I'm officially now in Thailand! The flight was painfully long. 20 hours! I literally think I may never leave Thailand because I can't fathom having to go through that awful plane ride again. First of all, I hate flying. I mostly hate the take off because it feels so unnatural to be catapulted into the sky. After that, I'm normally fine unless there is turbulence and then I am just a nervous wreck. It would be fine if there wasn't always someone sitting next to me on the plane that wants to chat it up while you are trying to concentrate on not passing out or screaming. And the food was terrible! I didn't eat anything for the whole flight. I guess I really shouldn't be telling you guys how terrible it was because that may deter you from coming to visit me. So, I take it all back. The flight was great!
My friend and a bunch of people from the school came to the airport to pick me up. We drove to the school and I tried to take it in as much as I could. I noticed that there were a lot of stray dogs wandering around on the streets. Susan says that its dangerous to walk around at night because the dogs follow you and might bite you. There were literally packs of dogs just chillin on the street. Bob Barker needs to get over here and start some sort of spay and neuter campaign to take care of this animal problem.
The area where I will be living and teaching is in the suburbs of Bangkok and we are surrounded by the richer residential area. I arrived at night and it sounded like there was a jungle right outside my window. There are frogs and who knows what else making lots of noise and I've seen a few small whitish lizards running around inside the apartment building. It tripped me out but supposedly they eat all the bugs so they don't bother me that much. As long as they stay out of my room I'll be fine.
The Head of the English department took me around and introduced me to the students today. As soon as a teacher enters the room all of the students get up and greet you and bow to show respect. I was worried that the children would be shy and quiet but they are not at all. They are very boisterous and energetic and I doubt I will have a problem with them being shy. The school has so many resources for the children. They do Thai dance and play traditional instruments but they are also all boy scouts and girls scouts. They have piano lessons and can learn English, French, and Chinese. They have a huge olympic size pool, tennis court and soccer field. It's much nicer than any school I've ever been to in the United States. I've heard that it's one of the nicest schools in Thailand and I believe it!
I'll be teaching in a classroom with two other teachers. One is my Thai counterpart who will assist me with the class and the other is a science teacher. I'm not sure how it will work. They are very vague about things. I still haven't seen the books I will be using or been told what level the students are at. The Head of the English department mentioned that she would like me to teach some computer classes as well and I'll also be tutoring my Thai counterpart in English. We are only assigned about 15 classes per week (which is about 15 hours) but we have to stay at school all day. I figure that will be o.k. because I can do all of my lesson plans, grade homework and study my Thai while I'm there so that when I go home I won't have to worry about anything else.
I've been trying to pick up some Thai here and there. So far all I can remember is how to say "Hello" and "Thank you". The locals get a kick out of it whenever I speak what little Thai I know. They are usually shocked I can even say that much. Thai is going to be very difficult to learn because it is so different from English. I have no way to make connections like you can in French or Spanish. The trick will be not being scared to sound like an idiot and use it in meaningful context so that it will stick.
I will try my best to post and upload pictures. Unfortunately, the internet connection here is very slow and it takes several attempts to connect to an outside line. I still haven't figured out how to call internationally. The phone in my room doesn't want to work and I get close on the pay phone but right before I am almost finished dialing the number it hangs up on me.
I was a little homesick but I think I'm really going to like it here. The people are very friendly and there are so many interesting things to explore and observe. I know I'll have a lot to write about on this blog and hopefully I'll get over my fear of looking like a tourist by taking lots of photos so you can all see what I'm talking about!
Here's a picture of the view from my room. You can see I'm very close to work! I'm on the 4th floor and we have no elevator. I am going to have buff legs! Just to the left of my window is the pool. The teachers can use it after school hours and it is really big. Just below me is where the students practice traditional Thai music and dance. It is really cute!
Here's a picture of my breakfast. They were nice enough to stock my fridge with some American stuff and lots of fruit. After the plane food I was so glad to have some "normal" food. I haven't been to the market yet but there are lots and lots of 7-11's. They have a 7-11 nearly every three blocks.