Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just what I needed...

I'm still kinda wavering in and out of stage two culture shock (I don't understand anything, why doesn't anything work 'right', what the hell am I doing here?). I'm also kinda sorting through issues I brought with me from the States. I knew when I decided to move to Thailand, that a change in location wasn't going to erase a lifetime of experiences... so I'm not exactly surprised. But it is frustrating that I've come all this way and have had so many new experiences and yet still have all the same insecurities I had before. So you know, ups & downs, ups & downs.

I've been taking an in-house training for teaching Young Learners and today was the last day. Obviously it was something I needed, and I did pick up some ideas for games & activities. But it also highlighted exactly *how bad* of a teacher I am in my kid classes. So that was a bit hard to deal with. Today was 'teacher presentation' day and I wasn't prepared. I had picked out a story to present but then spent all night on line and only had the most cursory of lesson plans when I got to class this morning. The first part went well, but it kind of petered out and didn't really have a grammatical focus. And this is my whole problem, I don't have a lot of innate talent in this area, but I'm also not really motivated to work hard and get better at it. ("It's not that I'm lazy, it's a problem of motivation." ;) ). Anyway I still feel like a crappy teacher, but at least I have a couple new things to try.

After the course, Bunny, Bobby and I went to lunch. Bunny's gotten sick from the food at the Dive (the place nearest our school), and we'd eaten at Thai 101 three days in a row, so we decided to go someplace new. We just started walking and found a little food shop on the street and ordered. Bunny's food was not good... just vegetables and it was that bitter green leafy thing they put in everything here. Usually it's okay, but it just wasn't. I had fried vegetables and veggies were a little better, but the pork was weird. Some places have normal raw pork that they stir fry with the vegetables, but some places have this weird oddly crunchy cured pork... and that's what I got. It's kind of like thick cuts of not quite rancid bacon. I don't know how else to describe it. All I can say is that we'll never be eating there again. Oh, and we're pretty sure they put meat in Bunny's fried vegetables because she spent the next couple of hours vomiting.

I went back to the school and spent some time putting together my lessons and then taught two halfway decent classes. I still don't teach anything near what was expected of me on the CELTA course... but both classes are chatty and either at or above the level of the book, so it makes my job easier.

After class Bobby picked up some crackers & soda for Bunny, then we went to dinner. Neither one of us were feeling adventurous so we went to the good ol' B&B. The motherly owner walked over and we said hello. I decided to step up my game a bit, so I asked her "How are you?" and she replied enthusiastically "I'm good!" but then she kept on talking. I caught a bit of her saying "You can speak Thai." to which I said "No no... only a little, only a little." but she just kept on talking... smiling warmly at us. At the first break in her monologue I just gave her a pathetic smile and said "Mai cow jai..." (don't understand) and she laughed and we laughed... and she said a few more things that I have no hope of understanding.

We ordered some food, then lamented the fact that we always end up eating the same thing. We can't read the menus, so the best we can do is ask for the couple of dishes we can pronounce and hope for the best. OH! Important little vocabulary note. We recently learned that the word for "omlette" sounds almost exactly like the word for "penis"... yeah. So when we've been saying proudly to the waitress "I want to eat an omlet" it's quite possible that what we've actually been saying is "I want to perform oral sex." Ya gotta love it.

So yes, we were lamenting the fact that we always end up eating the same thing... and now have to scratch omlettes off the list as well. As we ate our umpteenth plate of stir fried rice, meat & vegetables we talked food. Oh, we rhapsodized about lamb stew, and swapped recipes for Mexican food. I bragged about my roasted vegetable soup, and we compared notes on roasting potatoes. Food has always been important to me, obviously, but it just takes on a whole new significance when you can't really get what you're used to eating. So we were fairly engaged in the conversation, caught somewhere between nostalgia and a wistfull longing. Eventually we finished our dinner and got up to leave. We tried to pay... but the woman wouldn't take our money - she tried to explain something and gestured over to the man at the next table. I thought "are we supposed to pay him???" (I *never* know what's going on here... honestly.) But Bobby was like "Oh - I think he paid for our dinner!" How sweet?! We said "thank you" and he gave a wai so I gave a wai back.

As we walked away we were like "Should we have gone over to talk to him?"... but there wasn't much beyond "thanks" that we could have said. Neither "I want to swim in the sea." nor "I have two older sisters." seemed appropriate, so we just basked in the glow of his random act of kindness and came home.

TAG: a random act of kindness brought today up from a Fish Sauce kind of day to totally Code Mango!


Exuberant Color said...

You had me laughing so hard I was crying. That has to be hard, not knowing exactly how they are interpreting what you are saying (re: omlette).
Maybe the kind gentleman would be happy to know you have 2 older sisters, LOL.

Good teachers had to learn the ropes too, so don't beat yourself up too much.

IamSusie said...

I wish I could help you out with the young learners. That would totally be my thing.

Bezzie said...

Hee hee, I love that it got upgraded from fish sauce by random food man.

Not everyone is cut out to teach kids. I could probably do it, but I'd probably murder the punk-assier I'm not sure how effective that would be ;-)

cat said...

Your post is hilarious! I read it outloud to my husband as we've both had the same problems in Thailand and elsewhere.

I walked around Thailand for awhile before I realised that instead of introducing myelf at Cat (Meow) to Thais, I'd been telling them I was drunk. You see, I wasn't quite sure of the tone so I just kept trying to hit it until I could see something close to recognition in their eyes. Little did I know..

Maew = Cat
Mao = Drunk

That, and telling taxi drivers to turn penis kept me laughing a good long time :-)

Rebel said...

Exuberant - yeah, I should have gone over and talked to them, but it just caught us off guard.

Susie - Thailand is just a 14 hour plane ride away. ;)

Bezzie - what can I say, a free dinner cures a lot of ills.

Drunk/Cat - LOL. I have a student named Meow in one of my classes, I try hard not to call her "drunk" but who knows? I might be calling her "don't want" for all I know. For my part though, I put a fair amount of effort into teaching the difference between "beach" and "bitch". =?