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Finding Rhythm

 It has been over 2 weeks since I started teaching. I am face to face with the challenges and benefits that come with the job. I’m at a secondary school, meaning it is 7-12th grade. I am teaching most of 9th and 11th grade. It is a school of at least 5,000 students. There are many activities for the students. There is art, marching band, scouts, and various sports. Classes are larger than America.  There are 40-50 plus students per class. I see them once a week and I have 18 classes total. Not one class has been the same so far. I often find myself asking.  Can they understand me? Do I need to talk slower? Can they be challenged?  How will I remember their names. At times there are similarities as to when I was in high school and sometimes it is completely different. The students greet the teacher in unison at the beginning and end of each class. They all stand up and say thank you at the end. Some students are friendlier than others. I have to use a microphone in class which is something I was not anticipating and have gotten used to now. Some students want to get to know me. How old am I?  How was living in New York? They are generally interested and excited to hear about my previous life before coming here. 

 

I have many things to say as I adjust to life here. I have many plans and sometimes I just want to do everything at once but as the saying goes here “Mai Pen Rai”  (It’s okay/don’t worry). All in time. :)

My school 

 

Courtney's View #1

Until I came to Thailand, I was living in a hip-college-mountain-town in Colorado. The town is full of Trustafarians who wear those ruggish, biblical ponchos that are meant to signify enlightenment. Perhaps my college can owe it's 1988 accusation by USA Today of being "the worst dressed" town in America to these types. My town is full of world class mountain runners, kayakers, mountain bikers, and skiers. There are many organic food stores and much environmental awareness. People wear lots of Patagonia and rock that classy sandal-sock combination with $100 Chacos, the finest and most durable of sandals. What I'm trying to say is that my town houses a distinctly earthy yet privileged population and I am very aware of this. 

I’ve been in Thailand for 4 months now. As for any Westerner, there many new things both shocking and delightful I've gotten to get accquainted with:

-a high power distance culture

-seeing an average of 3 helmet-less 2 year olds per sputtering moped

-a general lack of catalytic converters on vehicles

-a pacifist yet intensely opportunist driving culture that is very fascinating

-the delights of spicy food

-multitudes of garbage fires containing burning plastic

-legions of street dogs and cats

-groups of orange robed monks walking the streets for alms every morning

Coming from my super PC and health obsessed town, all of these things elicit a confusing array of responses like, "Wow! What's that? What's this? WOW! Yum! Oh no! huh? Eeek! Uggh. Ooo shiny! Oh dear. Tasty! But how? quick-hold-yer-breath!"

For me, there is a lot of learning to be done. I have diva-ishly sought out "staples" like nutritional yeast, organic shampoo, real coffee (as opposed to instant), single track running trails, and mexican food. With a little effort, some of these things can be found, but I am forced to shrug my shoulders for many others. My apartment has no sinks, just faucets sticking rustily out of the wall. It appears that my water source is a big cement tank that I have seen some questionable items floating in. My backyard features a wonderful sewage ditch that wafts fragrantly through my apartment. I optimistically call it the "spicy Thai breeze". Enter water filters, bleach, candles, and a super-chill mind. This lack of many things I consider "staples" of my life has been a big fat reality check that makes me wonder if I have "Privileged" written 100 times on my face.

What I'm learning is that travel is probably the best teacher of open mindedness. I have always considered myself to be broad minded but that's an easy label to give myself when I'm back at home comfortably sipping on a green juice and watching a peloton of $10,000 bikes whiz by before comfortably walking to my comfortable job where I comfortably communicate AND relate to nearly every person I encounter. Discomfort is what tests me. Travel often gives the gift of wider contemplation through the deprivation of comforts I take for granted. 

My goal for my stay in Thailand is to not only be grateful for the comforts I've previously had, but to truly take joy in what Thailand has to offer. This might be genuinely looking forward to a cup of instant coffee, really getting to know my students and fellow teachers, and reforming to the simplicity of no furniture and living from the contents of a carry-on size bag. 

