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4 posts categorized "Chloe Derks"

First Waves of FOMO in Phetchabun

Guys, a participant who is taking my place next semester emailed me today to ask me questions about my school and city, and I am not ok. HOW? How did I get here? I was just emailing a girl who taught before me asking the same questions.

And so begins the waves of FOMO.

Someone else will soon tell First to stop staring at her lips in her compact mirror and go literally insane over a 60 pound kid flipping a water bottle. He'll put on a stern face when EP2 starts another fire in the classroom. He'll order my favorite drink from Sunni and hear the two suns theory from a Australian man wearing camouflage shorts and a wolf tank.

And I'll be gone. I'm painfully aware that this year is probably one of the best years of my life. My heart aches for home, and I'm confident in my choice to leave in October, but once I'm home, what I've experienced will only exist in my mind and in the minds of a handful of wonderful, dear friends I've made along the way.

Leaving, even thinking about leaving, feels very serious because I know that once I leave, I can't come back. Students graduate, coworkers change jobs, shop owners retire. It won't be the same, ever. It's now and a few more weeks, and then it's over.

To participants preparing to move to Thailand reading this blog, you have no idea what's coming, but it's better and stranger than anything you can imagine. Screw coconuts on the beach and cute poses next to elephants. When you come, soak up as much time as you can from your students. Drink as much Chang as you can with your coworkers. And burn into your mind the shade of pink the air in front of your face turns when the sun sets.

It's incredible, and yes, you are the only one who will remember a lot of what you experience, but that's the price you pay for living in two different worlds. Loving people in two worlds. Feeling time fly past you in two worlds.

And believe me when I say that when you get to the end like me, you'll wish you could do it all over again.

 

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Waterfalls in Kanchanaburi

 

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Sunset in Bangkok

 

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When you're too cheap to rent two bikes

 

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Rainy season photo op

 

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He can read and write in Thai and he ran a marathon with almost no prep

 

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EP2 advisor job desc--"You're like their mom now"

 

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You'll only get it if you've lived in Thailand



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Ferry to Koh Chang for a solo weekend trip
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Every 00 girl's dream--Britney Spears in Bangkok



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Maybe I'll name my son Pong or Nut. Middle name at least.

 

 

 

Thai High Schoolers and Life Update

I'm walking through morning assembly at school. The students are sitting in long rows looking bored and lazy. One boy, stick thin and all limbs, sits behind his chubby friend. They're maybe 16 years old. In a casual moment, the skinny one slides his hands along the sides of his friend's gut, reaches to grab the biggest part of his belly, and shakes it for all its worth. The thin boy's hands cross around his friend and he leans his head against his back.

I don't know how to describe Thai teenagers. I can only give examples because they are the strangest, cutest people I've ever met. I've never seen people of any age interact the way they do. They love each other so deeply, but its also very casual. My 17 year-old boys are wrestling in the back of my classroom one minute and sitting on each others' laps the next minute. They're so innocent and respectful, lighthearted and sincere. (Ok, it's not all rainbows: They're also the laziest SOB's I know).

But being around them makes me so happy. They ask me how much I weigh, if I had a nose job, why I don't have a boyfriend. They die laughing when I try to speak Thai. They grab my arms when I'm in reaching distance. They want to take a selfie. "Teacher, free time? 5 minutes, ok?"

When I signed up for this job, I thought the job was a way to travel while still working and making money. Now, I think teaching these kids is the best part of the whole adventure. And it's why I've decided to stay more than one semester. I haven't been this happy in a long time, and its because of my job, my coworkers, my school, and my students.

I'm far from being an expert at adulthood, but I think if I've found a job I love that allows me financial security and the proximity to travel in one of the most beautiful places, I should keep it for more than 4 and a half months. I'm finally an ok driver on my motorbike. I'm becoming friends with Thai people, learning to travel solo, and trying to speak a new language.

It's exhausting and emotional. I miss my sisters like crazy, but I have to find what makes me happy on my own. For now at least, I think I've found it 8500 miles away from home in a town called Phetchabun.

 

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A typical morning assembly. I'm sweating, and the students are wearing jackets.

 

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Lop Buri, Thailand

 

 

 

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My fellow farang teachers with our boss, P'Noi.

 

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My boss and coteacher, P'Ti

 

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Big Buddha statue in Phetchabun

 

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Noodles and pork balls...its actually pretty good

 

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He doesn't like to play with baby dolls, ok?!

 

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Dinner cruise on the river in Bangkok

 

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My favorite class of 12th graders

 

 

 

Settling In and Feeling Grateful

Hello, all!

Since my first blog post, I've started teaching (mostly 12th graders and some younger classes,) and I really, really love it. Thai students are so artistic, and it's been so satisfying to come up with ways to tie art to my lesson plans and watch them transform their assignment into something creative and beautiful. Ugh, I really love my students.

In my last post, I talked a lot about how there is a balance of excitement and difficulty in moving abroad, and although I still believe that's true, I've decided that I really want to focus on the good in my life and to choose to be appreciative for all I have here in Thailand.

So, this blog is wholly for listing what I am grateful for in my new life in Phetchabun. Side note: making lists of what you are grateful for is probably the best thing you can do for your soul.

