Saturday, December 11, 2010

Picnic

Last Tuesday, December 7th, I invited my fellow staff members to a picnic at the beach. It was a one day holiday.  I have always enjoyed cooking for people and hosting them over for dinner. Where I currently live I cannot cook in the kitchen or have people over. I decided that I should do a picnic at the beach where I provided the food and invited those I worked with to come along. We had it at the beach close to where two of my co-workers (husband and wife) live. The beach close to their house doesn't have many people there so it would not be as crowded as Telok Cempadek beach where McDonald's and KFC are located. We had it at 10a.m. in the morning. Even though it is monsoon season the weather was perfect. There was no rain, not too sunny or hot, or humid. I made sandwiches, bought potato chips, and coke, and made indoor s'more. About half of the people that were invited came. It was the couple who lives by the beach and their daughter, me, the Principal and 3 of his 5 children, and another co-worker with all four of her children. It was still a good turn out. All of the sandwiches got eaten. I took the leftover indoor s'mores to school and gave them to the people that were not able to come. They all liked them. We were at the beach for several hours eating, playing in the water, in the sand, and more eating. Then we went back to the couple's house that live by there and showered and then hung out for a few more hours visiting while the children played. I think everyone had a really nice time. Even though they live in a country where beaches are readily available the other two people and their children hardly ever go to the beach. The couple that lives really close goes at least once every weekend. I have been at least a dozen times since I have moved here. But the other two people and their children couldn't remember the last time they had been to the beach. I am really glad that I did it. I think I would like to get together once a month with my co-workers and plan something fun for us to do. It is a good way for me to get to know them and I think for them to get to know each other. This first time the children pretty much stuck with their parent and didn't interact much with the other children. I am hoping in time that will change. I think in January I would like to try to do bowling.
In America at the schools I have substitute taught at, done field experience at, student taught at, and taught at the teachers have always had a lounge where we eat lunch together and visit with each other about school things and non school things and get to know each other. We become friends with some more than other and do things with those people outside of school, and I know it makes me enjoy my job more when I can visit with those people and do things with them. I am introverted so I need my time alone, but it has kind of been my habit that most days after school I would go to some teachers room and visit with them for like an hour and that would be my socializing for the day. Then I would go home to my quiet house to recharge for the next day. I mean I would try to do that with running errands, and working out, grading, and other activities that might come up. So by the time I got home it would be later in the evening and I would have had a very full day, but I liked that. Here it is harder since I don't have a car, and I either have to ride the school bus, get a ride, call a cab, or walk if I have no other way, so I can't stay after school like I could back home. Plus, it seems like almost every day after school I have some school activity I am helping out with and by the time I get done and the other teachers get done we are all ready to go home. Then there is the part where I can't have people over. So I am hoping the once a month thing will take off and be enjoyable.

