Filtered in Thailand

Last week I wrote a lie. I filtered myself and what was really in my heart and mind. I said, “Regardless I’m dealing and happy.” Last week I was not happy. Last week I was troubled. I was stressed. I was hurt. Now yes, thank goodness good laughs and Fulbright family have healed a needing soul; but from the 16th to the 20th I was fogged with negativity from my own thoughts and the Thai world around me.

First I hit a stump having to leave a fun planned English Camp early. I was really sad. My one time to not feel filtered and be my true American self was cut to 12 hours rather than the approximate 2 days I had planned. Going home to loneliness and my own head was worse. I could have; should have, picked up a book, colored, played my Ukulele ANYTHING. Instead I sulked. Not literally crying, I just felt lifeless. I had to remind myself that this has happened in America and it happens when I feel listless. Which I have been with all my classes canceled.20160119_102753_HDR

Next, during dinner on Sunday I was told that some Thai teachers were teasing my Thai father and ‘mad’ that he “takes the foreign teachers out to travel and eat TOO much because now they are FAT UGLY”  I’ve been luckily warned that this would happen. That being called fat in Thailand is common and not really meant to be harsh the way people in America understand it. Example: one day you’re SUAY (beautiful in Thai) and the next you’re FAT.                                                         Well this was the first time I heard it. I expected it but ugly. That hit harder because I have had to stop wearing makeup and wear my glasses because I have a stye on my eyelid. I was very nervous to show up like this to work. I felt embarrassed of how I looked because in Thailand looks mean A LOT. I have come a long way to noticing, realizing and appreciating my natural beauty. Back home all summer long make up rarely touched my face and I still felt fabulous. In Thailand I feel as if I have spiraled 6 years back to my self conscious high school self. ALSO this meant that Thai teachers were gossiping behind my back, an aspect that is sour memory reminding me of home and the battles of living in a small town.  ***Note: I’m good now and yes I know I’m pretty and not fat, it just sucked at the time.

To top it off there is drama in the office two days later. The day after I write in my journal that ‘tomorrow will be a better day I have the choice to make it better’  Well not quite. What seemed like foreign teachers vs. Thai teachers and stress about contracts, misunderstandings and he said/ she saids. I was done. I felt like a Looney Toons mountain that was beautiful and full of life and then ends up falling lifeless because it was a prop the whole time.

I am the sand that moves with the ocean back and forth through high and low tide. In other words I feel what others feel and move with the energy of the atmosphere. The office was hostile. Luckily bad events heal with time and I was able to talk to some Thai teachers in order to find understanding.

The Now It’s Better Part:

I stopped being filtered. Stopping myself from being who I am is a toll on me mentally and physically.

I went to an English Language English Seminar about Communicative Language Teaching! I refreshed my mind on what I learned during my TEFL/TESL certificate and was able to be a student again! We were broken up to teams and my team won 1st place! This really gave me some teaching motivation and ideas to use for next semester.

I was able to see Fulbright fam. After the seminar I was dropped off at Daniel’s school where other Fulbrighter’s were holding an English camp and had a good Saturday night with good food, drinks, and laughs.

Next up: Starting a new lesson, A Reunion, finding an internship,Bangkok, Chiang Rai

Wish me luck with my new lesson!                                                                           Elaine ❤

Day 116

** I found this gem in my 6/01 classroom when there was NO class and I was uniformed BUT…it definitely felt good 🙂

My students we’re preparing for their academic day so I got to take a couple of pictures of all their creations. If there is one thing Thai students are amazing at is arts and crafts.

Weekend English Camp at Phu Hin Rongkla National Park, Phitsanulok!1452743336542

Woke up Friday morning and didn’t go to school in order to travel for the camp the next day. 2&1/2 hr bus ride to Phitsanulok and met up with a fellow ETA, Daniel. It was cool because I was able to see his class and see his set up. I really liked it you could tell the students knew what was coming. This is actually the 4th school that I’ve visited that isn’t mine, it’s fun to see the differences throughout all the schools. 20160115_124518

After his classes were done we hopped on a bus for the national park … about 2 hours standing on a bus… yup my feet hurt.20160115_173306

Reunited with Ia, Mimi, Thomas, Dee, & Daniel.20160115_204700

We ate and prepared a Thai song to sing along with a skit for the students the next day. We were EXCITED!

