‘Surprise!’ -Mae

6/15/16 Previously mentioned, “I couldn’t sleep,” in: https://elainewanderlusts2.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/may-june-whops/

At In less than 8 hours I was going to see my mom! What?! Also she didn’t call me when she landed or got to the hotel so I was pretty worried (RUDE!)

Sukhothai!:  6/16/16 In the morning I met with my Thai father’s ex-students who were visiting home (Sawankhalok) from university. He pretty much has these two boys whom I’ve never met to drive me and my mom around. I swear I can never repay him. We go to the airport and finally she arrives… I see her in the distance and thought, ‘Yeaup there she is.‘ Then I saw someone oddly behind her and I thought she made a friend, but then I realized that was MY FRIEND :0  I was truly surprised and kept on looking at SAM (my friend) for the first hour in disbelief.

It felt normal REALLY quick it was weird showing them around and talking but I could tell there was almost a spell between us. A strange distance was in the air and I didn’t feel like I had with them in the past; in America. 20160616_094843

A quick stop to a coffee shop then to the Sukhothai Historical Park for my 8th time! I swear I have an annual pass.

There after they OF COURSE had dinner with my Thai father who treated us all ALL Day by even giving his ex students money and not letting us pay for ourselves.

There was a lot of chats and silences in observances upon one another. Taking it in. 9 months: a lot can change. I think my Mom’s and Sam’s visit was the most reflective I’ve been about myself. It was almost overwhelming.

They came to classes with me after the caught up on a bit of sleep and we went to lunch with 2 of my host teachers: P’Yu and P’Am. It was I think the first time since October that I had 2 of my host teachers together. 20160617_114608

Kayaked (I love it!- Round 3) And it was their first time too! 13475171_1212434332108551_1169261791733254764_o

After I took them to my famous Ice cream shop and… What do you know we get caught in a STORM! water levels were even with the side walks and there was a lot of thunder and lightning cracking nearby to the point we thought we were going to get electrocuted. What normally takes me at MOST 20 minutes to walk too us 1 hour and 15 minutes running and hiding from shop to shop. Welcome to Thailand Mom & Sam! 🙂

Phuket!

When planning for only my Mom to come we planned to go to Phuket since I hadn’t been there yet. Personally I could have done without it. It felt like no other place in Thailand but at least I got to go and see. 20160618_083209

We saw the Big Buddha with an awesome view

Wat Chalong 20160619_123235

Siam Cabaret show

Patong Beach strip

Koh Phi Phi Island Hopping (round 2)

and had an awesome Thai massage. There was a lot of needed down time, eating and shopping for souvenirs (weird, I have yet to do this)

Bangkok!20160625_181424_HDR

Siam Museum (round 2)

Wat Pho (round 2)

REUINION!- So Celeste was an impromptu plan, sorta. We idealized her coming in December but it was forgotten. She messaged me again in May and BAM there she was. 3 friends/ family from Calexico in Thailand… NEVER in my dreams. But I was so happy it happened.

Lumphini Park (round 100?)

Grand Palace (round 3)

Wat Arun (round 2)

Golden mountain (round 2)

JJ Market (round 2)

Famous Khao San Road (round 3)

Malls- Who can say they’ve been to Bangkok without checking out the acres of malls…

Rooftop bar (round 3)

I really want to say Thank You to my Mom & Sam; this one is for you both! love you!

Elaine ❤

p.s. for those wondering ‘What about work Elaine??’ -I did ask for my 1 week off to welcome my mom to Thailand since April. Luckily for me, the week I asked for off was the week right before a scheduled week off -Sports week- so I did have 2 weeks off YAY!

p.p.s Mae= Mom in Thai.

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May? June? Whops!

I’d say I’m sorry but; really, I’m not. Being MIA (which I have for 2 1/2 months) means ‘missing in ACTION.’ So yes, I’ve been busy and here is a recap of the first 5 weeks!  -Take out your calendars-

1. May 16-19: My first week back to school: teaching 10 classes of seniors in high school (in America’s standards) for 18 hours a week.