Career Day

On Friday, December 3rd we had a career day. We had four speakers come in and talk to the students. The Principal picked out the speakers. The students were in two groups because we can't fit all of them into one room. I was in with the high school students. Our first speaker was a Pharmacist. Her presentation was ok. The next speaker was from a local college who came to talk about getting a degree as English as a Second Language major and the different careers that one can do with that. I think she must be used to students who don't speak much English. I felt like she was talking to the students like they were in Kindergarten. At one point she asked why the students were so quiet and she asked me if that was normal. I told her that in my class yes, the students were quiet. She was like "oh." Then she had this game she called Bingo. I call it the get to know you box activity. Anyway there are like 30 blocks and each has a statement, for example, likes chocolate, gets up at 8:00 a.m., has one sibling, etc. Each student is supposed to go around and find someone who can sign for that box. She had it where if a student got one column completely filled that person was the winner. She went though each box and asked the students how they would ask someone if that statement if them. She would say how to you change likes chocolate into a question, and our students would reply "do you like chocolate".  Sometimes she would change it into a grammatically incorrect question to see if they knew it was wrong. They did each time. She spent so long doing that that we had no time for them to play the game which she had promised them that they would do.
The third speaker was from Proctor and Gamble. She was really good and she brought in myriad products that they make and produce. I had no idea they did some many products. They do Swiffer floor and Swiffer duster, Pringles, Bounce dryer sheets, Oil of Olay, Downey fabric softener, batteries, Crest toothpaste, razors(Gillette, I think), laundry detergent (Tide, I think), etc.
The fourth speaker was from Taylor University. She talked to the students about attending college in America. They also have a program here called ADP where students can go to college for two years and it is like going to an American college or University and then they can transition over to America.  She basically only talked about Ivy league schools and how they are the old universities to go to and others probably won't give the students a quality education. She also gave the students prices which were high because they were mostly from Ivy League schools. I feel the University I went to gave me a quality education for my majors and for what I wanted to be. She got her information from some Ivy League website and her one friend who went to college in America.  I was disappointed in her presentation. Even though I have only gone to one University I have lots of friends and family that have gone to many more than the one that I went to and some even went to Ivy League schools. I could have done a better and more accurate presentation.
Each presentation was at least 45 minutes. That was a long time for the students to sit without really talking or getting up and moving around. By the last presentation they were talking quite a bit and not paying attention, but I can see why. I had to stay in the same spot the entire time because I was in charge of taking pictures for yearbook and it would have been obvious if I had left at all. By the time we were done I had a headache from sitting still for so long. We had one class period after they all finished up, but the students were really in the mood to do anything and neither were the teachers. Plus, by the time we would have gotten them all rounded back up, and they got all their stuff and gotten everything ready it would have been time to go. So, they pretty much just visited about the speakers.

Just a Few Sayings

I have noticed just a few sayings that are common here.
If the time is between one hour and another they say the first hour plus like 10 plus, which could be 10:15, 10:20, 10:30 etc.
If something happened in the past no matter how long ago it happened "last time". I have had friends tell me "last time" when I was little we had this happen... even if it was 15 years ago and they have been back to that place since then.
The dreaded "And then". When telling someone something almost every sentence starts with "and then".
Example: Last Friday was Career Day. And then, we had these speakers that came and talked to the students. And then, we had four speakers. And then, the students were separated into two groups- middle school and high school. And then, etc.
I have started to pick up that saying because that is just something I do. I am not aware of it until someone points it out.
Then they have this word/expression when something is wrong. It is hard to write it because it is not actually a word. I can feel that I am on the verge of saying that too.
For the most part Mother is Mommy or Mummy and Father is Papa.
Bangs here are called Fringe.
If they want to add some expression or emphasis to a word they will tack on la. Like No-la or house-la or ride-la.
(prescription) glasses are called specs
proctoring a test or exam is called invigilate
extra classes are called tuition
Back home if you are going to go with someone in their car you say that you are going with the person. If you are going in your own car and following behind their car, you say you are following them.
Here when a person is going along with in the same car they say that they are following. 
Also, if someone is going to take you to the store or your house back home they will say I will take you...
Here they say I will send you to the store with me.
If you are to wait for someone, you are to "stand by"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

