In Thailand, punctuality and efficiency are not stressed, nor really acknowledged. I find myself wanting to know everything regarding my schedule and my curriculum, but nobody will give it to me because they really don't know and they don't seem to worry about it. I quickly noticed I ask WAY too many questions, and it seems to come off as annoying and irrelevant.
I have to sit in my office from 8am to 4:30pm after scanning my fingerprint at the front of the school, then sit at my desk and "lesson plan" all day. The problem is, I have no idea what I'm doing, or how to teach, and I figure the best way to learn is to just jump in an do it. Since we don't start teaching until Monday, I have a lot of down time. So right now I have my week one lesson plan for all 16 of my classes taken care of, pretty much an introduction lesson about myself. So far my 8 hour "work day" is more of a time to play on the computer, and everyone else does it too. There are a couple women in the department who are the head English teachers and they work ALL day. The other teachers giggle and shake their heads saying they work too hard, "like Westerners." The rest of us are on Facebook, reading articles, playing games on our computers, and nobody really cares.
We took a "short" lunch today, an hour and a half. One of the English teachers took us to one of her favorite spots in town and drove us in her air-conditioned car (thank the gods). She ordered for us, making sure to get me something not too spicy (yes I am still a wimp give me more time) and some Thai coffee (recipe: cup of sugar with a splash of coffee and evaporated milk). For 6 bowls of noodles and 5 Thai coffees it cost us 250 baht, roughly 8$, and the food was better than any Thai food I've had in the states.
Lunch Time: Ramen noodles with Pork
We pile back into the car and drive past the plethora of rice paddies that make up green Chaing Rai and arrive back at school. Even the pace of walking is slower in Thailand. My short legs propelled me faster and further than all my peers, and I found myself looking back on how slow they were walking.
Then I thought, "What is my hurry?"
Maybe it's because it's a bagillion degrees and I wanted some sweet cool air from the English room, but then I realized there IS no hurry. No one was worried to make the lunch break in a certain time, they were simply enjoying each other's company on the slow walk back to the school. I then evaluated how I normally go about my day in the states: I was always in a hurry to get to my car, to park where I can find the best spot, to speed my walk up to a brisk pace as I walk into work and immediately start working. It's like my body is trying to prove how hard I am working by how fast I'm moving.
But here, there is no rush, there is no stress in the air. Everyone is enjoying each individual moment, and that's what us Westerners seem to miss quite often.
In the States we seem to worry about what has happened or what will happen, never the sweet relief of the present moment. Because in this exact moment, nothing is wrong, everything just is. And stressing about what isn't or what will be or what has happened is just denying what is. And once you accept that, everything is already okay.
Here's hoping the pace of Thailand will slow me down and help me appreciate the beauty of the present. I'm definitely trying to accept this.