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Below: Taking time to serenade our favorite street kitty Jacqueen.

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Below: Moped specimen.

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The New Normal

Hello everyone!
I’m a little late to the (blogging) party, but my name is Ali and I am originally from Colorado. Here in Thailand I reside in Bang Khae and teach
kindergarten (K3) students! Without further ado, I’m excited to share my experiences on this little corner of the Internet.
As I start my fourth (wwwhhhaaatttt) week of teaching in Thailand, I’m still searching for the right
word or the right phrase to describe my time here so far. The more I think about this, the more I realize there just isn’t one word or one phrase to describe
this country or this experience. In a single day I experience endless feelings. I find myself feeling overwhelmed with the physical
beauty of this country. Interested in the Thai culture, cuisine, and the language.
Encouraged in my teaching by family, friends (new and old), coworkers, and the occasional
7 eleven clerk or taxi driver.
(Working to not be so) frustrated by the difficulty of everyday tasks. Challenged by the
language barrier.
Tired from teaching (the most adorable) 5 & 6 years olds. Gaining an appreciation for Thai
time and the go with-the-flow lifestyle here. Amazed by the people I have met and get
to share this adventure with. Excited to do and see all that Thailand
has to offer. Overjoyed by the love of my students. Impressed by them and their
learning abilities. Continually pinching myself that I actually live and work here! To commemorate my first month here, these are a few of my favorite adventures thus far:
Blog Post
Exploring the streets of Bangkok during orientation week. Wandering through endless
markets and meeting people who also packed up their lives and started this adventure.Blog Post-1
Visiting the Grand Palace...a fan favorite for everyone involved in CIEE orientation.
This is one of my first recommendations to friends and family traveling here. Blog Post-2
Dinner on the boat cruise through Kanchanaburi. Don’t get me wrong the ant infestation in my
hotel
room that night will always be a great memory too...but this was incredible!
Blog Post-3

Blog Post-4
A weekend trip to Pattaya. Visited Koh Larn Island and the Sanctuary of Truth. Blog Post-5
Enjoying the cooler temps and endless scenery while riding motorbikes (sorry mom) through
Khao
Lai National Park. (Good news: you can be accident prone and uncoordinated
and still survive!)

Blog Post-5 Last but certainly not least, wine tasting at the largest winery in Asia: PB Valley in Khao Yai.


Until next time!

The Cha-Cha Slide Makes a Thai Debut

The passing of Thanksgiving back in the states has gotten me thinking about my recent momentous life change and all the new beginnings it has presented that are worthy of my gratitude. When I think about all the blessings I’ve already accrued in my short time here, my students top the list by a landslide. I spend my school days on a tumultuous roller coaster of emotion that ranges from anxiety to adoration to frustration to impressed awe, but regardless of my mood’s flavor of the day, when I hop on my bike and head home my students have left me in stitches, and feeling very, very loved. During our teaching certification course at orientation our aggressively British facilitator asserted again and again: “Thai students are not nasty, they’re naughty”, a prophecy that has been decidedly self-fulfilling. The Thai education system is known for it’s dry plug-and-chug format in the classroom setting, in which students are inundated with lecture-style information. I strive to keep my classrooms interactive because it not only sustains my students’ motivation, but also makes them genuinely excited about the material and class in general. I know what you’re thinking. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s Super Teacher! Fully equipped with engaging, activity-based heroism!