2. May 20-22: No Class FRIDAY! Yeaup. First week back and no class on a Friday. A 3 day weekend where I had a FULL HOUSE of Fulbrighters. Crystal, Ia, Dee, Mimi, and my Sukhothai buddy Edie all came to my house and had a fun Sukhothai weekend. We borrowed my gracious host teachers car and toured my province for 2 1/2 days. Truthfully, it was a lot of eating, talking, and sweating. 13301433_10206363220454970_1930753015916993884_o

3. May 23-June 1: Work Work Work…(Think of Rihanna’s song yet?) After slightly tying to figure out my students level of English (because they are all new students for me) I went ahead and taught my old lesson of synonyms where I act out about 36 new vocabulary so they can really understand the difference between each synonym. It’s a lot of fun and I get mocked a lot but they learned it. Oh & they LOVE ‘Heads Up 7 Up.’Also my new American co-worker stayed over for the weekend and I showed her around Sawankhalok.

4. June 2-5: Look for a new Fulbright School. Well news is out: unfortunately another Fulbrighter will not be coming to SawanAnan Wittaya School (my host school) next year. It seems that I am the last and the show must go on. If you want my honest opinion, I think there are other schools that NEED a Fulbrighter much more than this school.  SAW already has the budget for 4 other foreign teachers when other schools can’t even afford 1. Although conveniently located with a bus stop, airport and many many good local finds less than 15 mins away, it’s not about the comfort of the Fulbrighter but the mission s/he is tending to…IN MY OPINION.

  • So my Fulbright P’s -anyone older than me- came to Sukhothai, picked Edie and me up and toured other schools in Sukhothai. It was a lot of fun rating the schools and trying to give reasons why we think they would or wouldn’t be a good match for Fulbright. Later I too went to Edie’s house for the weekend and lounged with her at various coffee shops.

5. June 6-15:

  • Work wise I was teaching conversations on how to help give directions like buying tickets or putting things together. I did this so they could verbally practice First, next, then. My students are really good and they have a lot of support on behalf of the well budgeted school. Only thing is that they don’t get to practice verbally so just a little 411. I also taught small talk conversations about jobs and goals by having them write and share long and short term goals they have for themselves. Finally I left it at giving directions using Thailand’s BTS (metro) system and giving them a script to help each other get to different points on the map (they had A LOT of fun with this one)
  • Wai Kru Ceremony: June 9th was the schools ‘Wai Kru Ceremony’ they are held in each school on different days of the beginning of June. They are held to establish the relationship between the teacher and student and for the students to wai-bow- to show they are ready to learn. The students also give flowers to the teachers all symbolizing different things but very deep if you asked me. My thoughts: This in America; never. DSC_0058
  • KAYAKING! Later that day I went on my first Kayaking adventure in Thailand down a river in my small town and I swear I hadn’t felt so genuinely happy and care free as I did for a while. 13433231_1207557669262884_7794836975156069443_o
  • Weekend! My fellow Fulbrighter-friend Crystal stationed in Lampang (3 hrs away) and her friend from America came to Sawankhalok for some small town fun which included Kayaking (yes I went again), coffee shops, ice cream, and food. It was a lot of fun and really cool to meet one of my friends friends from ‘Merica.13422435_1388117081215293_8949174448899272141_o

On the 15th I could barely sleep I was so excited. Yes, after ALL of the 5 weeks mentioned above: teaching and every weekend booked I had something even more exciting coming the next day! Read here: https://elainewanderlusts2.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/surprise-mae/

Hope that answered 1/2 of your ‘Where’s Elaine?’ question. I’ll try to be better about writing,

Elaine ❤

 

 

Back to Reality

Hello my name is Elaine Flores and I am a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (but I teach my own classes and assist no one)  M6 (senior in high school) English teacher at Sawananan Wittaya School in Sawankhalok, Sukhothai. I’ve spent the last 76 days away from this reality:

1 week in Bali// 5 Week internship in Bangkok// 4 Days in Laos// 4 Days in Chiang Mai celebraiting Song Kran// 2 Days in Pai// 4 Days in Lampang// 1 week in South Korea// 3 Days on a karaoke bus to and from Rayong// and 4 Days in Bangkok for a Fulbright meeting.

Now I go back to my reality stated before. I just flew in 4 hours ago from Bangkok and have gained a headache from sitting in my room with only 1 fan in 100f/38c degree weather. I have yet to know my exact class schedule and how many classes/ students I actually have.

