Restless in Bangkok

I should have updated yesterday but I was just wiped out. Thursdays are always long and so I opted to head to bed instead of update – a choice that my few followers surely lamented but I really needed sleep. I slept for 12 hours on Wednesday night and got at least 8 last night – the fact that I can sleep that long means I need it. Once my body has enough, I only end up needing 4-6 per night.

So, anyway, yesterday I found myself quite restless. This weekend marks the end of the first month of teaching here in Thailand. I woke up as ready as ever  to teach but I found myself thinking more about how to make money elsewhere than at my current job. Not that I’m not satisfied with my pay, it’s not bad for Thailand, but I feel I could be doing more with my time and getting paid more because of it. Either starting my own business or teaching somewhere where my skills in politics, history, or computers are put to better use seemed like a better idea than going to class at ABAC. It was, in some respects, disheartening to think I was going to the same classroom I had been going to for about a month now, and the kids (at least to me) were no better at English than the day I walked in.

The day went slow but I found myself wondering if my ‘funk’ of sorts was because of my lack of teaching ability, the students lack of motivation, or a little bit of both. I have students that have already missed twice the number of classes that they can (you can miss 4 classes and still pass, more than that and you fail) and obviously just don’t care about the class. Then I have students that really want to learn English but I can’t sense any improvement since the beginning of the year. Those two things combined just came at me all at once yesterday and it led to me being a bit, disheartened with my current job, thus leading to my restlessness.

It’s interesting. In a way this job isn’t challanging me in a way that I find stimulating. Give me a job with computers, or a history paper to write, or something like that. I’ll find myself easily engrossed, learning constantly, trying to discover something new. I like to challenge myself and be challenged – I always have been like that. I’ve always tried to ‘produce,’ be it knowledge or experience, rather than consume time and energy with no purpose or goal. This job gives me none of that satisfaction. My English isn’t improving (in fact it’s getting worse), I see no improvement in my own students, and the job is difficult but isn’t challenging me to explore more in ways that I’m used to. I think part of this may be my own fault, as I’m waiting for some of these kids to show initiative that may never  come but it’s difficult to be excited and motivated to teach kids that just don’t give a hoot and don’t seem to have improved in a month.

I came  home after school with that attitude and reflected on it a bit and I was able to totally turn myself around. I realized that this job was just a means to an end and was something I should look at in one of two positive ways. One: This job is not the most fun but it’s a job that pays the bills and gives me free time to explore other options. It gives me vacation time I want and is not very taxing other than consuming a large amount of time during the day. Nothing that is good comes easy and if I find this job unrewarding now perhaps it is only a means to a rewarding end. Two: I need to change my mindset and learn how to approach these kids as a challenge. I need to find out how to make them into my ‘history’ or my ‘technology’ that I love to learn about so much so that I can strive to improve myself and my teaching skills.

Both these gave me confidence and boosted my spirits so by last night I was good to go. Nothing like a little self reflection to get you through the day. To be fair though, I found some great articles from ‘The Art of Manliness’ (one of my favorite online blogs and the author of arguably the most valuable book I own) that helped me discern my feelings and push me in a positive direction. Sometimes it helps to have a second voice of reason.

That minor one-month-crisis aside, today and this week has gone very well. I know which students of mine will pass and which ones will fail (Attendance alone, along with motivation and past work, can fail these kids. It’s very clear who is going to pass and fail, even in such a short time.) and I’ve been having most of my students watch a movie which gives them a break and allows me to catch up on organizing for class. I *almost* feel organized for class and the more time I spend at it the better I feel.

In some less school-centric news, we’re heading to the beach this weekend! Koh Samet, a longtime favorite of Loyola students, is usually our first weekend trip outside of Bangkok. It took us a bit longer than usual to plan it and get going, but we all wanted to wait for our first paycheck so we didn’t have to dip into our savings at home to make it happen. It’s always a great time, the food is usually very good (my favorite part) and it’s a great time for me to catch up on my reading. I want to try to read more over here, we certainly have time to do it, but English libraries are few and far between. Luckily, I have a few books from home that will keep me going until I can get enough money to head to the bookstore and get some new material.

Other than that, life in Bangkok is very much routine. Having a job cuts down on the amount of fun stories I put up but it does give an interesting insight into the world of a new graduate in an unusual society. I’ll keep updating as I can, you guys just keep reading!