wander process

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just when some of my interests couldn’t get any more obscure…

I bring you this. Maybe I’m not much of one for contemporary Asian pop, but give me stuff from the mid-20th century and I’m a happy girl!

Just in case you want to download some/listen to more, is a treasure trove that I recently discovered online.

A few updates – I finally have internet! Which means I can skype! The sucky thing about being 11 or 12 hours ahead of the people I love means that everything usually has to be scheduled. No matter though. I want to see your face! If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s hugging (and I miss it!). But we can’t hug. So let’s vidchat instead!

After celebrating my first big girl paycheck (which wasn’t actually that big), I bought some new headphones to replace my broken ones, I ate grilled meat, and retreated to me apartment to watch Twin Peaks and work on my homemade postcards. Like I hinted at earlier, there are many thoughts that ramble around in my head, about where I am right now – geographically, mentally, in my life, etc. Some day, these thoughts will come to fruition in the form of a poorly worded but earnest blog post.

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Cartoon Jordan

Just when I start thinking that I am not cut out for working with young kids, one of them has to go and do something super cute to melt my heart.

Here, as you can see, Namfon has made a lovely drawing of both herself and me. She hasn’t seemed to notice that I cut all of my hair off, but that’s okay. We look like princesses!

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Addressing Addresses

I have one, and you can ask me for it! Proper ladies don’t go around sharing their address on the internet. If you know me well, then you know that I take great delight in sending and receiving postcards, letters and packages through the mail.

I bought a very cool, very tiny flash drive this week. It’s so small that it freaked one of my friends out and made her nervous to use it. The purpose of sharing this information is that this means I can print and send out postcards that I’ve made myself from pictures I’ve taken! Who wants a boring old postcard when you can get something original and handcrafted? I know what I’d want.

This means that in exchange for my address (which you will definitely want), you have to give me yours! Everyone’s been moving around and changing cities and whatnot so the address of yours that I might have (and lost) is not the same as it once was. Get at me through email or facebook.

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On the Move

I’m filming like a maniac, but I’m having fun doing it! Every night, I come back to my apartment and eagerly upload the videos I’ve collected from the day. Let me know if there are things you want to see, songs you want to hear, or themes you would like to challenge me to!

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My First Week (&Weekend) As A Working Woman

I’m sitting on my bed, typing this from a Microsoft Word document because 1.) I don’t want to get out of the practice of typing from Word (and it’s already started to feel a little unnatural since I’ve graduated) and 2.) although I finally have a really great apartment, I still don’t have internet. The no internet thing hasn’t been a huge deal so far, but I’m hoping to get it soon. (I want to be able to skype with my family! I love you guys!).

I guess a little physical update is in order before I talk about my first week as a workin’ woman. My allergies have been out of control awful here! Bangkok and my nose do not get along. As is often the case in my life, I woke up too early, 6:30AM, and couldn’t get back to sleep because my sinuses feel like they lost a muay thai match and my nose was running like a faucet. Since I spent a large portion of studying abroad and my last summer abroad visiting different health centers, I’ve kind of noted to myself that it’s been weird being here and not seeing any clinics or hospitals. That’ll all probably change soon though. I need to get a checkup for work, so I’ll make sure to ask to get one as soon as possible because I don’t know if my face can take this any longer. However gross I’m feeling physically, my spirits are good!

You are maybe wondering how my first week of work went, since you are reading this blog. Well. I can tell I’m not in college anymore when I consider everything after 10:30PM late. School runs from 8-4, but I have to work from 8-5. This means waking up around 6:30 every morning. I try and get to school early, since I often have lesson planning to do that I can’t do in my apartment because there’s no internet. There’s a big room full of desks where all of the teachers sit and plan their lessons, so a lot of my time is spent in that room. I teach English 3 days a week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1-1:50. Luckily, it’s not too much time because English teaching is not my forte. I get so discouraged because I feel like I’m awful at it and my students are all over the place and can’t pay attention. To make matters worse, the school decided that rolly chairs were a great idea to put in all of the classrooms (?!). Can you imagine trying to teach a class when half of your students are wheeling around the room like they’re lost at sea? So disheartened was I by my first day of teaching English that when I returned to the guesthouse that night after class, I pulled out my GRE study book in resignation. “This isn’t for me! I need to go back to school again ASAP!” I still haven’t actually cracked the book open yet, but I’ll make myself soon enough.

