“The Darkest Night is Ignorance”- Buddha

It seems as though my culture shock had come quickly and left just as fast. I am finally settled into my new apartment (basically a dorm room lol) and have been teaching my wonderful kindergarten class for about a week and a half now.  I feel like I have been learning a lot more than I could have anticipated and for that I am not only happy but humbled. It is funny how ignorant we can be to a culture we have never experienced. I don’t necessarily mean ignorant solely as being disrespectfully unmindful and unwilling to be open to differences. What I mean is simply and innocently not knowing. Although a touchy subject, so many of us are so familiar with how we live that it is hard to fathom how or why others live the way they do. However, what I can tell you from my short amount of time of living on the other side of the world is that no matter how far some countries are, most people all want the same thing; love, happiness, respect, and togetherness . Witnessing these characteristics in many Thai people, on multiple different accounts are definitely the reason why I feel so comfortable living here. It has caused a sense of belonging for me and has really made me feel at home.

I left Hua Hin last Monday at 6:30 am. That morning/day was probably one of the most nerve wracking days I have had yet. Sadly I had to leave all of my beloved Suchaya House ladies (miss you <3!) but it was time to start this new adventure! There were so many unknowns about where I was going that it was driving me mental (but like we have all been saying, This is Thailand, Mai Pen Rai- it means no worries!). However, the day went pretty flawlessly. Before making my way to my new town Ban Phai, I had to visit my agency in Bangkok for an orientation about my job placement and all fun things related to that. That lasted a lot longer than I expected. Once that was finished I had to hop in a taxi with all my belongings and make my way to Mo Chit bus station and somehow figure out what bus I needed to get on to start my journey 6 hours north-east of Thailand. Sound intimidating? Yup it was. However, my agent helped me out a lot. Anytime I would call her for help she would make me give my phone to a worker at the bus terminal and tell them where I needed to go. So this worked like a charm and definitely helped me navigate my way around much easier than I thought. It just so happened that like many others in my program, I was actually in Bangkok while the bomb happened, so of course I was receiving like 50 messages at a time asking me if I was safe. My internet on my phone had been acting up all day so I wasn’t sure what everyone was even talking about. I didn’t know a bomb had happened until 10 minutes before I hopped on my bus to leave Bangkok. As you can tell this situation didn’t help my already constant anxiety throughout the day. Anyways, it was close to 10:00 pm when I got on my bus and left for Khon Kaen (a major city an hour away from Ban Phai). I needed to go there first because it was too late for my agent to take me to Ban Phai so I would be spending the night in a hotel in Khon Kaen and leave for Ban Phai in the late afternoon. So I arrived in Khon Kaen around 3:00 am, got dropped off at some super sketchy side road bus stop and waited for my agent. She picked me up and brought me to the hotel where I would be spending the night. Anywho, fast forward to 4:00 pm that day, my agent finally brought me to my new home and showed me my school. I started work as a teacher that Wednesday.

Fun side notes:

  • My town is super tiny, surrounded by farms, the closest major city is an hour away and practically no one speaks a word of English. There is pretty much zero “westerner” food and no peanut butter here (I just finished my last jar today, God help me). What do I eat daily? Rice, Pad Thai, Patsiu and rice…rice and rice… lol. First night here here I thought there was a bird in my apartment. I heard squawking and it scared the shit out of me. Anyways, I ended up finding out that sound was not from a bird but a lovely lizard. Yup they effing squawk lmao. Since we’re talking about critters I should mention the cockroaches… They are a serious problem for me. It doesn’t matter where you are these suckers can be found everywhere and they ain’t small! These guys are huge, disgusting, vile, terrifying and useless in my eyes lol. I have been waking up constantly in the middle of the night scared shitless thinking one is in my bed, not a fun time.

Now to talk a little bit about teaching English in Thailand. The students I teach are the same 28 students everyday. I am considered a home room teacher which is cool because I am really bonding with these kids. The parents of my students pay for their children to receive extra English teaching. As a result, not only do I teach my kindergarten students English but, Phonics. Science, Math and Health as well.  For all of the reasons this job should be easy is exactly what makes it equally as challenging. Its not a walk in the park and it is definitely not a vacation. Its work. Just like anywhere else in the world. I can honestly say that I am slowly changing. I am truly not going to go back home to Canada as the same Chay. Something about this job makes you grow up in a way I would have never thought possible. You really learn to become an independent person and that is basically because no one can fully understand your language. The language barrier here is real. This leads to constant disorganization and confusion. Half the time you’re not really sure what the heck you are doing or if you are doing it right. But I have learned that the best thing to do here is to smile! When you are an approachable person, a likable person and most importantly a kind person you got this! People here will find some way to help you if you are in need. You might be mentally and physically drained and potentially on the brink of dehydration from the constant sweat but its worth it. As a teacher here, these kids absolutely adore you. You walk around half the time feeling like a mini celebrity. The amount of times I have been told I am beautiful, been given high fives and endless amounts of hugs have all made the intimidating factors of this job all the more welcoming.


