I just looked at my previous post and realized it’s been three weeks since I’ve written on here! When I think back on why it’s taken me so long, I realize that I’ve been really busy….and maybe a little lazy.
I’m an English tutor for the time being, until my actual job at a school starts in May. I teach SAT English, TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), GMAT English, and IELTS (International English Language Testing System). I also teach some communication and grammar on the side. During this super exciting panic about the coronavirus (we’ll get to that in a bit), some schools in Thailand have shut down. March – April also tends to be a “summer” break for some students. Therefore, more students are going to tutoring classes. I teach many interesting people from Thailand, China, and Korea. Most of them are middle or high-school students, but I have some adults and young children too! While some of these classes can be tedious and challenging (some students don’t speak much English at all), it’s very rewarding! You begin to connect with the students and become invested in their success as English speakers.
So let’s beat the dead horse that is coronavirus for a second. You’d think that because Thailand is so close to China, we’d have a big problem. However, I haven’t seen much of a change in daily life. Every once in a while, I’ll get my temperature taken if I’m going to a crowded space. There’s hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE you look. Some government schools (we call them public schools in America) have shut down and major events such as Songkran (the Thai new year) have been cancelled. However, the grocery stores and markets are fully stocked and we have plenty of toilet paper. Maybe that’s because Thai people don’t really use toilet paper….they use a form of bidets.
If you watch the world news, there appears to be a mass panic everywhere that would make one feel like a second Black Plague was….plaguing the world. It’s odd to watch this panic over something so similar to the flu overshadow the concern we all had over Ebola, Swine Flu, or even the regular flu – all which, what I thought, were more deadly! It makes you wonder how social media has negatively impacted the spread of information and fear. Either way, I’m ok here in Thailand and there doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for us.
I WAS supposed to go to South Korea this month and I WAS supposed to go to Vietnam next month, but both of those plans went down the drain with all the toilet paper the rest of the world seems to have hoarded. For now, the Corona virus is nothing but a nuisance for me. I know for others, it’s much more serious. But for those worrying about me, I’m just fine!
So let’s switch gears to some more fun stuff! When I came to Thailand, one of my goals was to make friends with locals and learn the Thai language. I’m proud to say that I’m doing both of those things! Following through with these resolutions have put me in some pretty exciting and unique situations. I’ve found myself in a car with two Thai friends, driving through this gorgeous countryside until we get to a massive limestone cliff that we are able to rock climb on. I’ve found myself looking at 5,000 year old hieroglyphs on limestone walls and hiking 6 miles to these beautiful secluded waterfalls, saying hello to elephants along the way. I get to eat this delicious food on the side of a road while looking at some surreal landscape that you simply cannot find in North America. I can show up at a restaurant, be given heaps of food, and sing karaoke with the locals. During each one of these moments, I get a chance to stop and really appreciate where I am and what I’m doing. I sometimes think back on the stress of my old job at home and the worry I had about money. Those things are simply all gone now. I work enough to afford a comfortable living here (which isn’t much at all) and I get to have these once in a lifetime experiences.
As I’m slowly learning Thai, I’m having to get comfortable with looking like a complete idiot every day. Once I accidentally asked for china coffee instead of iced coffee. Thankfully, most people I talk to are so happy to help me along the way. One day, a waitress at a nearby cafe saw me practicing my Thai writing. She exclaimed, “ahhh so cute!”, and immediately started asking me questions about how long I’ve been learning Thai and how much I can understand. Now, whenever I go to her cafe, she teaches me new words and asks how I am. Even as I took a break from studying Thai to finish this writing, a local excitedly asked me about how my learning is going and how long I’ve been here.
So that’s where I am right now. I’m drinking in the joy of living on the other side of the world. I’ve found myself with many new friends and acquaintances, which has given me these beautiful and unique experiences that I simply wouldn’t have gotten in the hustle and bustle of American life.
One thought on “Coronavirus, Cave Exploring, and Communicating with Locals”
I am so impressed with you and your life. It is very interesting about Thailand’s reaction to the virus. As you know, the world has gone crazy over the matter. I am on the local hospital board. I am receiving numerous communications about the panic.
Take care of yourself.
Sent from my iPhone