Back to School!

Well, it’s finally here–the new school year!  It was a long, fun break that saw many beloved teachers leave their Thida posts and a great group of new teachers come in.  They’ve all hit the ground running and are doing a great job so far!  Teaching our MEP 1 section is Matt, P2 is Shea, while Scott and Hannah take the P4 classrooms.  Finally, Ben and Megan round out the P5 and P6 classrooms, respectively.

Of course, getting the new school year going involves a lot–simply getting to school and the classroom, of course!  The new teachers have done a great job absorbing all the material, working to make their classes fun and engaging, and being friendly to the students.

For myself, I’m on my last turn with my current class.  I’ve seen them grow from little ones in P3 all the way to P6!  It’s been fun to see their development, personality, and unique style grow over the past few years.  The P6 material is definitely material that needs review before entering the classroom, but it’s sharpened my knowledge and anticipation of questions, problems, and areas of trouble.

The P6 students are off to a great start.  We had our first math quiz on multiplying fractions followed up with a scientific method spelling quiz.  While the school year is still brand new, the goal is always to get through as much material as possible during the first semester.  Sports Day, various holidays, and other events always pop up, so it’s important to grind it out now while there is still time!

I’m looking forward to a great year and think it’s going to be a fun and memorable one!

Eye Care in Surat Thani

Originally posted on Tar Heel Voyager

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It is an unfortunate truth that I am blind as a bat wearing a blindfold without my contacts or glasses so it was necessary I properly prepare when moving to Thailand.  I made sure to bring a year’s supply of contacts and my glasses just in case but eventually my stock ran out and my specs were scratched.  It was time I visited the an eye care center for the first time in Thailand.  Rest assured my fellow sightless travelers as eye care in this Southeast Asia hotspot is a breeze to find (barring the language barrier).

Contacts are amazingly simple to obtain, comparatively inexpensive, and well made.  Walk into any eye care center and you can pick up one or as many pair as you like.  I use monthly contacts which cost roughly ฿180 ($5) per pair.  I’ll be bringing another year’s supply home with me as the price is far to good of a deal to pass up.

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Glasses are also cheap and simple to obtain, although it can be a bit tough getting to appropriate lenses (such as automatic, scratch resistant, etc.) because of the language barrier.  If you already have the frame you can buy new lenses for as little as ฿450 ($13).  The frames are priced in a variety of ways.  The more local brands can go for less than ฿3,000 ($86) and more popular brands, such as Ray Ban or Playboy, can go for upwards of ฿8,000 ($230).

Eye care centers are extremely simple to find as well be located in any Central Plaza or peppered along the main roads.  One of Thailand’s most popular companies is Top Charoen, easily recognized by it’s light blue signage.  They are almost as abundant as 7/11s… well, that might be a stretch.  Top Charoen has also been offering a “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” promotion for a long time so you may be able to benefit from that.  Unfortunately the options available were not that numerous so I reluctantly wound up with the pair seen below.

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If for any reason you are not sure of your prescription the majority of eye care centers can perform screenings for free.  Just another tick in the affordable healthcare box.

Eye care is one of the more simplistic medical needs that can be taken care of while in Thailand.  Whether you are living here or just a backpacker passing through all it will take is a bit of your time.


Check out more posts about Thailand at Tar Heel Voyager.

Water Cycle Science Projects!

Over the course of my time with my students, I’ve found science class can get a bit bland.  The text is a bit advanced, which means a lot of big words that are hard to pronounce.  Luckily, this year’s material has lent itself to some outside the box ideas the students have really enjoyed.

I started making posters with my kids last year and they took it and ran!  I think we were both happy to not hear me talk!  The overall idea has been the same.  I randomly (making sure the groups are evenly spit with ability) select groups and they decide who is going to do what.  Each student must speak, each student must contribute, and each student must show myself they’re making an attempt to learn more independently.

For our Water Cycle projects, I had three groups–two groups of six and one group of seven.  In hindsight, I probably should’ve made the groups smaller to avoid the horseplay, but part of the idea is to have them enjoy with their friends while working at the same time.

I was really impressed with what the kids produced!  Students brought in pictures of cloud types, stages of the water cycle, ‘air’ pictures, wave pictures, etc.  They did an excellent job of labeling things and producing a clean, enjoyable poster.  Of course, there were the finishing touches with some glitter and flowers!

Our final stage was to present in front of the class.  Of course, the kids were a bit nervous, but they spoke very well.  Part of their responsibility when presenting was to make sure they had proper body language–pointing to what they were talking about and facing the class.  They’re a bit old to put their nose to the poster with their bottoms facing the class.

