I suppose I need to put this whole Thailand adventure into context for the start of my blog. About 8 months ago, I started getting the travel itch like no other. I wanted to travel somewhere while doing something that enriched not only my life, but made a difference in the world, no matter how small. I chatted with friends about teaching abroad, and the research began. I came across a program called CIEE
(The Council on International Education Exchange) that has been around since the 1950s and places students and teachers around the world into positions for teaching abroad or studying abroad. They were a reputable organization consisting of real people rather than some scammy website. Many, many blog and Google searches later, I found that CIEE had a program that brought US teachers to Thailand for 5 or 10 months. A bachelor’s degree, some recommendations, and a bunch of other paperwork was all you needed to apply for this program. I was immediately sucked in and I became obsessed with Thailand and its culture and people. OBSESSED. I had never wanted anything so badly, even though it seemed pretty far out of my grasp. Months later, many conversations with my parents and friends and competing my application turned into an acceptance into CIEE’s 10 month teaching in Thailand program. I was ecstatic. It was really happening! From my small town in NJ where I had lived my whole existence, I was going to be living in a country halfway around the world in a culture so unlike what I know. The months passed and many tearful goodbyes came and went, and I was leaving for my trip.
Fast forward about a week later. I’ve been in Thailand for four days now, but it feels like so much longer. CIEE and its partner organization in Thailand, OEG (Overseas Education Group), has our entire first week planned out to the hour. About 60 of us soon to be teachers have flown here into Bangkok to begin our life changing experiences. We have been staying at a hotel, with teacher training, Thai language classes, and a myriad of other activities to keep us busy, and hungry and tired. I’ve been meeting like minded people from all over the US, Canada, and a couple Australians and New Zealanders as well. We’ve all been thrown into not only a new profession, but a new country, and completely new culture.
This orientation week has helped make the transition easier, we’re getting prepped before being thrown out into this new world. This new world that consists of tropical weather, spicy new foods, warm and generous people, and a beautiful religion and culture. I couldn’t be more thrilled to actually be living out this dream I cooked up so many months ago. It’s been overwhelming and it hardly even begun. Slowly learning phrases in Thai like “sa what dee kah” (Hello!), “Khap khun kah” (Thank you), and “Chan ghin jei” (I eat vegetarian). The Thai people like when you speak their language and put in a little effort. Some man even let us in to use his home’s bathroom yesterday when we needed it. When does that happen in the US?
The highlight so far was visiting the Grand Palace today to see the Emerald Buddha and all the various structures that the Kings have lived in. I’ll blog about the King and Queen another time since it’s a whole topic in itself, but let me just say that the current king, King Rama IX is the longest reigning monarch ever and the Thais love him more than anything. The King and Queen have done amazing things for their country and people. Tonight at dinner we were presented with traditional Thai dancing which is so beautiful and graceful. OEG has really made an effort to make us feel welcome and excited about being in this wonderful country.
I am SO excited (and so nervous) about starting to teaching next week. I will be teaching primary school (elementary age) kids in a smaller city/town outside of central Bangkok called Phrapradaeng, Samut Prakan. My school is called Amnuayvidyha and it’s right on the Chao Praya river, which is the central river running through the country. In the next couple days before we leave to our respected towns and schools, we will be visiting the bridge on the River Kwai and riding elephants at an elephant camp. There is so much to look forward to and I can’t wait to share.