How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice.

Welcome to TinaInThailand!  I recently graduated from college, and I’m starting this blog to document the next 10 months that I’ll be spending stumbling through my post-grad gap year around Southeast Asia.  As I hope to go into marketing(eventually), I’ve started this blog so that I can both a) show something tangible to employers after my year of playing Anna and the King b)keep the homies up to date and mainly c) write to entertain myself so I can look back on my own escapades and LOL in the future.

tinaandtheking

Realistic, no?

graduating

Spotted: Newly baccalaureate millennials in their natural habitat.
Photo credit: David Phillips

1) What possessed you to take a gap year to travel when you can get a big girl job that pays to go on vacations, while simultaneously fattening up your 401k?

Special shout out to Papa O(my dad) for asking me this question only about 600x, before giving in & giving me “one year to get my proverbial shit together” before I get a stable job.  In Fall of 2014 I was ~blessed~ to study abroad in Florence, Italy for a semester.  Ask anyone who’s studied abroad, living somewhere and visiting somewhere are two completely different animals.  It’s like going to a Stanley Cup final vs. playing on the winning team.  Plus, it also allows for time to travel for cheap and see a bunch of different places, instead of being limited by fun adult things like car payments and limited vacation time.

2) When did you decide to teach abroad?

At the end of my junior year, I was taking the bus back to my sorority house at school.  I bumped into a friend who was graduating.  Let’s call him Kitten.  Kitten had just been drowning his senior depression in Beaver pitchers at Ted’s, 1 of 3 watering holes at UConn, and was also cuddling a pizza box.  Kitten decided to impart his very wise not-post-grad-quite-yet advice.  He said after graduation he was working in his home town at a car rental company.  He said he knew life was never going to be better than college, specifically when he peaked in Spring 2014 at his frat house.  Kitten topped that off with a cliché “college is the best 4 years of your life, enjoy it while you can” and soon my 20 year-old self was having a full-blown quarter-life crisis.

In one of my Spanish classes in school, a professor had told us that the Spanish government hires native English-speakers to work as teachers’ assistants in Spain.  I googled “how to teach English in Spain without going broke” and clicked on the first paid search result that popped up.  I saw they also had programs in Thailand.  So this year, I applied to both Spain and Thailand, and after 2 months of indecision I picked teaching in Thailand.

3) Why Thailand?

I don’t actually know, it just seems interesting.  Maybe I was initially inspired by pretty pictures of elephants and palm trees on Pinterest?  Who knows, but here I almost am.

perfectthailand

I mean how could you not want to live in completely realistic place like this for a year?(s/o to Pinterest for my high expectations in life)
Photo Credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/minube/10-islands-for-a-perfect_b_4266423.html

4) Do you speak Thai?

Yes.  “Pad Thai. Tuk tuk.”  Boom.  Four-word vocabulary going strong.

tuktuk

Visual of a tuk tuk, AKA a Thai taxi-ride-of-death, for anyone unfamiliar with the term. 
Photo credit: http://missosology.info/~missyorg/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=193307
Disclaimer: Once I arrive in Thailand, I will do my best to use as few stock photos as possible, as I just dropped a large chunk of my life savings on a fancy camera and I also support authenticity.

4) How the hell are you teaching English to Thai students if you don’t speak Thai?

110%.  It would definitely be much to my benefit if I spoke Thai.  However, many countries, especially in Asia, hire native English speakers from Canada, the US, Australia, Ireland, and the UK to come teach in their countries.  Think back to language classes you’ve taken, have you ever had a Spanish professor who only spoke to you in Spanish?  If you’ve studied Spanish at the high school or University level, probably.

There’s these handy dandy certifications you can study for that allow you to teach English in many countries, including Spain, Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, various countries in South America, etc.  Once you are either TEFL or CELTA certified, you can teach English in any country that accepts either certification that thinks hiring someone who doesn’t speak their native language is a good idea.  I am currently taking an online course to get TEFL certified.

5) So what exactly is this “teaching” business that you claim to be doing?

I have been placed at Bunhanjamsaiwittaya 3 school in Dan Chang.  This is a rural town in central Thailand in the Suphan Buri province, about a three-hour bus ride northeast of Bangkok.  The school is public, about 2,000 students in size, with class sizes ranging from 40-50 students.  I’ll be teaching ninth grade 40 hours a week, Monday-Friday from 8:30 AM-4:30PM.

bunhanjam

Photo credit: OEG Teach Abroad Thailand
A picture of the staff taken in front of my school, included in my acceptance letter.  So I believe those squiggly lines read “Bunhanjamsaiwittaya 3” in Thai.

6) Are you nervous?

Yes, I’m extremely nervous about the following:

  • The potential of not having air-conditioning in my apartment
  • Large bugs
  • Accidentally eating cleverly disguised bugs
    • I like to think I’m an adventurous eater, but silk worm salad?  Hard no.
  • Possibly not having a roommate who is down to kill scary bugs on my behalf

Other than that nah, I’m pretty chill.

It’s still May, and my flight doesn’t depart until June 5.  I have a few American mini-travel posts coming up before I leave, so come back!  If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my first post!

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