I’m Melting Away. . .

I knew Thailand would be hot. This isn’t me complaining or feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve been feeling weak and ill adapted as the season changes from hot to hotter (over 35 degrees without counting humidity), and I’m not even in the hottest area of the country. Some of my quirky thoughts on the matter are as follows:

  1. My opinion on best coffee shops are now very influenced by the quality of their air conditioning. If I can’t see myself cooling off in there, I choose somewhere else no matter how good the coffee is!
  2. I feel like I could legitimately pass out if I walk further than across the street and back between the hours of 11:00am and 5:00pm.
  3. A cold water bottle is a god-sent. I often buy new, cold water bottles instead of refilling my  used bottle with warmer water. I know it’s not environmentally friendly and I do feel guilty for it every time. Judge me if you will.
  4. When I walk into businesses in a sweat, the employees and I exchange a smile and light chuckle. Then, I express what limited Thai I know and say “Lon mak mak mak” which means very very very hot!
  5. People walk around with umbrellas for reasons I now completely understand, the sun. People also manage to drive their motorcycles with one hand on the throttle and the umbrella in the other. Skill!
  6. I spend most of my days lately in varying ‘degrees’ (ha!) of discomfort and sweat.
  7. Cool night markets are very much appreciated
  8. My initial goal to travel south to the islands in April has now changed to going north to Pai and Chiang Mai where I can escape some of the heat.
  9. I take only hot showers. I quite literally cannot take a cold (or a lukewarm) shower. The water container gets too hot from being in the sun all day. On the bright side, the hot water cycle on the washing machine now happens ‘naturally’ and free of the extra charge.
  10. I now understand why people wear layers in the heat. This seemed counter-intuitive for a while, but I understand now that it is for protection.
  11. Eating, sitting and drinking are all I have the energy to do.
  12. When I get home from school in the afternoon from teaching every day, I immediately put on less clothing, crank the AC and lay for at least an hour.
  13. I understand why ice is so expensive.
  14. I only drink beer with ice, as the Thais do.
  15. I’m sure I’ll be buying the cold, moist cloth sold in a plastic bag at 7-11 sooner rather than later.
  16. I shamelessly eat ice cream at least once a day.
  17. I feel an incredible amount of respect for farmers, food vendors, labourers and even stray animals who are in the heat all day.
  18. In Canada, tinted windows are illegal. In Thailand, you would burn from the sun without them.

There you have it. The heat has been a bit much for me lately, but I still appreciate and love Thailand for all that it is.

What was I thinking?

How often do you ask yourself this question?

Ever since I moved to Thailand, I ask myself this question quite often. For better or for worse,  I ask myself this particularly often when lesson planning. It usually happens once a day when  my ‘plan’s execution is a complete and utter disaster.

Like today for instance. I thought it would be a fine and dandy idea to form a circle with my kindergarten class and practise the alphabet and flashcards for 15 minutes.

What was I thinking?

15 minutes is way too long. That class, from what I have learned, can practise things no longer that 5 minutes at a time unless it’s made into a game. They ran around the room and lost all focus, and I lost all classroom management from being flustered. Games are challenging to play when you have limited resources and language to use for explanations.

I had the same class in the afternoon and tried to play a game that ended up taking half the class to set up.

What was I thinking?

In other words, today was hard.  I thought I was being an efficient planner when I wasn’t.

On days like today, when I barely have the energy to do anything else but sleep after work, and nearly every class has been a flop, I ask my self what I was thinking in deciding to teach  ESL kindergarten.

I’ve worked with people from all walks of life. Most of my experience has been spent in the non-profit industry. I have worked with organisations to alleviate poverty in communities, for organisations that support individuals with disabilities,with charities that pair adult mentors to children, and I have worked in challenging work environments such as homeless shelters.

But I have never, in my life, worked directly with children. And for some reason I thought it would be a good idea. Or that I would be good at it.

What was I thinking?

With all that being said, I’m not giving up, and I don’t mean to complain. I’m thankful for the opportunity to improve my skills.

At the end of the day, my goal is to teach adults ESL. If I can get the hang of kindergarten, I can do anything. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

After all, I’m truly a beginner and have no prior experience. I work in very unstructured environment with 6 different classes of 35 five year old children who know very little of the language I use to teach them.

Maybe I should give myself credit for simply showing up.

On another positive side, it’s the end of the semester at my school (which means I get a month off to go exploring the country soon, yay!). This morning, my classes were all dressed up in their graduation gowns getting ready to take photos. They were adorable and very excited.

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The Little Things

I’m still working on my confidence to write longer posts. So for now, they might be limited to lists and photos.

With that aside, I want to briefly talk about the little things. They have always mattered to me and I’m very aware of them. Living abroad has a lot of challenges but here are some little things that make me happy and grateful on almost a daily basis.

Such as..

1. The constant, incredible sunrises and sunsets.
2. My free time. I have a lot of valuable time to myself that I cherish to be able to reflect and remain productive and creative
3. Finding Scooby-Doo or Looney-Toons on Thai cable TV and watching it anyway despite not understanding the words

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Thai Looney-Tunes

4. When another teacher gives me candy because they bought a bunch for their students
5. Having my neighbours ask me to sit down and hang out with them. It’s not always easy to connect with people with such a heavy language barrier.

Friday Night Hangout.
The neighbours feeidng me! 🙂

6. Finding food under 100 baht that I actually want to eat. I’m still adapting to Thai food and western food is triple in price

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Spicy fried chicken. Delicious and 30 baht. SCORE!

7. Finding mango and sticky rice from a street vendor
8. Devouring such mango and sticky rice
9. Having some other, usually Thai person, cut the mango for me, as I am truly inept with a sharp knife
10. Coming home once a week to my apartment having been cleaned by the landlady
11. Noticing that my own cleaning is paying off, as there are less ants crawling around my apartment. (They used to be in my bed).
12. Being told last minute that it’s a long weekend. This happens quite often, there are many holidays in Thailand.

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Long weekend adventures in Loei with some new friends

13. Seeing my students in a grocery store and having them say hi to me excitedly 
14. Checking myself for strange rashes and realising there are none! (I had a skin infection for over a month, it was f*cking terrible)
15. Feeling like a champ when I do something new in class and it works. There are just as many if not more times where the opposite happens!
16. Kids hugging me to the point of almost suffocation. 🙂

What little things brighten your day?

P.s -> Random titbit:

My friends that were born and raised in Thailand told me that when they were children, there was a story that parents and teachers would tell them about the moon. The story was about a rabbit because in Thailand, the dark spots that are seen on the moon look like a rabbit. The neat part of this is that the moon in Canada, where I’m from, is seen from a different angle, so the moon has never had a rabbit on it for me!

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Rabbit Moon in Thailand
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Moon seen from Canada