Another week, another whirlwind of events. I only just started my second week of TESOL training on Monday, and guess what? Ya girl’s already got a teaching placement in Rangsit, which is just outside of Bangkok. And I’m set to start next Monday..eek! So, let’s elaborate on that whole “whirlwind of events” thing. I’ll start with the fact that learning how to teach an entire class (using lesson plans, and competency, and panache) is a whole new ballpark for me. We all know I’m a nerd at heart, so I was ready to tackle the challenge. But, let me tell you, my first attempt at creating and executing a lesson plan did not go exactly as the nerd in me would have liked. Let’s cut to the chase: I flopped like a fish out of water when I got up in front of my peers and attempted to teach them about hospitals. So I didn’t actually flop, and it probably wasn’t as bad as it felt, but needless to say, there was room for improvement. Luckily, I got to take a stab at another lesson plan and presentation later in the week. This time I felt more like a fierce lion, queen of her jungle (classroom). So maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I definitely felt more confident, which is good considering I have to stand in front of a class of students — who are relying on my ability to teach English — in one short week.
The only other noteworthy thing that happened during our 40 hours of class last week would be the rather significant event that occurred in the good old U S of A. I would be remiss if I did not address (ever so briefly) the election and what it was like to experience said election in another country. First, a major shout out to our teacher for trying to power through his lecture despite the fact that he was facing a class of 30 students whose heads were buried in their phones. We could not be bothered by TESOL theory as we continuously refreshed news sources that were feeding us the election results state by state. Finally he gave up and projected the polls on the big screen as we sat on the edges of our seats until it happened. In the wake of the unfathomable, I have had a handful of Thais bring up the election result in a sympathetic tone after they learn my country of origin. It’s fascinating to be on another continent during such a monumental mark on America and to see firsthand that the impact of this American event has a global ripple effect.
That’s more political talk than I would care to dedicate to my blog, so let’s move right on along. This next section of the blog is a shortlist of things that are much more common in Thailand than in America (if not nonexistent).
- Meals: You know how in America, it’s kind of considered bad service (or at the very least annoying) if a table’s meals don’t all come out at the same time? And how if someone’s dish doesn’t come for another two minutes, you’re supposed to leave your plate sitting there untouched for that eternity of two minutes to be considerate even though in your head you’re daydreaming of what that pasta will taste like once it graces your tastebuds? Yeah..none of that is expected here. If two dishes come at the same time, it is an absolute marvel. Here we’ve gotten used to the first person getting their dish and the last person getting theirs 30 minutes later. That first person gingerly and guiltily eats their food knowing it will get cold if they wait. Meanwhile, that last person tries to maintain an even composure as they pray to the food gods that during the next outing they will not be the unlucky duck to eat last.
- Motorbikes: If you don’t have a motorbike in Thailand, who even are you? Seriously, I can’t help but remember when I was overwhelmed by the amount of motorbikes in Europe. Well, we have entered an entirely new ballpark my friends (I’m realizing that’s the second time in this post I’ve used that ballpark analogy, but whatevs..call it fitting figurative language or muscle memory, but either way, just keep reading plz). There are swarms of scooters here with no regard for road rules. They weave in and out of cars and songtaews and on and off sidewalks with containers of soup or smoothies in hand. But arguably the most novel thing about the motorbikes is WHO you see on them. I’m talking families of three, with kids as young as 4 gripping the body of the bike bringing a whole new meaning to “starting them young”. Glad to know that 4-year-olds have more experience on a Vespa than I do — I’m just reaching new levels of coolness daily, aren’t I?
- 7-11s: 7-11 is mecca. It is sacred. It is the light at the end of the tunnel. 7-11 may just be any ordinary, sub-par convenience store back in America, but here it is the lifeblood of Thais. In the mood for a late night grilled cheese, warmed up in store? Look no further than the toastie aisle in your local 7-11 (by local, I literally mean any direction you care to turn..they’re everywhere). Need to add more data to your phone plan? Go ask your friendly 7-11 worker for a top up. Literally need to book a flight to another country? Head on over to the nearest 7-11 to pay for your ticket. I’m telling you, you name it, Thai 7-11 has got it.
I digress. I’ve also done a lot of exciting stuff on my free time outside of class like attend a ladyboy cabaret, explore the beautiful National Park that is Doi Inthanon, take a Thai cooking class, and release a lantern into the sky during the widely-celebrated Loy Krathong. All amazing, as you would expect, but I thought it was important to clue you into some cultural differences before I grace you with the good stuff.
More so than anything though, as much as I love and will miss Chiang Mai, I am hype to get to my placement city next week and get settled into my new, semi-permanent life. I can either take a 10-hour bus ride or a 1-hour flight to Bangkok for a negligible difference in price, so obvi I’m opting for the flight. Unfortunately, booking the flight has not been smooth sailing (or should I say flying LOL). I have tried at least 30 times to book my ticket through Air Asia (I promise you, this is not an exaggeration and may in fact actually be an understatement). It has been quite the headache-forming, anxiety-inducing experience, and even more unfortunately, when I went to get a massage to release my tension, my favorite place was closed. Apparently, Air Asia has some promotion going on that’s making their website highly susceptible to crashing right when I make it all the way to the “purchase” stage. But HEY, let’s look at the silver lining — I’ve officially memorized my credit card information!! A shopaholic’s dream come true! So, here’s to hoping that the 50th time’s the charm and I will eventually secure a ticket (preferably without a spike in price) to my new home.
A fish out of water