While July was summer break in America for most people near my age, it was most definitely not for me. July falls smack-dab in the middle of rainy season in Thailand, and it also falls smack-dab in the middle of the academic semester. So my necessary trip back to the States was 50% the best (good weather and relaxed Americans) and 50% the worst (my colleagues all giving me the evil eye as I left them behind during midterms week).
Now, why was this trip necessary? BECAUSE, GRAD SCHOOL! YAAAAAAS.
Ahem. It really and truly was because of grad school. But, to be more specific, it was because I’m enrolled in a hybrid Masters in TESOL program which involves one-two weeks / semester of in-person classes. Every July, these in-person classes take place in California, and every January, classes take place in Thailand. (Convenient!) These lectures kickstart the beginning of whatever new class is on the agenda, and then, for the remainder of the semester, I submit my research assignments via the lovely Internet.
I’m completely sold.
After an extraordinarily lonely first year living abroad, the idea of REAL-LIFE PEOPLE! NEW FRIENDS! FACE-TO-FACE LECTURES! was like cake to Kate Spade. I was all over it, and, luckily, it turned out just as I’d hoped. I met up with one of my best friends on a long layover and hit up Santa Monica; I ate all of the foods I’d missed with my parents and another best friend back on the East Coast; I grabbed coffee and pizza and falafel and fro-yo with new friends in-between lectures; and you better believe I booked it to the Chipotle .3 miles away at least a handful of times.
Note: If you click on each photo one at a time and then wait for it to load, you’ll be able to read each caption.
Second note: Much thanks to Kelly for the far left and middle photos in the bottom row! You + Santa Monica were the greatest layover combination in existence.
So, when it was actually time to buckle down for classes, here’s what was up for bat: Teaching English Pronunciation. Seven to eight hours of class every day for five days in a row was no joke — especially when a test, a research proposal, a small presentation, and numerous graded homework assignments were involved (talk about déjà vu! I thought I was a teacher, not a student!) — but I can honestly say that I loved it. Of course my energy gradually began to decrease each day, but the subject matter was fascinating to me. I love that my classmates teach all over the globe (we’re all in the same boat!) and that we can put what we’ve learned into immediate action upon return to our respective countries. Among twenty-or-so of us, we cover Thailand, Cambodia, China, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Indonesia, and California! Seriously, I cannot say enough about (1) what a fantastic idea this program is and (2) how fantastically implemented it is. Here’s to the rest of the semester + beginning a new one together — Thai style — in January!
As for jet lag, my body cut me hecka slack. I made it through a 13-hour daytime layover in LA without a hitch, slept on my red-eye, and arrived at my destination the next morning able to power through another day as well. I remember having about three days in a row where I’d lay down for a nap in the early afternoon, intending to sleep no more than an hour, and then I’d wake up at dinnertime. Oops! But, other than that, jet lag was not killer at all. I’m so thankful, as I’ve heard terrible stories in particular about what re-entry to Thailand is like after being with family, friends, and your favorite home-y foods. Even then, I was able to power through my first week back at work with minimal napping and only slight fatigue. I also remember feeling genuinely grateful for my break from the constant barrage of expat life yet not overcome by homesickness at all. Praise!
Well, after that spillover of memories, I’d say it’s time to wrap things up! As for now, I’m making my way through two more weeks of teaching before final exams. Then it’s time for a semester break. Thank you, calendar; I’ll gladly accept.