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Flower Arrangements & Snorkel Gear

Well, what a week it's been.

I taught my first academic class ever, I finally learned how to use the songthaew (pictured below), I was appreciated as a teacher, and I went snorkeling in algae filled water.

Songthaew

A songthaew is the main form of public transportation in Thailand. You hop on the back, press a button when they reach your destination, hop off, and pay the driver 10 baht (about 29 cents).

You heard about my first day experience. Luckily I can say that each day teaching got easier and easier. I am finally beginning to learn my students' names and I know what to teach and how to teach it.

On Thursday, schools across Thailand celebrated Wai Kru day, or Teachers Appreciation Day. It is a Thai ritual in which students pay respects to their teachers in order to express their gratitude and formalize the student–teacher relationship.The students make a flower arrangement and then present it to their teacher during a special ceremony. I wish I could tell you more about what was going on during the ceremony, but it was all in Thai.

My school invited me to participate. I was thrilled! Two students represented my Matthayom 2 advisory class and presented me with beautiful flower arrangements that they spend the second half of Wednesday working on. It was such an incredible honor to be able to accept it. It made me even more excited to continue working with my classes and getting to know them.

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Let's fast forward to Saturday. A few fellow teachers in the Chonburi area and I decided to go to Pattaya for snorkeling. Pattaya is only about 1-2 hours away so it was perfect! We had an early wake up call of 5am so we would be able to get to the snorkel place by 8am.

Once we got there we had some extra time to kill. We decided to stop into a restaurant and get what might be the best smoothie I've ever had with a view of the Gulf of Thailand right out the front door.

When it was time to leave, we got onto the boat and headed off to the islands. On our first dive, I was terrified as soon as I got into the water. It was my first time snorkeling. Unfortunately, there was a lot of algae in the water which made it sort of difficult to see. We were also told that there might be jellyfish in the water so to be careful. Immediately I saw little round clear things floating in the water. And there were a lot of them. Jellyfish. I kept trying to dodge them but couldn't because there were way too many. They kept hitting me but surprisingly, I didn't get stung.

About 30 minutes later, we got back onto the boat. We asked our guide and a few other workers on the boat why we didn't get stung because there were so many jellyfish. It turned out, they were photo luminescent plankton and completely harmless. It was a complete shock to me. I've watched a lot of Spongebob in my life and it always led me to believe that plankton were green. At this point, I was confused and not sure what else in my childhood was a lie.

We ate lunch, traveled to a new island, dived again, and headed back to the dock. 

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The week made me excited to continue the journey that I'm on. Despite the hard times and the occasional homesickness, I'm the happiest I have been since I was in London last summer. I can't wait to see what other new adventures I'll have in these next 5 months.

Ohio Fried Chicken

I've been teaching for two days now. How do I sum up my experience? Well...

No idea what to do

Or especially in the case of today...

Tuesday

I graduated from college with a degree in marketing and entrepreneurship with a minor in psychology (but hey, who's counting). I grew up wanting to be a teacher. For Christmas one year, I got an easel with a chalkboard on one side and a whiteboard on the other. Every day after school I would go to my basement and play class, acting as the teacher. It was my favorite thing to do.

*Disclaimer: this was in like 3rd grade. I wasn't doing this in high school.

And then I grew up. I'm not sure what made me decide to change paths. But now I'm able to see if that passion I had with my easel is still alive today.

So, on to my first days of actually teaching real life people.

I was extremely overwhelmed. I wasn't sure what I needed to teach them, how developed their English was, or what they already learned. So I played a game getting to know them while telling them a little bit about me. During this game, it was revealed that I am from Ohio. From the moment they knew that, they kept saying Ohio Fried Chicken. Did they mean Kentucky Fried Chicken? Was it another inside joke between the students? Was it a fat joke? I was just as curious as you are.

