Bangkok was a whirlwind.
I set out to teach English overseas. This idea hadn’t come to me until I had graduated college. I have always had a love of travel, but I never thought of traveling and working at the same time. It was a foreign concept to me, as I had always thought of traveling as purely for vacation only. When I saw this opportunity I pretty much leaped for it.
I had never traveled by myself before and wow, did I look it. Tramping through the airport with my 70 liter backpack strapped to me, I felt like Cheryl Strayed in her book “Wild”. But instead of hiking PCT, I wandered around the Atlanta airport in an attempt to find my connecting flight to South Korea. I had 20 minutes.
Sweaty and desperate, I finally found the gate. They were motioning for me to hurry. I am now running to the gate while simultaneously searching my wallet for my ticket. I literally felt like I was in a movie guys, I seriously almost missed my flight. But I got on the plane, and while 30 eyes from coach looked me up and down, I thought it would be best to change clothes and put some deodorant on. The flights were smooth from there, and I landed in Bangkok, ready for a shower and a good nights sleep.
The next few days were jam packed with activities, meeting people, taking naps, adjusting to the food, the time difference, and learning about how to teach Thai kids English. The greatest part was that I found some great people that I really enjoyed being around. Forming relationships overseas when your traveling solo is the backbone to a great time in any country in my opinion. It can make you or break you if you don’t.
Some things I learned about Thai culture:
The Wai is one of the most important gestures in Thailand. It’s like a handshake with a “hello” in the western world, but more respected. Put your hands together, bow, and voila! Wai to your coworkers, elders, and it even helps to Wai when crossing heavy traffic.
Non-confrontational Talking Style
Thai people are not confrontational at all and it is best to avoid losing face and becoming angry or arguing. Disagreements are best when you are nice and talk about things that are going well, then bring up the problem you want to talk about.
You can’t fail the kids. Yeah. Thai children don’t fail their English classes and even if they do nothing, they still pass our class. Definitely a little different than in the States.
This is a ceremony we participated where staff wrapped our wrists with string in an effort to fight off evil spirits.
Games and Morning Talk
We also played English games and I volunteered to do a morning talk. Thai schools start the day off with morning assembly where the national anthem is played. As apart of our job, English teachers give a 5-10 minute talk to the students. I volunteered to do this in front of the entire orientation. I thought it would be fun and good practice. My partner and I did a skit on English greetings and used the “How you doin’?” bit from the show FRIENDS. It got some laughs and we were happy with it.
All in all, Orientation was a blast and I learned a lot. It prepared me as much as it could to teach English overseas, even with a language barrier. I have met some great people here, and MediaKids Academy’s team of consultants and human resources department are always ready to help!
If you want to read more about my experience teaching English in Thailand and traveling, check out my personal blog: www.oddandabroad.com for more information!
Happy teaching and travels!