A Very Phuket New Year

Before I get into the nitty gritty of this post, I’m going to clear one thing up–because I know we’re all a little juvenile now and then (right, Trent?). So, for all y’all English speakers of the world (which is probably the majority of the people visiting this site because, well, it’s entirely composed of a words and phrases constructed with the use of the English language), “Ph” does not make the same sound in Thai as it does in English. English speakers know “Ph” to make a sound equivalent to the English “F.” In Thai, this is not the case. In Thai, “Ph” is pronounced as we would pronounce a stand-alone “P.” So, although I’m quite sure some of you have read “Phuket”  with the English understanding that “Ph” = “F” and stifled a giggle, the Thai (and correct) pronunciation sounds like this: “POO-ket”

Let’s all say that together, now: POO-ket

Okay? Okay!

Now that that’s all sorted out, let’s get on with it.

— — — —

My New Years plans were up in the air for a while. I went from “Maybe Bangkok?” to “Ugh, I love me some Bangkok but I go there all the time. Maybe Chiang Mai.” to “Okay, I love Chiang Mai to pieces but I really want to go some place new and haven’t been down South yet…” and because a group of my friends were already planning to go to Phuket, “Oh, hey, beaching on New Years doesn’t sound half bad…I think I’ll book my ticket!” is what eventually happened.

Phuket, located in the South of Thailand, is the largest island in Thailand and the only island that is also its own province. It’s a major tourist area in Thailand so, quite, frankly, Phuket doesn’t feel much like the Thailand I’ve grown used to at all. It’s incredibly westernized and very expensive. That said, it’s also incredibly beautiful and I’m so glad I was able to experience it over Continue reading “A Very Phuket New Year”

Advertisements

Just…Koh Samet

According to people who have been in Thailand longer than I have and have seen more of the country than I have, Koh Samet is the ugliest of all the Thai islands.

Dear readers, I will let you know that I prefer to think that those people are simply more cynical and jaded than I ever hope to be.

Please, take a look for yourself:

IMG_20151206_123919068

Now, I must admit that my phone’s camera is not the BEST in the world (in fact, by phone camera standards, it’s pretty crappy). And, I must admit that I’ve never been to any other Thai islands (though stayed tuned…a trip to Phuket is right around the corner).

But, dear readers, I digress–you must agree with me when I say, there is nothing about this view Continue reading “Just…Koh Samet”

It’s Christmas?

Oh hey, I guess it’s December 25th today.

By western standards, that means it’s Christmas.

By Britta living in a primarily Buddhist country standards–it means it’s just another day. As in, oh hey, I work today!

Tis the season to be jolly?

Sure doesn’t feel like it! For someone who’s used to spending the holidays in a frigid climate, I can’t grasp my head around the fact that it’s December…the holiday season…that it’s almost the new year.

It all feels weird and I’m okay with that…because lately, in the last couple years, I’ve been finding the holiday season more stressful than anything. Because I love this country and don’t want to be anywhere else in the world.

Most Thais view Christmas as a western curiosity–so yes, we are having Christmas festivities at school today, and yes, there are decorations here and there (by here and there, I mean primarily at Tesco). But it feels different. It doesn’t have the same meaning here.

In Thailand, I’ll be celebrating Christmas (and Hanukkah, even though that ended a few weeks ago) with some of TESOL friends. That said, it WILL be different because it IS different. This is Continue reading “It’s Christmas?”

When Your School Abandons You on a Country Road for Boy Scout Camp and You’re Just Kind of Like, “Whaatt?”

Okay, so the word ‘abandon’ is a bit excessive.

They did come back to get us eventually!

— — —

Boy Scout Camp rolled around at my school at the end of November. For three days, the upper primary students slept over at school and participated in many different team building activities. They put on lengthy show for parents on Thursday night and got to experience a lot of fun activities.

The kindergarten and lower primary students didn’t have to come to school on these days.

By contrast, the western teachers were expected to be there on Thursday and Friday to put on activities for the boys and girls at camp…

…which included sitting in the hot sun for five hours in the middle of nowhere waiting for the students as they made their way through a three mile hike on the country roads around the Continue reading “When Your School Abandons You on a Country Road for Boy Scout Camp and You’re Just Kind of Like, “Whaatt?””

“We are Going to Ratchaburi, Okay?” “Okay!”

We were just planning on going to Nahkon Pathom for the day. We, being three of the other Western teachers and I. I hadn’t been into the city yet and there were some wats we wanted to see and explore.

However, the powers at be had other plans for us.

The powers at be, being the Tae Kwan Do teacher at our school.

— — —

The Thai people have a saying “Mai Bpen Rai,” which essentially means, whatever will be will be. Go with the flow. Just let life happen. It’s not really just an expression, but more so a way of life. Mai Bpen Rai is an essential part of the Thai way of life.

So, when the Tae Kwan Do teacher told us that he was going to drive us to Ratchaburi Province–the province directly west of Nakhon Pathom province, where we live–for a day trip INSTEAD of our original plan to go into the city of Nahkon Pathom, we just kind of looked at each other and thought, “Mai Bpen Rai.”