My next two classes were equally stressful. I had my game planned and I felt ready to begin. But the students wouldn't be quite. I asked them once. I asked them twice. I threatened to give them homework (yeah right like I had any homework prepared to give them). They kept talking! It's difficult to keep a balance of discipline, respecting their culture and being the cool teacher. Luckily, my RBF came in handy when I would stare at groups of students that were talking.

Don't know what a RBF is? Google it.

Finally, when I came back from my third class, another teacher had put a listening activity on my desk to conduct with my final class of the day. In other words, I had to hand out papers and press play on the sound files. I was so thankful for this. It would give me time to relax and recoup orate after my other classes.

However, when I began pressing play and handing out the worksheets I realized that I didn't enjoy it. I was only there to work sound. I could also tell that the students did not enjoy it at all. While it was nice to relax, I didn't feel like I was their teacher.

Yes it's only Tuesday. But I already feel more confident in my abilities to lesson plan and teach to a class. I know that I will learn things along the way, but that only means I will improve.

In the end, I think I'm going to like it here after all.

 

Five Things I Learned During Orientation

The time that I never thought would be here has officially come. Not only am I in Thailand, but I have survived orientation and arrived at my placement in Chonburi.

Because the group that arrived in June was much smaller, 16 participants compared to roughly 70 in May, our orientation only lasted three days rather than the typical five. However, they managed to squeeze a lot of information in within a short period of time. Not only did they teach me the essential knowledge that I need to (or at least should) know, but I was also able to learn a lot outside of the classroom. So, without further ado, here are five things I learned during orientation:

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1) Thai tea might be the best thing ever.

My palette was introduced to the magic that is Thai tea before the second day of orientation. We were eating breakfast in the hotel before we made our way to our orientation activities when one of the hotel employees offered us a small glass of Thai tea. My one friend exclaimed how good Thai tea is and immediately grabbed a glass. So I gave it a try. All I could say was WOW - it was absolutely amazing.

According to Wikipedia - so you know this has to be accurate - Thai tea is made up of Ceylon tea, or a locally grown landrace version of Assam known as Bai Miang. Other ingredients can include added orange blossom water, star anise, and crushed tamarind seed. It is then sweetened with sugar and condensed milk.

Is your mouth watering yet? It should be.

2) Bangkok is full of...smells.

Maybe it's the food. Maybe it's the dog poop. Maybe it's the fish market. Maybe it's a combination of one or more. Either way, most smells were unidentifiable and even more unpleasant.

However, there are also amazing smells in Bangkok. There were some areas along the street that were full of fresh, amazing  flowers. It smelled like walking through Yankee Candle in the spring time.

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3) The nicest people work for OEG.

I went through CIEE to apply and confirm my place in the Teach in Thailand program. However, Overseas Education Group (OEG) is their partner that handles the majority of the arrangements in Thailand. So, naturally, they were the ones that held orientation. There were five primary people that we interacted with during orientation. Two of them were Americans working for OEG in Thailand, two were native Thais who have had experience in North America, and one was a British man who has been teaching English in Thailand for several years.

Everyone at OEG was extremely informative and always went the extra mile for the participants. I always felt comfortable talking to them about almost anything. They were always there to lend a helping hand to participants and focused on building relationships with each and every one of us.

The OEG coordinators made the transition to Thailand extremely easy and prepared me well for the next five months.

4) Use the canal boats with caution.

One of the ways to get around Bangkok is by canal boat. These are basically the buses of canals. However, proceed with caution before using one.

Getting on and off is very tricky. Sometimes the boat doesn't completely touch the dock which makes it very difficult for those who tend to be clumsy (cough cough me).

Additionally, like any other boat, it splashes, especially when you go past another canal boat. This can be quickly fixed by pulling up the clear shade on the side of the boat by your seat. This information is helpful to know before you get on the boat.

5) You meet some of the best people.

A program like this attracts people of a very similar mindset. I met so many people during orientation that had an absolute passion for traveling and truly immersing themselves into a culture. Meeting people with such similar interests and goals automatically gives you a connection with them. To make that bond even stronger, we all got to actually know each other during orientation. I have began to make some of the strongest bonds I will ever have during the three days of orientation.