Luckily, my project class, where I spend the bulk of my time is much more intellectually stimulating for me. Whereas my English students, adorable though they are, are 7-8, my project class kids are 9-10 and have a much better grasp on English. I originally was told I’d be helping out with the architecture class, but apparently a few of the kids in the architecture class left the school so my topic was changed to “Discovery Channel.” I am still unclear as to what this means. Is it “Shark Week: The Class”? What do we actually learn about? DSIL is all learner-driven, so the students choose what they want to spend their time doing, with direction and guidance from the teachers. This week, I gave a little lecture and talked with the students about UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This rocked! I loved doing the research for this and I felt like I learned more about the World Heritage Sites myself. I also made a really nice powerpoint, if I do say so. As I was making it however, I noticed that I spent a lot of my attention picking out the most wonderful pictures I could to fill up my powerpoint. I’ve become pretty photography obsessed here! More so than I already was. And that’s saying something. More on this later. So I give this talk and lead this discussion. In planning my lesson, I tried to be sneaky and get all DS-y (*Development Studies-y) with my lesson plan, and I wanted the students to think about how a large portion of the UNESCO World Heritage sites are concentrated in Europe, the US, and Canada. That was probably being a little advantageous of me. These are 10-year old students who might not be ready for liberal-arts-education-and-subjugation-of-Global-South propaganda. So maybe I didn’t get to that part of my lesson plan, but at least it kept me thinking about things. We spent a lot of time making papier-mâché representations of World Heritage sites from each continent (except there were only 5 groups, and I didn’t count Antarctica. This meant that I made little slips of paper for the remaining 6 continents. Of course, Africa (chock-full of awesome places!) didn’t get chosen, so my inner DS-student was in a tizzy over that as well). My co-teacher, Take, and I exchanged glances and a few giggles over the fact that one group, which decided to make the Old Tower in Hanoi, ended up with a papier-mâché mess that looked more than a little phallic. “It’s so ugly!” she said to me softly in English. It doesn’t help matters that the class is 8 boys and 2 girls. The boys get plenty of joking over the mess that was that project. Being raised in a family of girls and by a mother that had a family of girls, boys are very foreign and unruly creatures to deal with.

One pretty awesome thing about this job is that there are plenty of field trips throughout the semester, which gives me more of a chance to see Thailand. The kids decided on going snorkeling, going to a ghost house inside an amusement park (I don’t know much about this), and going to see a TV studio. The water is Thailand can apparently get pretty choppy and dangerous during this time of year, so I suggested that maybe we visit one of Thailand’s 5 World Heritage sites. There’s a forest that’s a few hours outside of Bangkok, so I think we might visit that. More details as this unfolds.
My week is capped off by my favorite class – Photography Club! I came to school on Friday armed with my DSLR and my new favorite toy, my Canon point-and-shoot (although to be fair, this new little Canon has more or less been an extension of me since I’ve been in Thailand this time around. I never leave without it). There are seven students in the class. I think the last teacher applied the rule that you have to have a manual camera to join the photography club, but that’s a silly rule! You can love photography and take great pictures with any camera. Sometimes having a great camera helps, but so much of photography is about everything outside of the camera that makes a picture great – the subject, the composition, the timing, the lighting. I want the students to know how to use their cameras to take pictures that they love rather than worry about whether or not their camera is fancy enough. I spent all of my first time in Thailand with a little Sony point-and-shoot and I took some really great pictures that I’m still really proud of with that camera. I first tried to get into a basic lesson on aperture, but that was clearly going over most of their heads. I guess it takes a pretty good mastery of English before they can understand when I babble on about the reciprocal relationship between the f/stop and shutter speed. In time, maybe we can talk about it. I think my problem is that I’ve mostly been instructed in analog photography, and most of the kids’ digital cameras work differently. Truth be told, I probably don’t know too, too much more about digital photography than some of them. That’s one of my goals, to continually get better at photography.

One of the kids in the Photography Club (who also happens to be in my project class) clearly has a knack and a passion for photography. Even though he’s only 10, he’s the only person who brought a gigantic DSLR to class. For a 10 year old, he has a surprising mastery of a lot of the concepts of photography and he was taking some wonderful pictures that I would have been proud to put on flickr if I had taken them myself. He often crouches down on one knee to get the shot that he wants and he holds the camera like a pro. It’s great. We spent our class time walking around the KMUTT campus taking pictures of things outside and at one point, I came up to talk to him about a few more advanced concepts than I could have to the rest of the class.
“Sometimes,” I said, “when I take a picture, I hold my breath to get the best shot.” and also because I am excited to see how the picture turns out. But I didn’t say this last part.

