I am currently sat on the floor of my living room apartment watching the tiny (and I mean tiny) black ants that are scurrying around, seemingly full of purpose. I am not disgusted by this tiny army of company, as I have heard from fellow students that they are battling cockroaches on steroids. In this case, I think I have the better deal.
My days have been a blur of lesson plans, written assignments, coconut juice, paper hand-outs, syrup style Red Bull, banana pancakes, sweat, confused faces, mangos and sticky rice. Today was my opportunity to deliver a grammar skills lesson. Needless to say I was feeling hot under the collar, with the sinking suspicion that my students were much more knowledgeable on the subject. Another stern talking to was needed in the bathroom. Its 45 minutes, for gods sake pull yourself together. You have exercised longer than that and that’s saying something! I made my way through the lesson, clutching at my lesson plan as if it were my life line and smiled all the way through. Fake it till you make it.
Other than teaching and fumbling my way through assignments, I have steadily become more aware of my survival skills. As a Brit stepping out of the rigidly controlled traffic system in the UK, I find myself in a place where you really wouldn’t want to play ‘chicken’. Pedestrian crossings are just for decorative purposes. Yes I know they look exactly like the ones back home but seriously this is a whole different ball game. Always follow the herd, is my advice. Make sure there is a gaggle of you when you cross so that the driver thinks twice about wiping out his front bumper. Also just because you are not crossing the road doesn’t mean for a second that you will be safe from the pot holes, random cats, mopeds, (free to drive on pavement and road by the looks of it) food carts being pushed to their next destination and over 14 million people who are either purposely rushing to their next destination or casually stopping to look at every single market stall, while you do some step dance in frustration behind them.
I forget where I am most of the time as I am so busy dodging sweaty bodies and vehicles that I rarely pause to catch my breath. It’s a place where you could completely lose yourself and strangely find yourself at the same time. A place that is so chaotic, the bubble I have been living in has burst. Everyone is making their way through this life, all with various thoughts and feelings. All with their own dreams and purpose. I have been thinking of my next step after the course. I emailed a Temple in the north of Thailand and asked if I could teach English there for a few weeks. I am delighted to say they accepted my offer. Six weeks ago I was sat in the corner of an office knowing that I would be making my way to Bangkok. At the beginning of September I had no plans to move away or do any course relating to teaching. I was actually forcing myself to apply for roles within the company. Roles that would give my life no meaning but lots of money and gold stars for my CV. I sat at my desk going through a ‘plan’ of how I would be able to succeed at the desired role. I calculated my monthly income and how much I could save and spend. I went over my CV with a fine tooth comb, every little detail re-drafted, to ensure that I was the ‘ideal candidate’. I hated it. I don’t even say this lightly. I hated how it made me feel. Lost, unfulfilled and mostly exhausted. I was completely drained and not from my work responsibilities being overwhelming but from spending 9 hours, Mon to Friday, doing a job that left me feeling numb and increasingly invisible.
How quickly it can all change. Here, the work is hard. When they say the CELTA is a beast of a course, they really mean it. I feel like I’m ‘flying by the seat of my pants’ the majority of the time. I dream of delivering my lessons with various outcomes. My brain is bursting with information and despite all this I finally feel alive. I am bubbling over with energy and cannot sleep, finding myself frequently up until 2 or 3am with ideas and most importantly, hope.
I sometimes wander down the path of planning for the future. When I finish the course what shall I do? I could teach for a year…..But what about an MA, should I still do Art therapy? What about Education? What about….. I then have to stop myself as I have made myself sick with worry in the past, desperately trying to plan each and every aspect of my life. Nothing can be gained from this apart from your experiences being tainted or all together ruined as you don’t see the opportunities that are blossoming right in front of you. For now, I will let things run their natural course. As Charlie sings in ‘All dogs go to heaven’, let me be surprised!
Let Me Be Surprised
I need Brazil, the throb, the thrill
I’ve never been there, but someday I will
Adventure and danger, love from a stranger
Let me be surprised
Today the sun, they said there’d be snow
When all said and done, it’s fun not to know
What keeps my heart humming is guessing what’s coming
Let me be surprised