I am excited to travel with some people from orientation all over Thailand. After all, there is nothing better than sharing this experience with people who truly love and appreciate it.

OEG group

Round 2!

Back to school!  After having a long vacation period from March to May, where I hopped around from place to place, I was happy to return to my town in Chanthaburi and, and to see all of the smiling faces of my students!  Last semester I taught 5th and 6th grade, but this semester, due to the lack of foreign English teachers at my school , I am now teaching 2nd through 6th grade!  Its a big change, with many more students (about 700 total that I teach), but I'm really loving it!  It's fun to work with the curious younger students, and also be with my older students again.  They are sure a fun bunch of kids!

Waiting to Leave for Thailand As Told by The Office

The time is almost here! I leave for Thailand on Sunday. What's it like waiting for that day to get here? Well...

1) The days are going slower and slower

Being a recent college graduate, having a clear schedule is a strange phenomenon to me. Of course I have had a few things to do here and there, but I have mostly had free time which makes the days drag on.

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2) I'm bored 97% of the time.

The other 3% of the time I'm either watching the Stanley Cup playoffs or sleeping.

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3) I packed for my trip way too early.

By early I mean literally two weeks before I leave.

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4) I've had time to stress over my bank account.

So many activities to do in Thailand, so little funds.

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5) The few times I do have something to do, I don't feel like doing it.

Bored yet so, so lazy.

Procrastinate

6) I've been doing more chores around the house than normal.

Is it to help out my parents or kill some time? One will never know.

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7) And finally, I do research on Thailand which makes me even more excited to get there.

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T-Minus 3 days!!

Vacation Part 2: Nepal!

            One of the perks of having such a long semester break from March-May was having the time to thoroughly travel to other countries as well. I decided to go to Nepal since it was a country that I had really wanted to visit for some time, and I decided now was the time since I was (relatively) so close and because I had enough time off to make the most of my trip.

            The ride from the airport to my hotel was a true taste of Nepal – bustling traffic, constant honking (that’s just how people drive there), colorful and busy sidewalks, dust spinning up from the roads, and the occasional cow wandering not far from the main road. I spent the first week in Nepal exploring the capital, Kathmandu, and doing a short 3-day trek through Nagarkot and Chisapani. Kathmandu is the hub for a lot of travelers – many people come to Nepal for trekking through the spectacular mountains, so the streets were filled with shops selling trekking gear, as well as many handmade artisan goods, fresh fruit stands and an array of restaurants. Trekking was a really nice experience. The first day was certainly a challenge, however! I trekked for about 6 hours uphill, and initially I thought, “Oh my, what have I gotten myself into!” Despite the physical challenge, and the slightly cloudy skies, I was able to enjoy the view of the mountains, terraced agricultural hills, and the many goats and villagers with curious smiles along the way. The second and third days of trekking were much easier than the first. With no extreme inclines for long periods, I was able to take in more of the beautiful scenery and feel very peaceful as I hiked. Trekking was a really nice experience that I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in visiting Nepal!

            After trekking I made my way to Chitwan. The main reason I came to Nepal was to do volunteer work. I volunteered for two weeks with the Nepal Friendship Society, which was an exciting and fulfilling experience. The Nepal Friendship Society has a purpose of improving the quality of life of people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds through eliminating the disparities of educational outcomes between public and private schools, and it also has a mission to introduce environmental initiatives to improve the environment, and to develop in a sustainable manner. During my stay I worked on an education project, teaching students English both in the Nepal Friendship Society Learning Center and in a local government school.

            At the Learning Center I worked with six students aged 13-15 before school each day, to help improve their conversational English skills. These students had already been in the Learning Center program for 2.5 years, so they had a decent command on the English language. Many of our lessons were focused on environmental awareness and conservation. We discussed the importance of the environment, of water, the environmental problems that are faced today on a local and global spectrum, and ways to improve and alleviate these problems. These students were all very bright, fun, and a pleasure to work with.

