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Settling Into My New Life

As quickly as the care-free fun in Chiang Mai and Krabi started, it ended! I knew this would be the case, because ya girl is NOT made of money. Once I got home from Krabi, I started looking for jobs.

I quickly learned that finding a job here is pretty easy. I applied for a tutoring job about ten minutes away from my apartment, and that night, the company asked me to interview with them. It turns out, the interview was more of a 5-minute “when can you start because we desperately need an English speaking tutor” type of meeting. They wanted me to start the next day. I was a little surprised at how easy and quick the whole process was….but I was in for an unpleasant surprise.

My new boss told me in broken English that I would be teaching two Korean kids – a 5 year old and a 7 year old. They needed a new tutor because the previous tutor was “too high level” for them. I thought that meant that the old tutor was teaching them things that were too difficult. When I asked what they had been learning, my boss shrugged and said she didn’t know. That afternoon, I pulled out all of my material from my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course and slaved away at a four-hour lesson plan for the next day.

When I got to class the next day, I was nervous. I was also confident that I had planned to the best of my ability – I had easy games and fun toys for these two sweet little kids! Turns out, I was wrong. Really wrong.

I walked into my classroom and found not two kids, but four kids. These kids could speak English pretty well, too. I brought out some flash cards and the kids breezed through them. At this point, they realized that I was going to be an easy target. Thirty minutes into this four hour class, the kids just completely stopped listening to me. They screamed and ran around, flickering lights on and off. One of them was sobbing because he was trying to play with LEGO’s while the others kept turning the lights off. Two of them kept locking themselves into another room. The rest of the staff at the school didn’t have keys to this room, so I would just have to wait until they’d come out. These kids were a nightmare. I was exhausted.

About three and a half hours in, I determined that these kids were not going to learn. At that point, I decided to just put YouTube videos of The Avengers on for them. This finally quieted them down until their parents came to pick them up. I had realized that the class was probably actually too “high level” for the teacher, not the students. They were mean and misbehaved because they didn’t want to be there.

I went home feeling defeated, exhausted, and isolated. This was the first time since I’d moved to Thailand that I felt like I was completely alone. Was I in way over my head? Was it a mistake to move here? Why did I think that teaching children would be a good idea??? I got a business degree, not an education degree!

My friends and family were literally on the other side of the world. I hadn’t made many friends yet and no one in my neighborhood spoke more than a few words in English. I had that terrible sinking feeling in my gut that just wouldn’t go away.

As uncomfortable and sad as I was, I knew I had to embrace these feelings. Brief thoughts of quitting and going back home flashed in my mind, but they were overpowered by the fact that this discomfort was only temporary. I told myself that I’d rather be feeling this short-lived discomfort than being stuck in my old routine back in the U.S. As awful and discouraging as my day was, I reminded myself that things could only get better from this horrible experience.

Of course, I reached out to friends and family, who sent me a tidal wave of love and support. They reminded me to keep going and that things would get better.

Things did get much better quickly. I only had to tutor the four kids for one more day and I had the power of YouTube to calm them down when they’d get unruly. My other students are bright young women, ages 14 – 30, who actually want to learn English. We’re able to have fun conversations about their lives and their interests.

I’m still working on my work-life balance. At the beginning, I was pouring too much time into lesson planning. Once I got the hang of time management, I was able to start adding social events to my schedule. I’ve found most of my friends through – you guessed it – the climbing gym.

So now that I have a routine, I’m starting to feel a little more at home. I wake up, go to a coffee shop to work and read, ride my motorbike to work, and then come home to some sort of social event or adventure. I still get uncomfortable a few times a day – but that’s to be expected. Things are so different here compared to America, and I have so much learning to do. I’m slowly learning some Thai as well as how to not look like an ignorant tourist.

Once again, I find myself wanting to write ten more paragraphs about the people I’ve met and the places I’ve seen. Each experience and meeting I’ve had seems to warrant its own post. I’m looking back at this exceedingly long-winded story, and I’m wondering how many of you have made it this far. For those of you who are still with me, thank you! I promise I’ll be adding some more exciting stories in the near future.


2 thoughts on “Settling Into My New Life

  1. Alex…thank you for sharing and keeping it real. Always know I think of you often and I regularly lift up a pray of support, encouragement, and love to you. Stay safe and keep smiling that beautiful smile you have.


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