TEFL training in Chiang Mai
It's been quite a while since I have taken a course or started school. The last time was in 2006 when I was in nursing school. Shelly and I start our TESOL/ TEFL training in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this next Monday and have been busy preparing for the start. The school will have us in an intensive class Monday thru Friday 9am to 3pm. Two days a week we will be in a real classroom teaching one hour each giving us 8 hours of total class time. We are both a little nervous about this as we have never taught students before. We will be in real classrooms with real students at real schools here locally. Part of my apprehension is the fact that they speak Thai and a little English. My family is full of teachers and I feel like it's in our blood and I have had teaching experience before, yet this will be different.
The Clothes Just Don't Fit
In preparation for our schooling we have had to go buy clothes. We've packed our bags full of bathing suits and tank tops, flip-flops and casual wear. We now will need to wear some dressier clothing. This has presented us with some challenges. We currently live in a country where I am considered to be a giant and Shelly is an extra-large. Finding clothes has been difficult. Most of the sizes here top out at large and even the extra-larges we have found are merely a large in the States. Shoes were first on my list and finding a size 13 here is next to impossible. I needed to buy some dress shoes and after a couple of days of trying on shoe after shoe, I finally found a pair that fit, as long as pulled the insole. Shelly has the absolute opposite problem. Her feet are small.
Getting Zen In Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Uniform Shop
Shirts and pants were also a problem. We heard there was a uniform shop near Chiang Mai University that has school uniforms. They consist of black pants and white / lavender button down shirts. We went to the shop and Shelly found a pleated below the knee skirt and I found some pants that fit. The only problem is that they are of a wool blend and thick. Although the weather isn't sweltering, it's warm in the 80s with humidity making the heat index in the high 90s.
The shirts were unbearably thick and we opted to find some others. I found two shirts at the local night market. They are two rip-off polo button downs that are double x-large. I also found a pair of pants at another store that specializes in export clothing with large sizes. Shelly didn't find anything that she liked and I found some nice pants that aren't an inch thick and wool. Now that I have two sets of clothes I am set, Shelly however still needs to find some clothes.
Construction Zone Below
Our New Place And Construction
We are still liking our place. Other than the construction next-door on a new apartment complex we are happy here. The female workers here wear long sleeves, hats, face coverings, long pants, boots etc. It's hot out and they work throughout the day like this. This is a reoccurring theme here in Asia. We hear that it's because tan skin makes you look lower class, and the people here in Thailand are obsessed with white skin. Even the all the beauty products and lotions are infused with skin whitening products. Our new place is in the same building that the course it taught, which makes it convenient to go to our TEFL Training in Chiang Mai.
Settling Into Thai Life
We found a couple of websites that offer full seasons of television shows and have been watching American tv every night on the internet. I have a converter box that connects my computer to the TV and allows us to watch movies and tv shows. We have also rented a Honda Dream Motorbike for a month for less than 100 dollars a month. We also went and got some 3/4 face helmets for around 10 dollars each. We putt around town and go grocery shopping carrying our wares in bags that hang off our arms like the locals. We are getting good at it too.
Thailand vs. Vietnam
We are looking at schools and pay scales here in Thailand and are finding that this area in particular is low paying. Thailand in general pays about 1000 dollars a month (double what the Thai teachers make) but, Hanoi, Vietnam pays 1500 to 2000 per month, and there appears to be more jobs available. We are debating leaving Thailand after our class and heading back to Vietnam in August. We think that when we get closer to graduation we will have a better idea where we will want to work. We will keep everyone posted as to our plans. I am sure they will change anyway.
On a funny note....
Don't Carry Pepper Spray In Your Back Pocket
We have a small canister of pepper spray on our key ring that we have for emergency sakes. We have been toting them around for our entire trip, and the other day we were clothes shopping in the center of town and I was hanging out by the motorbike. I went and bought some water and waited by the motorbike for Shelly to get back. As I was sitting on the bike, I started to feel a warm sensation on my butt. I thought it was the black-leather seat that had been in the sun. I then realized it was more than that.... the pepper spray in my back pocket attached to my keys.
The Ever-Burning Fire
The warming sensation turned to an ever-burning fire. A Monk came up to me and started talking to me in English. He was making small talk while I was fanning my pants from behind by keeping the fabric off my skin and supplying air at the same time. He was obviously intrigued and I told him what I had done. He gave me a strange look and said... "good day".. and walked away. Shelly then showed up and I told her I had a big problem. Showed her my pants and she thought I had an accident of sorts.
Just Wash It Off!
I told Shelly what had happened and she suggested I go to the bathroom and wash it off. Great idea, and one I was already thinking of but, didn't want her to come back and find me gone. I found a little bathroom in the back of a shop/restaurant where I meandered through a kitchen and Thai ladies cooking. I took my pants off and poured water over my pants from a scoop in a bucket next to the hole in the floor "squatty potty" toilet. (no sink) I left the shop with weird looks and laughs with my pants soaked and no relief.
I was miserable by this point. I made it back to Shelly and told her we needed to get back home and quick! The burning was getting worse and my whole ass was quite literally on fire. I haven't felt anything that intense since kidney stones in Vietnam. We later read that pepper spray is not water-soluble. So by washing my pants and soaking them, I was actually dispersing the pepper spray all over my pants. I guess neither of us knew this before washing my pants was suggested.
Getting Home In a Hurry
We hopped on the bike and I immediately realized that sitting was impossibility. The burning turned to utter pain. I stood up and rode the bike with Shelly on the back through traffic 20 minutes to home with people pointing and laughing at how we were riding the bike. At times, I was standing on the pegs with her behind me, other times I was side-saddle. Sitting side-saddle was bearable pain as long as I was sitting on my thighs. We must have looked ridiculous. The trip home from downtown where the market is to the University area of Doi Suthep Road is not close.
I made it home, put my pants in the sink with water, and took a shower after googling home remedies for pepper spray (of which there were none really) The shower felt nice, and seemed to help some, but I laid naked on the bed face down with the AC and fan on my butt and passed-out from exhaustion. After about an hour or two the redness and pain went away and I was fine. Lesson.... don't put pepper spray in your pocket. I guess it could have been worse if it had been in my front pocket.... eeeks!
View From Our Apt's Balcony
Change In Perspective
Since this incident, we don't carry pepper spray around. We have actually changed our view on getting mugged around the world and feel that it isn't necessary to carry pepper spray around with us. It had nothing to do with getting maced. Although, I don't want that to ever happen again either. What it is about is that our view and perspective has changed.
All the rumors, reports and stories of people getting robbed, mugged and shaken down are isolated circumstances. We can't go through our life with the paranoia that this will happen to us. We need to be aware of our surroundings and be smart, however not paranoid. Tragedy can strike at any moment anywhere. The safest place in the world can get you killed and the most dangerous places may be safe from time to time. We have changed our view on the world in general and have the faith that in the world, no matter where you go, people are good. There are a few bad seeds everywhere in the world, but overall we have faith in the human race that not everyone is out to get us.