School Costume Party

On November 26th the school's student council hosted a costume party at one of the student's house. It was lots of fun. It went from 7p.m. to 10p.m. There was several games with prizes, great potluck food, and a costume contest. The party started with a balloon popping competition. After that the students were allowed to eat food. When the food was finally served the power went out like 3 times. We kept blowing a fuse and had to turn off some lights. They had all the lights on in their house and outside the house, and their flat screen tv was set up to play music and one of the students had brought extra speakers to make the music even louder. The students had no idea what was going on, and I tried to explain and that we had to pop the breaker but they didn't get it. Next up was the costume contest. There were lots of different ones. First place went to Robin Hood. Second place went to a Mexican/Indian Warrior. Third place went to a girl who had broken out of a mental hospital and had been shot. While the judges, I was one, were deciding the winners the next game was a dancing newspaper game. The students were partnered up. Most were a bigger student with a smaller student. They each had a double page of a newspaper. When the music played they danced around the newspaper. When the music stopped then they were both to be inside the edges of the newspaper. Those who did not get out that round were to fold the newspaper in half and dance again until the music stopped. That was continued until we had winners. After that on the way back into the house the students wanted me to dance. They were all asking me, so I eventually gave in and started dancing. I was being more goofy than serious. That gave the student council president the idea to do another dance competition only this one they had to be a statue when the music stopped. Even blinking they could get out. There were like 5 students that were tied for that.  Then there was a contest to guess how many chocolates in the jar. I guessed 150. One of the students guessed 160 which is how many there were exactly. Then a cake in a box was passed around for students to guess the weight. There was a four way tie, so the tiebreaker was to guess how old the owner of the school was. I actually know his age. Then the dance/statue game was repeated since there were still two more prizes. One for a girl and one for a guy. This time there was more requirements to make it harder. Like towards the end they had to have one leg raised and their hands on their hips. The party was lots of fun, even though I mostly just observed, but I am glad that I went and my students were all glad I was there. There were three other teachers besides me and the director of studies. The other teachers were also allowed to bring their children and they all did.
The one thing that did surprise me was the music. At school functions in America (that I am familiar with) the music has to be approved and has to be clean. Here they played whatever they wanted. So, they had some what I would consider inappropriate for school music. Nobody said anything. The Director of Studies didn't even say anything.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hari Raya Haji

So for Hari Raya Haji  I had Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off from school. Wednesday I went to the spa and slept. Thursday night I went to the Air Supply concert and Friday I went to a co-workers bersanding and kenduri after her wedding. It was out in her Kampung. The school driver, his niece, another teacher, and myself all went in the owner's car. The school's house keeper, secretary, and owner's house keeper at home followed us in another car. It was only supposed to take 40 minutes to get there but we got a little lost and had to do a couple U turns and back track and take another road. I didn't mind since I wasn't driving. Even though they were speaking in Malay I could tell by their tones and gestures that they were getting kind of frustrated, and I just laughed. When we go there the bride (my co-worker came out from the house), and we ate food. I had rendang beef with rice and mung bean porridge. It was good. I only had one serving though because it is very filling. We ate out side in the share of the building under canopies. It was hot. I was wearing a long skirt and camisole and batik top, and I was sweating. I felt sorry for the bride because her outfit was really hot and sweat was dripping down her face. Then her new husband came over, and I got to meet him.  Even though they all speak English they all conversed in Malay so I had no idea what they were talking about. Oh well. I need to get better about trying to learn Malay as I felt left out but I am in a foreign country, and they don't have to speak English just because I do. After that we went up into the house and took pictures. We did one with the bride and groom and all of us except the driver and his niece. I think they were still eating. It has a really elaborate backdrop and this fancy bench that is called the throne. They are King and Queen for the day. Then they took pictures of just me on the bench holding the bouquet of flowers. The school house keeper said that the bride should do like Americans and throw the bouquet for me to catch. After that we took a picture with the bride and all the ladies in the group. Then I got one with just the bride and groom. After that they handed us these goody bags. While we were waiting for the driver and his niece to finish eating these two little boys were standing under this tiny shelter thing and they were speaking to me in English. I don't think they knew much but they were excited when I would speak back to them. They kept giggling and conversing in Malay before they said the next thing. They asked me like are you going to eat, what are you doing, etc. I asked them in the watch the tv that was sitting under the shelter and they said yes and then asked me if I watch tv. I told them no I don't have a tv. They couldn't believe it. After that we left. While it was interesting to go there I thought it was a lot of driving for most people and not much time is spent there. I didn't have anything else going on, so I didn't mind. It did not take as long to get back and it seemed like we went a slightly different direction. On the way back I played with the driver's niece. She was sitting in front,  and I was sitting in back. First, it started with playing peek a boo kind of because she would look at me from one side of the chair and then I would catch her so she would peek out from the other side. Then she had this sachet with beads that she started tossing at me. I would take it and trick her as to what hand I had it in. Then it became a couple of receipts that she found on the floor or something. She was giggling and having lots of fun and was not bugging the driver. She tried to talk to me in Malay but I told her I only know English. The driver and other teacher just laughed they didn't try to translate at all. At one point she threw the receipt at the other teacher, and I was like uh oh, I don't think she is playing. The other teacher threw it back and then she resumed playing with me. There was a few times when she rolled down the window and the driver didn't want her to do that since the air con was on. She tried to open my window when she was turned around once but couldn't quite reach it, and I covered it with my hand.  Another time she rolled down the window and threw a wrapper out of the car. I don't approve of littering but it was too hard to not laugh since she was so cute about it. The driver did not approve of my laughing, and he scolded me (not too harshly though because I think he also found it funny even if he didn't approve either).