“I know. I do too!” he replied. And my heart melted a little.

I have decided that Photography Club is the perfect end to my week.

This weekend has been fun, but jam-packed so far. Friday night, a lot of people decided to go to a local bar to eat a nice, watch a few bands play, and dance later. I felt pretty tired, so I ended up ducking out super early before any dancing or shenanigans started to catch up on sleep (but only after taking a night stroll to take a few videos).

Saturday was so full of things. I woke up unsure about what to do. I wanted to check out the park next to my apartment, so I walked five laps around the kilometer-long running/walking path.

One of my plans upon coming here was to find a used 35mm camera. I thought I would set about my day trying to find a camera. This was probably poor oversight on my part. There’s really only one used camera shop in all of Bangkok. People seem a little incredulous when they hear that some white girl has come to Thailand and wants to use a film camera! I wanted to find a camera for my own personal use, but also because it’s wonderful to be able to take the lens off and fire away without any film in the camera – it’s the best way to learn how a camera actually works. I ventured out to the camera shop, Foto File, with three of the other teachers from school. It turns out to be a dinky store in MBK, a huge technology-focused mall in downtown Bangkok. I drooled over the TLR Rolliflex cameras for awhile.

I then wiped the drool off my face and proceeded to wet myself over the impressive collection of Leicas. (Did you know that my grandfather had apparently amassed an impressive collection of Leicas during his hobbyist days? Why, oh why did my G-Mizzle (affection term for my grandma that my sisters and my dad called my grandma but I don’t think she even knew about it) decide to sell the collection when he passed away?) It has haunted me even since I found out of the collection’s previous existence. Unfortunately, the camera shop didn’t sell any Pentaxes, which is what I’m kind of after. Even more unfortunately, the prices for the used cameras ranged between about $300 for the cheapest Nikons and almost over my monthly salary for the Leicas. Not happening. I will now use this blogging platform to announce that if you have a manual (or manual/automatic camera) that you aren’t using and want to put it to good use, feel free to ship it to me in Thailand. Think of the children!

I have barely been outside of the US a week, but I have had no problem finding the creature comforts of home and then some. Besides not having internet, I’ve been doing pretty well for myself. I managed to find a Gap yesterday, which will be very important when I need to find clothes (rest assured, any tiny person in the US is fat by Thai standards, so I don’t even think about what that makes me. I just gotta be happy with me and deal with the fact that the poorly constructed clothes will not fit my gargantuan frame). But anyway. Gap. Crucial. They even had some strange deal that gave a 15% discount to people who tried their clothes on before they bought them. Lolwut. Why would you not try your clothes on first?

We took a VIP tuk-tuk from one mall to another.

I also had some gelato yesterday. I carefully selected the mysterious flavor of “Forest Berries” and I wasn’t disappointed. Other highlights of the day included finding a cupcake place, purchasing four, and splitting all of them to taste-test. I don’t think it would be fair to compare cupcake scenes, but they were doing pretty well for Bangkok, I think. The cake part was a little dry but the icing was wonderful! The same magical mall that had the Gap and cupcakes also had a grocery store on the top floor. We wandered around in a daze, staring longingly at the brie and camembert. Megan, one of my coworkers/friends purchased some powdery-tasting sharp cheddar that didn’t quite meet our expectations. We couldn’t even wait until we were back in Thonburi to try it. We definitely passed it around in the cab, taking nibbles out of it before quickly deciding that it wasn’t good enough. While at the grocery store, I sampled some truffle oil, which I am not even privileged enough to have tried in the US. I also found some really tasty mango balsamic vinegar, which seems almost 100% impractical for my budget and lifestyle, but I might buy it later when I grow weary of noodles and rice. I also purchased some US-strength zit stuff for the pizzaface that Thailand he turned me into, but that’s another story.

Even Ganesh needs cupcakes sometimes.

We supped at an Isaan restaurant that’s popular with the teachers and then headed back downtown to hang out at a restaurant and watch a Thai co-teacher of ours play in a band (it could only be described as light jazz or maybe more accurately, the dreaded category of “adult contemporary”). It was fun though! I got to hear a strange mix of Thai and English covers. This is generally the case with everywhere we go. The highlight of the night was obviously Justin Beiber’s “Baby.” Duh.

