A Day in the Life – Teaching in Lampang, Thailand

Whenever I speak with my friends and family back at home, one of the first questions I get asked is what is a typical day teaching in Thailand truly like? It makes sense, since that was one of the major questions floating around in my head before departing America and arriving in Lampang, Thailand. The interesting thing is that though orientation helps prepare you a bit, everything about your experience is so school and city specific that really, no two teaching experiences are alike. This is a snapshot of my experience, in the hopes that it starts to paint a picture of what yours could potentially look like one day.

Tuesday, 6:40 a.m. | My alarm sounds and I begin the process of preparing for another school day. Waking up now gives me plenty of time to get ready and eat something in my apartment before I head out for the day. I usually eat yogurt or fruit, since Thai food for three meals a day can get pretty repetitive for a vegetarian.

7:40 a.m. | I’m out the door, ready to walk with the other American teachers to Bunyawat Wittayalai School.  The walk is no more than ten minutes, and is through a lively morning market where students can be seen buying breakfast before their start of the day. While I sometimes think my wake-up time is early, the people working these different stands have been up for hours preparing for what is merely the start of my day.

Emily_Bunyawat

8:20 a.m. | After signing my name in the lobby, preparing for the day’s lesson in the English office, and gathering the necessary materials, I’m in my classroom ready to begin first period. This isn’t always the case, as my schedule changes depending on the day of the week. Students trickle in late, one because it is very common in Thailand and two, because the daily morning assembly ran late. I use this time to prepare the board and psyche myself up, ready to entertain a roomful of 50 16-year-olds. Class sizes are very big here, since our school consists of over 4,000 students.

Emily_Students

Though the four other American teachers at my school teach from approximately 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. like me, our schedules vary drastically from each other within that timeframe. Here at Bunyawat, I teach sixteen matthayom four classes (sophomores) once each week and seven matthayom five classes (juniors) once every other week. It’s a bit complicated at first, since it’s a very different system, but I quickly adjusted. Plus it allows me to only have to plan one lesson for each week, making life a lot less stressful. My class is the students’ Speaking and Listening English class, so I am responsible for creating and leading activities that focus on those specific skills as they relate to the English language.  Although I often face both ups and downs, it is always an extremely rewarding experience.

Emily_Class (1)

For more specifics of funny things students tend to do or some of the challenges we face in a Thai classroom, check out my video about a day in the life as a farang teacher. Myself and the other Americans performed this skit at our school’s English camp. As you can tell, the students loved laughing at themselves, because they know everything we teased them about doing in our classroom is absolutely true!

9:30 a.m. | Period one is dismissed, as each class is a duration of 50 minutes. I walk to my next room to begin a new class. There are no passing periods at my school, another reason why students are also late coming to class. They will complain that they are coming from the other side of the school, though I’ve walked the whole campus and know that nothing is that far!

11:45 a.m. | The best time of the work day – lunch time! Depending on who is free that day, I will either head out with the other American teachers or Thai teachers to grab lunch. We usually walk, since there are many places to eat right around our school.  Lunch costs no more than 35 baht, or one dollar each day!

2:15 p.m. | This is one of my break periods. I use this time to grade papers, input student grades, lesson plan for the following weeks, or help other teachers if they need anything. If I’m lucky and all caught up, it’s also a time to answer messages from family and friends back at home or talk with the other teachers in the office. Without the Thai teachers in the English Department, my experience definitely would not be the same. Their kindness, patience, and love has made my time here unforgettable.

Emily_Teachers (1)

4:30 p.m. | The last period of the day is over, and I’ve wrapped up my work for the day. Time to walk back to my apartment. Hopefully it’s not overly humid and 90 degrees outside (but in Thailand, when it doubt, it is). Some days, after dropping my belongings off at home, I may head to get a fresh, delicious smoothie from Phi Aoy’s shop for a mere 25 baht (less than one dollar)!

6:00 p.m. | My friends and I walk to dinner, which is my favorite meal of the day. Today, we’re off to my favorite restaurant, Aroy One Baht. Here, we eat family style, with a meal consisting of yellow curry tofu, sautéed egg and white carrots, morning glory and rice.

Emily_Aroy_One_Baht

On days we’re not feeling Thai food, we go to Long Jim’s. Owned by a fellow BWS teacher from Oregon, it’s one of the very limited Western food options in our city, but still delicious in it’s own right. I usually split some combination of the #42 pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella and blue cheeses, fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, and chili oil), pesto pasta, and garlic bread. It’s great food and a comforting reminder of home!

Emily_Long_Jims

7:30 p.m. | It’s still early and I need a few things, so my friends and I head to one of the many night markets in Lampang. Tonight we’re headed to Asawin Market, a big market that’s a bit farther from our apartment, but we walk anyway. Great exercise! If we weren’t feeling the walk though, we could either take a song taew (a type of Thai taxi) or motorbike. Here I buy some fruit for the week – bananas for breakfast and maybe some pineapple – and some mango with sticky rice for dessert! It’s a delicious staple here in Thailand.

10:00 p.m. | At this point, I’m pretty tired from my long day of teaching and walking a bit around the city. I try to be ready for the next day before this, so I can relax a bit before heading to bed. This either means reading a book or occasionally Netflix, though I happily don’t rely on that as a source of enjoyment here as much as I do in the States. Although my schedule varies from day to day, there is rarely a dull moment teaching in Thailand.

You can also read more about Emily’s adventures in Thailand on her blog.

If you’re interested in teaching in Thailand like Emily, you can find more information on the API website here: https://www.apistudyabroad.com/experiential-programs/

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  1. […] Hello again! It’s been awhile since I’ve written, and I apologize for that.  While I’ve thought about writing frequently since returning to Thailand, the inspiration hasn’t really been there. I’m back for my second semester, so while everything is amazing, nothing is really new. I’m no longer shocked by a family of five and their two dogs piling on a motorbike, or by the creatures that make their way into my bedroom, or by the crazy heat that is Thai weather. So again, everything is great, but what do I share when at this point I’m just living my everyday life? […]

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