Ruhamaiah Bradley, 130 TESS
Most nights, I eat alone. On occasion I am joined by my mae. We sit in silence. Both of us acknowledging and appreciating the other’s presence but aware of the language barrier. We can barely talk about topics beyond what I have learned in my language classes.
When we watch tv at night it is the same scenario. A Thai drama is on and no one is speaking. Occasionally, I will be asked if I think an actress is beautiful. I reply with a simple yes. During this I am sitting on a navy-blue couch that resembles a hospital chair. What matters most is that I showed up. My presence.
This sums up most of PST (pre service training) for me. Showing up is the first step to beginning each language class or technical session. Exhausted but pushing forward.
Waking up, dressing riep roi, biking to language or technical, and making it through an eight hour work day is impressive. The effort myself and each trainee has put forward is amazing. Sometimes all people can manage to do is show up amidst the highs and lows they may be experiencing.
Personally, I have had some difficult days. The routine of PST isn’t difficult. However, being “on” all the time and learning Thai is. Actually, I shed a tear recently after a frustrating language class. I let the moment pass and moved forward. I let myself experience that moment of weakness then decided I had to continue to be gangsta. In an attempt to always own PST here is a survival guide I compiled:
- Don’t throw your phone at dogs that are chasing you. Out bike them, carry a stick, or yell “bpai.” One of these is bound to work.
- Buy coffee. It will help you get through the day. Real coffee beans are preferable. Do ask for noi beans though. Medium may make you a little jittery and you’ll participate more than you usually do. It could interfere with your daydreaming during sessions.
- If your host mom offers you an odd jelly and you just watched your host sister deny the same jelly…say no. There’s a reason she denied it.
- Don’t let your host dad fix your bike. You may fall off after.
- Try to maintain your personality using Thai language. Sarcasm is universal even if it goes over people’s heads. At least your Ajaans will understand it.
- Don’t wear good shoes when you go to visit your neighbors. You will realize as you are leaving that you’re missing one. The neighbors dog just stashed one of your beloved running shoes and now everyone is searching for them. You’ll find them, they will just be moist with something.
- If this is your cup of tea, “Di chan/pom chop see muwang,” will solve most questions about a boyfriend or girlfriend. It is a personal favorite because of the reactions it receives.
- Find a hobby. Practice it. Photography is a personal favorite. PC 130 look book will be available soon.
- If you do not like pork, do not take photos of the pigs. It will raise a lot of questions.
- Arrive to PST three days later after the initial start day because of a snow storm in the states. Makes for a fun experience of meeting everyone at once and a hyper confusion of what’s taking place.
- No one. I repeat…no one actually understands what is taking place half the time. With that, puut len and jai yen yen.
This survival guide isn’t all inclusive. It may or may not be based on my personal experiences.
PST is a lot of things and of all of them it is fun despite the stress and anxiety. As site placement approaches, I find that I am more excited than anything. Anxious of course. However, that excitement is still present. Above all else, I’m glad I’m here even on the difficult days.