We took a group photo that I failed to ask for, and got “unfortunate news.” We’re all joking around and ready to hear ‘the plan.’ The plan was not what we expected. P’ Mae (Ia’s host teacher in charge of the whole show) tells us she had unfortunate news and that English Camp was CANCELLED. umm what? Turns out the students were driving in the rain and the car slid and they got into an accident. I got a chill down my spine; waiting for a number of deaths, luckily everyone survived just injured.                                                                                                                           Now what?

We packed up and did Sunday’s plan: go see pretty places in Phetchabun. Wat Pha Sorn Keaw. I had been here before in November, TWO months ago already. Since then the museum has changed, but the Buddha has probably only gotten whiter. Going to a place for a second time made me think about localizing. What is it to be a local? I believe it takes 4 years to call oneself a local of any place. Then again seeing something for a second time in a foreign place, made me feel a bit of a Thailand local. I know that’s not the case, but it was a slightly cool feeling.

After Daniel and I were dropped off and took a bus back home.

As if that wasn’t enough travel for me, later that night I was invited for dinner… all the way in Uttaradit! 1 hr and a half away. Ahiii. But I couldn’t say no, I didn’t want to say no. It was cool because after we went to this festival/ market that the government throws in each province to help those locals. Pretty much whatever the festival makes the locals get to keep because it’s a lot of donations. I really like how Thailand supports one another, and that is greatly seen everywhere.

I have been here for 116 days. Maybe 114 because of my flight delay in the beginning. Better yet, 116 days I flew out of San Diego, California. Trust me I’m not counting I just conveniently found that my countdown app had saved my countdown to fly out and has now been counting up the days since I left. I will admit the honeymoon stage is over. I’m trying to find things to keep me going, it’s easy and hard altogether. If some responsibilities/ workouts are hard to keep up with in America, it’s much harder over here. Regardless I’m dealing and happy. What’s really helpful is knowing that nothing would make me as happy and keep me on my toes as being here in Thailand. (:

Best from the teacher’s desk,                                                                                     Elaine ❤

Breaking the Habbit

A rather late post but some unpreventable factors happened:                                                                                                                  -MAJOR ‘I’m going to die’ back pain                                                        -Domino effect after factor 1

Teaching from the 4th to the 14th: What is ‘To teach?’ I wouldn’t know, 85% of my classes have been canceled for midterms or preparation for Teachers Sports Day or Academic Day. How am I coping? -Thou shalt not give up or lose motivation due to unstoppable factors

What I really want to talk about: Social Media                                                                   Coming from a person who is abroad, away from friends, family and day to day updates; it’s great. The exception is that I’m not only THAT person. I’m a person who wants to engage in the Thai culture, ask people from Thailand deep questions, or play charades to get their answers. I want to even forget factors from home so when I go back I can think, “WOW I almost forgot about this?! How did I live without it?!”

Those are wants, what has actually happened since coming to Thailand is me limiting my social media to Facebook, Instagram, Skype and Line (like Whatsapp). I pretty much swapped snapchat for Line and only use Skype with one person. I also vowed to only post pictures on my blog and Instagram (which could be shared to FB). October, I was doing great. Always having Fulbrighters I needed to get to know amongst me really helped.

Moving into the real deal in Sawankhalok, Thailand: I was still pretty disconnected. I had to get adjusted, meet new people, and go out and explore. That was November through early December.

Late December: I downloaded Snapchat. I started my two finger scroll on my Mac Book mouse pad. Scrolling through people with families on Christmas. Pressing a button to watch friends take shots in celebration with other friends for 10 seconds, images of Mexican food…

Two weeks later: I’m searching for my friend to send them a message. Not on Facebook. Not on Instagram. I messaged them on Snapchat. “Where are you!?!” They reply, “I don’t want to worry you but I was feeling depressed, the doctor told me to delete all of my social media.” A whirlwind hit my brain. I realized I myself was feeling low; not a homesick low, just a general low from seeing other people do things I use to enjoy. Not jealous nor negative- a general low. I even recognized the feeling because it happened back home too.

Why I can’t let go even if I WANT TO                                                                                 Snapchat: it’s the only way to communicate with that one friend and two little brothers Instagram: I just uninstalled it. -Little victories                                                                         Facebook: I know I could get rid of Facebook and just keep Messenger for communication’s sake BUT… ~It’s my news source since I follow: CNN, NBC, Today, BBC ect.// ~Girls Love Travel: A new Facebook group I’ve followed that actually gives good advice on places to go and things to see/ do all over the world and has already helped// ~The people I’ve met in Thailand. I’ve added them, ALL OF THEM and they add pictures of me. I want those pictures for memories. It’s the only way to save them. Therefore I’ll keep it, but limit my time doing the two finger scroll.