Goals; I share with you that I may have more motivation to reach them: *Listed in no specific order…

  1. Learn Thai to be able to say I know ‘Elementary level’
  2. Create a fun, interesting environment to learn and speak English throughout all my classes (TBD)
  3. Save money …my future is in debt… 
  4. Find out what I will do starting October… (Yes this is TBD as well. If you have any openings for an English major intrested in Education/ loves writing, let me know)
  5. Play my ukulele more
  6. Continue to grow and make ties in my community
  7. Get fit… Extreme before and after pics with more piercings, long dyed hair, & some tats… (just kidding parentals) Just get fit

News:

  1. My host teacher relied the info that every Wednesday we will have a 5-10 minute English exercise with the whole school during morning assemblies STOKED!
  2. There are 4 new foreign teachers in my school: 2 from Africa (sorry I don’t know the countries), 1 from the Philippines, and 1 American, Californian, girl, 23 (yes I’m excited to have another person who understands my Californian culture) But of course I am sad to not have Noe & Beverly who were my Filipino, co workers (technically siblings lol); it’s okay they’re still in Thailand 🙂
  3. DRUUUM ROLLL: My mom comes next month!!! What?!
  4. My grant ends in 4 1/2 months
  5. I’m completely phone-less there may be less photos

There you have it, many exciting factors and goals to keep me motivated throughout the next 4 1/2 months. I know I will have highs and lows and many more challenges to come but I am ready and regardless EXCITED to finish off my year strong in Thailand.

Wish me luck! I start teaching tomorrow,

Elaine ❤

 

April = SUMMER!

Heat & Strides: April in Bangkok, and it is burning! I’ve seen that April has gifted snow to parts of the US regardless if it’s spring. As for Bangkok last week’s average was 93 F with 79% humidity. The craziest thing about this weather is me walking in it. I have a pedometer on my phone, but never really used it. This month is different. When I got the phone I chose for my goal to be 4 miles everyday (that was back in America). It never happened. This month, I’ve accomplished that everyday and more but once a week(ish). So thats about 5+ miles max I’ve done being 10 miles.

The difference from February to March is drastic

The goal for the year was to eat all the pad thai and thai tea I could before going back to America. Turns out pad thai is my least eaten food in Thailand and I have found other teas more refreshing like lemon tea or ceylon tea with ‘mai wan’ (no sweet) that don’t make my stomach hurt as much [I think I may be lactose intolerant *crying*]…. I’d joke with my friends how they were going to have to roll me into the plane back to America since I thought I would just indulge.

Reality is I’ve lost weight and can’t eat as much as I did in America. I try; trust me, and I still have WAY too much sugar and sweets but that’s what makes me so nice, so it’s okay. This is just the 6th month and in a city were walking is permitted. Sukhothai is different so maybe I’ve lost these 11lbs and will gain 20 after going back to my little province where I get looked at with crazy eyes for walking to the market. I’ll keep you updated.

20160331_175010DANCE: As for this past week’s events it was a lot of work but I also found a dance studio! I signed up for 5 classes with a student deal and just have 2 more. It was funny since the Zumba instructor was from Spain and asked if I could speak Spanish and we ended up having a tri-lingual conversation from English-Spanish-Thai.

WORK: Friday I got to go to another University and answer questions about the US culture and how to choose the right college. I love moments like these because I can push students to go for their goal without having to be a teacher. A student was told she wasn’t capable of doing a MA program in Michigan; they didn’t look at her credentials and barely spoke to her not realizing this chick was on point. I told her to prove them wrong and still apply and really hope she does.

 

 

Ladies night photos before I got bored and walked 45 mins home… (I miss going out in Mex).

Museum Siam: Is a great museum and highly recommended it was very interactive, interesting and one can touch everything and take photos too. I wish I could take my students here becuase a lot of them make fun of others who aren’t ‘full Thai,’ and the the theme was how, “Real Thainess has a multitude of roots.” They also had a Myanmar Up-Close section that was eye opening and moving too. I got to chose my Burmese name and it’s ‘May Sanda Win’ meaning ‘Sweet heart, Moon, Bright.’ Fun stuff.

Failed Attempt: At going up the Ghost Tower in Saphin Taksin. Yes it’s illegal. Did I think that? Not really. I saw so many people post pictures and even my own friends, I thought it was okay until we reached the gate. With talking to the guard he admitted to letting people in before but then said he couldn’t anymore since they’ve been keeping a closer watch. OH WELL. Probably best to not to do illegal actions in a foreign country, I guess…

What was initially a failure turned into a yummy success with Sushi. Also I braided and ‘curled’ my hair. It had been a while since it got styled.

