After a night out in the city, I woke up at six this morning to hit the gym, but alas, it seems to be another Thai holiday. I can’t confirm this because I don’t actually understand what anyone is really telling me, but some special circumstance caused the gym to be closed, leaving me to fill this weird daily time gap between waking up way too early and class starting at nine. Again, I can’t confirm this, but internet research leads me to believe it is Farmer’s Day. Or maybe Cinco de Mayo is globally recognized. The Thai version of Labor Day was also a few days ago. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like this country has a lot of holidays.
Because of our training course, it’s been another low-key week in Bangkok. We’ve been preparing practice lesson plans following different teaching models to present to our class. Our course instructor evaluated us on our ability to follow the steps, our delivery and so on. It was definitely nerve racking–I forgot how much standing up in front of a group of people freaks me out, but I’ll have to get over it once I’m teaching about 50 kids. Next week we’re going to different public schools to start teaching classes as a sort of test and trial before we’re sent to our actual schools.
As for my job placement, right now I’m scheduled to start teaching 12th graders at a private school in about two weeks. It appears to be a Catholic school just outside of Bangkok, which I wasn’t really expecting in a predominantly buddhist society. I was a little bummed out because the more I’m in Bangkok, the more I want to get out into rural Thailand. I have a classmate who wasn’t exactly thrilled about his placement either in eastern Thailand, close to the Laos border, so we are going to try to switch so he can be closer to the city and I can be…well, in the middle of nowhere. When I lived in the southwest, I fell in love with vast land and open spaces, and would like to get closer to that environment. If the switch doesn’t work out, I’ll just write it off as ‘not meant to be.’
In other news, I’m struggling with being too big for Thailand. I never felt particulary large in the States (which is good I guess, considering our record breaking obesity rates), but in Asia I feel like a big white lumbering Sasquatch. When I walk around on the crowded sidewalks, it is rare for someone to be at my eye level. I can neither find clothes nor shoes that fit, as there is no demand for shoes over the size of women’s 8 or clothes to fit a 5’8 “healthy” American female. I’ve been on this endless quest for shoes since I’ve been here, only to be rejected by several shoe stores who tell me they don’t sell my shoe size at all. As for the clothes, there has to be a Thai version of a plus-size store, because even in their paper thin population, there are still some fellow gluttons walking around, and they had to get their clothes somewhere.
Of course, there is the language barrier. We had a brief session on useful Thai phrases, such as how to ask someone’s name, how to order food, and overall general conversational phrases. For some reason, I seemed to only retain and feel confident saying “Khop Khun Ka (Thank you).” I think most my Thai conversations go something like this: (translated into English) Thai person: Hello, how can I help you? Me: Thank you. Thai person: What do you want to eat? Me, pointing to a picture of chicken: Thank you. Thai person: Okay, Thank you. Me: Thank you.
Luckily, most the Thais I’ve encountered are extremely helpful and friendly, handling my ignorance with a smile. The Thai frame of mind is generally “Mai Pen Rai,” meaning “no worries” or “never mind,” an attitude bumbling foreigners such as myself should appreciate and assimilate.
Well, that’s all for today’s blog post which in retrospect resembles a rant. Look forward to a recap of an upcoming weekend trip to Khaosan Road, the “backpacker’s haven.” And since I’m on the fat end of the spectrum in Thailand, I’ll end this with some food shots.