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?”
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?””
Q: Why selfie with
Me? A: You are so darn cute;
you make me smile Continue reading “Question and Answer”
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.”
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”
I’m continuing to discover that it’s the little things that matter most.
Currently, these include:
- Having a third of my students come up to me to hug me as I leave class for the day.
- Eating out by myself and successfully ordering food completely in Thai.
- Working one on one with a student and seeing his concentration as he really tries to take something away from the lesson.
- Getting a ride home from work from a group of Thai teachers–just because they can.
- Getting a ride to work from a student’s parent on the back of his motorbike–again, just because he can.
- Waking up early enough to see the sunrise.
- High fives in class, all day, every day.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Popsicles at lunch break.
- Watching the sunset.
- Being here. Right now.
Continue reading “The Little Things: A List”
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”
If we were having coffee, I wouldn’t know where to begin.
So much has happened this week, it feels like it’s been a lifetime.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m getting settled in further into my town and that I’ve managed to do some exploring.
I’d tell you that I love my school and that my students are adorable. I’m getting to know them more and teaching becomes easier each day. I’m starting to understand each individual class and their needs as a whole class a little better with each passing day and I love that I’m beginning to really see my students’ personalities shine through.
I’d tell you that Friday was Sports Day and that students and staff alike have been preparing like crazy for the past two weeks for this event. Sports Day a.k.a. when all classes are cancelled and the whole school is broken up into four teams for a day of friendly competition in activities such as water polo, jump rope, and E-Sports (or, when the whole school gathers to watch two people compete in video games).
I’d tell you how I went in to teach my second class on Thursday at 9:20 am only to be told that class was cancelled. In fact, class was cancelled for the rest of the day because preparations for Sports Day were underway. Only in Thailand my friends, only in Thailand.
I’d tell you how exhilarating and exciting and exhausting (wow that’s a lot of alliteration) Sports Day was and how much fun I had seeing all of the students enjoying themselves so much. I was Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–In Which Sports Day and Bangkok and More Culture Shock Happens…Among Other Things”
Do you ever get the feeling that something is just off? That something is off and you can’t necessarily put a finger on why. That something is off and you know that, even if it’s not necessarily convenient or easy, you have to make a change?
Today I should be heading to my first day of school at Teacher Britta at a secondary school in Nong Khai.
Instead, I’m catching a flight to another part of Thailand to settle into a new placement, to a new life.
— — — —
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Nong Khai. It’s a bustling town. There’s actually quite a lot to do here. It’s in a cool location, right on the border of Laos. There is absolutely no reason to not like Nong Khai.
It’s not you Nong Khai, I promise. It’s me.
From the moment I got here, I had a fleeting sense that something wasn’t right. I pushed it aside, though. This is my placement, after all. I shouldn’t question it. Right?
Still. I found myself avoiding it. I had already had a two day trip to Laos planned when I got here Continue reading “CHANGES. They Happen Sometimes.”
Once upon a time, a girl named Britta moved halfway across the world in search of new opportunities, a new life, and new adventure.
She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she didn’t realize how hard it would actually be.
And she also never imagined she would meet a group of people who would ultimately change her life forever.
— — — —
Okay, screw this writing in the third person. I’m annoying myself right now.
I’m sitting here in my hotel room in Nong Khai and I’m not going to lie–the last day and a half has been one of the hardest of my life. After a month of safety in Chiang Mai (and oh man, did I not realize how safe it really was), I’m completely and totally on my own. I have yet to meet anyone in Nong Khai who speaks enough English to have an understandable conversation (though perhaps I’m not looking in the right places). I tried to have a conversation with the lady at the hotel who made my breakfast earlier today and ended up bursting in to tears when I got back to my room because I was just that overwhelmed by that tiny conversation, or lack there of one. Continue reading “From Chiang Mai to Nong Khai–TESOL Reflections and Taking the Next Step”