Slowly Getting Comfortable

Well, would you look at that. I have already been living in Thailand for 3 weeks! How crazy is that? In the short time that I have been here I definitely feel like I am learning so much. Not only am I learning extremely important things related to Teaching English as a Second Language but more importantly I am learning a lot about myself. The last couple of weeks I have been struggling with adjusting. Although I am having fun and enjoying every moment of this adventure, there has been many moments where my anxiety has been extremely high. There have been times where I have felt lonely, confused and worried about everything in general. However, I know that these emotions are expected, so I have found some comfort in that.

I have always been home body but I have never been homesick before. Lo and behold I Chayla for the very first time ever have experienced an extreme case of feeling homesick. Everyday so far has come with it’s own struggles but I slowly find myself getting over those obstacles and falling in love with Thailand. This is a major break through! I think it is fairly easy to fall head over heels for this country though. Everything about it is enticing.  It’s beauty and the people who live here make it one of the most amazing countries I have visited so far.  The sense of community you feel when you are around the Thai people is incredible. Furthermore, I have never felt this safe in another country before. I can honestly say that I feel less nervous walking alone around the streets here at night than back at home!

As you can tell I have quite a bit to catch you up on. So let me start off by telling you about the fantastic week I had suffering with a severe ear infection. I am going to assume it was from the shower but I don’t know for certain. Anyways, last week this friggen thing destroyed me! It started last Wednesday but it was very mild. I really didn’t think much about it until Thursday, when the pain started to get more intense. That Thursday I wasn’t sure what to do, so I went to the pharmacy and picked up some ear drops specifically for ear infections but the dumb thing made it a hundred times worse. Thursday night I tried to go to sleep, took probably one too many Tylenol, but nothing helped. A few hours later the pain was so unbearable I was literally in tears. Completely agonizing! My lovely roommate suggested that we should go to the hospital. Totally annoyed with this whole scenario I agreed, mostly because we are lucky enough that the hospital is our next door neighbour! I was so thankful that she came with me. Nothing is freakier than being sick in another country and not knowing what to do or where to go. Also, I felt terrible because it was getting late and that following morning would be our very first day teaching English (6 classes of approximately 40 students). Of course, the one night we needed a decent sleep, I had to go to the hospital, oh joy.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the hospital is extremely long line ups, sick people looming everywhere and hour long waits just to get sent from one room to another. Now, ask me if this is the case in Thailand? Nope! Not at all. Completely in shock I was in and out of the hospital in under an hour. To be honest I’ve waited longer in bank lines lol. The doctor prescribed me with antibiotics and painkillers, thank the Lord! However, my dreadful night didn’t end there. Once we got back home I took my antibiotics and painkillers. About an hour later I was extremely nauseated and had to dodge myself out of bed and sprint to the bathroom. Whatever you think happened next is EXACTLY what happened. Vomiting, lots of it. My poor roommate. Sarah if you only knew how mortified I was… Lmao. Anyways, not realizing until the next day that the doctor had prescribed me Amoxicillin, which I had told him I was allergic too (I love language barriers). Well, this explained the horrific vomiting scene the night before.

The day of our “camp” arrived (that Friday) and as you can assume I was feeling like complete and utter shit still. I could barely keep my head up. However, this was going to be my first day of teaching and I didn’t want to miss out because of a stupid ear infection. Luckily for me my instructor helped me out by giving me a partner to help teach my classes (Thank you!!!). The day was complete chaos but worth every second! The kids were unlike anything I have ever experienced. Totally wild, but adorable. I have never been greeted with so many high fives and hugs in my life!

As week three is coming to an end, everyone in my program has become close. Friendships have been made between all of us and it is going to be bittersweet to have to say goodbye. However, it is time to do what we all came here to do! This week we have been told about our work placements and where we will be moving. It seems like everyone is going to be scattered evenly throughout Thailand. Starting this Sunday most of us will be moving from Hua Hin! So soon, it seems crazy, I have been told that I will be moving to a town in the province of Isan called Khon Kaen. It’s north eastern Thailand and approximately 8 hours away from Hua Hin and close to Laos. I got placed into a Catholic private school with about 400 students and only 1 other foreign teacher (how cool is that?!). I will be teaching 4-6 year olds and have about 35 students per a class. I am so excited! Definitely cannot wait until the next part of this journey and meet these cute little kiddies!