            The government school I worked at is called the Ghanistan School – a small primary school consisting of just 160 students. All of the students that attend this school live humble lives, coming from families with little economic income. The school is run by 6 female teachers and one headmistress, and despite our language barriers, we were able to share some of our cultural, educational and teaching backgrounds with each other. Working at this school was quite an experience.  Each day I was greeted by eager smiles and ‘hellos’ from the children.  Being the beginning of school, and also the first foreign volunteer at this school, things were somewhat disorganized and still falling into place, which kept me on my toes! Being an ESL teacher in a foreign country, flexibility is always key. I was usually told at the last minute what grade I should teach, or if there was a specific subject they wanted me to teach for that period. Sometimes I had to come up with lessons on the spot, adapt lessons for different age groups and abilities, or manage a young group of students with boundless energy, barely any English skills, and who never ceased to believe that I could actually understand them when they rambled at me in Nepali!

            I have a great anecdote from working with the 1st grade class. One day, when introducing some vocabulary, I was honestly just shocked and also amused
by the myriad of activities going on in the classroom. Some of the students were looking at the words and pictures I had drawn on the board, and copying into their notebooks; some decided that they were hungry and pulled out snacks and giggled amongst each other; one little girl finished copying from the board quickly and ran up and hugged my legs so that it was difficult for me to move; and one crazy boy decided that he wanted to run around me in circles and throw paper airplanes. Thankfully, I got them to all settle down in a timely manner, and then proceeded to do some active activities and singing with them to keep everyone engaged!

            Overall, I really enjoyed volunteering with the NFS. I stayed with Birendra Poudel, the founder of the NFS, and his kind family. I enjoyed not only teaching, but also spending time with my host-family and meeting so many friendly strangers on my daily walks through the neighborhood. I cannot say that I had a huge impact on the students and their English, since I volunteered for such a short period of time. However, I know that with the continuance of dedicated English-speaking volunteers, the English of the students and teachers will continue to improve, and through this the volunteers and local teachers will be better able to share their ideas, and continue providing quality education to students.

            The end of my stay in Nepal was spent in Pokhara, which was so pleasant! Pokhara is a beautiful place, and there I did many activities like hiking, visiting temples and caves, canoeing, and paragliding! Overall, my trip to Nepal was really just lovely!

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Birendra y yo


Vacation Part 1: Happy Healing Home

Hello again world!  It sure has been a while.  My first semester of teaching ended mid-March, and I was kept busy grading exams and getting ready for many adventures!  Thailand's academic calendar is different from that in the United States, so my break that lasted from March to May was equivalent to a summer vacation.

The first part of my adventure was spent with my dad, who flew out to visit!  We traveled in Chiang Mai, an island called Koh Samet, and then I showed him around Chanthaburi, the town where I teach.  It was a great time that we managed to pack into just over a week!

After this I went and worked for ten days at the Happy Healing Home, an organic farm in the province of Chiang Mai.  This was a really nice experience!  Every morning we were woken up before 6am by the call of the roosters.  All volunteers had their own rhythms and interests, and thus sometimes worked on various different tasks. In the mornings I usually ground coffee beans and prepared coffee over the fire. After everyone was awake and had taken a cup of coffee or tea, we helped to prepare breakfast with fresh ingredients from the garden, and some mornings we did yoga and exercises before breakfast.  

Following breakfast we went out to work.  The work varied by day, and by individual.  Sometimes I worked on a building project, or took care of the buffaloes, or tended to the garden.  Working in the garden was definitely my favorite part.  I loved getting my hands dirty in the soil and learning about the plants and their nutritional or medicinal properties from Pinan Jim and Pinan Tea, the couple that runs the organic farm.  Working in the sun in the garden, always covered in dirt or water – I just felt so blissful surrounded by and caring for all of the plants that sustain us. The garden was certainly my happy place!