Air Supply

On Thursday November 18, 2010, I went to the Air Supply concert at the Sukpa Indoor Stadium in Kuantan, Malaysia. They had been doing a world tour and this was their last stop before they headed back to Australia. They said that they wanted to make it super special since it was their last stop on this tour. It was the Love Never Ends tour celebrating 35 years. I was with a group of ex-pats that I have met. I was with Jenny and her husband Mike and Meromie and her husband Garth. I had not met Garth before. We were behind the other group of ex-pats that we know. Bettina was there with her children and friends of theirs, I am not sure if the one guy at the end was her husband or not. Then Terry was there with her son. Then a guy who works at the same place as Terry was there.
We got a little lost on the way there. They had used google maps for directions and their Garmin but it was off slightly. We went by this place that we thought might be it, but weren't sure. We thought there might be another entrance but there wasn't so we did this huge loop, but that was ok. Then, we had to park on the street past the place and walk back. I didn't mind. Even though there is lots of seating there is not lots of parking spaces. When we got there they were selling water, and I was very glad. It was hot and humid, and I figured I wouldn't be able to bring water but hoped that they would sell some. They checked our bags to make sure we didn't have food or drinks. I showed them that I had just bought a bottle of water. They confiscated water bottles if it wasn't bought there and food. They didn't check to see if we had camera's though, and I didn't see any signs that said no cameras. They were giving free glow sticks out. Some were really big and then when they ran out of those they had smaller ones. I got a smaller one, but that is ok. I am actually going to give it to the little girl of a friend. Then we went up to our seats. They only had one narrow staircase for us to go up or down to get to the upper level. We were in the balcony section but direction in front of the stage so we could see clearly what was going on and they also had two jumbo trans.
To open the show they had this young Malaysia guy sing a song. He reminded me a little of a young Michael Jackson with his outfit and dancing. Then a Chinese young lady came and sang a song off of her album, and then an Indian lady did a song. The Indian lady reminded me of Shakira. They music sounded the same. Plus, she danced like Shakira. After they all did their individual songs then they came together and did the 1Malaysia song, that they play on the radio all the time. After that it was Air Supply.
It is all love songs, but that is ok they are really good. They did all their hits and then four from their album that came out last spring. They still have it 35 years later. They had their voices and playing and energy. They wanted us to sing with them and clap and wave our glow sticks. The two other guitarists, keyboard player, and drummer are not original, but they seemed to have just as much energy and as excited to play as the two main guys( Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock). The two main guys have always played with different groups on tour.
During one of the songs the two main guys went down on to the floor. They walked around shaking hands and letting people take pictures with them all the while singing and playing. They didn't miss a beat or a note. Graham Russell got up on one of the chairs that had been vacated when they came on to the floor and played. Then they went back up to the stage. The security followed them, but they didn't really heed them. One they got back on stage and finished the song they let people come up to the fence in front of the stage. They thought that everyone was too far away. When people came up there was a group that bought lots of bouquets of flowers to give to Air Supply. The guys comment that they were going to have to open a flower shop they didn't know what they were going to do with all of the flowers. People came up for a few songs and then went back to their seats. I am sure it got really hot up there. They played for over and hour and then came back and did an encore of several songs and then came back and did an encore with just one song called "Good-bye".
It was hot up in the balcony. I got really hot and sweaty and was glad I had the water. I could feel the air con sometimes. I think it would have helped if the person on my right would have been someone else. This guy had his legs crossed at the ankles but his ankles were pulled in so that his knees were open really wide. His leg was pushing my leg over, and I didn't have my legs spread at all. I wanted to tell him to close his legs, but he looked Chinese and wasn't sure if he spoke any English. The seats don't fold up and are just a hard molded plastic. If someone wanted to go in or out of the row the person they were trying to get around had to stand up but they couldn't back up since the bottom of the seat stuck out. Luckily I didn't have anyone that needed to get out.
I am really glad that I went. It was awesome, and I still can't believe that I am living in Malaysia and this is my life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Swiss Garden

