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”

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”

CHANGES. They Happen Sometimes.

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.

But…I’m not.

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.”

From Chiang Mai to Nong Khai–TESOL Reflections and Taking the Next Step

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”

In Which Teacher Britta Heads to Northern Isan (Or, Almost–But Not Quite–Laos)

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for (or so I like to think, in my egotistical, self-centered mind).

Okay, but I DO know that many of you have been anxious to hear about where I’ll be teaching in this vast and beautiful country that is Thailand.

Well, it’s announcement time!

**Drumroll please**

— — — —

I’m so excited to announce that in a few short days, I’ll be leaving the beautiful mountainous region of Northern Thailand (I’ll miss you, Chiang Mai! I love you, Chiang Mai!) for the vast and mysterious landscape that is ISAN.

Isan, for all y’all unaccustomed to Thailand, is what we people familiar with Thai geography (or more like just barely familar, in my case) call Eastern Thailand.

Isan is the poorest region of Thailand.

It also has really nice people and the best food. According to my TESOL instructor, at least, who Continue reading “In Which Teacher Britta Heads to Northern Isan (Or, Almost–But Not Quite–Laos)”

Contemplations on My Place in Thailand Thus Far

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days.

Processing everything that has happened in the last two weeks.

Trying to understand everything that has happened from the good, the not so good (and yes, there has been some of that), and the just plain stressful (and perhaps there has been a bit too much of that).

I’ve been thinking a lot, as I do…and I’ve come to this perhaps profound(?) realization:

I am not in Thailand.

……………….

Okay, yes, physically, if you pin point my location on a map, I am currently located in Northern Thailand in the city of Chiang Mai. Currently, you will find me writing up this blog post at the most Western ass coffee shop possibly in the whole city, if not the whole province (it’s almost obnoxiously cutesy and hipster, grossly overpriced, an expats haven…and man does it feel like home).

So, yes, I am in Thailand.

But you know, just because you are physically somewhere doesn’t mean a whole lot. I think Continue reading “Contemplations on My Place in Thailand Thus Far”

#WeekendCoffeeShare–When Teacher Britta Takes the Wheel

If we were having coffee, I’d start off by saying IT’S SO GOOD TO SEE YOU (really slowly and overly enthusiastically, too, because I’ve been Teacher Britta for the past two days and Teacher Britta talks really slowly and really enthusiastically….and really loudly).

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you all about how this has undoubtedly been the longest and most rewarding week of my life.

Seriously.

Thailand. Teaching English. This is where I need to be. What I need to be doing. And I’m SOO glad this is my life.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about language camp. And preparing for language camp. As part of my TESOL course, all the teachers must participate in a two day language camp where we teach to actual Thai students for the FIRST TIME EVER. We were put into groups of two or three and while one of us teaches, the other one or two of us observes and lends a hand if necessary.

The past week has consisted of preparing for language camp. Preparing lesson plans, revising lesson plans, performing practice lesson plans, rushing to the printer, rushing for school Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–When Teacher Britta Takes the Wheel”

Chiang Mai: A Week (or So) In Pictures

Teacher Britta has lesson plans to complete for language camp later this week.

So, writing isn’t happening right now.

However, here’s a few pictures of this GORGEOUS country that I now call home:

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I should know the name of this Wat…but I don’t

Continue reading “Chiang Mai: A Week (or So) In Pictures”