After a few hours of work we would return for yet another delicious meal. The food was honestly just phenomenal! Always super fresh and prepared with love.  After lunch we all rested for some time before the late afternoon work.  Usually during the afternoons I went out and collected grass for the buffaloes to eat.  And while it was a monotonous activity after doing it day after day, it was also very meditative, as were really all activities on the farm.  Working on the farm and constantly using my hands and physical energy, I always was focused on what I was doing right in that present moment. I realize when living in a city just how easy it is to get caught up in the craziness of life - always multi-tasking, always thinking about the future. But being able to really focus on and enjoy the present moment you are experiencing is very important, and is something I am making more of an effort to do in my everyday life. As Pinan Jim explained to us volunteers one day, not focusing on the present moment ultimately just detracts from your happiness.

In the evenings we had a light dinner, and then gathered around the communal area for tea, meditation, yoga, and listening to Pinan Jim play the guitar. During this time we conversed about various topics like Lanna culture, meditation, medicinal remedies – truly whatever you wanted to learn more about and discuss.

Overall it was quite a nice stay at the farm. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about a self-sustainable life of growing your own food and building your shelter, or if you are interested in gardening, permaculture, meditation, Lanna cooking, caring for animals, or simply if you want to get your hands dirty and do physical work. I would also suggest staying for a minimum of one week. It takes a few days to find your rhythm, so it is best to give yourself time to adjust and fully enjoy your stay. Staying on the farm required a lot of physical work as well, so be prepared for that! The living situation was very similar to camping. I had a small hut to live in with a mosquito net, mattress and blankets. The electricity was limited to lights in the common area – otherwise we were living completely off the grid! No refrigeration, fires made by hand for cooking, bucket showers, toilets where you flush by pouring a bucket of water into the toilet bowl, drinking water that came from a nearby well, filtered by a simple cloth over the faucet to catch any leaves, and of course no wifi! So it was definitely an adjustment, but also just a really lovely and peaceful experience of living the simple life on a farm in northern Thailand.

After my stay on the farm I met up with my friends Luke and Joey, and we went and saw Coldplay in Bangkok! And that was just such an awesome experience! Seeing one of my favorite bands live for the first time, and dancing and singing with great friends. It was such a memorable day!

Well that covers the first few weeks into my vacation – part two is coming soon! IMG_0918 IMG_0920 IMG_0925 IMG_0928 IMG_0953





Back to school

    Back to school back to school to prove to dad I’m not a fool! Today was my first day teaching at the Saritdidet School in Chanthaburi, so that phrase has been stuck in my head all day (thanks Adam Sandler). The school is huge, and each grade is in a different building within the campus. I am teaching Prathom 3 and 4 (aka third and fourth grade), and I move around between 2 different third grade classrooms and 3 different fourth grade classrooms. I was able to pick between teaching first and second or third and fourth, and I happily chose third and fourth as my sister is a fourth-grade teacher in Delaware and I met my boyfriend in fourth grade (aww). All of my classes have around 40 children in them, which as you can imagine has already been somewhat difficult to manage.

    All teachers sign in at 7:15-7:30 in the morning prior to gathering in the dome gymnasium for morning announcements and the national anthem. All Thai people highly revere the king, and they are a bit of a nationalist country. There are pictures of the king absolutely everywhere. It is very common to have a picture of the king in front of your school, street, home, storefront, etc. So, the morning anthem is a big deal and is taken seriously every morning. This morning, all of the foreign teachers for grades 1 through 12 (there were about 9 of us) had to stand in front of the school and introduce ourselves. It was actually cute rather than nerve wracking once I looked out to see the hundreds of smiling Thai children with the same haircut and uniform waving back at me with excitement. The children here warmly respect their elders, and many of them would bow as they walked past me when I was sitting down as to not be taller than me (a sign of respect) or wai me (a less formal sign of respect where one bows with their hands pressed together in front of the face). It’s really cute how giddy they all get to see a new farang (white foreigner) teacher around school.

