It's February 13th here and as of yesterday, I've officially been in Thailand for six months. In some ways that feels like a long time. I mean you can call a month or two a vacation, even three or four months is just a season, but six months - that's not messing around. But on the other hand, six months just feels like a few months... there are people who've lived abroad for years and years, and in some ways I still feel like I'm just off the boat. This probably isn't the half-way point for me though, as my contract runs through October and I'd really like to travel for some time before going back to the states. But let's call it a milestone anyway and do a bit of an update on my goals.
Learn Thai.... um.... I've hit a plateau. After learning about 30 words in each of the first four months I've learned only 20 new words in the last two months. My grand total is about 150. Once I learned how to order food, how to buy things, numbers and general greetings, my ability to survive was assured and the motivation to learn more kind of waned. I bought some alphabet flash-cards though and am slowly *slowly* working my way through them. It requires me to have a patient and idulgent Thai person around to keep reminding me what each of the letters are, which limits my ability to learn a bit. But at least I can keep practicing those few letters I do know on my own. I'm a bit disappointed in myself, but at the same time - I've learned 150 words without taking a single formal class. That's not too bad.
Quality Time at the Beach - I go as often as I can, which is less than I'd like, but still...
I'm well past tan and heading into the leathery zone. I need to stop half-assing the sun screen and actually use it / reapply it. The ocean remains as calming and as refreshing as ever. I just love it, I love it so much... I just wish I could go every day.
Save Money - Minor fail. I got paid today and I only had about 14,000 in the account. Which means I not only haven't saved a satang in the past two months, I actually dipped 1,000 baht into my initial Thai savings. This is a tough one to call. I have absolutely been irresponsible with some of my money - I've gotten into the habit of going to McDonalds or Starbucks whenever I feel like it which is a money suck. I can get fried rice and veggies for like 40 baht at an average restaurant or a Big Mac for 115 baht. That's a huge difference... and Starbucks is worse. One iced tea - 25-35 baht at a Thai place is 110 baht at Starbucks, add in a sandwich at 90 baht and we're really getting into splurge territory. And this doesn't even include the 40 baht songtaew or 100 baht motorbike taxi to get to there and back. I've got to cut back on that if I want to save some money.
But on the other hand, I paid for my trip to Cambodia almost entirely out of my Thai money (the ATMs wouldn't take my Thai bank card =/ ), and I've gone to Ko Samet twice overnight again using only my Thai money. So I am living within my means... and managing to do some really cool things with the money I'm earning here. It's a balancing act... as is money everywhere. We've recently implemented Operation Frug (rhymes with rug, but is short for frugality), in order to save up money for a trip to Phuket. That means I'm not quite so casual about taking motorbike taxis to Tesco whenever I feel like it, and we're trying to eat at the little family restaurants instead of going to the big fancy ones.
Losing Weight - see above with the Big Macs and Starbucks. At one point I weighed myself and I was down another kg. but that's it. In fact, I might be right back up again after a recent bought of mood-based-munching. I've had some thoughts about this though. Skinny Thai girls are always complaining about being fat. And the ones that are undeniably skinny enough complain about not having boobs. The ones who manage to be skinny enough while still maintaining (or obtaining) big boobs slather themselves with skin whitening creams (every lotion in the store is a whitening cream - luster white, beauty white, baby white, white glow, fair and flawless, etc etc etc). It's sheer insanity. I've decided that this whole planet is conspiring to make women, no matter how gorgeous, feel bad about their bodies. I call bullshit!
Having seen that there is no acceptable female body - it just seems ridiculous to feel bad about the one that I have. Which is not to say all my body image and self esteem issues are gone, but I'm getting closer to just ignoring all of it.
Teaching Experience - I'm still not thrilled with the quality of my teaching for most classes. I spend a fair amount of time staring at the books trying to 'prep' for my classes, but it's pretty rare for me to come up with anything original to do with the students. I just follow the text book and hope for the best. Some of my students seem to be doing okay, some can't seem to pick up on much of anything. When I get to do the same lesson for a second or third time I start to feel like I know what I'm doing, but I'm still teaching about 70% new (to me) material.
Learn to Ride a Motorbike - I give up.
As this is a bit of a milestone, I'm going to milk it for all it's worth and ask for mail. Please send me mail, post cards are awesome. I had one of Portland and used it in a great many lessons actually, but I'm not sure where it is now. Fortunately gl. sent me one from Powells and it was used in a lesson the very next day. My uncle sent me a letter and I read a section of it to my dirty-old-men business English class. So not only will you be making me happy by sending me mail, it will more likely than not become a teaching tool which I think entitles you to write off the 94 cent stamp as an educational expense when you do your taxes.*
Plus... Bunny & Bobby get a lot more mail than I do, are you going to stand for that? ;)
- ask me in comments & I'll email you my address.
*Rebel is not a tax accountant, nor does she play one on TV, please consult a CPA or at the very least the box your turbo-tax software came in before attempting to take any deductions mentioned on this blog.
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