I’m sitting on my last week of internship finishing projects and taking a deep breathe before I dive into my month of becoming a backpacker.  Itinerary: Laos; Chiang Mai, & Pai (Thailand); South Korea; & Rayong (Thailand).

Still debating whether I’ll be blogging for the month or not.

Wish me luck!

Elaine ❤

 

The Midterm: Day 187

 

My half way mark has come and gone, meaning I have less than 6 months to be able to have tacos and chavelas (Mexican drink). So lets see. This last week I felt like a worn out bag that you keep reusing till it’s lasts. I know that’s a pretty odd reference but I was done. I have been enjoying my time and blah blah blah but honestly it was just internal suckiness. Missing home, foods, people especially.

I was getting irritated with Thailand. Things I understood were becoming eye rolling causes. I’ve felt this way before. I’ve felt this way in America, like post midterms and finals are in two week feelings. March has tested me. It’s not Bangkok I’ve finally found the places I love and don’t want to miss yet! It’s not Thailand, like I said I’ve felt this way in America but just the time of year.

Looking back, March has really never been a good month for me. Last year I was on high stress working too many hours. Two years ago I had a life threatening car accident. And now, it’s March, in Thailand and I feel just the same. TESTED. Curious how it’s the middle of my grant year, like a MIDTERM!!

I’ve always thought that the best education is life skills and how to apply those boring books in everyday life. Meaning I think life and traveling is the best way to gain knowledge. How do we know we’re passing in Life 101? Well did I pass the test?

I think so. No matter how; excuse me but, shitty I felt, crying in public, calling my boyfriend and mom telling them how I’m probably going home…I’m here. I didn’t even stop going out. I continued pushing through this midterm and now that March is coming to a swift end, I feel another 2nd wind coming. Yes there will be more tests but for now I’m happy to say I’m passing and NOT giving up.

Do I miss friends? Yes I even missed my best friend’s engagement. Screenshot_2016-03-21-13-09-18

Do I miss my culture? Ever more so I spoke Spanish yesterday to a family of lost Latinos and it was a moment I will carry close to me because we were both grateful to have each other without knowing one another. The power of Language.

Do I miss my family? Ok i know i know obvious questions but yes.

Do I want to go back yet? No even with the back and forth and emotional roller coaster I’ve become, I even still think about staying an extra 3 months regardless if I know I for sure can’t.

Pictures from last week:

Presenting @ Kasetsart University with Fulbright

Lumphini Park

1600 PANDAS!!!!!

Thai Kanome from different Ps & coffee Everyday from P’Oy (I love that woman)

My open when letter from my two beautiful roommates (yes present tense lol) (March 25 = My mid-grant day)

Saraburi with P’ Noi (a Fulbright P who let me into her home and treated me sooo well. I simply love Thai hospitality and want to bring that back home with me too.

Rooftop bar with free drinks and a bomb burger

Easter with Ariel (Yes there are Catholic churches in Thailand)

 

I passed the Midterm, less than 6 months for the final,

Elaine ❤

 

 

 

Bangkok to Ayutthaya

My challenge of Girl vs. City is about:    Girl 3   City 3.

When I went to Bali, I took out money at the atm of the airport. Not until it was my 3rd day in Bali did I realize I lost my atm card. It was an easy fix of calling the Thai bank and canceling my card just like I would in America. I didn’t have to start worrying about this until last Monday.

Long story short, people leave their cards in the atm ALL THE TIME in Thailand. It was also heavily warned upon my fellow Fulbrighters and I in October. Opps. They assured they’d find the card and send it to the nearest branch. I picked it up and no harm done on Thursday; Except for the taxi ride back of course… (city 1)

Work: Has been really good to me. After events in Sukhothai that made me nervous to stay in an office for a long period of time, I’m again comfortable and happy in my 5 week working environment. They never let me off the hook of being lonely. Even if my space is more closed off, I have a lot of the P’s come and visit and chat about anything. Oh and of course they continue teaching me Thai. (girl 1)

20160309_115148

 

 

 

Me with Mr. Fulbright himself!

