Day in the Life

Trip Start Aug 08, 2009
1
9
42
Trip End Jun 01, 2010


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Flag of Thailand  , Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya,
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sorry I haven't written on here in a bit. I was sick for a while, and so I'll just write about what's been happening and then about what a normal day is here. I realized that school started on Wednesday for everyone back in Seattle, so maybe we can compare/contrast what a normal school or work day is for each of us.

On Tuesday there was a welcome party for Charlotte, Julianne, and I. Charlotte is from Scotland and Julianne is from Northern Ireland, they're here with Project Trust to teach conversational English. They're 18. Unfortunately, I don't get to see them much since they're teachers and I'm a student, but it's nice to have someone to speak English to. The welcome party was fun though, there was great food of course. I'm starting to be able to tolerate spicy food and I gave a speech introducing myself in Thai, so I got to show up the scottish and irish girls. They don't have to learn Thai since they teach English. There was also karaoke of course. Somehow they found some English songs and got Charlotte and I to embarrass ourselves too. I also learned that the Muay Thai teacher, who doesn't look a day over 45, is turning 60 next week and is retiring. My great night came to an abrupt end when we went to the hospital and there was a pickup truck with an old lady collapsed in the back at the entrance. I can't seem to go a day without seeing something that surprises me all over again.
 The past few days at school have been a lot better. I'm starting to be able to read Thai. I can sound out the letters on a label or a book and then of course, everyone will laugh and correct my pronunciation but I'm starting to recognize a few words. Not that I have any idea what they mean.. Since the Muay Thai teacher is retiring soon I'm taking full advantage of all the lessons I can get. I went to the primary school today to teach English to the Grade 2 kids, but I ended up teaching them how to play Duck Duck Goose. So at least they learned two English words. They actually helped teach me Thai, they kept bringing all these signs with the days of the week written in Thai and I'd sound them out. They're so cute. They all follow me and call my name. Being a foreigner has its advantages.
 
There's going to be a big Sports Day presentation at the end of the month. I was just informed that I'll be doing a Muay Thai and a sword-fighting demo in front of the whole school. I can't even remember what they want to me to do.

I suppose that I had the notion that you really discover yourself and learn a lot when you're abroad. So far I've learned how young I really am. I can do practically anything or go anywhere I want by myself or with minimal help in America. Well, besides driving. Here, I'm really just a 15 year old kid. Especially with the language barrier, I have to rely on others a lot for just about everything. It's totally different. I don't want to lose my sense of independence. I foolishly tried to find the science building myself and got lost. I'm staying optimistic that I'll be able to do things once I can speak Thai.

Along with Muay Thai and sword-fighting, I've been doing track after school with my friend Bow. It's not really track, you just run laps around the school and then do sprints and such. We had a game of football today, girls vs. boys. We had 3 girls guarding the goal and still lost, but not until after I stole the ball from one of the boys and scored. It was สนุก (pronounced sa-nook). That means fun. I love foreign keyboards! Things are starting to look up here. I have one more week of school until exams and then there's a holiday, so maybe I'll go to Bangkok or the beach. This Saturday I'm going to Bangkok with Khaowfang, I'll pick up some souvenirs for everyone back home :) Okay I'll try to give a narrative of a normal day here. It's kind of hard since everyday is so different, with different classes and different people. But here's a broad overview.

