Hat Yai Livin’
Things have gotten very real very fast within these past two weeks in Hat Yai. The first month of living in Hua Hin was pretty much living in la-la land because we had the team at XploreAsia holding our hands the whole way and helping us transition into the many unfamiliar Thai ways. But now, we are just adults (kind of), all on our own, confused, sometimes helpless, living in a foreign country with lifestyle and cultural differences that are hard to even translate into writing; and believe me, there are many realizations to be had in this alien type situation.
Let’s be clear though…
I love each and every second of it.
…. and with that love comes moments of enormous frustration, bewilderment, apprehension and then also being in that constant state of disarray. Things just simply do not work the same way here and most outcomes of any situation or encounter leaves you feeling lost and most likely unaware of what actually happened. The Thais always win. It is just something you have to accept as a foreigner. There is an expression people like to use here…
“It’s the Thai way”.
This is used in every explanation of something that has gone wrong or not as originally planned, which is literally EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. There is no point in planning anything here, because it will change… especially things like appointments, which foreigners take very seriously. The Thais live in the now and do not think about the future as much as us foreigners, which can without a doubt be refreshing but it can also be the most irritating thing ever. Living and working in a developing country has made me realize how very little I know of humanity and the world beyond being a “westerner”. I am not saying I am anywhere near having or will ever have all the answers, but I truly feel lucky to have the opportunity to hopefully try and figure at least a fraction of it out. Yes, I totally lucked out with my teaching job and living accommodation. Our work treats us very well and our accommodation is super nice; but it doesn’t take away from what we see and experience on a daily basis when we walk off the property grounds. On the most normal of days we will see anything from unprotected babies plopped on the front of speeding motorbikes to endless piles of foul smelling trash filling the streets, sidewalks and rivers. It is more than just saying “its different here”… it is accepted. Another common thing to see here is almost half of the locals wearing doctor type masks whenever they are outside, especially along the roads. Hat Yai has a huge problem with air quality. The past week there has been the thickest and densest fog surrounding the city. This is what the weather app usually looks like…
Yes. That say’s “Smoke”.
I can say without hesitation that Hat Yai has some of the kindest people I have met so far in Thailand. There is so much to do and there are some pretty impressive/modern shopping malls. It is a very ethnically diverse city with a variety of unique cultures and traditions. I feel like I say this every blog post, but I mean it this time… Hat Yai definitely has the best food so far as well! Thanks to the various ethnicities present here, my taste buds have taken full advantage of the many different and delicious cuisines that Southeast Asia has to offer. I have really fallen in love with the soupy noodle dishes (it’s better than it sounds, I just do not know the name for it).
And oh yeah…one of the biggest reasons why I am here… teaching! Teaching has been great so far. The school campus is beautiful and the staff and students are amazing! I am just finishing my second week now, and then we go on a half-term break for a week…many thanks to the British school holiday calendar that we follow!
I’ve had the pleasure to become the Year 3 teacher (second grade) to the sweetest and most bright students whose English proficiency is incredible. I teach almost all subjects, including: Literacy/English, numeracy, science, PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education), geography, history AND computing/ICT. It has been a fun challenge teaching all of these different topics, but it is definitely a lot more lesson planning. The school being so new, the class sizes are tiny, which is ultimately a teacher’s dream! However, this past week we have had a trial week to get new students to enroll and I had about 11 more added to my class. Typically I am used to classes of about 30 students and it is a very normal (but not ideal) number for American public schools. The hard part in this situation is that most of the kids who joined the trial week do not speak a word of English…and hey, that is why I am here! But then there is the fact that I have to teach all of these other subjects to them as well… on top of having them learn English! Differentiating my instruction this week has been the biggest challenge so far. Trying to challenge my own students while spending half the class explaining the different lesson subjects to the new students has proved difficult. All of this can only help me grow as a teacher and a person so I am just embracing it!
Since our week break starts Saturday the 10th, we have planned a trip to the epic Northern cities of Chiang Mai and Pai! We are meeting up with our group of friends from our time in Hua Hin! I am so excited to see what Northern Thailand has to offer!