Saturday, November 23, 2013

Days of the Week

                Time is perceived so differently here. Whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, our village wakes up at the same time, does the same daily activities, and goes to bed at the same time. In America, I was in a habit of extremes. During the “work week,” I’d stay up late if I had to get work done for the next day, then wake up to an alarm because I was too tired to wake up on my own. By the end of a typical week I’d be exhausted and try to make up for it by sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday (sometimes waking up at times that I’m too embarrassed to write here). Anyway, it seemed normal to use the weekends as “catch-up” days, days to sleep in and move at my own pace.

                So, back to Thailand. Like I said, whether it’s a weekend or a weekday, our community makes very little distinction. Why would they? Most of the work here can’t get put on hold two days out of the week. So at 6:00 am at the latest, the loudspeakers will still go off, the roosters will still crow, the banging at the tin place across the street will still start, the motorcycles without mufflers will still speed past, and everyday village life will go on.

                At first it really annoyed me. Don’t they understand it’s the weekend? How am I supposed to get caught up on sleep with all of this noise? Oh my gosh, is that somebody yelling my name? Why do they think it’s okay to come over at 7:00 in the morning? Now they’re opening our gate? Really?? Now they’re tapping on the window…You can’t be serious. Okay I guess it’s time to get up! “Bpap diao!” (“Just a moment!”) Why don’t they have any boundaries? It’s the weekend for crying out loud! This is probably the most extreme example that I have, but it demonstrates my point well.

                Then school started and this perception about days of the week was challenged once again. At 10:00 on a Saturday night, my co-teacher messaged me on Facebook. (This will teach me to be on Facebook in the evenings!) The conversation went something like this:

                                Joy: Come to school tomorrow.

                                Laura: Sunday?

                                Joy: Yes, tomorrow.

                                Laura: What time?

                                Joy: 8:00

                                Laura: Why?

                                Joy: first day of school

                                Laura: Isn’t it the weekend? I’m confused…

                                Joy: It seems like that, but it’s not.

                                Laura: So the students go to school tomorrow?

                                Joy: Yes…

                The conversation then ended with a happy face from Joy followed by reassurances not to worry, that it’s “not serious.” Many of you back home who know me well (Mom, especially) will be happy to know that Thailand is making me much less serious. Joy constantly reminds me that I don’t have to be serious, and it’s starting to sink in more and more and time goes on.

                Anyway…the first day of full-blown school was on a Sunday. I felt completely robbed of my weekend. It felt like such an injustice that I would be required to give up my Sunday at such late notice and have to work instead. My next surprise came when later on the next day, my other co-teacher informed me that for the entire month of November we would be teaching on Saturdays too. At first I balked a little bit. Again, weekend mentality. But once I got over the initial feelings of unfairness, I realized that I could look at it as an opportunity to just be able to teach more. I’ve tried to explain in previous posts that our teaching schedule is pretty inconsistent. Some days I go to school to find that there is an event taking place that day and that normal classes are canceled. Sometimes I get Facebook messages at 10:00 Saturday night telling me to come to school in the morning. Either way, it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen on any given day.

                This month has been really busy. I’ve been teaching regularly with both of my co-teachers and am even getting an extra day every week to teach (see, not serious!). I’m pretty sure I'll be grateful for it when our teaching becomes more limited, which I’ve heard will be even more common this term than it was last term.

                I’m also starting to learn to balance my concept of “the weekend” a little bit more. It’s Sunday and I was awake by 6:30 without an alarm (just a loudspeaker down the street!). Waking up at 6:30 on a Sunday and actually getting up because I wanted to get up was unheard of before I came to Thailand. I’m getting better at not stressing out if I have to do something last minute that I didn’t expect or anticipate. I’m learning to just smile and nod and go with the flow as much as I can, and it actually feels good to not be so serious.

And just to have at least one picture...

Our 8th graders earned a popcorn/music party for their
great behavior! (Learning English is the best!)

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