I’ve been worrying about all this teaching lark for weeks, and now that it is finally here, I’m not sure what to make of it. My guess (as great as the people and the company are) is that it will be considerably less interesting than the tour was, so I’m just going to blog for the week in one go. Once teaching starts I will go back to blogging when I have time, or when something interesting happens, so I may as well get back into that routine now, eh? Meeting everyone has been a blast, there are so many different people from different places and different backgrounds. I can’t believe we all get to teach the kids. The meeting people element of travelling I think is my favourite part so far, as great as seeing all these amazing places has been. I can’t believe in less than a week I will say goodbye to two sets of awesome people!
Monday – Day One
Now as the orientation has started, I guess you can all call Jade and I teachers officially. That’s a scary thought. I feel like it’s been information overload, between teaching and Thai culture, introduction, contracts, and visas, my head is about to explode. I’m not sure I know anything except that noone knows anything in Thailand, so just ‘take it easy’. I think that nugget from Rob there will be the motto of my time in Thailand; that and his other gem ‘gotta give it a go’. For a United fan, he knows some things!
Clothes are baffling me a bit at the moment. I know high necks, no shoulders, and no knees are important out here, but the latter two are going to be hard work in this heat; in the classroom, fair enough, but outside will be more difficult. I hope I adapt to that soon! I hope the Earth colours rule isn’t too stuck to all over the country. I like bright colours, and many of mine, especially work clothes, are not exactly what you’d call neutral tones.
Sarah, Gordon, Jade, and I braved the metro together (Jade and I are becoming quite the pros, I guess living here wouldn’t be so bad after all) to go to the supermarket. The main reason we went was to visit the shops and buy some more work clothes, but we ended up distracted by the likes of Big C and Tesco Lotus. The first is like a walmart crossed with a shopping mall. The second is, well, a Tesco, with F&F, clubcards, everything.
Tuesday – Day Two
I’m not sure I can keep sitting through so much information without brain matter being splattered all over the walls. I am taking notes, and there are lots of useful handouts, but making sure I remember everything that I need to survive and thrive in Thailand is not easy. Thank heavens for the big breakfast and lunch that is included! I’ve already migrated to black coffee, and it’s only been one day (that’s partly the milk to be fair though, I need to ask Rob if they do stuff over here that has never touched a coconut.)
Speaking to the different staff members has lowered my expectations about teaching locations, and the lack of internet at the hotel has prevented me searching for ideal places to live. I just want to know now. They say it should be tomorrow, but as I’ve learnt here already, Thailand runs on its own time, and that works in mysterious ways. I’ve stopped wanting a particular age or location, I just want to be placed with Jade. They haven’t said whether they can actually guarantee that they will place us together yet. Eek.
Tonight we discovered a little café just over the bridge from where we’re staying that does good food, has cheap drinks, and of course, free wifi. Sarah, Gordon, Jade, and I could not have looked more anti-social if we had tried! Turns out we all rely on the internet more than we thought we do.
Wednesday – Day Three
So the debates and bickering on stage yesterday were hilarious, it’s a shame there was so much contradiction though. I feel like we’re learning a lot about what not to do, and less about what to actually do. That’s not entirely bad, avoiding some things is going to be more important, I just wish I had a clue what I was going to do in those first few lessons. That, and the nerves are ramping up. Nothing is helping ease the visa woes, or helping understand what we’re supposed to do when.
Finding out has been the bit I have wanted all week, but when it arrived I was nervous as anything – not a feeling I am used to. Alphabetical order normally puts me last, but because they go by first names here, I was before Jade. I may have refused to sign until I found out we are in the same school, which we are. A kindergarten in Roi-Et, Roi-Et province.
We’re happy. We’re together, we’re teaching little’uns, and we’re not in Bangkok. I didn’t realise how important those last two things are, I’ve focused that much on the being together bit. The place looks quite nice as well, a decent sized city with a decent facilities, and airport, it’s just a shame how far away from the beach it is. And everyone else, I’m really glad we’re together, I think life would be too boring to contemplate if we were on our own.
MBK is Bangkok’s big shopping centre (yes, another one) with a variety of expensive and cheap shops. It seemed, and was, the perfect place to go an find shoes appropriate for work, at a cheap price. Success. I think it was the shopping centre we were trying to find the other day and ended up in centre world. MBK’s early closing time was a Godsend, we managed to get back in time to use the wifi at that café again and let people know where we will be living.
Thursday – Day Four
Excursion day. I didn’t realise this was even a part of orientation week at the beginning, but it is. A floating market and elephant place awaited. Just an hour outside Bangkok. I was sure it couldn’t be worse than the floating market on the Mekong delta, and I was right, it turned out to be the same one where The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed. The intricate networks and the market itself made the whole thing much more exciting. The stalls were really cool, they sold so much stuff, just a shame it was so expensive in comparison to the other place we’ve visited. I discovered kiwi soda properly too, quite the delicious revelation!
Afterwards, we found ourselves looking at some elephants. They looked sad and hurt, I may not be much of an animal person, but it wasn’t the greatest thing to see. The elephants combined with the snakes at the markets made for a bad day in animal welfare! Lunch was lovely, I think. I didn’t eat anything, stupid illness, but everyone else helped themselves to multiple servings, as we relaxed by a lake. The cultural show after was a tad strange, but enjoyable. The monitor lizard outside was a bit of a bonus. I know they exist in the wild, but just seeing one not in a zoo was a surprise.
Jade and I acted like complete hobos tonight. I’d say it was embarrassing, but I think it worked well for us. The café we had visited the previous 2 nights was shut when we arrived, so we hit up 7/11 for some Mirinda, and classily sat outside using their wifi anyway. Well, if you don’t turn it off when you close you can’t expect anything else!
Friday – Day Five
Everyone seems a bit more nervous today, and I get it, it’s moving day. We are piling into buses later to start the journey to our destinations. Jade and I are stuck in a van with Ciaran for hours. I say stuck, I mean have the honour of his company. Possibly the nicest Manc I’ve ever met. Mancunian, not aUtd fan, I wouldn’t go that far.
So we’re all relaxing, chilling, waiting for the group who did the TESOL course out here to arrive, when BAM! The news that some people have not been confirmed circulated. When Jade and I were told to get on Wit’s bus, it was a huge relief to know we had a job, but to see the group (there was quite a few people) who didn’t have a confirmed job was awful. So many had given up a lot to just come out, and to now find out they didn’t have anything to do until (if) the school confirms, if pretty bad. Many have a good attitude about it, which is great, but some have already packed it in. I get that.
The bus journeys we have been on this trip just did not prepare me for this bus. I don’t know what it was, but I just could not get comfy the whole way, everyone seemed wriggly. Two people from the TESOL group joined us in our bus, one of whom is in our province, about an hour away. Bonus. We stopped at his town and found out we were staying their overnight. Make sense, no-one wants to be looking at apartments or meeting their new school directors in the dark.
And so the adventure begins. I’m starting to realise how far away from any holiday-ish places we are going to be! Such a shame that airport only flies to Bangkok.
Good luck to everyone looking for jobs, I’m sure you will find something soon!