Saturday, August 15, 2009

Last week in Chiang Mai

The ATI group at THC Rooftop Bar

Teaching Practice at a Thai School

Exploring at Doi Suthep!

Doi Suthep

Hi all,

The last week or so has flown by so quickly- I have been so busy, but I am loving every single minute of my life in Chiang Mai!  Last Friday was our first day teaching in a Thai school.  The school is a beautiful open-aired building way out in the middle of the rice paddies.  We are split into groups of 5 and each group has an observer on top of that so it is kind of intimidating.  We were teaching 6 year olds on the first day.  Although I was really nervous before I got up there, I had a blast.  All the kids are so good!  When you first get up in front they all say “Good morning teacherrrrrrr, at the end of class they all say “Thank you teacherrrrr,” and they are all so curious about us.  Monday we stayed at the hotel and taught the hotel staff, but then all this week we have been back at the school – each day teaching older and older students.  The worst group was definitely middle school- I think that is just a really obnoxious age in any country.  I’m hoping now for younger kids when I arrive in Korea.  I’ll find out my assignment in about 2 weeks.  I am glad I am getting the practice experience and lesson plan models though because I have absolutely no idea what I am doing most of the time. 

Since we have been teaching every day, a large amount of our other time is spent working on lesson plans and our picture cards.  We have to show a lot of pictures during the lesson because otherwise the kids wouldn’t even get the context.  The point is to really minimize our speaking and only say what is necessary because otherwise they don’t understand and will just get confused.  They are capable of repeating but would never understand what was going on in class without pictures.  We are supposed to draw the pictures so my art skills are really being put to good use- I’m pretty sure that some of my pictures are unrecognizable.   Friday my friend was trying to set the context of the day for his lesson which was New York City.  To begin he showed a picture of the Statue of Liberty and asked if anyone knew what it was.  One student was very convinced that it was Jesus.

I’ve really enjoyed the last week though- the group of people here is really great.  There are 19 people in the program with ages ranging from me all the way up to age 43.  About 12 of us have become really close, and I am excited that I will already have a group of friends heading with me to Korea.  It’s amazing how close we all have gotten in only 3 weeks, but all being put into a completely foreign situation will do that.  I’ve become closest with 2 people who will also be doing the same program with me in Seoul.  We have been finding lots of fun nightlife – karaoke, rooftop bars, and some really great reggae places.  Last weekend we went up to a temple on the hill- Doi Suthep and spent the afternoon exploring up there.  I love walking around Chiang Mai- my favorite is when I see elephants going down the street.  I also still love the night markets- we have found some really spectacular ones around the city.   

Tomorrow I am heading to Bangkok on the overnight train.  Some friends and I are going to explore there for a couple days.  I still do not have my work visa for Korea so I have to go the Korean embassy first thing Monday morning and apply for that.  It took forever for most of us to get our notice of appointment number to apply.  Although I’ve had mine for a few weeks, I didn’t really want to mail my passport across Thailand and risk losing it so I decided to apply in person.  Since most of us still have at least a week before heading to Korea, we may also go a few hours out of Bangkok and go to the beach for a couple days. 

I’m going to be sad to leave Chiang Mai, but I think it will be good for me.  I’m pretty sure I currently have about 45 mosquito bites on my body (its amazing how they only bite some of us and not others), and I also can’t eat anything anymore.  I get sick to my stomach after every meal whether its spicy curry, market food (never a good idea), granola bars, or even peanut butter and jelly.  I decided I only like Thai food when it isn’t from Thailand.  Every day at least one of us is really sick with terrible food poisoning.  If I can’t keep anything down once I get to Korea I’m going to see a doctor, but hopefully it won’t come to that.  I’ve been kind of lax about drinking the water and eating unidentifiable meat on a stick, and I think I’m probably paying the price.

I arrive in Seoul on the night of August 22nd and head to my orientation on the day of the 23rd.  I will be essentially on lockdown (we actually cannot leave the premises haha) at the Hyundai Learning Center a few hours from Seoul for that entire week.   All of the teachers for the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education will be there during the week and then they bus us all to our new apartments where someone is supposed to be waiting on us. 

I am very excited about my move, making more new friends, and getting to see my new apartment and school!  I will keep you all updated on everything.  I love hearing from all of you!

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