One Last Note on Social Media in Thailand                                                                      It is everywhere. Students are ADDICTED. Probably high schoolers everywhere, but for some reason, it’s more intense here. There are apps to make their skin more white, and cheeks rosy in pictures. But, that’s unfair to the students because the adults are as addicted or worse. They take a picture for everything. I’ve even been told, “take a photo and send it to me so I can check in,” as the person was driving. I found it entertaining at first, and still do. The only disheartening moments are when we’re all at a large table with a lot of delicious, amazing looking food, and I look up waiting to meet eyes with someone to give them the, “Let’s dig in,” face but everyone is looking down at their phones. Then when I’m about to dig in they all scream, “Wait!” before I put the spoon into the home-styled dish because they want to post a photo of the food on Facebook. To these moments all I can say is, “Go with it and just make that selfie face ;D”

Can’t wait for this weekend where I will help lead my first English Camp!

Live in the moment,                                                                                                                 Elaine ❤


Hello 2016 or Should I Say 2559

This past week flew. I expected it to, but it REALLY flew one day it’s 2015, the next it’s 2559. Crazy.

Monday’s highlight: During my evening jog, I saw my host teacher and waved. She rolled down the window and said, “Get in we’re going to eat.” (I might as well have been called Cady …Mean Girls reference anyone?) I replied, “Like this? I smell, no it’s okay.” Nope. I was sweaty but on my way to dinner. I love these moments I only find myself having in Thailand.20151228_184827

Next day I found no students in my classes and everyone was very SABAI. P’Buddy (my P I go get coffee with) asked if I was free. I sure was. We drove 20 minutes out, almost to where the next Fulbrighter was and I was getting a little nervous. We never leave more than 5 minutes past the school. We end up at a silverware factory/ store. Oh okay. We were going to look at some cool Thai culture and jewelry. Well I walked out of the store with some beautiful earrings that was apparently my Christmas gift. I also got to play dress up.

Wednesday came along and I was suppose to help MC the Christmas show on the 30th… Awesome!… Not so much. I did my opening duty and ran off to the office. The students at the assembly didn’t understand me, why was I even there? I felt like a monkey. I was also asked to tutor another student…I cracked. My two groups I have now were by choice, this one felt like too much. What made it worse was I couldn’t say no. One of the administrators was helping the other Thai teacher do charades to get her point across. ***This is the reality of being abroad. Very amazing and fun but also overwhelming.*** All was good after a 30 minute cool down. After I finished my MC-ing joined students for some karaoke and lunch. I also got a panda and M&Ms from the late Xmas santa 🙂

NEW YEARS ROAD TRIP:                                                                                         Start time: 12/31/15 12:30pm              End time: 1/3/16 11:55pm         Sawankhalok, Sukhothai to Khon Kaen (5 hrs 30 min.)                               Khon Kaen to Kalasin Bus Terminal [Pick up Ia] (1 hr 8 min.)                     Kalasin Bus Terminal to Ban Maha Chai, Kalasin (1 hr)                                         Ban Maha Chai, Kalasin to Sirindhorn Museum (55 min.)                             Sirindhorn (Dinosaur) Museum to Buri Ram (3 hrs 26 min.)                               Buri Ram to Prasat Muang Tam (1 hr 5 min.)                                                             Prasat Muang Tam to Mahasarakham University [dropoff Ia] (3 hrs 14 min) Mahasarakham University  to Sawankhalok, Sukhothai (6 hrs 33mins) Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 3.28.43 PM22 hrs and 33 mins in the car. Which means 1,566km aka 973mi.

Events:                                                                                                                                 -Fireworks and Countdown @ Khon Kaen

-Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon (Temple- 9 story chedi)

-My Thai Fathers high School students reunion party

-Farm in Kalasin

-Dirindhorn (Dinosaur) Museum

-Buri Ram /-Imobile stadium

-Phnom Rung:Khmer architecture site, aged over a thousand years old.Built on an extinct volcano, it was originally a Hindu religious site and later became a Buddhist one.

-Prasat Muang Tam: Shiva was mostly worshiped here

-Khao Kradong Volcano Forest (Many stairs, precisely 297 Naga raj steps)

Oh and to explain 2559, that is the year in Thailand. Thailand’s calendar follows the Thai solar calendar, Suriyakhati and now follows the Buddha Era. Luckily enough for me, they also understand 2016.

Happy New Year!                                                                                                         Elaine ❤