So here I am. Sunday morning. Almost 9, but I’ve already been up for two and a half hours. I think I might go into the main city for the morning (I want to get some ferryboat footage for my upcoming-almost-finished next video. Then I’ll hopefully be back early afternoon, when I can nap and find someone’s internet to mooch off of. I have many things I am thinking about but it will take time to articulate them in a way that will actually make me sound intelligent. I’ll keep the thoughts formulating and hopefully I can someday use words to accurately depict how I feel and what I’m thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving, loving, Thailand Pt. II so far, but I’m always just thinking about things. This was such a vague paragraph. With time, I’m sure it’ll sharpen up.

Before I head out for the day, I should announce that my new apartment is great! I’m hoping to make a little video tour that will be more time-effective than taking pictures and describing it ever will.

Talk soooon, and don’t be afraid to email!

here’s a bonus pic:

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The First Three Days

I’m coming up on the end of my first weekend here. I’m wiped! There’s definitely residual jet-lag I’m dealing with, but I’ve also kept myself so busy. Besides the video I just posted (below), I thought I’d give a little rundown of what I’ve been up to.

Location: Guesthouse, Thonburi, King Mongkut’s University of Technology

I’m staying in the guesthouse now, but I will be finding an apartment this week. The internet situation there is pretty dismal, so I finally wisened up and I’m using the much better internet in the lobby area of the school I’ll be working in. I feel like with universities outside the US, there’s this tendency to compare them to ones in the US, like “Oh, this is the Harvard of South Korea.” If we’re going to apply those generalities to my current situation, I’m working and living “in like, the MIT of Thailand.” Forreal. When I walk through the university gates, there’s a building that reads “A Cradle for Future Leaders in Robotics” and the school is right next to the department of mechanical engineering. My school, the Darunsikkhalai School for Innovative Learning, inhabits one of the tallest buildings on campus and takes up 10 floors (with only about 120 or so students)

But I digress.

I was picked up at the airport, graciously, by one of my co-teachers at the school. He dropped me off at the university’s guesthouse, right next door to the school.

The next day, Friday, I headed next door to familiarize myself with the school, sign some paperwork, and meet my coteachers. So far, so good. I was there from around 10-4, acquainting myself and talking with people about the work I’ll be doing. School starts tomorrow, so I’m hoping everything goes well! Since I accidentally came to Bangkok so late, I definitely got a late start on planning things and I’m expecting things to be a little rocky in the beginning.

For my first supper, I satiated myself with noodle soup – basically like Phở, which I will never not be obsessed with.

Some of the other teachers invited me to head to a venue in Bangkok that’s renowned for it’s live ska. Not being one to pass up on ska (and meet new people) I took a little disco nap to shake off the tiredness I was feeling from the jetlag and I met up with everyone around 8:30 that night. I had a great time! I definitely wasn’t expecting to be dancing to ska covers of “Santeria” and “Ob La Di, Ob La Da” within my first 24 hours in Bangkok. My sleep schedule was all off, so I went to bed at 2:30, woke up at 6:30.

Because I woke up so early, Saturday was super productive of me. I took a trip to the Tesco Lotus (Thailand’s version of Walmart) and purchased some much-needed adaptors and a cheapy yoga mat. And this was all by 10AM. So I retreated to my room in the guesthouse, frustrated myself with the internet for a little while, and decided to make the most of my day by traveling to the Chatuchak Weekend Market (or Jatujak, or JJ, all are acceptable), one of the largest markets in the world!

I had gone there last time I was in Bangkok and fell in love with it. Because I live in Thonburi, which, described to me by Matt, one of my co-teachers as Thonburi : Bangkok :: Jersey City : New York, it’s a worthwhile trek to make it into the main city. I decided to take a motorcycle taxi to the nearest public bus stop and take the bus to the market. I wandered around taking pictures for a few hours. Thankfully, I found where all of the Thai hipsters hang out and purchase their clothes. Hanoi hipsters ain’t got nothin’ on the Thai ones, let me tell you. I even found a stall that had vintage glasses frames, so maybe I’ll return to pick some out and have glasses made for myself.

Here’s a few pics from my return trip:

Now please take the time to notice, if you haven’t already, what a limited scope of interests I have. Animals. Cameras. Pictures. Shiny things. Food.