 Well you, dear reader, would be absolutely incorrect. As with most things in my life, I have an affinity for conceptualization but leave something to be desired on the execution front. Enthusiasm is a double-edged sword as it’s sometimes manifested in the form of craziness. It’s not always cute Thai child craziness as my social media presence may suggest; sometimes the scales tip and it’s rabid hyena craziness. Albeit, Hyenas in cute matching boy and girl scout uniforms, but ravenous dogs nonetheless. The high road no longer exists in my reality, I’ve tried every classroom discipline technique in the book with varied success, the most effective being mercilessly peeling a star sticker off of the troublemaker’s name with the eye-contact of a wild west gun fight and the slow motion drama of Neo evading bullets in The Matrix. The kids sulk as if I have just taken one of their limbs. Calling out students in front of the class for unruliness used to be my chosen class-quieting move, but was ultimately unsustainable because I couldn’t maintain an angry teacher façade while yelling at Tigger to sit down (an actual name of a friend’s student). Scolding desk mates Boom and Boom-Boom for wreaking havoc with Cannon and Ball, or getting the attention of Arm, the tiny, Thai, toothless, parka-wearing Gandhi, simply cannot be done without a smile. However, I realize that sometimes these kids just need an outlet to release their quelled energy. Thus, Super Teacher’s™engaging activity based heroism occasionally devolves to watching Scooby Doo youtube videos in class, and that’s okay! Much of my job is just showing these children the encouragement, affection and support that they don’t always receive in other parts of their lives.

Now re-read that last sentence, and replace the words “encouragement, affection, and support” with “abject ridiculousness and hilarity”. I’d like to reintroduce you all to my aforementioned intimate friend: the chasm between intent and execution. I absolutely love playing and joking around with my students. When I’m having a tough day, nothing lifts me up quite like hearing them brutally butcher the pronunciation of ‘parallelogram’ on a repetitive loop. In return, I also have my students teach me a word in Thai every day, to continue breaching the gap and better relate to them in the struggle of learning a new language. The students get incredibly excited to watch me word vomit all over their nuanced tonal tongue. Last week I requested that they teach me how to say the date in Thai. There’s a good chance I celebrated 40th birthday while the “teacher” I called up to the front breezed through the infinitely syllabic sentence. The class blinked at me emptily, waiting for me to repeat it, so I hissed and gargled and rolled r’s in a nonsensical order until the elusive bell finally rang. I think next week for payback, I will give them English tongue twisters.

I also love dancing with them. In fact, Emily and I may have unintentionally created a cult following for “the cha-cha slide” amongst our primary students. We fully anticipate a turf battle breaking out against rival gang, “the Macarena” fanatics, any day now. Queued up I have the Electric Slide and The Cupid Shuffle. When things get really dire, I will teach them Gangnam Style because desperate times do in fact call for desperate measures. I take solace in the knowledge that the students already inexplicably worship Ed Sheeran at a golden alter, so any music I bestow on them couldn’t confuse their taste any further. Channeling the students’ energy into dancing at the beginning or end of class has been a useful tool, but has not completely eradicated the inherent classroom insanity that comes with teaching little ones. My overweight second grader with a penchant for shaking it everywhere, on everything and everyone, all the time, comes to mind. He couldn’t say a sentence in English if held at gunpoint, but suddenly turns into a gyrating Miley Cyrus on all available windows, desks, doors, and even backs when I’ve turned to face the whiteboard. It goes without saying - I love him. Independently of the stellar joke material my students’ anecdotes facilitate, I am so lucky to love and learn from these clever, vivacious kids each day!

Until next time!

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Rivers & Roads (in this case, mostly roads)

One month living in Thailand, and the biggest lesson I've learned thus far? There is no right way to do any of this stuff. This lesson isn't specific to living abroad; arguably, it is a principle of life in general. We are all on our own journey, picking the path we are going to take, and hoping the road is beautiful and whatever we find at the end of it is fulfilling.

I am sure that everyone who knew I was moving to Asia had a different vision in their head of what life was going to look like for me. Some probably imagined me spending every weekend on a different beach; other, less optimistic, individuals likely saw me living in a hut with no running water. I'm happy to report that my reality is somewhere in between these two extremes; I have plans to travel some weekends, but many I will spend getting to know my town and myself in the comfort of my 7th floor apartment (complete with both running water and air conditioning).

