What has always been the “Christmas Season” this year has mostly been Christmas Moments. The relief from commercialization has been refreshing but being away from my family this time of year has been odd and alienating. Christmas Day was pretty depressing for many reasons but I went out to dinner with some farang friends (Lou, Noah, Heith, Jordi, and his girlfriend Wassana) and then we played cards, ate sweets and talked until the wee hours of the morning. It was a great time but not at all like the Christmases I’m accustomed to.
I did get to talk to lots of family members on their Christmas Eve, my Christmas morning. It was really nice to hear the voices from home. I missed out on all of the family traditions and it wasn’t affecting me until the day of when I was going to the mall and they were gathered around eating delicious food and opening presents with each other.
In other news, I graduated from the TEFL course with Distinction and I have found a job already. I start a week from today at Wat Weruwan school in Sarapee which is just outside of Chiang Mai. I have 22 teaching hours a week with as many classes of students. The average class size is 40 students and I’ve been told I can count on no more than half to pay attention. For those of you who haven’t done the math already that’s bout 880 students that I see once a week. The age range is from 7-15 and they are very low level English speakers.
I went to visit the schools the other day and they seem great. The first one, where I'll be on Wednesdays is closer to the city and the temp teacher there said the students were well behaved. The one further outside of town is pretty big and I met some of the Thai teachers who were all really nice. The students noticed two strange farangs walking around and were all eager to say hello and other English phrases. Hopefully they'll be as eager in the classroom.
I’m pretty much terrified. I got the job through a contracting agency so I have a ton of resources and they provide the syllabus and tests. I have to come up with 5 lesson plans a week (one for each day) and turn them in to the school and the contracting agency a week in advance. This is definitely going to be a challenge, but one that I look forward to. One reason why I took the job is that it only lasts until the end of the term- in the beginning of March- so it’s temporary. They will also provide a work permit which is a big bonus as my visa runs out at the beginning of February.
I’ve been driving my motorbike around more and more. The fact that the day I began renting my motorbike was the same day that I accidentally drove Noah's into a tourist shook me at first and I drove it only when absolutely necessary. Since then I've been using it to get everywhere. I'm cautious and I have a helmet, but even the best drivers are at the mercy of the heavily blind-spotted pickup trucks and cars.
I got a haircut... it's a very straight cut, no layers and I'm not sure if I like it or not. You decide.
This is a picture from our last practicum class. These aren't all of our students but the ones that stuck around for picture time. They were really great and it'll be a bit of a shock to start work and not have students as amazingly patient and understanding as these ones. Sue, in the back was our practicum instructor. The one in the tie is Garrett, next to him is Noah, and Papa Bear Lou is seated front and center.
This is a picture in the house that we all wanted so badly but wasn't quite finished and was a tad outside our price range. Noah is on the left, Heith and Mark on the right. The house hunt has slowed down, but Heith and I are still planning on finding a house once he hears from his prospective volunteer place about whether or not he'll be able to live in the city.
That's it. Now you can have an idea of who I'm talking about when I mention who I'm hanging out with. I didn't take any pictures on Christmas, but I'm determined to change that on New Year's. I have no real plans as of yet. Lou put me in touch with some Aussie girls around the corner from him and I might join them for the evening. It feels weird to me though, I just don't think about grabbing the camera before heading out. Or I have it and I forget to pull it out of my bag. Excuses, I know.
Tonight my new employer is having an end of year party and I'm going to drop by and check it out. Hopefully I can meet some of the people who've taught in the schools and get some information to calm my anxieties. I start in 5 days and I haven't begun to lesson plan yet. Scary.
That's all for now. I would have updated a bit closer to Christmas but the big earthquake in Taiwan pretty much knocked out our internet for 2-3 days. Something about an underwater cable.