I was pretty tired after my excursion, so I chilled around the guesthouse and nearby streets, eating som tam and fried rice and reading a DFW essay from a great book of non-fiction essays I brought along with me. Gotta stay intellectually stimulated.

I’m trying to get on a more normal schedule, so I went to bed at 10:30 (unprecedented! but I was super tired). I woke up with a few different plans in my head: I could check out this church I had looked up in Bangkok, I could meet up with another Brown alumna I had been introduced to through a mutual fried, or I could go to the floating markets. Well the markets got flooded, and by the time I was thoroughly roused and ready to do something, church was no longer an option either. So I met up with Lena! I took the skytrain to Asok and we got super delicious crepes. A Greek crepe with spinach and feta and olive oil (I’m going to ingest all of the cheese I can get my measly little hands on at this point) and a chocolate and poached pear flambee crepe. I have a pretty great video of the latter crepe as it is being lit on fire. I was like, “seriously Jor, not even a whole week in Bangkok and you’re seeking out the classy stuff.” It was 100% delicious and 100% worth it.

That takes me to this evening. I’m using the internet from the school, posting this and hoping to make up some lesson plans for the coming week.

Tomorrow starts my first day as a real workin’ woman, so wish me luck!

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So I’m starting to type this and it’s almost 2AM. I’m not quite done packing yet, but this is par for the course for me. I didn’t really start packing for study abroad until about 3AM the night before!

To be perfectly honest, I’m a little nervous. I really love Thailand – if you’ve spent any length of time with me, you know that Southeast Asia comes up about 57 bajillion times in my conversations. There are things to be nervous about though! It’s halfway across the world and I don’t know too many people. Who will I even be friends with? I just came out of pretty rough senior year. I’ll be gone for at least a year, so I’ve decided to pack a few extra creature comforts: my yoga mat, my ipod player, more cameras than I care to admit, and more books than is sane to bring (including a GRE review book. fun fun.). It’s kind of strange, a lot of people have told me that I’m so brave for doing this, but I guess I never considered this brave, necessarily. This is just what I do. Always throwing myself into unknown situations far away from home.

Speaking of home, I had a wonderful time being with my family after my last summer in Providence (sniff).

Here Summer, Annie, and I are in St. Louis when we visited Annie at SLU for the day. Something really disgusting happened to me, but I will only tell you if you ask and prepare yourself to be grossed out beforehand.

I was getting all diva-like when my mom was taking a picture because I was saying goodbye to Annie and I was starting to cry! Yeah, it’s pretty cliche to say that goodbyes suck, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I couldn’t ask for more wonderful, beautiful, spirited sisters and I’m gonna miss them a whole lot.

Back to the topic of packing – I’ve been packing in spurts. I weighed my bigger suitcase and unfortunately, I’m 10 pounds over the weight limit. THIS IS BEING BLOGGED IN REAL TIME. I will probably have to take out some stuff – yoga mat (which doesn’t really weigh that much, but I should hopefully be able to find one fairly easily in BKK right? People are always going to Thailand to find themselves by doing yoga and crap like that). It’s probably my obscene number of books I’m lugging along with me. I thought it would be a good time to read my way through project books like works by Pynchon and Borges. So these aren’t skinny little books either.

I’m guessing it’s in my best interest to make sure that everything is squared away and fits and doesn’t go over the weight limit for Cathay Pacific (one of the very few 5-star airlines in the world!). In the spirit of traveling, however, I thought I post a little list I made at the end of summer 2009.

Hopefully there are many more travels in my future.

Because I am tethered to technology and because, surely, you want to bask in everything I do while abroad, I will leave you with my other internet haunts.

(EDIT – wordpress isn’t letting me link up to them. if you’re facebook friends with me, most of the important links are all in my info page. I’ll see how these are doing and work on them later)

plz follow me and I can follow you! I’m hoping to use twitter a lot more frequently. Just because it’s fun. If you don’t have one, now’s the time to do it! The next best things to weird texts from me are weird tweets from me.

Surely I will want music recommendations from you.

There is nothing here yet. YET.

This is where my everyday gleanings of the interwebs congregate. BONUS – if you take a look at my tumblr, you will see that I have chopped my hair ALL OFF. gulp.

and for good measure, my skype name is jordanworthington. skyping friends and family always brightens up my mood if I’m feeling a little lonely or culture shocked.

This is enough distraction for now. I have luggage to pare down. And maybe a few hours of rest to steal.

The next you’ll hear from me will be from the other side of the Pacific.