I don't know exactly what I was expecting my Thai life to look like, but I do know that I wasn't expecting to have as much time as I do to simply be. I have time to think, to explore, and to do the things that I never had the time to back when I was constantly worrying about what was next, or what I should be doing. For much of my senior year, even when I was caught up on my workload, my down time was still spent stressing about what my future was going to hold. What was I going to be doing after graduation? What could I be doing now to make finding a job easier? What kind of job did I even want? What resources should I be utilizing to figure out what kind of job I wanted? This anxiety was usually coupled with the worry of what everyone else was doing that night. What was I missing out on? How should I be spending my last months/weeks/days of college?

The thing I didn't realize then was that the answer to that question is this: I should be doing whatever it is that I want to be doing. Duh. That answer is easy to conclude in theory, and more challenging in practice, when external forces are battling to convince you of what is right. However, this is the reality: to shape the choices you make, to do or not to do, based on what you think others perceive the "right" move to be is, quite frankly, silly. Living here, away from the pressures of a lifestyle that tells you to continually be going and doing more, I am consciously making the choice to do the things I want to do, and refrain from doing the things that I do not. I pick the path that feels right in that moment.

It's cheesy, and admittedly pretty cliché, but I've been thinking about the different paths everyone is on and, quite literally, comparing these paths to the streets of Thailand. Nearly every day, when walking the streets, I choose to take a new road. More often than not, I end up somewhere I wasn't expecting. At first glance, the roads here give off the illusion of being grid-like; after wandering the streets for a short time you find that the roads are, in fact, not grid-like. Rather, you head down one street you think is parallel to another known street, and you eventually end up at a bend winding elsewhere, on a new road, in an alley, or somewhere that you recognize, but have no idea how you just got there. My freedom and curiosity allow me to pick roads based on nothing more than the fact that I am compelled to do so. 

When it comes to life, we each have the choice to pick the road we want to travel down. We can tag along on the paths of our friends, or go where our family tells us to go, or follow the path society has laid for us, but if the paved road that some external force is telling you to follow is not actually the path that you have an inexplicable urge to go down, then why take it? And, if that path isn't working out, why not turn down a random alley and see where it takes you?

So some days I pick the safe road, the known road; other days I pick the adventurous path. There is no right way to do it. I am really just being guided by what feels right, both literally, when walking the streets, and figuratively, when designing my life. Similar to life, you are never really lost on the streets of Thailand; you can always turn around, backtrack, go back to where you started and take the same old road you know. You just miss out on finding out what lies elsewhere.

Below are some of the roads I have found myself on that influenced my writing. 

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The One Where I Apologize To Every Teacher I've Ever Had

  • I am so sorry for all the times I talked while you were talking.
  • I am so sorry for the times I used my cell phone while you were teaching a lesson and then raised my hand and said I didn't understand the topic you were trying to teach.
  • I am so sorry for not doing my homework or not reading the material.
  • I am so sorry for being a pain in the ass in general.

     I say all these things because oh how the tables have turned.

    So it turns out, teaching is really effing hard. Lesson planning is super frustrating and time-consuming and NOT FUN no matter what people think. Meetings, grading papers, keeping track of pens, managing a classroom are all things that come with the territory of teaching and all drive me insane.

    This job is even harder when you add in the fact that we do not speak their native language so if they don't understand something they can't even really tell you why they don't understand it or what exactly they don't understand.

    It's probably important to mention that I have taught before, lots of different things to all different ages but this is another level of teaching that I never knew I was capable of doing.

    So you're probably wondering right now if I hate it here and if I'm regretting this at all and the answer is: not one bit. Somedays are harder than others but when a kid says they learned something from your lesson or draws you a picture or smiles and waves excitedly when they see you... That's the good stuff that makes this job so cool.

