Published: June 8th 2011June 8th 2011
Ayutthaya is beautiful. My first weekend here I rented a bicycle with my friends and road around the ancient ruins. They are much cooler than I originally thought! There are tons of them that surround a beautiful pond and temples. Right next to the ruins and flower market is an elephant village that trains elephants to be ridden and do tricks. As we were riding, we stopped to watch a few elephants get loaded into a truck. My friend tells me to turn around and on the other side of me there are about 5 more elephants coming my way carrying people. We literally had no where to go being stuck between an elephant parade! It was amazing...and to think that it's not even a 5 minute ride from my apartment!
All of our friends that come through Ayutthaya consistently say that they love the city. I, too, have come to love it. Everything we need is literally within a mile of my apartment. To one side we have nicer restaurants, ruins, elephant village, and floating market. To the other side we have a giant market, a mall, and Soi Farang (foreigner street) to satisfy our western food cravings as
well as to chill with travelers passing through. I decided to buy a bike for about $40, brand new. It's kind of crappy and the wheel went flat about 2 weeks after buying it, but it get's me around! I have also fully settled in to my apartment. It took them a while, but my placement company finally bought me a fridge, (the cherry on top :)) which allows me to eat cereal in the morning and avoid having to eat Thai breakfasts (which includes the same thing they have for lunch and dinner...rice, meat, and a curry sauce).
Down to more important matters than my daily meals...I finally started teaching! I enjoy it very much, but must say that it is 100% different than teaching in Western countries. Now, I have never taught in a Western country, but I do know that a legitimate Western teacher would probably tear their hair our teaching in a Thai government school. A lot of my classes are good, but there are a few with very naughty students. And by naughty, I mean that they walk in and out of class, are on their cellphones, talking, banging on desks, and probably insulting
me in Thai. I can generally control my classes pretty well, but these classes, even the Thai teachers can't control. Also, in about half of my classes, I am lucky if at least half of my students even show up. For example, there is one class, grade 8 level 7 (on a 10 level scale), that I have yet to teach because the ENTIRE class decided they don't want to come! This, along with the fact that one of my Thai assistant teacher actually promotes talking and misbehaving in my class, can get very frustrating at times.
I must say, however, that I do have it very easy compared to my friends who are teaching at other schools. 1. I leave school at 2:30 most days 2. I live 10 min walking distance from school, and 3. Even though I am teaching 26hrs a week, I really only have to plan 1 lesson a week. Most of my friends end up having to plan at least 4 lessons a week, don't get home until about 4:30-5:00, and two of them live about 45 minutes away (spending heaps on transportation). For these reasons, I legitimately do not feel good about
being paid an extra 1000baht a month for teaching 26hrs (which is a little more than we should be teaching). I also found out that Will (the other foreign English teacher) and I will be hosting a 20hr teacher training session. This involves Will and I holding English classes for the Thai teachers at our school....we'll see how that goes.
I have come to learn that one mustn't fret the little things. It is common in Thailand for foreign teachers to be completely clueless as to the happenings of the school. For example, if your students don't show up to class after waiting around for 30 mins., don't fret! You were just never told that they don't have class that day for one reason or another. And if you are told nearly every day that you must get up in front of the school during morning assembly and introduce yourself, and this never actually happens, don't fret! They will tell you 1 minute before hand on a random day the following week that "you must go up NOW to introduce yourself!" Nothing really phases me anymore and I have consistently clung to the phrase "just go with the flow."
I know nothing better for your ego than teaching in Thailand. While taking the course in Phuket, we were told that we will feel like celebrities here. They were right! I literally feel like a superstar. Everyone is always staring at me and I must get called beautiful about 100 times a day. There is a running joke amongst us teachers that the days (or even months) following our return home will be filled with depression because we will no longer be special, won't get called beautiful by strangers, and wont have hundreds of students smiling at you and saying "HELLO TEACHER!" as you walk by. (Speaking of superstar, this very popular Thai boy-band showed up at my school one day to film a music video and perform a concert for the students...too bad I didn't know them and couldn't join in on the excitement).
One more important thing...I saw "The Hangover 2" in Bangkok last weekend. It was AMAZING seeing it in the city it was filmed in. I am here to vouch that their depiction of Bangkok is spot on. It was so cool to notice so many places in the movie. When I walked out
of the theater, I felt as though I had walked right into the movie and would be seeing sexy Bradley Cooper or Ed Helms come crashing through the city. On a side note, the movie was funny but totally lost its shock value being exactly the same as the first.
But I digress. Overall, I am lovin' it here and hope that teaching continues to go well. My goal is to turn the 'blow off' Farang English class into a fun 'I love teacher Genna!' class that students actually WANT to come to. One thing is for certain, I REALLY need to learn my Thai...my classes and overall life would be so much more enjoyable if I could speak it better. But I do give myself credit for knowing as much as I do and only being here for a short amount of time. Sometimes, however, I will accidentally use Spanish when I'm trying to think/say a word in Thai. Next big purchase, an English-Thai dictionary.......................and some quality talcum powder.
There are more photos below