you can go when you first feel it, with relatively little fear. 

Many (most?) places of employment will grant you paid sick leave if you have a doctor’s note saying you need it. Which is pretty easy to come by, so I hear, a matter of waiting a few moments at the hospital, telling a doctor you’re sick, and then saying how many days you want off work. Simple. 

Now, it is also possible you don’t have paid sick leave. *cough* ME *cough* 

And, why, yes, I AM a full-time on-salary in-possession-of-legal-work-permit professional who doesn’t have paid sick leave. Is it legal? Nope. Does it happen? You betcha

It which case, you better go to the doctor and get those meds and go straight on to work, because otherwise, you’re losing a lot of money. 

Considering the trip to the clinic cost me a measly 200 Baht, including the meds, it would have been cheaper for me to go a week ago, rather than take those 2 days off work and still need to go to the doctor eventually, but I am still a Westerner and I will SUFFER before going to the doctor, dang it. 

Don’t do that. Go to the doctor

I still don’t get the obsession with medical masks…they don’t do anything except make it very uncomfortable to breathe. 

Do be careful with the meds they’re dealing, though, as it is not uncommon to see someone leave the hospital toting multiple drugs of questionable intent. (Coworkers have mentioned getting upwards of 10 different drugs in one incident) 

Drugs are cheap here, and the line between prescription and over the counter…fuzzy at best. 

Multiple people I’ve talked to went home to discover that they’ve essentially cooked their insides by being prescribed too many, too strong, and conflicting prescriptions, which, because Westerners almost insanely trust their doctors, they took. 

While I am an advocate of always at least looking up the medicine you are taking, this is doubly important in Thailand. Make sure you aren’t taken some antibiotic meant for cancer-aids when you just have the flu. 

As with anywhere you live, take the time to find a doctor you can talk to, and trust. Preferably one who speaks reasonable English (or whichever language you speak, but good luck with anything but Thai, English, and maybe Chinese) because your health is not one of those times you want to depend on Google Translate. 

Usually, for English speakers, this means a hospital. 

There’s always someone with decent English in a hospital, and usually it’s the doctors themselves. 

But, for me, it’s the local clinic doctor who has a practice with just her and her secretary. 

I like her. She’s no-nonsense and explains all the meds to me, to the best of her ability. 

An essential skill for me has been a knowledge of basic medical terminology. Now, I don’t know a ton, just the basics and the ability to occasionally google things, but this has helped me SO MUCH. 

Sometimes the doctor doesn’t speak a word of English. EXCEPT THOSE MEDICAL WORDS. 

Yep, those are in English! 

When I broke my foot, this basically saved my life. I said that magic word ‘metatarsal’ and my doctor’s stressed out face lit up like a Christmas Tree (which incidentally, I saw some outside of Rimping today…#happiness). 

Be smart. 

Stay safe. 

It’s totally okay to eat the ice. 

8th Month Update

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.