Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hot-Cold Hot-Cold Hot-Cold

That is how it often feels here, quite literally and figuratively. Literally, meaning that it's blasting hot outside for the majority of the time and it's only broken up by the occasional stepping into a 7/11 for a shower of cool air from the air-cons. Or even take the apartment, for example. It can be comfortable inside with just our fan on and then some time later it feels like we're melting and the two of us are in a feverish sweat. The answer to that is to turn on our air-con to cool down. The next thing I know we're under the covers and Alison's got her notorious ice toes. Oh...the cycles. Figuratively speaking, our experience here has also been a lot of Hot-Cold as well. One minute (especially in the beginning) we're excited and impressed with the new opportunities that lay ahead of us and are determined to blind ourselves away from the dirty streets and the next minute we're seeking out alternatives to this path. A lot of the hot moments are when we're away from our school and we're on an island somewhere or out exploring the jungle. Those trips were amazing and those will be the memories I choose to remember most.

There are some things to appreciate in the here-and-now but the scale has still remained tipped that there are more things that annoy me. I just don't know what to think sometimes about all of this. This move to Thailand was partially an experiment for us. It is giving us a chance to see new cultures and to experience life outside the U.S. We just never knew how different and difficult it would be. It was also to give us a break from the real world. I can't believe now how misled I was back when researching becoming a teacher in Thailand. The websites and pictures all describe and show amazing scenes of young people scuba diving, rock climbing, zip-lining through jungles and getting their tan on. This is NOT what life is like in Khon Kaen. Khon Kaen is pretty far from mostly everything that attracts tourists to Thailand. The closest island/beach is Pattaya/Koh Larn - 9 hours. Bangkok, the gateway to all tourist destinations - 6 to 7 hours. Khao Yai jungle - 5 hours. Not to mention also that the further you are from something the more it costs in time and money to go there.

Also, the school life is difficult too. Our school is very serious in a Thai kind of serious way. The work is hard and there is a lot of judgement for it. I don't feel very welcome at our school because of hearing things from other farang teachers like our Thai teachers don't like farangs and that everyone's attitude is insincere. We're new teachers and we're just as aware as everyone else that it takes time to learn to be a teacher, but give us some freaking credit for trying as hard as we are! We've tried to deal with our difficulties at school in the ways we could think of, including: talking to other western teachers, talking to our Thai teachers, talking to our school coordinator, pushing these frustrations deep inside of us (funny enough, this wasn't the least effective measure), talking to other teachers in our program and finally talking to our assistants. It seems that the things were are having trouble with are just cultural, we find no fault in the teachers or the kids. Things have been this way for a LONG time and we're not going to be changing anything. On the subject of kids... Our kids are from middle class families, which is a great achievement here and the families rewarding their kids with a better education through an English program is a wonderful gesture. However, this does not excuse them from not raising their children at home. The discipline issues that we have at school is derivative of the atmosphere in their homes. We came to Thailand to teach your children various subjects in English, but not to babysit 40 kids for 2-4 hours a day.

If only that was the half of it, ha. I don't wish to create a dislike list here and I only wish one didn't exist at all. I've been feeling like a ethnocentric Eddy today thinking about all of them. Let's just summarize it by saying that there is a lot of effort put in here to make things look a certain way and most other things aren't done in the most effective way (ie this is what happens when you make something look one way but it doesn't actually function.) Alison helped me realize something today, though. I don't say these things are wrong. In fact, it seems the people who live here really enjoy their lifestyle. It just isn't right for us.

Sorry for the long entry and I want everyone back home to know that we love and miss you.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to hear you're struggling with your life in Khon Kaen. I know exactly how that feels. I tried to keep my blog lighthearted, but I definitely felt all the things you are describing in this post. Do what is right for you. I can't tell you how many times I was offered to teach English on an island I was visiting. The pay wouldn't be as good, and there would be fewer resources in the classroom, but if you are happy there, maybe that's where you should be! Good for you for sticking with it and making the best of it!