I'm actually feeling a bit better today, I think the antibiotics are working. I ate relatively plain chicken and rice for lunch. It's weird actually. It was chicken fried in fish sauce... and it was quite tasty. I remember when I bought some fish sauce back in the states to try it out, I was completely repulsed by the smell and even the smallest taste. But I understand they put it in everything here. Fish sauce was, I think, the only seasoning on my chicken - it didn't taste fishy at all, mostly salty and I don't know... yummy. Maybe it's that they cook everything at such high temperatures, they get rid of the fish taste and all that remains is the salt. Who knows. In any event, it didn't cause me any problems.
I made it through my classes well enough. I had to give a surprise exam today. I felt really bad about it. Actually, the whole thing was a bit of a mess. I've only had this class two or three times and last week was canceled, I only got around to thinking about it again on Tuesday and when I saw that I was running out of room on the attendance card I asked the front office when the course would be over. They told me that today would be the last day and I had to give a test. You know... over material I hadn't even finished covering. =?
It's a two hour class, so I tried to plan a review hour that would essentially cover everything on the test. Yes, teaching to the test, it's horrible... but it gets worse. They were like "Can't we postpone the test - we didn't have a chance to study?" but I checked and for whatever reason we had to do the test today. Ugh.... let's just say - if they all end up with the score, I won't be surprised. First I let them use the book. Second I was only supposed to play the listening section twice but I played it three times... and then some of the students just started 'helping' each other by repeating the relevant sections (ie - the answers). Then there was a speaking task... I let them do it as a role play instead of having them each do it individually. And of course while I was out of the room listening to the speaking sections I'm fairly certain they were all 'helping' each other. Yeah... the scores will have no reflection whatsoever on what they've actually learned on the course. Well, I guess they'll reflect what the class has collectively learned on the course.
Mai bpen rai. I don't feel great about it, but I'm not sweating it too much. This is a business English class, and they all work together. So it's not like I'm sending them off to take the TOEFL unprepared or anything. They need to use English in their jobs and if they don't understand something - they can ask one of their coworkers. Also - in my limited experience, this class was placed at a lower level than it should have been. It's an Elementary class, but they are all far more fluent than my Pre-Intermediate class. So, we'll see. I'm going to make it a point to do some longer-term planning with the rest of my classes and find out when I need to give the tests for each of them.
My real gripe of the day is the new teachers who just arrived -two 22 year old Californian girls. Oh lordy! They're nice enough, and I'll probably hang out with them a bit... but man alive the one girl would.not.shut.up! I'm going to call them Bobby and Bunny just for the hell of it. Bunny is the mouth of the operation, I've barely gotten two words out of Bobby. I'll look straight at her and ask her a question like "So, Bobby how do you like Rayong." and Bunny will chime in with "Oh we love it!" Lordy lordy lordy. They just arrived a few days ago so they are about as green as green can be, all bright eyed and full of wonder about every little thing. I know I know I know... I was the same way. It's karmic justice, I'm sure.
I wouldn't have minded so much, but they were in the teachers room waiting around for their orientation and I was desperately trying to plan that test review session and only had an hour before my next class. It's incredibly hard to focus on countable and uncountable nouns with Bunny prattling on about how excited she is to go buy a big ol' bag of dried squid for the gals in the front office and how she's a vegetarian but she's totally going to buy the biggest bag they have and she can just see herself wandering all over Ban Phe with a bag of dried squid on her shoulder and OMG isn't that the funniest thing ever.
Did I mention they're going to be my new neighbors as well? The two Philippino girls just moved into a house so these gals will be moving into their room. Really, it'll be okay. They'll probably settle down after the first couple of weeks, and we'll all settle into a groove of some sort. I'm sure they'll have a ton of questions about teaching, and guess what - I'll be the expert! It's really funny actually. The addition of two new girls was all it took for me to feel instantly bonded to the other teachers. I feel like a total veteran looking at the new recruits... casting knowing glances at the other teachers as Bunny goes on and on about their adventures doing laundry and going shopping at Tescos.
I'm trying to at least give them the benefit of the doubt. We might end up getting along really well. On the other hand, I'm more than a little irritated that there are now three teachers from California at the school. I moved to Oregon because I did not mesh with California. And I really haven't been able to maintain many friendships with people I knew in CA because it's just a whole different planet down there... a whole different mentality. So of all the places in the English speaking world for the new teachers to be from... I just can't believe they're from the one place I really can't stand. I want the Aussies back... the Brit, the Canadian... heck - even the Texan. =/
I think the honeymoon phase of this whole experience is coming to an end. Real life is creeping in around every corner. I'm trying to let my inner voice guide me, you know, I want to head towards that which makes me happy, and away from that which makes me unhappy. But I know I can't expect every moment of my life to be pure bliss... I'm trying to figure out the balance. I have more to say on this... but I don't want to get into it right now.
TAG - Code Bananas