I researched and read a lot about Thailand before moving out here. The two main points that were constantly repeated were:
1. Thais will do anything to "save face"(I will write much more about this later)
2. Thai time is way different than in the western world.
I am 2 days away from completing my TEFL course and earning my certificate to teach English as a foreign language. At times I feel like the old person struggling to grasp the concepts while the younger kids catch right on. In my defense, most of my classmates are fresh out of college( or shall I say Uni) where as I graduated 7 years ago(seriously where did the time go????). I've been trying my best though, and feel like I have made really good progress. I'm ready to take on my own classroom! However, i still do not have my placement. Since we are one of the last in the class still waiting, I am starting to get a bit anxious. TEFL Heaven has paid for our resort until Saturday and after that who knows. The majority of the group is going back to Bangkok for inductions, but our agency is based in the South so luckily we do not have to go. I would be happy to never see Bangkok again. I recently found out that Bangkok means "city of angels". Ha I laughed, I think they meant city of devils. Something must have gotten lost in translation.
The most educational part of training has been the two days we spent teaching an English camp about an hour north of here on a camp ground. An English camp of real Thai children! We each had to lead a group activity as well as teach two 30 minute lesson plans. We were told that there would be about 70 kids in the camp ages 6 to 10 and they would be enthusiastic and ready to learn. We based our lesson plans around this only to arrive at camp and find only about 30 kids aged 8 to 17 and I would most definitely NOT describe them as enthusiastic and eager to learn. If I got up there and gave the lesson plan I wrote it would have failed miserably. In true Thai time fashion I had to think on my feet and come up with a whole new way to fill my half hour blocks. It didn't go great, but it didn't go terrible so I took it as a win. If anything, it was true to how teaching in Thailand will actually be. Apparently last minute changes are extremely common and there is no way to ever be fully prepared for anything. Plans and time can change at the drop of a hat. That my friends is Thai time.
The last day of English camp was one of the best I've had since arriving in Thailand. After we were done our teaching, the Thai organizers set up an obstacle course for us to complete. We were told to wear clothes we don't mind getting dirty. Now when I say obstacle course, I don't mean some fluffy American bullshit. This was straight ninja warrior, Vietnam war style obstacles. We climbed a mountain with a blind fold on, propelled down that mountain with a rope, swam across a river filled with snakes, crawled in the dirt and muddy waters of the Thai jungle, took part in a human catapult, and crossed a pretty lengthy river using just a rope for our hands and a rope for our feet. It was no joke and completing it was a serious accomplishment for me. Not only did I complete it, but my team actually won the competition. Winners!
After a very eventful week, we rented a private pool villa for the weekend. The villa was indescibingly beautiful and we had a great few days getting in some pure relaxation. The villa was about 20 minutes outside of Ao Nang on a quiet peaceful stretch of sea. I watched 2 of the most beautiful sunsets of my life. The villa host, Chep, was wonderful and took us to the Thai version of Costco and we stocked up on food and drink. Cousin Brian came too and we just swam and drank and cooked and called in a masseuse and played cards and listened to music. It was perfect and a great way to end a stressful week.
Zach and Brian enjoying private pool
Massage by the pool!
I like wine with my sunset
The villa cat, Phen
English camp ladies
My first lesson