Wearing my new ZALORA dress which can be found at http://www.zalora.co.th/women/clothing/dresses/

AMCHAM Networking Party: I went to one of these in October and the results were not as …comfortable as this time. This time we got to go to Vertigo a bar on the 60th floor of Banyan Tree Hotel. Yes everything was deliciously free, even the countless glasses of wine we enjoyed. (girl 1)

~~~~Moment you walk 3 miles to accompany a friend to the Vietnam Embassy and pass it by a 10 minute walk…then need to walk back…~~~~

(city 1)

Housing: I’m a 15 minute walk from work which is nifty, thrifty, and HOT. It’s okay I can shed all the yummy street food I have right? Truthfully I was in complete shock when I entered my room. I read that the room was the size of the bed, but didn’t take it literally until I saw it for myself. I found the place on Airbnb. Small, very very small, but good location & and pretty okay pricing for set location. ALSO the host also owns 3 beautiful playful huskies! It really makes up for the small room. As well as the host, he’s really friendly and is always down to help….Along with the room comes great company from all over, pictured is food from Sri Lanka that a guy brought down to me when he found out I only at a 7/11 microwaved corn. It’s hard to explain to people that I’m a social eater and eating dinner alone just doesn’t sound appetizing.

Ayutthaya! I’ve been waiting to go here for a long time now. Ayutthaya is one of the first cities of Thailand, where it was a country all in its self. The Burmese destroyed it in 1767 and was founded in 1350. Can you say History? Any way we caught a 60 baht van in Victory Monument to get there, rented bikes at December House for 50 baht, and saw the old city and it’s coffee shops for A/C. A great day trip from Bangkok for sure. I do suggest not visiting in March/April since it is the hotter months in Thailand. Lesson learned.

Bangkok Trekking: A rather small trek really. Visited the Nation Art Museum, Learned the bus system (still learning [City 1]), and went to Golden Mountain. (featured are other places like Lumpini and other parts of Bangkok

A successful first week, but I’m really glad I have a few of my Fulbright fam. to tag along with. (Girl 1)

Elaine ❤

Happy 5 Thailand

I’ve imagined myself cheating on my boyfriend with Thailand. I get excited when we reach new levels of comfort. I like that I feel home in Thailand. I also get really cute and celebrate how long we’ve been together and do monthly anniversaries. As so. 5 months in Thailand (well technically tomorrow) but luckily our honey moon stage isn’t quite finished yet.

See we were getting off on the wrong foot after my New Years trip. Thailand was giving me sas with it’s cultural differences. We were also spending too much time together. Luckily, I had some good company to get away from the situation and I told Thailand we needed some space and will being going to Bali, Indonesia for a week. It might have hurt Thailand’s feelings but he got over it and gifted me an internship with the Fulbright office in Bangkok. I think Thailand’s considering long term. We’ll see.

ANYWAY I’ve been MIA for a tad longer than a week but it feels like forever. I missed writing and sharing photos of beautiful Thailand, so i’ll update you:

  1. I got an eye surgery to remove my stye. SO painful! It was not enough anesthesia for me. Just 15 minutes and it healed fine; but still, I’m not sure if I would have done it knowing the pain I’d endure.
  2. I found out my students are going to change the world. For their final I gave them interview questions of their choice for either a sports team, a university, or a job. They answered I edited…344 papers. Once they were done they would type up the finished product and interview each other. I was mostly listening to their pronunciation, effort, and confidence in speaking English which has improved since I arrived!
  3. After their final was done SELFIE TIME! These students are seniors in high school so saying good bye really is Good Bye ❤   featured M6/01/1/2/3/4/5/6/7
  4. I’ve been given some extra love from students on Social media, that also answered my question if I was a good teacher this semester.
  5. I had a relaxing weekend with my Sukhothai Buddy: Edie! Where we found some good lounges, coffee shops, and explored Sri Satchanalai a lot more.
  6. Hung out with Kanoon, Cream, & Noe and FINALLY explored more of Sawankhalok (I’m never actually in town on the weekends).

    <Mango Sticky Rice>

I feel relieved fixing this blog situation to continue sharing my upcoming adventures: Bali, Indonesia! 2/28- 3/5. I’ll be going with 4 other lovely Fulbrighters and already have a volcano tour booked.

Love,

Elaine ❤