— — —

A few hours later, we found ourselves in Suan Phueng, one of the most western districts in Ratchaburi Province. This is a gorgeous area that has become a major weekend getaway spot for Thai people. As we were driving into Suan Phueng, the Tae Kwon Do teacher pointed at the mountains in the distance, “Behind those mountains is Mynamar.” Mynamar is a vast Continue reading ““We are Going to Ratchaburi, Okay?” “Okay!””

This is a Post Where I Make Important Realizations About Myself. That is All.

Today is a day of clarity.

Let me tell you why.

These last few weeks have been…strange. Strange in a way that I haven’t really been able to put into words. I was very aware of feeling off, but I didn’t really know how to describe it to anyone–let alone, myself–so I didn’t. I wasn’t ignoring the feeling, per se. I was more confused than anything. Being in a new town, in a new job, in a completely different country–it is all so much, and processing everything has been really hard. Unable to describe my own feelings but yearning to write, I turned to fiction to soothe my nerves…yet, I was still on edge…because although nothing was seriously wrong, I still didn’t know how to describe all these feelings going on inside of me.

But…I think I can now. After a much needed weekend to myself (seriously, I’ve done next to nothing, and it’s been amazing), I feel like I have the space to distance myself from these emotions and really consider them.

Let me explain:

Being in Chiang Mai during my October TESOL course was easily one of the highest emotional periods of my life. The amount of joy and happiness I experienced during October 2015–for such a consecutive period of time–was simply unheard of for me before that. It’s not that I was unhappy before my TESOL course. It’s not that life was terrible before TESOL. In fact, it was the exact opposite. My last year of college was an amazing period of personal growth. My last semester of college, specifically, was easily my best semester of college. A period of my life that I will always cherish. This past summer, working as an espresso bar barista at a gas station, of all places, was also an incredible experience for me. I pushed myself in new ways by working in the food service industry, and I can safely say that some of my coworkers fundamentally shaped me into the person I am today (and that is looking back to three months ago). I loved my job as a barista and will always cherish the, albeit temporary, home I Continue reading “This is a Post Where I Make Important Realizations About Myself. That is All.”

#WeekendCoffeeShare–The “Just a Little Sickie, Boy Scout Camp, and Loy Krathong” Edition

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I am currently sitting in my little studio apartment that I haven’t left all day because I have a cold…and I’ve been catching up on sleep… and just generally taking it slow today.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this week was pretty darn busy.

Thursday and Friday, classes were cancelled at my school for Boy Scout Camp. The upper elementary school grades arrived at school on Thursday and stayed over at school until today for camp. They participated in a lot of exciting team building activities, including a four mile hike into the rural areas around school (more on that in a later post).

The western teachers were expected to be at school both Thursday and Friday to put on activities for the campers. On Thursday (a.k.a. Thanksgiving day for all y’all Americans in the house), I was at school for twelve hours–from 8 am to 8 pm–and the night wasn’t even over yet by that time! I left in the middle of an elaborate performance that the students were putting on because I was too exhausted to stay and also had a terrible runny nose by that point. So, I spent my 2015 Thanksgiving Day at Boy Scout Camp at a Primary School in Central Thailand…who’da thunk? Friday was rough because I wasn’t feeling well and had such low energy. I ended up not helping much with the activities that the western teachers were putting on because I had such low energy. I left school around 5:00 Friday, got home, and didn’t leave my apartment for the rest of Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–The “Just a Little Sickie, Boy Scout Camp, and Loy Krathong” Edition”

The Little Things: A List

I’m continuing to discover that it’s the little things that matter most.

Currently, these include:

  1. Having a third of my students come up to me to hug me as I leave class for the day.
  2. Eating out by myself and successfully ordering food completely in Thai.
  3. Working one on one with a student and seeing his concentration as he really tries to take something away from the lesson.
  4. Getting a ride home from work from a group of Thai teachers–just because they can.
  5. Getting a ride to work from a student’s parent on the back of his motorbike–again, just because he can.
  6. Waking up early enough to see the sunrise.
  7. High fives in class, all day, every day.
  8. Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  9. Popsicles at lunch break.
  10. Watching the sunset.
  11. Being here. Right now.

Continue reading “The Little Things: A List”

On Being a Teacher

Teaching is hard.

Teaching is exhausting.

As a brand new teacher with just one month of TESOL training under my belt, teaching is a HUGE learning curve.

I teach four Anuban (the Thai word for kindergarten) classes at my school–two Anuban 2 classes, each composed of 32 four and five year olds, and two Anuban 3 classes, each composed of 23 five and six year olds. Whereas some English teachers in Thailand have hundreds of students and see their classes only once or twice a week, I see my Anubans everyday. This is great because I really am getting to know them. I’m developing relationships with them and because they see me everyday, they are able to get used to me and my teaching style with a lot more ease than if they only saw me once a week. Given that the small kiddies thrive on stability, this is a major plus.

For all the benefits of seeing my kids everyday–oh and their cute, shiny faces definitely are a major plus–it also means that I constantly have to be keeping them on their toes. What works for one class doesn’t always work for another. What worked yesterday might not work today.

My Anuban 3s are quite a bit more mature than my Anuban 2s, so I am finding that I can push them a lot more, whereas I’ve been constantly finding that I need to simplify my lessons for my 2s. Each of my four classes is very different and they require different needs and different Continue reading “On Being a Teacher”