  1. My students--I hate those teachers who never shut up about their students like people about their kids, but really I'll probably include them in every post because they have become a huge part of my life, and I really do love teaching them.
  2. Mountains—I have a great view of some mountains from our front porch, but you can also see them on the drive to school, and it is so calming and nice.
  3. Leah Heald--Leah is one of my roommates, but she has already been teaching at my school for a semester. She always makes sure the farang (foreigners) at our school are taken care of, and she's basically our mom/camp counselor/friend/advisor. We would all drown without her.
  4. AirCon—It is so hot here. Like humid, sweaty hot. So when I come home from a long day in a hot classroom, nothing feels better than turning on my AC and throwing myself onto my bed for a solid nap in a cool room.
  5. A gym—Going to the gym was a regular part of my routine at home, so when I found a gym with AC, treadmills, and weights, I was thrilled. I need routines in my life, and it also feels so good to get sweaty at the gym then feel the wind on my face when I drive my motorbike home in the cooler evening.
  6. Transportation--I have my own motorbike! Yes, it is terrifying, especially in Thai traffic, but having a way to get around by myself is so important to me, and it makes me feel independent. Plus, I mean, it's pretty cool (see pic below).
  7. A direct bus ride to Abby Giesey- Abby and I went to college together, and so it's crazy that we both ended up teaching in Thailand. There is a direct bus ride from my city to hers, and I am so, so grateful for that because it is so comforting to see a familiar face and reminisce about old times and share about the new times.
  8. Music—Songs that I used to listen to at home are my go to fix for feeling down or missing home. You can remember that time you were screaming your favorite song driving down the highway or the one you danced to with your roommate in your dorm when you should have been studying. The playlist I used to get through finals week is the same one I use now to lesson plan. It’s just familiar and brings back good memories.
  9. A community that respects its teachers--America should take a note, really. In Thai culture, teachers are respected because that makes total sense. We are literally teaching the future for the benefit of the whole community.

Overall, I think the best part of this trip so far has been the hard lessons I’ve had to learn in adulting. This is my first time away from home and my first house that wasn’t my parents. When you go somewhere alone, you are the only one responsible for you. It’s been so good for me to learn to choose happiness (My mom is smiling reading that because that’s something she always tried to teach me) and to take care of my own problems, emotions, fears, etc.

 I’ve also learned, though, that if you can’t take care of yourself, there are usually people who will help you, especially in Thailand. My school coordinators and fellow teachers have gone out of their way to help me adjust, keep up with my visa, figure out my housing and transportation, where to buy what, how to say this or that in Thai.

For all of it, I am grateful.

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View from my front porch

 

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Roti banana dessert

 

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Yes, I have to drive in a skirt :(

 

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Camping at Phu Thap Boek Mountain

 

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Can't believe this is my life. I'm a real teacher!

 

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My friend Abby and I at a floating market in Bangkok

First Everything

Sawat-dee kah!

First Thai tea. First motorbike ride. First year-long mourning period. First blog post. It feels like everything I do in Thailand is something I've never done and probably wouldn't do in the States. When I applied for this job in Thailand, I loved that it was so brave. Moving across the world all by myself got me a lot of "Wow!" and "Really?! That's so cool!". And I loved the attention, honestly. But now that I'm here, I know that talking about being brave is easy. Being brave is hard.

I guess I'll start by introducing myself. My name is Chloe, and I graduated this past May from a small, conservative, Christian college in Missouri (studied English). I've rarely left my state, let alone the country, so this move to Thailand has had some challenges. I'm teaching high school ESL at a school in Phetchabun (Central Thailand) through the organization CIEE. I've been fortunate enough to be placed in one of the nicest participant housing areas at what I've heard is one of the best schools in the program.

I've only been in Thailand for a week, but I've learned that when you move everything changes: your bed, your routine, how you feel about yourself, how you feel about people in your past. Everything. When you trade the people in your life who know you, I mean the ones who understand your flaws and appreciate your strengths, for people who know nothing about you and may not care to ever know you, it's hard to remember who you are. In college, people thought I was more aggressive or assertive, a leader maybe. Here, I'm the quiet one. The agreeable one. That's definitely a challenge I didn't anticipate, and honestly, it's been really hard on my self-esteem to be here because I think everyone wants to feel known or understood. I thought Thailand sounded like a paradise of beaches and coconuts, sunglasses and awesome temples, but I have yet to see a beach and probably won't until after the semester. I only wear sunglasses so the bugs don't hit my eyes when I'm on a motorbike.

So, I'm going to write an honest blog about my time in Thailand. Hopefully, my blog will reflect what it's like to live in the Land of Smiles, even during a time of great grief (The King of Thailand passed away this month) and what it feels like to trade one life of comfort and familiarity for one of uncertainty. I know I'll have some amazing experiences and see some incredible things, but as I've already learned, I also have some serious struggles ahead.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me! chloe.derks@gmail.com

Here are some photos of my trip so far (sorry couldn't figure out how to turn them the right way) but keep in mind that people only take pictures of the highs in their lives--not so much the lows.

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