One of the best parts of these projects is it gives me a better understanding of the kids’ personalities.  I see who’s a bit more reserved, who needs pushing, who needs monitoring, etc.  They’re at the age where they’re developing and changing rapidly, so it’s not longer the same class I had in P3 or p4.  Of course, I’m sure they’ll be quite different in P6!

Here are a few pictures from our posters:

 

Enjoying Craft Beer in Surat Thani

*Originally seen on Tar Heel Voyager

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One of the most difficult adjustments this traveler had to make when living in Thailand was the severe lack of diversity in beer options, or, at the very least, easy access to those options.  It can be quite difficult to dig yourself out of a pile of nothing but Chang, Leo, and Singha beers, but rest easy as a true craft beer scene is beginning to emerge in the Land of Smiles.  The options are still severely lacking but it is becoming a bit simpler to satiate your hops craving.

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A Great End of Year Celebration!

Sadly, another year has come and gone at Thida!  This has been the second (or third) year for many of our teachers, so a well earned celebration was in order!  We gathered at the Issan restaurant at the corner of Wat Pho and Karunrat for a great meal and a wonderful time!

Much as life tends to do, this year went by way too fast.  While we’ll miss our outgoing teachers, it was proper to gather everybody and have a feast to appreciate one another’s accomplishments!  Also, we welcomed the STIS crew and staff to make it one big, awesome affair!

The food kept coming and coming–plates of chicken, short ribs, som tam, soups, fish dishes, pork dishes, etc.  It was a massive feast!  I don’t think I’ve seen that much food ever on a table!  There was plenty to drink as well–bottles of vodka, Sangsom, and scotch helped everybody wash down the spread with.  Of course, there was some extra left over to take out with us for a fun evening out!

I’ve been at Thida three years now and I’m very proud with our staff!  They’ve worked very hard and developed their skills while also being team players and contributing to a great office environment!  It reminds me of my first year at Thida back in 2014!  With that said, we wish everybody safe journeys moving on to their new adventures–some people are going home, some people are traveling, and some people are staying at Thida (myself, Tom, William).  Friday’s dinner was a great way to say thank you and we appreciate Peter opening his wallet and providing us with one last opportunity to hang out together outside the office!  I’ll personally miss everybody’s efforts as manager, as I think we have a great staff, which will be hard to replace.  They’ve set the bar pretty hard so we’ll have our work cut out for us next year!

Here are a few snaps from the event:

All about arts and crafts

This year we’ve had a fantastic time making masks and crazy creatures in club. The students got to really let loose designing wonderful body coverings for their animals. I always try to build new skills into the activities, so we have experimented with cutting holes and braiding paper strips, as well as rolling and folding paper in various ways. It’s been a lot of fun exploring all the possibilities of something as plain as paper.

Small additions like googly eyes and straw handles really made their creations come to life. Frogs with lolling tongues and butterflies with beautiful, elaborately decorated wings flapped their way around the playground. Some students even got to complete their projects and then begin adapting them. They made Pokemon puppets and cute cartoon decorations which were mounted on strings.

It’s always so interesting to see how each student responds to different tasks. Some like to work carefully and methodically, using a traditional colour pallet. Others like to make wild patterns and abstract forms. Some of their drawings give you a real insight into how they view the world. It can be really fascinating. There are definitely a few budding artists, designers and illustrators in the group. I hope they continue to be able to express themselves in this way!

Saying Goodbye To Thailand

After almost two years, I have reached my final month in Thailand. Although it’s sad to leave, I’m happy for all the great times I’ve had here and excited for the adventures ahead in Vietnam. Last week, my students and co-teacher surprised me with a wristband they made for me, which made me melt a little inside. I’m going to miss them lots. I’m also proud of how far their English has come along after two years with me. As far as class goes, we’ve covered pretty much everything in the book and still have a week left which I will use for review and some fun activities so we can end on a good note where they hopefully have good memories of me rather than “Sit down please!” or “One more time and you’ll be writing sentences ’til you’re my age!” Currently, I am quite busy preparing for Vietnam. I just got my visa approval letter and now I’m researching as much as I can about Hanoi; finding a job, best places to live, dos and don’ts, etc. I am also preparing an application for grad. school in Bangkok (so maybe I’ll be back before I really leave). So, that’s fun. On the apartment front, I’m sorting, selling, condensing or throwing away my belongings. The lighter my travel load, the better. I’m struggling to sell my bike, which makes me sad because it’s an awesome, reliable bike. BUY IT ALREADY. Anyways, I think that’s about it. Good luck if you’re coming to Thailand, the people here are lovely! And the food. And scenes. Later!16664952_10212516067246163_2000596334884576149_o16487421_10212515975723875_4876467403767719565_o