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Category Archives: Teaching in Thailand

Reflection: March 11, 2012

I wrote this one week and one year ago in a private note on Facebook. Something that I needed to get out of my system, and one of those rants where I can only collect all my thoughts when I’ve properly written everything down. It’s funny to think that I’m in almost exactly the same position as last year, but in reverse.

As people start leaving and goodbyes continue, I’m lonely again, but in a very different way. I feel confident that I have made friends from all around the globe that I can literally pop in on any time and be welcomed with open arms and tears of joy. This time I’m just sad that everyone’s moved on, and the implication that I may never see some of them again.

I’m doing the whole full-time  job search, but for positions in Toronto this time. Related to anything that I find remotely interesting – mostly travel agency related.

I’m questioning my future, what direction it should take and what coming home is going to be like. But I wanted to share this, because I think it’s what everyone goes through when they’ve packed their bags and moved to the other side of the world.

I have to be honest. I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to prove or learn about myself by being here. I thought my life had direction; I’m a published writer with a degree willing to start at the bottom and work my way up. But instead I’m here. Throwing my life on an entirely new path, not because I had no idea what to do with myself, but because I felt like I was given a chance, a sign and I ran with it.

But now that I’m here and I’m going through the motions of job interviews and planning and researching what town I want to live in, I’m asking myself, “is this what I really want?” I should have done the soul search before I said goodbye to everyone, before I applied for the course, before I had even researched all my options.

I was happy at home. I realize that now. As unfulfilled as I might have felt, I finally had a group of friends, three even after new years, which consider me an integral part of their crew. I may have been losing my job, but I hadn’t really tried that hard to find another one.

My biggest challenge in the past two weeks has been spending so much time on my own. I’m not one to be that much in my head. I don’t over think a situation unless I have a strange gut feeling, and I try to take the world at face value, rarely expecting more or less than what I’m given. As much as I love my personal time doing absolutely nothing, quiet walks and my “me dates,” I’ve also realized that I’m mostly a social person, I need to get me out of my own head. I’m a Leo for crying out loud. I’ve learned that for me, home is where friends are. They could be friends for a month, a year or for life, but I need the built in support that people that love and admire you provide. Not having that built in support has been emotionally draining these past two weeks. I fear that something will happen to me and no one would know. The question still hangs in the air: would anybody here even care?

It would be so easy to give up now. To pack my bags, get rid of any excess and charge the next plane ride home to my credit card. However, I do know myself well enough to know that as soon as I got on that plane, I would beat myself up for not sticking it out, for not taking the jobs that are being thrown at me and for caving in to my emotional wreckage. I don’t want to have to live with that regret.

I want to be stronger. I want to be that woman who does things without needing approval, who can go to a movie alone and not feel awkward eating alone and doesn’t need to run her decisions by anyone.

I want to make the right decision, I want to pick the right job, and I want to do what I originally came here for.

Just as I wrote the above self-doubting rant, “Let Go” by Frou Frou came up on my ipod. It’s been randomly showing up recently on shuffle, but the lyrics have this perfect soul-calming quality. It’s like the voice of a friend telling me not to stand on the sidelines waiting for life to happen and that it’s sometimes okay to be an emotional wreck.

“So let go. Jump in. Well whatcha waiting for?
It’s alright ‘cuz there’s beauty in the breakdown.
So let go, just get in, it’s so amazing here.
It’s alright, ‘cuz there’s beauty in the breakdown.”

It reminds me that I’m doing this because I’ve always thought about it, because I didn’t want to have the itchy traveller’s foot for the rest of my life without doing something serious about it now.

The choices I make in the next week are going to shape the next year of my life, yes that’s true. But I don’t have to make the drama out of it that I have been in my head.

I am extremely glad that I’ve taken the last year to do the things I’ve done, to meet the people I have, to teach the most wonderful children in Thailand and that I didn’t cave into fear and pack my bags for the next flight home.

My flight home is now booked and I’ve seriously started the job search / interview process and can only cross my fingers that when I get home I’m not going to feel the same about leaving Thailand as I did when I was trying to get settled. I’m sure that the support of friends that I’ve so dearly missed, and a comfortable atmosphere will mean the difference between despair and irritation, but you never know when that black wave of self doubt can rear it’s ugly head.

Teaching: a quick overview of the brats that make me happy

K1’s Walking in their lines from their homeroom to my classroom

Now that I’ve been teaching for 2 months, it’s about time to weigh in on the pros and cons of the job.

I feel like I haven’t really had time to think about what I’m doing, let alone reflect on whether or not I’m actually enjoying myself. I’m kept busy, that’s for sure, with sometimes up to six classes in a day and as little as three on others. Some days I come home so exhausted that I can’t even be bothered to go out for dinner and literally scrounge for food in my apartment.

Some of the pros include the adorable, adoring children who behave and participate and genuinely seem to want to learn.

Then there are those kids who come to class, talk, fight, and generally misbehave with their friends. Even they have their cute moments, despite sudden and short urges to wrap my hands around their throats.

I enjoy the lessons, which are simple question and answer patterns taught through games that are sometimes a giant hit (dodgeball… God help me) and sometimes fizzle out before they’ve even begun. Learning how to deliver the lessons has been a hit and miss experiment that I’m still working out.

While I feel like I have a favourite in every class, there are certain levels that I just despise teaching. Kindergarten 1 (aged 3-4) when we first started was usually just a giant gong show of kids crying, peeing and puking. While they still want to cry, sometimes simply rubbing their back or getting them involved in the game or song is enough to make them forget their tears. However, I’ve gotten used to them and now find them too adorable to be angry at. My P1’s have stopped being scared of me, and are warming up to being the babies in the school again, while my P6’s are all on the ball. They know the format of the lesson, they understand what I want to teach them, and they know that if they’re not quiet, they really won’t get to play a game, so threatening (sometimes) actually works with them.

My P5’s, however, all seem to be at an age where they couldn’t give a bigger hoot if I did jumping jacks or ran laps around the room instead of actually taught them a lesson. Also, they don’t seem to actually care about playing games, so short of threatening to kill them and wanting to follow through on it, I haven’t quite figured out how to make them stop fighting / talking / screaming / running wild. Instead they’ll just shout “not fair” as if it’s some kind of joke that I’m actually angry with all of them. It’s almost as much of a gong show as the first month of K1 lessons, without all the bodily fluids. (Unless you count my tears)

There are definitely days when I want to strangle half the children I come across, but the majority of days I just want to sweep them all into my arms in a giant bear hug and never let them go.

I think as time goes on, the kids will be more receptive or I’ll just figure out a way to force it into them, whether or not they realize it. Then again, in every level, I have always had at least one “ah ha” moment when I’ve been trying to explain something and then they just GET it. I forget all about the ones that I wanted to strangle, and I just feel overwhelmingly proud of how smart they are, and that I’ve actually taught them something.

It’s an indescribable feeling that makes all the sweat and tears worth it.