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.
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.
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!
Noodles with kale and shredded chicken.
Chicken soup with noodles, soggy croutons, and chicken blood.
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!
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!
Next up: Koh Samet! Stay tuned!