Acclimation

Good day internet world. I’ve officially been at my school for 2 weeks now and the initial culture shock is behind me (I think). My first 2 days here, I was damn terrified and didn’t know if I could do it. But everything’s good now. I’m getting used to the “Thai bath” situation, and I’ve got cool friends at school. So let’s see, what’s happened since I posted last.

First, a sad note. My good friend Stevie the frog… has officially moved out 😦 The first few days I got home to a sad, frogless bathroom and yelled “STEVIEEEEEE!”, hoping my verbal distress would guilt him into coming back. It didn’t. But it’s ok. If you love something, set it free. Stevie was there for me during my first week when I needed him most. He was nothing if not a great listener. Thank you for getting me through those tough times buddy. I’ll miss you.

On an actual teaching note, I did some of my first tutoring to one of my M-5 students (high school junior). Her name is Sai and I helped get her ready for her spelling bee competition that was this last Tuesday. We hung out at my desk for a couple hours, practiced spelling, watched music videos, and ate sunflower seeds. It was cool because she has been the first student who actually came and asked for help with stuff. She didn’t do fantastic at the spelling bee but still finished 6th out of 15. Not too shabby. If it weren’t for a couple rainman-children in the competition, she would’ve pushed for top 3.

I met 3 other farangs at the competition which was held at a school in town (Lam Narai). They all work there and are from the US. I still don’t have a scooter yet to go to town to hang out with them, but it’s good to know that there are other folks around that I can socialize with. They claim that we’re the only 4 foreigners in town. As much as I like drinking with Aof the hunter, it’ll be nice to expand my Lam Narai puak and speak in my normal speed. One of the girls randomly knew one of my group members that I was in Hua Hin with. Small world.

Oh yeah I started playing basketball with the students after class on most days. It’s super fun. You might assume that a 25 year old, 6’2″ imposing white-man would take it easy on 15-17 year old Thai kids. Well my friend, you assumed wrong. I’m here to teach dammit, so I take those kids to school. I dominate for the first 5 minutes of the game and then pass the rest of the time and help them improve. And I was able to dunk for them which earned me some street-cred.

Another intense teaching experience. This past Thursday, I finished up my last lesson of the day and was sitting at my desk, relaxed and satisfied. One of the other Thai teachers comes by my desk and says, “Hey Austin come here for a minute.” Of course! I respond, because I’m a subservient pushover. The next thing I know, I’m in front of 60 girl-scouts and the teacher shouts that “Teacher Aut is going to teach us about funny English!!” *picture a sea of  children in uniform cheering* I look back at her dumbfounded because I have nO idea what she’s talking about. It turns out she just wanted me to play a game with the kids and ‘have fun with English.’ After 30 seconds of stressing to figure this out, we ended up playing an epic game Red Light, Green Light. I guess this is going to be a weekly thing. At least next week I’ll know that it’s coming so I can prepare something.

Oh yeah, this past Friday night, there was a going away party for one of the teachers who is moving to a new school. (side note: the students alternate weekends of living at the school and going back to their families. This happened to be a weekend when they were all gone.) I figured it would be like the first dinner I went to where there was a little casual drinking accompanied with some uncomfortable karaoke. It started out the same, but at a certain point, the drinking rate amped up since nobody had to see students the next day. People were slamming shots, chugging whiskey, and drinking the ever-popular Spy wine coolers. They also suckered me into doing karaoke in front of all the teachers. Let’s just say that Linkin Park would have been embarassed by my rendition of In the End. All in all it was really fun and I actually had a  nice little hangover the next day.

I’m definitely confident I can make it at this school now. I eat Thai food all week and spend weekends with the farang gang eating McDonalds, KFC, and other dirty Western food. Last weekend we all met in Bangkok for Margaret’s birthday. It couldn’t have come at a IMG_2487better time because all of us were going through similar culture shock as we adapt to our new cities/schools/lives. I think we all just needed to hang out and vent, share stories, and just see some familiar faces. We hung out on Kho San Road, went to the zoo, and went back to Kho San Road. Oh yeah, want to know what this zoo had that sets it apart from all other zoos?  KFC and 7/11 inside. The KFC wasn’t anywhere near the bird exhibit though which made me feel slightly better.

This weekend a couple of us met in Ayutthaya, one of Thailand’s old capitals. We rented bicycles and cruised around town and checked out the ruins that are all over the place. It was way cool. Some of the buildings & temples were built in 2000 B.C. We also celebrated Loi Krathong, which is the festival of lights/lantern festival (the same one you see in Disney’s Tangled). There’s some pictures on Facebook of us floating lanterns fly up into the sky and some other traditional activities. It was super fun. Plus just knowing how easy it is to see people over the weekends makes the long weeks much more palatable. It’s gonna be a fun year and I’m excited to get better at this whole teaching thing.

A couple random fun stories before I go: a little kid at one of the temples in Ayutthaya this weekend was blown away by my arm hair. He kept pulling on it and eventually plunged his face into my arm and brushed his face with it. Strange experience but I’m glad I could brighten his day. He also grabbed Blaize’s boob afterwards. He got all kinds of action that day.

Another one? I’ve developed a new guilty pleasure: scratching my mosquito bites. It’s amazing. Getting home from class and going to town on my feet and ankles is one of my favorite parts of the day. I feel like I’m on an episode of My Strange Addiction.

Lastly, on the bus back to school today, a mother got on the bus carrying her 2-year-old who was wearing only a t-shirt with no pants. All I could think of was, “What if he poops?” One would think that pants would take precedent over shirt. Guess not.

Ok friends, I’m off to my sad, internet and frog-less apartment. I love and miss everyone and encourage anybody who’s not content with their job or living situation back home to consider coming to Thailand to do something like this. You can sign up for just 4 months if you want and you’ll never regret it. I can even get you a deal! Ok people, take care. Bald Eagle out.

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