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Foreign teachers introducing ourselves to the hundreds of students (not nearly all pictured)

 

    My first class of the day was a third-grade class (known here as P3). When you walk in, they all stand up and wait for you to say the learned phrase “Good morning class,” to which they reply, “Good morning teacha!” Then the teacher says “how are you today?” and the students say “I’m fine thank you. And you?” and so on. This is a universal thing in Thailand, I’m really not sure who implemented it but I learned in orientation that it’s definitely a thing. I showed a PowerPoint about myself and asked them to make nametags with their nickname and their favorite animal. In Thailand, most kids go by an American nickname because Thai names are too long to pronounce. Most are random words, car names, etc. In my first class I had kids named Jigsaw, PeePee, Santa and Gun. These children love anything creative, so making their nametags as beautiful as possible took up a good 35 minutes of the class. After that I spent the leftover time singing songs like “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” and playing Simon Says. There is some actual curriculum for the classes to work with for future lessons, which is nice. Some schools here in Thailand throw you in with absolutely no curriculum or knowledge of the skill level of your students. In my other classes I did about the same thing. One fourth grade class was especially flattering, and wrote compliments to me on their name tags. I’ll try not to pick favorites though…

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The outside of one of one of my P3 classrooms

 

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One of the student's name tags from a P4 class. Like I said, I"ll try not to pick favorites..

 

    Oh, did I mention it’s hot as all h*ll in this school? Some of the classrooms and offices have air conditioning, but I was told they don’t always have it on. As I write this in my office with beads of sweat dripping down my face, I’m assuming they haven’t turned it on at all.  Plenty of schools do not have air conditioning at all however, so I really can’t complain. At least it’s giving me more of a chance to really assimilate to the Thai way of life. I’m sure there are plenty of things I left out about the school and there will be plenty more school experiences to come so I will check back in a later post!

 

Sawatdee-kha!

 

Teacha Angie

(oh…did I mention I strongly dislike being called Angie? Well, that’s how Thai people say my name. Learning to embrace it :)

 

Buckets in Bangkok

    Warning: this post is going to be all over the place. Using your brain is hard when both jet lag and food poisoning are very real and don’t discriminate against any newcomer here. Orientation in Bangkok has come to a close and I am getting settled into bed on my second night in the province of Chanthaburi where I will be teaching. As I reflect back on the past week, it feels almost like a distant dream. Between the jet lag and the long days spent learning new information in a dimly lit and unnecessarily cold room, each day felt like 2 days by the time night came. Don’t get me wrong—orientation was great. I learned so much that I would not have if I had come here alone, and I made great friends. It was pretty easy for everyone to connect given the fact that we all just showed up to a foreign country alone with the shared goal of teaching. Plus the fact that we were staying in the same hotel and our days were planned out for us. The days were filled with classes about how to teach Thai, Thai language classes, functional classes about living here, and lots of food and coffee breaks (can never have enough coffee breaks). By the time night hit, we were on our own for dinner and even though we were all exhausted—most of us opted to go out and explore Bangkok. The hype is definitely true about the night scene, and sharing mojito buckets on Khao San Road definitely made for some fun-filled nights. Like the night 8 of us started a street-long dance party with 70+ people. Actually though, we did start it…I have progressive videos as proof. But the nights also made for some longer days (totally worth it). However, OEG planned out a boat dinner cruise in Bangkok and an overnight trip to Kanchananburi for us, so as far as exploring went we weren’t left completely on our own. The excursions were awesome, and even though the whole week was exhausting, that’s to be expected. Jet lag takes a few weeks to recover from, and inevitably learning how to teach English when you have never taught before while exploring a brand new city in one week is going to require a lot of energy.

