To start; I've been without internets for about a week so that's why I haven't been able to post anything in about a week or so. Orientation in Bangkok was pretty awesome. Although the teaching classes weren't super relevant for me (because of the whole I've already been teaching for 3 weeks thing), we also some language and culture classes that were both helpful and interesting. I've only picked up a little bit of Thai on my own, but thanks to the language class I was able to learn a lot about pronunciation and grammar. I also learned my numbers so I can officially count in Thai now which is cool.
I also met a lot of really cool people. There were several hundred people at orientation (apparently it's the biggest incoming class that OEG has had so far) and, even though I wasn't able to meet everybody there, the people I did get the chance to meet and talk to were pretty cool. Since I was sans internet, I did a pretty terrible job social networking but luckily most people are on the Teach in Thailand Facebook group, so I should be able to keep in contact with everybody and hopefully meet up as I'm traveling through the various provinces.
Aside from the people, the best part of orientation hands-down was the trips. First we got to go to the Grand Palace in Bangkok which was almost overwhelmingly amazing. Thailand is big on appropriating aspects of other cultures, so the palace and temples were basically a massive conglomeration of various art and architectural styles throughout Asia. And, as if the Grand Palace wasn't cool enough, we also got to go to an elephant camp in Kanchanaburi where we got to spend several hours riding elephants, rafting/swimming down a river, and playing with baby goats they had for some reason.
I'll talk more about the trips, and post some pictures of the Grand Palace a bit later, but I've missed a week of school and should probably get to work. I need to write a test for my English Culture class and figure out what I'm teaching my fundamental English class later today so I'ma go ahead and get to it.
No, but really though. There's no joke here. On Friday some guy came through with an elephant. They didn't stay for very long, but we were able to snap a couple pics, feed him some treats (thanks to Kaila sharing the sugarcane she bought), and got to pet him a little bit.
That's probably the most exciting thing that's happened since my last post. Last week was pretty uneventful; just getting into the swing of teaching still. I had my first week of teaching the English class for the Thai teachers which was pretty cool. Unlike some of the students, the teachers seemed to all be pretty involved with the class. The only downside is that I'm teaching six different classes a week for the them, so name learning is going to be pretty rough. I'm still having trouble with some of the students' names, and I see them about every day, so yeah that's gonna be interesting.
This weekend was pretty laid back. Michael, Catherine, and I did some exploring around Amata (the city in Chonburi where we are). We found a random village, explored some back roads and what we thought were shortcuts into town (but ultimately ended up being a super long out of the way route to town), and tried to check out the temple on the golf course near our apartments but it was not open to the public. This weekend though, we're headed to our 'orientation' in Bangkok. Considering we're all pretty much oriented already, I'm sure we'll have some fun hanging out in Bangkok for the week. Until next time...here are some other pics I've taken this past week.
After school on Friday, Michael, Catherine, and I hopped on a van to make our way to the island of Koh Samet. Although geographically it isn't super far away, between the massive amount of rush hour traffic and the frequent stops made by the van, it ended up taking us about 4.5 hours to get to the pier. Luckily, because we were a little bit worried that there wouldn't be, there were still boats running people to the island when we got to the dock, and only had to wait a short while for the boat to fill up before leaving.
Due to some difficulties with the language barrier, we missed the stop we were supposed to get off at, but it actually ended up working out pretty well. For the 2nd stop, rather than stopping at a pier, the boat simply just backed up towards the beach and unloaded right onto the beach. We waded up onto the shore and began looking for a hotel. We checked a few places before finding a cheap place for the night. It wasn't much, but it got the job done, and was definitely worth the approximately $20 we paid for it.
I probably posted a couple pics of the school in an earlier post, but here's a view of the school from the roof of our apartment building. The two buildings actually share a boundary line, but unfortunately there's no direct way to get onto the school's campus from the apartment. Instead, we have to walk down the street and around to the school's front entrance. It's only about a 6 or 7 minute walk, but a direct route would be pretty awesome.
I've only had classes with my 11th graders so far. I will be teaching English classes for the Thai teachers as well, but that won't start until next week. The classes I've taught have all gone pretty well so far. It seems as if there are a handful of kids in each class who are noticeably more comfortable with communicating in English, and they are the ones who end up answering most of the questions during class. There is a strong group mentality in the classes. The students like to consult with each other for most everything. Answering questions, completing activities, you name it...The tests, as expected, will be taken without help from the class, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.
In addition to the classes, just about everything at the school seems pretty legit. The lunches (which are cheap as free) have been pretty good so far. Also, it seems as though rice is served with just about every lunch, so, even if I come across a less than appetizing meal, I'll be able to fill up on some rice. I've had a light schedule this week, due to not having any of the teachers' English classes this week, but it still seems like I'll have plenty of time throughout the school day to plan lessons and whatnot. So yeah...so far life in Thailand is pretty sweet.
On Saturday, PPom took us to Pattaya...a super touristy beach area. It was very pretty but unfortunately, the water definitely did not look clean enough to swim in. Not that I wasn't tempted, but it didn't seem like the kind of thing you should risk. Especially since there's plenty of islands (and apparently cleaner beaches along the coast) that we'll be visiting. Aside from the ocean, Pattaya was ok...very crowded and, because of the tourists, a bit more expensive than where I am in Chon Buri. Still, it was nice to sit on the beach drinking a fresh coconut and listening to the waves.
As you can (kind of) see in the last pic there, we got caught in a storm. From what I've been told the rainy season lasts roughly through the end of this month. The beach umbrellas did little to shelter us from the rain, so we made a beeline for the mile which was maybe about a quarter-mile away. Since the wind was kicking, and we were pretty much soaked, I actually got a little bit chilly. Probably one of the only times during my year here that I'll be able to say that.
Well I'm tired of writing (and some combo of the internet here and this website makes uploading pics super impossible) so I'm signing off. Next time, after I have a few more classes under my belt, I'll prolly talk a little about teaching and the school and whatnot.
It's my 2nd full day and I'm still adjusting to the time difference. I think that going to sleep when my internal clock thinks that it's late morning/early afternoon will take some time to get used to. Everyone at the school (both the Thai and English teachers) I've met so far are really friendly and have been super accommodating. As it turns out I'll be teaching sixteen 50-minute class periods each week. 10 of the class periods will be split between three 11th grade classes, and the remaining 6 will actually be with the Thai teachers.
Here are just a few pics I've taken so far. We've got the courtyard in front of out apartment building, some shots of the school campus, some tasty food, and, most importantly, a monkey and Monkey Mountain. Yes, there is a place nearby called Monkey Mountain. I only got some blurry pictures of the monkeys because, sadly our driver wouldn't actually stop. Rest assured though; I'm definitely going back and getting some better pictures in the near future.
I should probably get back to reviewing the textbooks I'm gonna be teaching out of. Luckily, they seem pretty user friendly as far as lesson planning goes.
p.s. Go O's!