    The main thing I've learned is that my teachers are all good people for dealing with teenage pain in the asses like myself without losing their shit on a daily basis. Love you all.

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One Month Down

Well, it's official. I've been in Thailand for one whole month. There are days where this seems crazy to me and I can't believe it's already been a month. But then there are the days where I can't stop thinking about home and counting down the weeks until my return. It's crazy to me to think of all the things I have already completed in the few short weeks in my new home. 

I am currently living in Bang Phli, Samut Prakan (about 40 minutes southeast of Bangkok). Satit Bangna School, my new school, where I am fortunate enough to teach 1st and 2nd graders. I have three 1st grade classes and three 2nd grade classes. And a total of about 180 students. I meet with each class four out of the five school days due to the schedule rotation.

On my first day of school, we were asked to dress in formal Thai wear to celebrate the holiday of Loi Krathong. Loi Krathong is celebrated during the full moon on the 12th month of the Thai year. It is a Thai holiday that celebrates the Goddess of the Water. Thais show their gratitude by placing bread baskets or flower baskets down any body of water and express their thankfulness for using her water. By sending their floats down, they are also apologizing and asking for forgiveness for their pollution to such a beautiful thing. I was able to experience Loi Krathong during the school day with my new students, and also at night with some new friends. Such a beautiful holiday.

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Inside Satit Bangna

Learning to adapt to the Thai school system has been one of the most challenging experiences since moving to Thailand. Everything is SO different. Having to communicate with other teachers who don't speak your language is complicated in more ways than one. I've learned that being an English teacher in Thailand requires you to be part teacher, part actress... and it's actually quite fun. That is, until no one knows what you're saying, kids start rolling around on the ground, and no one answers your questions. I have become so reliant on my co-teacher, Dulce. She has been teaching at Satit Bangna for 9 years and knows the students very well. One thing I love about Dulce is that she does not tolerate ANY bad behavior. When she sees that I'm struggling, she's quick to jump in. However... she could handle the kiddos a little better than she does. She resorts to spanking and pinching. And when the kids are REALLY bad, she sends them into the hall and makes them do 200 jumping jacks. It's kinda funny, kinda not. BUT they do learn their lesson.

I have also learned that Thai kids are so incredibly loving. From hearing, "TEACHA CASSIE, TEACHA CASSIE" to "Teacha so beautiful" when I'm sweating my face off, to the many desk visits of smiling faces, these children make it all worth it. It has been such a joy to get to know my students. One thing I love about them is their unique names. Some of my favorites?  I-pad, Atom, New, G-Force, Toon, Bogie, August, Mykie, Teeja, Gun, Bam, Hi-Q, Champoo, and Model. 

Topics covered so far? The Zoo and Adjectives of Hair in grade 1. Weather and Clothing in grade 2. 

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Something else about school... school lunch. Holy cow, I have never eaten so much rice and noodles. It's all they eat here. Here are some pictures of lunch from school! 

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Noodles with kale and shredded chicken. 


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Chicken soup with noodles, soggy croutons, and chicken blood. 

 

Weekend Getaways 

Our first weekend in our new home, Mandy and I decided to stay in, clean the house, set up our rooms, and get some shopping done. Weekend two, we headed to Pattaya - about 2 hours southeast of Samut Prakan. After school on Friday, Mandy and I rode a van and checked into our hostel. The next morning, we took a ferry over to Koh Larn, the island off of Pattaya! We spent the day on the beach, making friends with the cutest puppy! We walked around a bit and explored the island before heading back to Pattaya. After getting back, we showered and got ready for a night on the town. We made friends with a Thai native, who was super helpful in getting us around Pattaya. We made our way down The Walking Street. Man was this place dirty. Not physically, but filled with GoGo Dancers at every corner. Not my style. So we walked past and made our way to a bar for a drink. After a few hours out, Mandy, our new friend Jwan, and I went to a local market for a midnight snack. So fun! 

