Warning! This post is going to be very negative. I had no illusions before I left that everything was going to be rosy 100% of the time. No matter where you go there are always things that are different and that frustrate you. So don't think that I'll be coming home anytime soon; I just need to vent about these adjusting pains.
Where do I start? The teacher's "condo" (or prison if you wish) makes the Motel 6 look like a 5 star resort. My bed is literally made of straw. When I wake up I feel like I have bruises on my body. I think I am getting used to it because I am sleeping through the night now but it was quite a change for me because my last bed was probably the most comfortable bed on earth. The floor is white tile, not exactly something that makes you feel like you are at home. I live on the fourth floor and there is no elevator. Incidentally, my classroom is on the 4th floor as well so soon I will have legs the size of tree trunks. Thankfully, I have a western style toilet but the shower is open so that every time you take a shower the entire bathroom gets wet. There is no water pressure either in the sink or the shower so things like taking showers and washing dishes take an inordinate amount of time. It took me about a week to figure out how to use the hot water heater. I was almost getting used to cold showers everyday. And let's not forget about the glow in the dark Jesus that hangs on wall right above my bed. I mentioned before that the internet is ridiculously slow but not only that but it takes about 30 tries before you can even get an outside line. Apparently, we can't receive calls from the outside either.
Now let's talk about the school. Everything "looks" really nice unless you look closely. Remember how I said that I was amazed at all the resources they have available to them. Well, the library is full of out of date books. The books they wanted me to use for the computer classes were from 1998 and were about working with DOS and floppy disks...and they were all in Thai. They know I don't speak Thai but they seemed to think that was a mere technicality. The computers are working on Windows 98 or 2000. Paper is like gold here. In America we piss through paper like it is nothing. Here, I asked the students to take out a piece of paper and they looked at me like I was mad. If I want to print something out I have to walk from the faculty room where the computer is and go down to the library on the other side of the hall and sign out a piece of paper. Can't we meet somewhere in the middle where we don't waste paper but it is there when we need it.
You know all those horror stories you hear about Catholic schools and the nuns that run them? I can imagine that they are all true! I have nothing against Catholics, just crazy nuns. The head of the English department is a nun and everyone hates her. I didn't understand why at first but now that I am here and she feels that she has her teeth in me she feels she can talk to me like I am a child. They treat all the teachers like children here. We have to scan our thumbs when we arrive in the morning and when we leave in the evening! I thought that only happened in James Bond movies! All of the teachers are supposed to wear uniforms that are provided to them by the school. The Sister had me try them on in her office over my clothes. I told her which ones I thought fit well and she looked at me and said "You don't like the ones that fit?" I stared at her a moment and said "No, those ones are too small." She mumbled something like "well o.k. if you don't like the ones that fit, I'll have them clean these ones." Later when she gave me the uniforms and I put them on in the morning before class I realized she had given me the smaller ones and I could barely breathe! I was so pissed that when I saw her I told her I couldn't wear them and I needed the other ones. That's when the devil in her came out! Everyone says just to smile and nod and then do whatever you want. I try to think of her as just an interesting character that I will laugh about in years to come.
I thought that the students would be sooo well behaved because they seemed to have so much respect for their teachers. That's all a show. As soon as they are in the classroom they turn into little monsters that won't listen to a word that you say. O.k. I take that back but they can be evil when they want to be. I think I finally got through to them today but that was only after 3 days of having to act like a drill sergeant. Some teachers have to conduct class yelling at the top of their voice. I refuse to do that and I don't think I'll have to but I'll have to get real creative with discipline and reward techniques to keep them in line.
I was hoping when I came here that I would lose weight because I would be more active and I would be eating healthier. At first this was working because I wasn't eating at all. We have no kitchen in our rooms. They do give us a water heater, a refrigerator, a toaster and a rice cooker but I honestly don't know what to cook with all that besides rice, toast and ramen noodles. And the main road is so far away that I usually can't muster the effort to get there and then once I'm there they only have gross looking food (hello, coffee tea and german sausages!). But then I started getting desperate and was eating Lay's potato chips and cookies for dinner because it was the only thing that is available. Sigh. Either we need to move closer to the city or I need to get creative with a rice cooker pronto!
It sounds terrible, doesn't it? Yes and no. Like I said, it's always hard when you are in a new place. It's not all bad. The people here are really nice. Normally, if you are lost or need help people don't have time for you but here they really go out of their way to make sure that you are o.k. No one has tried to rip us off and they're really patient with us when we try to communicate in broken Thai or sign language. After a while, I know I'll figure it out and I'll love it here!
Mmm, straw beds and dirty walls...my favorite!
Glow in the dark Jesus, looking over me.
Thank goodness for Western toilets but would a shower curtain be asking for too much?