So ends week one, and I almost forgot how exhausting it can be to be a student.
One of the great things about Fulbright Thailand’s ETA program is the extensive orientation program that the directors have designed to help us get ready to teach, live, and stay safe over the next year. Covering everything from Thai language classes to lectures on Thai politics and education to discussions on Thai cultural norms and expectations, the days are long and mentally exhausting (so much new information at once!). However, it's super clear that this month in Bangkok is going to be incredibly useful and fun!
Probably the most helpful part of this past week was spending two full days with the ETAs from this year. Fresh off their grant period, it was absolutely fantastic to be able to talk to people who have already gone through a similar experience. The 12 former ETAs were so fun to talk to and had so many eclectic, funny, unbelievable, and fantastic experiences. They told us that we’d always be stared out for being farangs (the Thai word for white, western foreigner), constantly confused, unable to get straight answers, overwhelmed by teaching at first, but we would love our schools, students, and the country. Their best advice? Just go with the flow. Done and done.
Orientation has also been great, because, as cheesey as this sounds, it’s also been a great way to begin to be integrated into the Thailand Fulbright family. A smaller but mighty program, our the directors and staff seem to view us ETAs as their kids and we are told to look to them as our P’Mommies and P’Daddies. They’ve been nothing but supportive and have taken the time to get to know all of us, which feels so nice.
When we’re not busy being oriented, we’re still being tourists to the max! Yesterday was especially great, because we finally were able to make our way over to the historic district. While we originally had planned on spending the day at the Grand Palace, we instead spent a couple of hours checking out the National Museum, somehow ending up in a tuk tuk that took us to a river and canal tour, and then we explored Khoa San road a little bit. Soooo touristy, but so much fun!