Hey again world. Like Billy Madison, I officially started school again this week. The first 5 days are essentially a cultural crash-course where we learn some language basics, receive some Thai culture lectures, and generally aim to help ease any anxieties we might have about leaving home, etc, before we start our actual TESOL curriculum next week. On the first day, one of the first things they asked us to do was write a short blurb about a) why we left home, and b) why we chose Thailand. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna post this because it’s fairly personal, but I enjoyed writing it so I figured why not. We ’bout to get deep. Enjoy my stream of consciousness:
Well I guess I’ll start with why I left home. As much as I love Santa Barbara (lived there last 7 years) and southern California (hometown), things started to feel a little bland. I would do the same things every day and everyone else had their own schedules. And when it comes down to it, back home, very few people give many shits about anybody else. It’s a very ‘me, me, me’ kind of culture and I found myself feeling awkward and bored a lot of times. I’ve always kind of known that I’m not destined for the typical, 9-5 American rat race. Do I know what I want to do with my life yet? Absolutely not. But I’ll figure it out. Mai bpen rai. I’ve always been a big believer in the process over the destination.
And why did I come to Thailand? It’s paradise for christ’s sake. When I think of the word ‘paradise’, I think of pictures of Thailand. Plus the culture here just seems happy. Especially compared to some other Asian countries which seem more serious to me. Just the fact that it’s called “The land of 1000 smiles” makes me happy. The selfish reasons I came? It’s cheap, I like asian girls, and I wasn’t able to go to S. Korea. Plus very few people I’ve heard have any negative things to say about Thailand. Plus I’m a soc major and cultures are interesting. I’ve lived in the western world my whole life and wanted to experience life from the other side of the world. I’ve only been here for a few days, but I absolutely love it so far and I’m so happy with my decision to come here.
So yeah, that was my first day of school. It’s crazy being back in a classroom again too. This first month is going to be like an awesome combination of high school and freshman year in the dorms combined into one silly adventure. Plus I literally have 100 new friends from my group living within 10 feet of me. I keep having to remind myself that I am here to work and to make a difference in people’s lives.
They broke us up into 3 groups, red, white, and blue (colors of the Thai flag) and I’m in red. Coincidentally, the red group has quickly established its rep as the rowdy group… It’s probably because our group is about half and half of Americans and Brits with a few Canadians sprinkled in. I’ve found myself hanging out more with the Brits than ‘muricans so far. Their accents are cool and they have funny phrases like “water costumes” for swim trunks. Everyone in our little group is awesome though, I’m so happy with how it’s worked out so far.
My little studio is pretty sweet. It’s tiny but I’ve got a balcony and air-con (which is what matters). The internet situation however has been pretty rough so far though. My program definitely did not anticipate the bandwidth war zone coming from 100 4G/data deprived young-adult-web-junkies all trying to get online at the same time. So yeah, that’s why I’m sitting up at 2 in the morning to type this and post pictures. Hopefully it’ll be better once I get to my placement (no I don’t know where it is yet. Trust me, it’s the only thing on everyone’s minds and we bug our teachers about it every single day. You guys will know when I find out).
Today was the best day of planned activities by far to this point. We started out going to a Chinese Thai Buddhist temple. It was called Turtle Mountain. I prayed to Buddha, was blessed by a monk, and had my fortune read. Random fact? Whereas Chinese Buddha is a big fat guy, Thai Buddha is actually pretty trim and fit. We did feel a little rough this morning after a long night of hookah and “Livin la Vida Loca” on karaoke.
After the temple, we went to a pineapple farm to pick & eat fresh pineapple. Our Thai teacher later told us that not only does Thailand have some of the best pineapple in the world, but this particular region is one of the best in Thailand. It was literally some of the best fruit I’ve ever eaten.
After that we cruised over to the elephant sanctuary. First we hung out with the old bird, an 86-year-old lady elephant who we fed some of the pineapples we took from the farm. Then we hung out with the younger, awesome elephant who was incredibly well trained. He gave everybody hugs, could play a harmonica and dunk a basketball, put a hat on your head, and of course… carry around a tip basket. So cool. I’m gonna post the video of him putting the hat on me pretty soon. We did have to go back to school for our second language session after all the fun stuff but our teacher is awesome and engaging (and drop dead gorgeous) so it wasn’t too bad. Learning Thai is hard but I think I’m slowly starting to pick it up. Plus Thai people love it when you try and speak Thai to them. Absolute opposite of Paris. Jack can talk Thai. Jack talk Thai very well.
A couple random thoughts/experiences before I finally put myself to sleep on the most uncomfortable bed in the entire world (think sheet rock covered in sandpaper in the middle of the desert): We made a local Thai friend, Mina, who we bought beer from. Within an hour of meeting, she was feeding us free booze, gave us a free ride back to our hotel, and offered to drive us 8 hours south in her truck to the full moon party. Nicest person I’ve ever met. Hmm what else. Oh yeah, I pee’d on somebody’s jellyfish sting today (sorry Rosa, I had to put it in here). Nothing takes a friendship to a new level like peeing on someone’s arm and leg after 6 days of knowing each other. I bought a basketball yesterday and there’s a court at our school so I’m gonna have to dominate some small children at lunch time every day. Food wise? Kaao pad gai (chicken fried rice) is going to be my main source of sustenance this year. People in my group tease me because it’s literally the only thing I ever order (plus it’s been the only food word I’ve learned how to say so far). Oh and the Thai equivalent of the Coors vs. Budweiser beer battle? Chang vs. Singha. Of course I like Singha which happens to be the more expensive of the two. Well that’s all I can think of for now. I’ll update again probably after the weekend and all of the shenanigans that are sure to ensue. I love and miss everybody, send my love to anybody who hasn’t read this. Peace y’all, Bald Eagle out.
Oh yeah and f*ck Julio Jones.