I was placed at a boarding school in Chiang Rai. The first week for anything is pretty exciting so I wanted to give you a breakdown after orientation! Hint: I mostly ate my way through the week. I want to preface this by saying every first week will be different depending on your school and the time of year. I’m sharing my first week so you can get a general idea of what it will look like for you. But a thing to remember about Thailand - expect the unexpected!
Monday was my first day of school. My co-teacher picked me up from my house around 7:30 am to head towards the school. Once we arrived, we went to the morning assembly (this happens outside by the flag poles every morning to listen to the national anthem). Afterwards, I was shown around the school by my co teacher and then she took me to 7/11 for breakfast. A very interesting experience for me - we got rice and chicken heated up in the 7/11 microwave. Once we arrived back at school it was then time to go out to eat lunch with my English department colleagues. We all hopped into a truck and headed to a local restaurant where we ate a lot of somtam family style. Somtam is a papaya salad that comes in different ranges of spiciness. After lunch, I had two classes to teach. I made an introductory powerpoint for the first week. I ended school at 4:30 pm and headed home. My co-teacher then invited me out to dinner (where of course I said YES). We went to a Japanese style restaurant and feasted! I got home around 8 pm and ended the day tired and full!
Tuesday morning, I taught 3 different classes. I was invited to eat lunch in the school by two of the older students so they could practice their English as they are getting ready to apply for university. After school, I was so tired I went home & slept the rest of the night.
I arrived at school in the morning and taught one class first period. Around 12 pm I went out to eat lunch with my colleagues at this fabulous restaurant where I tried tom yum. The rest of the afternoon I talked with students. After school, my co-teacher took me to a market very close to my house and school. From there I got a taxi into the city center to get drinks with other English teachers in my area. We talked about how our first week was going so far!
Thursdays are my SUPER easy days. I have no classes! So I got some lesson planning done in the morning and then was asked again to eat lunch with some of the students. After lunch, I planned some more until the end of the day. After school I went with another English teacher to the mall to get cleaning supplies and shop around for my apartment. At the mall we did indeed eat McDonalds. We were both feeling a little homesick and of course what’s the closest thing to home here? McDonalds. Haha.
Friday’s are my busiest days at school. I teach 3 classes in the morning and 3 classes in the afternoon after lunch. Lunch was really cool today! Everyone in my department brought in food to cook/eat and we all shared. After school, I went and rented a scooter. I’m in a pretty remote place so it was very necessary to rent a scooter to get around.
It’s the weekend! Another English teacher invited me and a few others to go explore a waterfall! We went to Huai Kaeo Waterfall. It was quite the adventure - we actually got lost along the way and were trying to scooter up a big mountain! Very dangerous and definitely fell off the motorbike once or twice. Let’s just say that I am grateful for helmets. Once we finally made it to the waterfall, it was breathtaking! We hiked up it and then hiked back down to swim. Before it got dark we went to the Saturday night market. There were a lot of food stands, accessories, clothes, thai massages, nail painting, etc. There was even a stage where people were singing and playing music. Right below the stage were people dancing. It was a truly incredible experience!!
On Sunday, another teacher and I went to the area called Mae Yao to see the Buddhist temple Wat Huay Pla Kang. This temple reminded me why I love traveling and experiencing other cultures. Wat Huay Pla Kang is like no other. The style is completely different from any other temples found in this region. It has traditional Thai elements and Chinese elements blended together. The big statue is of the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. After visiting the temple at sunset we met up with another English teacher for dinner in the city.