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Street wide dance party started by some OEG gals (plus little boy who was selling bracelets...gave him 20 baht for his solid dance moves)

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When in Bangkok eat a scorpion, right?! Might not have been worth the stomachache...tasted like crunchy swamp water, but all about the experience

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Dinner cruise on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi

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OEG trip to the Grand Palace, which was absolutely incredible. Instead, here's a picture of me posing with one of the temples because my hair already matched the statues without even trying...humidity is REAL here and it's not friends with my hair. Hair ties and braids are a girl's best friend 

     I feel incredibly blessed to be here and I am having the time of my life enjoying this beautiful country, but be warned if you plan on teaching here—you will get a little home sick. I wouldn’t say the culture shock has been a thing for me, but I do find myself thinking about home a lot. I always prided myself on being independent and adventurous, not being “the type” to miss home. However, it’s almost impossible when you are on the other side of the world not to miss your boyfriend, friends, family, and the comfort of home. I was shocked at how quickly it hit me. But it hits you hard once you are alone in your new house and realize that this is your new life for a while. And it hits you harder when that feeling comes and you can’t go to anyone about it because they’re all in bed due to the 11 hour time difference. But again, this is to be expected and is at the end of the day exactly what I signed up for. For each new discovery I made in my town today (one being the amazing coffee shop down the road), some small sacrifice was also made to get to where I am. There will definitely be some give and take, but that is the beauty of this journey!

 

New blog post to come about my experience thus far in Chanthaburi and advice about packing / preparation!

 

Sawatdee-kah!

 

Angela

a comfort zone is a lovely place, but nothing ever grows there

I like to think that I have a really good intuition. 

Sometimes, I just get these ideas in my head and once the thought enters my mind, I find it really hard to let go of it. At first, the ideas were subtle changes I wanted to make..like I should die my hair blonde (shout out to my college roommate for talking me through my tears and dying my hair back brown with a box dye - you're the best), I should move to the Seacoast, or I should study abroad in Germany, and most recently, I should quit my full-time job and go teach English in Thailand. Clearly, the magnitude of the changes has varied over the years, but the results are always the same. Change is terrifying, exhilarating, nerve racking and wonderful all at once, and I can't get enough of it. 

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If you're still reading this, my name is Alysha. Up until two weeks ago, I was an Assistant Store Manager for a grocery store chain in the Northeastern part of the United States called Hannaford (owned by Ahold-Delhaize for anyone out there in the grocery industry), and living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (picture snow and cold six months of the year). Now, I'm in sunny, sometimes swelteringly hot, Thailand, living in a coastal province in the Eastern region, where I'll be teaching English to 7th-9th graders.

Wait, I thought you just said you were a manager, not a teacher. And you would be correct in thinking that. The qualifications for teaching English in Thailand requires a Bachelor's Degree, and it does not have to be on with an education concentration. But, do you speak Thai? No, but I am trying like hell to learn. Props to an app called nemo Thai, I get daily notifications so that I can eventually say more than Sawatdee-kha and Khawb khun kha (Hello and Thank you). So how will you teach English if you don't speak the Thai? CIEE and OEG put together a week long orientation in Bangkok that kicked off my semester in Thailand! At orientation, I had classes on teaching English as a foreign language, Thai culture classes, language classes, etc.

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We visited the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha, Death Railway, and went on two beautiful river cruises. Best of all, I was surrounded by all these wonderful, beautiful people who signed up for the same program! We all went to our respective placements yesterday, and I'm already missing them like crazy. My official first day at my new school, Banchangkarnchanakulwittaya School, is Monday and while I'm sure there'll be bumps and bruises along the way, I simply can't wait. 

Sooo..if you're starting to think, hey, that sounds like a pretty amazing opportunity to travel, enrich your life, cultivate new skills and build new relationships..then well, you're right! Tell yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to, and start researching how you can move overseas and teach English! Or better yet, comment with any questions or hesitations you may have. Every day is a new chance to reinvent yourself.

Stay tuned for more.. 

Alysha

 

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