When You Can Call Me Ajarn

My apologies for such a late post. What with orientation in Bangkok, the move to a new city, and the start of my new job, I’m only somewhat back on the grid. (AKA the Internet in my apartment building isn’t working).

The low-down on the past two weeks:
After the worst travel experience of my life, I arrived in Bangkok on Monday, June 3. (How’s that for an opening!) I’ll spare you the extent of my complaints, but the barebones gist of it is that my first flight was rerouted (mid-flight) to Indiana instead of arriving in Chicago as originally planned because severe thunderstorms had closed down the Chicago airport. We were able to make it to Chicago about two hours later, but by that time I had missed my second flight, plus the lines at the airline’s help desk were so outrageously long (seriously, I’d never seen anything like it before) that there was no way I could make it out that night. I ended up spending the night in the airport (a giant low point), but I did score a direct flight to Hong Kong leaving the following afternoon (the high point). The 15-hour flight went by surprisingly quickly, and from the time of my arrival in Hong Kong on, travel was smooth sailing. I flew to Bangkok a few hours later, ultimately arriving about 14 hours later than I had originally planned (at midnight instead of at 10 AM). But the major up side was being able to move through immigration and baggage claim in 15 minutes and then managing to meet up with my orientation roommate and share a taxi with her to our hotel.

Overseas Educational Group (OEG) led our four-day orientation. Typically, OEG arranges for 50-100 new participants to come in October and in May for a week-long orientation. But because a small batch of us (only 6, and all girls) were allowed to come late, in June, our orientation was condensed into four days of Thai language class, ESL teaching preparation, and a trip to the Grand Palace. Though orientation was short overall, each day was jam-packed with helpful information presented in a thorough manner. I really did leave feeling much more comfortable and confident about the new job I was about to enter. (In case you haven’t caught on yet, “the new job” is working as an English – really, ESL – teacher at a college south of Bangkok. And to explain the title of this post, I go by Ajarn, or Teacher, Laurin.)

We six orientation-ers parted ways on Friday afternoon (June 7), three of us moving to Chonburi, one to Nan in the north, and one to Phuket in the south. What a whirlwind it’s been since then! The academic coordinator of my department picked me up from orientation and drove me to school to meet the head of the department, and then I moved into my apartment. Let me just say that Chonburi is nothing like what I’d anticipated or expected. Yes, it is a busy, traffic-y, dusty city with the normal crowds and heat of Thailand, but the numerous markets surrounding my apartment building give it a bit more of a rural feel. My apartment building is really lovely, and I feel very fortunate to have a furnished studio apartment all to myself. I live within walking distance of the school where I work, I can walk to a number of market restaurants for an awesome Thai meal, and both 7Eleven and Tesco Lotus (a small store that sells groceries and toiletries) are within walking distance as well. Both my apartment and my school have air conditioning. I really want for nothing!

My school’s workweek is Tuesday through Saturday, so our weekends are Sundays and Mondays. Since I arrived on a Friday night, my first day of work was the following day. My teaching schedule for this semester involves first-year and third-year English students. I teach 6 classes, and I see each class for 3 hours per week. So, my workweek is only 18 hours of teaching time; the rest of my time at school is free for lesson planning and whatever else. Though I’m still getting the hang of the schedule and the material (I started my job two weeks after the semester had begun), I have really enjoyed my students so far and have been walking around with blue whiteboard marker ink always lurking on my hands. Stories to come! 🙂

Thanks for hanging in there while I transition into this new piece of life. I can’t promise that posts will be regular because I’m not sure when Internet will cut in and out at my apartment or whether or not I’ll always be able to upload photos. (No photos in this post since I’m typing on my work computer – boo!) But I will try my best!

I’ll leave you with this:
During orientation, I started a new devotional plan on 1 Peter with She Reads Truth. The Scripture assigned to Day One was perfect and utterly soul-warming.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure (1 Peter 1:1-2, boldface mine).
Yes, LORD.

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