Turn and face the strange

This month, things are going to change quite a lot for me. Next week I will be moving to Nagoya in Japan until Christmas!

It’s come around quite fast, of course, and where I thought I had lots of time to prepare, now I only have less than a week. I’ve had to move out of my apartment and put everything in boxes (because I’ll be coming back to Thailand) and have the mean task of searching around for small things that I have put somewhere but can’t find for the life of me, and desperately need to take with me in my suitcase. Sigh.

Whenever I have planned a big change in my life, I have never been particularly scared, just very excited about everything, and of course that’s why I have gone on and organised it. But fear has always crept in towards the date of the flight.

I’m not panicking about the change, yet. I’ve had a few dreams where I wasn’t ready for certain different situations and in the dream I panicked a lot, got angry with myself and with other people, but during the day everything is normal. I’m enjoying reading up on Nagoya and planning trips out from the city. I know it’s coming though – a few nights before I go I will absolutely not be able to sleep for worrying about every single little thing, I might repack several times, and the night before I go my stomach will be churning over and over and I will possibly feel very ill. Anxiety and doubt have already seeped in somewhere without me knowing it, and are planning their attack right now, I can feel it.

And I’ll say goodbye at the airport and get on the plane, and arrive in Japan and I’ll be fine. Because I always have been before. Because I always am. Because everything always pans out somehow.

And because fear lies.

I just have to suffer for a little while before getting on with it and enjoying myself.

I’ve learnt that it’s pointless to wish to eliminate fear altogether. Fear will always pop up and say hi. There’s not a lot I can do about it other than choose to push past it. In any case, life would be pretty boring without fear, wouldn’t it?

So here’s to the future, fear. Know that I don’t really believe you.

I don’t think I do anyway…

Sorry I’m late…

Prachuap-4142340

No, thank you.

My students had 2 exams, both around 30 minutes long and together worth 40% of their final grade. The exams were to be taken in class time, at the same time we usually have class… that is to say, at 9am on Thursday. There are 15 students in the class.

At 9am I had about 8 students. 9.05 I had 10 and at 9.15 I had 12. Because I am probably far too kind I waited and we started the exam at 9.20. Between then and 9.30 the total number of students present rose to 14. The 2 last students said ‘sorry I’m late’ and began their tests.

At 9.43am, in walks the final student. ‘Sorry I’m late.’ The first exam will finish at 9.50.

Another class. Same 2 exams. Class starts at 1pm.  Class always starts at 1pm. At 1.10 I have 16 out of 35 students. The last 4 students come at 2.20 pm. That’s an hour and twenty minutes late for an hour long exam. They looked incredibly baffled when I said they had missed it.

I’m not going to pretend that I was never late at university level. In fact I remember having a 2 hour Spanish exam unusually on a Saturday morning and jumping out of bed just as it started. But the thing that gets me is…. These are their FINALS. Of course, the majority of my students turned up on time, or a few minutes late, and studied hard. But with every class the pattern of at least one student being more than half an hour late or over an hour late has repeated.

Am I… Is this… just… What?!

You know what the icing on the cake is? I had to reschedule the exam for the 4 students that came at 2.20 pm.

There’s more.

I asked them what time they could do. They said 1 pm. They came at about 2 pm, smiling sweetly.

NOT. EVEN. FUNNY.

Where I live

I’ve found myself watching lots of ‘My apartment tour’ videos on YouTube from people in various countries. It’s interesting to consider how different people live when they move abroad, I suppose. I figured people might be interested in where I live, too.

And so, without further adieu, here is a description accompanied by a few pictures, of my lovely apartment in Bangkok for you to feast your eyes on.

I live about a ten minute bus ride from the nearest MRT stop (subway), and in the north of the city, near to Nonthaburi, the next province. This is undoubtedly the reason why my apartment is a little cheaper than what I’ve found nearer the BTS or MRT or on Sukhumvit road. I pay 6,500 baht a month. I have a bedroom, a living room with balcony, and a bathroom. It’s quite a new building too, quiet and clean and I really like living here!

*Messy apartment alert*… Only downside is there’s not quite enough storage…

Apartment-2092311

Apartment-2092312

I bought the sofa and fridge myself, though they weren’t expensive at all. Some apartments in the past have asked me to rent the fridge/TV for 500-1000 baht a month which I have always thought was a little crazy! I was given the microwave and TV for free courtesy of my other half (who doesn’t live with me).

Apartment-2092305

Apartment-2092306
No, I don’t have a kitchen. I’ve never had a kitchen while I’ve been living in Bangkok. Food stalls are everywhere outside, and very cheap too. Nearly every supermarket and shopping mall also has a food court where the food isn’t expensive. There is also a restaurant in the apartment building itself which again, isn’t pricey, so I have quite a lot of options. I’ve recently been perfecting the art of microwave cooking too… though so far I’ve managed to explode around 4 eggs while trying to poach them. I recommend scrambled eggs as a far better option for those who would like to try it.

The view from the balcony.

The view from the balcony.

Oh, another thing that may be different in other countries, there’s a main door at the front of the building where I have a keycard to get in (and then once I go up in the lift I have keys to my door), and there’s also a reception where I pay my rent or tell them when my lightbulb’s blown etc. It’s quite convenient.

Well, I hope you liked my little tour. :)

People

Isn’t it funny how some people remind you of other people? Some people, even though they may be separated by continents and cultures, have similar mannerisms? I often find this intriguing. My mum suggested the idea to me that there are only a certain number of ‘types’ of personality/people in the world – is it this? Or is it that I want to remember my friends, so I project my memory onto other people?

I write this because one of my Thai students totally reminds me of a South African friend back in the UK. I swear he smiles the same, laughs the same, is roughly the same size/height, maybe a bit younger…but so alike. And another student today I considered if she knew one of my friends from the US, I totally think they would be great friends, the way they talk, the things they like.

Hm. Random post :) But it always gets me thinking. And gives me a warm feeling inside. Maybe people aren’t so different after all…?

‘moderately rich farang’

When asked if ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ (often abbreviated to TEFL and in this case used by someone who likes to pretend he is better than it) pays well, my answer is often, ‘yes thank you, fine – if you know where to look’.

Which I believe is true to an extent. What I wanted to add, but didn’t, is, ‘but I don’t do this job because I want to be rich’.

Don’t get me wrong, I have skills, I’m a good teacher, and have recently looked for a new job that I feel values my input, and reflects my worth and quality as a teacher. I know I deserve to be paid a fair salary, not only do I have certain qualifications that took time to achieve, I put in effort and time to plan lessons, and to  realise students weaknesses and nurture them to be more confident. And I love it. But I do this job because I want to be here, as much as anything else.

Sawatdii ka

I’m grateful for Thailand for letting me stay and experience the culture, and live here for a while. I’m proud to go to places using public transport – I use the skytrain, motorbike taxis, buses, I love walking even if I do get a little sweaty for my liking. I enjoy popping into 7 elevens a dozen times a day to get ‘snacks’. I enjoy eating firey food from street stalls and restaurants with fold up tables, drinking iced water out of a tin cup with a straw. I enjoy trying to communicate in very-limited-but-getting-there Thai with smiling locals.

It’s funny, because for a while I’ve felt a little uninspired, a little too settled here, a little too ‘normal’. I now remember what my goal in life is: to experience, and to learn. And that’s why I’m here. To feel at home in a completely different culture to the one I was brought up with. I think I’ve still got a fair way to go with Bangkok yet, and with Thailand as a whole, I’m sure I have. Sometimes I need to have my feathers ruffled a little bit though, to remind me why I came here in the first place. I’d rather be rich with experience, please and thankyou.