The alarm goes off at about 6:30 and the first thing you do is regretfully turn off the AC. Then if you're lucky, the hot water will already be working in the morning. Then get dressed in your school uniform (I'm not posting pictures because it's too embarrassing), and step over Lam, the stray cat, sleeping outside by the door. Then I get to school at about 7:45 and all the students which is well over 1,000 line up around or on the field depending if it's wet or not. The tri-tone bell rings, and we all take out these little red and white mats to sit cross-legged on without shoes. This assembly involves singing the Thai national anthems, saying prayers to the Buddha, and then more announcements. Of course I just doze because it's all in Thai. Today we had to sit on the concrete for almost 2 hours because some monks came to talk at the assembly. They put these awful buckles on the shoes that the girls have to wear so when you sit down, they dig right into your feet. I was so thankful to be walking again. After the assembly, usually my class goes to homeroom. Homeroom is a time for students to discuss with the teacher exams, problems, etc. Except that the teacher usually doesn't even show up, so this time is really just for finishing homework, talking, or sleeping. The boys here are WAY outnumbered. In a class of about 35 students, there's about 3 or 4 boys, 5 at most, and the rest are all girls. Then it's off to class, and the classes change day to day so you always have your timetable on you. Sometimes it'll be physics or math, which I don't understand since it's all in Thai and I usually just practice writing the Thai alphabet. Everybody has to have a uniform look. Same clothes, same backpack, same notebooks. There's also no jewelry allowed, no nail polish, no makeup, and your hair has to be put into a pony tail. Girls are also supposed to wear a bow in their hair but I haven't been able to bring myself to do that yet.
 
You don't wear shoes for most of the school day. In fact, you really only wear them between classes and during lunch, where we eat in the "canteen" as they call it. You take off your shoes before you go up the stairs to a building and leave them outside the classrooms. You buy lunch in the canteen for 20 baht (less than a dollar) and there are other things such as fruit, crepes, slushies, ice cream, etc. available. And chicken blood in the form of jell-o.. Not so yummy. Since we have an hour for lunch, the rest is spent at tables outside to just hang out before period 6 or practice Thai dancing or boxing. You always wai the teachers when you see them. A wai is when you bring your hands together like a prayer and bow your head to your hands, to show respect. The school itself is about as different from an American school as you can think. It's hard to explain.. everything is organized differently, and it has a different atmosphere. There are seperate buildings for each subject and there's never classrooms on ground level because of flooding. The only room with AC is the teachers lounge too. It's always boiling hot out. This is actually the rainy season, and winter starts in November. It's not going to be cold. At all. Everybody has these cute little face rags to wipe the sweat off. It's like having a cell phone in America, everyone has one. I have a Garfield one (the cat). Classes are over around 3:30, and then there's period 9 which is either volleyball or running. I suck at both, but at least it's fun. At about 4:30 I usually get a ride with June on her motorcycle to the hospital since my host mum is sick right now, and then home. At home I usually just practice Thai since I don't really have any homework. The teachers don't expect me to do physics, adv chemistry, or math assignments written in Thai when I can't even read the papers.
At night, you take a bath before 10, since the water shuts off then. I don't know why. You also wash your socks since the feet are very dirty in Thai culture, you can't expect anyone else to touch your socks or shoes.

Well that's basically an overview of a school day here, although everyday is totally different. Hope that gives you guys back home an idea of the school I'm at here, as opposed to in America. I'd love to hear how the school year is so far, or what a normal day is for you. I'll post pictures soon!
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Comments

nwflyer
nwflyer on

Good to hear some more.
Hey Alaine, it's good to hear some more from you, it has been awhile. I know you were getting a little down but, at least from the last post, it sounds like things are getting a bit better, or at least you're getting used to the routine. The morning ritual of singing the national anthem and saying prayers brings back memories of elementary school in Canada. Every morning we'd all gather and sing 'O'Canada' and say the Lords Prayer. I can still remember all the words to both to this day. Sounds like you keep pretty busy during the day, hope you find things to do in the evenings. Drop me a line, I'm thinking of you. Love, Dad

mswmommy
mswmommy on

Way to hang in there :-)
Hi Alaine,
You are amazing to keep going every day and allow yourself time to adjust to such a different place. That would be hard at any age, and you are doing it at only 15! A girl I knew in high school, Karen Connelly, went to Thailand for a year of school when she was 17, and everyone was in awe of her going so young. She then wrote a book about her experiences there called, 'Touch the Dragon,' and won a prestigious Canadian book award - the Governor General award. I think your blog entries rival her book, and you are even younger!!! Love Aunt MJ

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