Final Days in Hua Hin
Well… time has begun to fly by. The first two weeks felt extremely long, and I do not mean that in a negative way. It just seems that time feels slower when you haven’t established a routine. In those first two weeks here in Thailand, everything was insanely new and we were busy doing anything and everything, which made each day feel like a week. However, these past two weeks have come and gone in the blink of an eye. Having our own cute home, going to our TESOL class everyday, adapting to a more structured schedule, and finding our regular places where we like to eat and hang definitely has helped us in establishing some sort of authentic routine.
Last Friday (9/18), we had our second full day of practice English teaching. We went to the same school as the Friday before, but this time we taught Matthayom level students, which is secondary/high school. This was quite the age change from what I am accustomed too. This time instead of teaching six different hour-long classes, we taught five different hour-long classes with an observation period (where we could go observe a fellow teacher’s lesson). It was a totally different experience than last week. Classroom management was pretty challenging still, but in a different way. The challenge this time wasn’t the excessive rowdiness, but the utter lack of motivation. Every class had the usual couple students that were excited to learn, but then getting the other 35 students interested was incredibly tough. A significant chunk of our job as English teachers in Thailand is to instill a love or even an interest in learning English. In this country, being able to speak English opens up so many more doors in life for these students. It is hard to explain just how significant the stress on learning English is within the Thai culture. The Matthayom student’s English language proficiency was low, which made the lesson I planned especially tricky to teach, but there was not as large of a language barrier as last week’s young students. Sure, I got a good amount of attitude and silliness from the adolescent age students, but overall it was a fantastic experience. I’ll be honest though, I still prefer teaching the little kiddos.
The past week we have experienced one of Thailand’s biggest problems… FLOODING. The flooding here is absolutely ridiculous!!! I’m not talking getting your feet wet kind of flooding, I am talking streets turning into rivers, floors of homes flooding up to an inch in water, painfully learning about each and every ceiling crack that exists, and bullfrogs (for whatever reason freak out when it storms) chanting as loud as sirens. All I can say is that stylish, large, orange poncho has been my most useful Thai purchase thus far.
This past weekend, we went on an excursion to the “Temple Cave” also known as Phraya Nakhon Cave; it is about an hour from Hua Hin. Once we arrived at the national park grounds, we then took a longtail boat to the base of the trail to avoid extra hiking time. It was a steep hike to the cave, not the easiest climb but wow, it was so worth it.
We have also fallen in love with the adorable and delicious Cicada Market. It is a special weekend market here in Hua Hin with live shows, music, shopping tents, and the best food stands that I’ve munched at in Thailand so far. I am not a big meat eater and I have been eating mostly vegetarian here, always having to say “maung-saw-we-raht (vegetarian)” with every order I place since there is meat in literally every single type of cuisine. However, I have definitely splurged on some fabulous meat sticks the past two weekends at Cicada Market, with no regrets. One very important and exciting thing I must mention about this market is that THEY HAVE WINE. Very overpriced wine indeed with the skimpiest pours; but we are in such severe need for some good wine time that of course Erica and myself couldn’t help but splurge on it anyway.
It is bittersweet to say that our time here in Hua Hin is nearing its end. Our month long TESOL course wraps up this Wednesday (9/23). We present our big curriculum projects, finish up some other assignments, take our final exam and then they hold a little graduation for all of us who completed the course. It is sad coming to the realization that after becoming so close with the other teachers in our TESOL group, especially those we have been living with the past month, that we now have to say goodbye to one another as we each go off to our own teaching placements throughout Thailand. All of the teaching placements are pretty scattered around the country, but I guess that just means we will have that many more places to go visit and explore!
Erica and I are leaving right away to begin at our teaching placement. We did have plans to travel around Southeast Asia for the first month after our TESOL course as I have mentioned in previous posts, but this is Thailand and nothing goes as planned! Mai bpen rai!
We have purchased bus tickets to our placement location and we will be leaving this Wednesday night! Our placement is about 12 hours South of Hua Hin in the city of Hatyai; it is the fourth largest city in Thailand and relatively close to all of the famous Southern islands. I am excited to say that I will be teaching 1stgrade at a private international school. Ironically, it is a British curriculum and should be somewhat similar to the type of teaching I did this past year at the British School of Chicago; however, these students will be English language learners of course. The school follows the British school holiday calendar, so I will be fortunate to have some great holiday breaks. I will be a lead teacher and will have my own class, which means I am teaching multiple subjects! Erica and I are teaching at the same school and living at an apartment complex where most of the school’s teachers live as well. Yes, it is different from what I thought I would be doing here, but I feel so lucky and I am ecstatic about this amazing opportunity and experience ahead!