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Weekend two was spent in Bangkok with our friends from orientation. We met up with them early Saturday morning before heading to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya was the old capital of Thailand and is now home to many beautiful ruins. We spent the day traveling from one ruin to another via tuk tuk. 5 girls, one tuk tuk. Sunday morning was spent exploring Bangkok and finding some BAGELS! Oh man how thankful I have become for REAL food!! Also super thankful for meeting such great people already! 

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 Next up: Koh Samet! Stay tuned! 

A Lifestyle Worth Getting Use To

    I would love to tell you how absolutely perfect and easy this trip has been so far, but I am not trying to glorify anything. So, instead I plan to share both the stresses and the joys in the process of teaching and travelling here. 

Loy Krathong: 

    A festival I was more than thrilled for, but with some hiccups in our travels to Phrae, was told we wouldn't make it back in time. I was a little bummed, but definitely nothing to get upset over. As we traveled on we only had about a half an hour to get to our town when the sun was setting. My hopes were raised within a matter of seconds! Travelling with our two coordinators they told us that we were going to be dropped off at our apartment with half an hour to settle in, and then one coordinator and her husband would pick us up on their mopeds to take us to the festival, but before all of this we would need to stop by the police station "quick".  To give you a fast explanation and understanding of the police station visit it was basically an exact replica of the sloth scene from the movie Zootopia; no exaggeration! It pained me to watch. But after that, I was overwhelmingly ready to see the lanterns but had to wait for our coordinator after being dropped off. They then picked us up and took us to a nice Welcome Dinner before the festival. We did end up making it, with every event still going strong. This was my first real experience with needing to accept the "Mai pen rai" mentality (everything will be alright).

    Loy Krathong is a festival celebrated to thank the god of waters, so the main event is floating a Krathong (lantern), generally made of banana leaves and flowers, on any body of water; in Phrae they float in the canal and river. Mostly in the northern region of Thailand, it is also custom to float a Chinese lantern in the sky. All-in-all it was a wonderful first evening in my adorable town of Phrae. 

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Teaching: 

    I came with a bit more experience in education than a large amount of people at orientation. As great as this may sound, the downfalls were that I came in with a lot more expectations and honestly I got a little too confident with my teaching ability before stepping into a classroom here. I would say that I was far more nervous about the actual act of getting to Thailand than about anything I had to accomplish once I got here.     

    Reality hit me like a truck when I stepped into the classroom on my first day. I was filled with all of these ideas that I would have resources (not a ton, but some) and that Thai students would be overwhelmingly respectful. I walked in to find a white board and a marker, that was the extent of the resources I had. Even getting copies made, I have to make 100 or more at a time and they could take 2 or more days to get back. If you want it sooner than that you have to use a different machine and pay to use it with your own money. As far as student respect, it does exist, but mostly towards the Thai teachers. They see a foreign teacher walk in and believe they can do whatever they want. Though fortunately, this was not the case with all of my classes, any advanced classes I have had have been extremely well-mannered from the start. 

    In Thailand they have Thai teachers they call co-teachers. Whenever I heard the term co-teacher I assumed that it was someone I had to split the classroom with 50/50, which I honestly wasn't all that thrilled about. What they actually mean is someone who stays in your class, knows Thai, and is able to discipline and give your students exact directions. The first two weeks I didn't have any co-teachers and trying to control and direct my students was a pain and a half. I just started having co-teachers two days ago, and they are my saving grace! 

    All-in-all the experience has been challenging, but I know that there will never be a dull moment!

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-15 at 1.35.44 PMOne of my students carries around a beta fish in his backpack. The first time I saw it I thought it might be for observation or experiment for another class, but turns out it's just his pet that he brings to school. 

One Month

Hello Everyone!

I am coming up onto the 1 month mark of being in Thailand. It has been amazing and incredibly overwhelming all at once. One day, I’m in awe and can’t believe the experiences I’m having are real. For example, I went to Koh Samet Island for a weekend getaway and swam in the Gulf of Thailand. The clearest water I have ever seen. Period. We took a small bus (which looked more like a van) two and half hours to a pier where we boarded a speed boat to get to the Island of Koh Samet. The speed boat ride was during sunset, so the sky was breathtaking. It was an unforgettable first weekend adventure and I was able bond with the fellow foreign teachers that I met at orientation.

But even with the beaches and sunsets, it definitely hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Some days are just tough – plain and simple. Teaching is the hardest job I have ever had. I am inexperienced and don’t speak the same language as my students so…. there’s that. I’m teaching 1st and 2nd graders English. I meet with my 1st graders twice a week and my 2nd graders once a week. I have around 330 students (give or take) and I might know about 12 names so far, hence the overwhelming part of my experience! The kids are awesome, energetic and can sometimes be a little “naughty” just like any average 6-8 year old you meet.

One thing that brightens my day is how excited they get when I walk in the room. They make me feel like I am the coolest person ever and I'm not going to tell them otherwise! Also, they love to have fun. I sing a song at the beginning of each of my classes and it gets them moving a little, but most of them just enjoy watching me look silly because I’m the only one singing. Hopefully in a few weeks some will catch on so I can rest my killer Beyonce vocals.

Well that’s all I have for now! To “celebrate” Thanksgiving some foreign teachers and I are off to Ayutthaya to see Buddhist temples and monasteries. I think it’s safe to assume that there won’t be any traditional Thanksgiving food consumed on my part, so eat some mashed potatoes and stuffing for me! Until next time.

The One With The Motorbike Accident

    It was a simple left hand turn.

    Brigette (a friend we met at orientation who also works at our school) and I decided to rent motorbikes to go see the grand canyon in Chiang Mai. Each driver had to leave their passport at the rental company to ensure that the bike gets returned, Brigette didn't have hers so they said we could just take one and ride together. Keep in mind I have never driven a motorbike before but we felt like we could handle it, evidently we were wrong.

    We were going left on red (the equivalent of right on red but in a country where they drive on the left), a completely legal move. It happened so fast. We were trying to make the turn but we both weren't leaning into the curve so instead of making a sharp left, we made a slight left into a car that came up beside us while we were making the turn. We hit the car and then we hit the ground, hard. Our skin is probably still somewhere on the 108 in Chiang Mai to be honest. 

    We both were wearing helmets and I genuinely think if we weren't that things would have been much worse, if not fatal. I bounced my head off the ground but the helmet took all of the blow and aside from some whiplash today I have no head injuries. We stood up, took stock of ourselves and then noticed some really nice guys running over to help us pick up the bike and move it to the side. We each have some bumps bruises and gnarly road rash but all in all we got really lucky that nothing worse happened to us. 

    The important part of the story I want to mention is the way we were treated following the accident. In America if we had hit another car, a very nice one I may add, we would probably have had the cops called on us and some hefty fines on our hands. In Thailand we were taken to the restaurant in front of where the accident happened, given waters, and had our wounds cleaned- all by the people whose car we hit. When I offered her all the Baht (Thai currency) that I had, they refused. She ended up taking 20 baht just to placate me but 20 baht is less than 1 USD. While I was begging them to take some money to pay for the damages she was using google translate to communicate with me, when I said why won't you take money she typed something into google translate. When she turned the phone to me all that it said was "kindness." I wept onto the woman's shoulder and hugged them all, she then pointed at herself and said "Thai friend." The restaurant owners then communicated with the bike rental company and asked them to come pick us/the bike up. They came immediately, brought us back and cleaned all our wounds and bandaged us up without any question. 

    It may go down in history as our worst day in Thailand, but it may also go down as the day filled with the most compassion. With this week being Thanksgiving, I am very aware of all the things I have to be thankful for.  Unnamed (4)
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