Decorated for Deepavali

Last weekend I went to the Swiss Garden hotel. One of my fellow teachers plays the piano there Friday and Saturday nights. She invited me to go along with her. The Swiss Garden is much larger and nicer than the Hyatt. It is farther out of town and along a different stretch of the beach. I went both Friday and Saturday nights from 8:00p.m. until 11:00p.m. I really enjoyed it. The lobby is open air, so they have no doors. I went and sat on one of the couches near the piano when she first started playing to listen to her play. She is really good. Last weekend was Deepavali, so they had colored rice is a design on the floor in front of the piano. The piano is set on a platform surrounded by water. Past that one can look down to the pool area. I was able to walk around and went down to the main level. The pool is huge there. I was also able to walk down to the beach. Since it was dark out I didn't stay down there long. I also went and checked out the spa that they have there. It was pretty nice, but I thought pretty expensive. I like the place that I can walk to just down from where I am living much better. This place was more rustic. The rooms were also smaller. After I checked that out I went to the restaurant and had dinner. I had lamb with vegetables, a potato. It was really good. My friend came down on her breaks and visited with me. I read a book while I was waiting for my food. They also have a buffet of sea food, one of crackers and cheese and fruit, and a chocolate fondue fountain. Both nights I forgot I wanted to try that. With the seafood buffet they even had like a manta ray.




The second night when I was there I had to move couches because this guy on the couch in front of me started smoking. Since there was a breeze that night it was blowing right back in my face. I moved to a couch on the other side of the piano. This couple occupied the first couch that I had abandoned. The guy pulled out his cell phone and was watching some video with this annoying music. I was staring at him hoping he would get the hint that it was annoying. He didn't. Eventually it came to the end. The second time he pulled it out to watch probably about 15 minutes later my friend decided to take a break, and we went down to the restaurant. She said she didn't care that they didn't want to listen to her but the music was so annoying that it was distracting. I just ate a caesar salad that night since we were going to go out to this restaurant afterward for lamb. I stayed down there the rest of the time because I didn't want to listen to that annoying guy's cell phone. If my friend hadn't taken a break when she did I was about ready to go over and tell him to go elsewhere because I was there to listen to the piano music and not his annoying cell phone. While we were down there someone hopped on the piano and started playing. We couldn't see them since we were down below but I bet it was a kid.  I look forward to going back there again. It was really nice. It definitely is Paradise.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rainy Season

So rainy or monsoon season started the week before last. So far, I don't think it has been that bad. It will rain on and off during the day and night. Sometimes there will be a huge downpour and other times just a light rain. Luckily, I haven't had to go through the gate at the end of the driveway when it is raining and there is that huge puddle. I know when that time comes it will be a pain in the butt. I will probably have to roll up my pants and wear shower shoes and carry my socks and shoes so they don't get wet. I think that the way they did the grate for the water after the gate and put it on level ground rather than on the slope was not a smart idea. I will probably have to start waiting sometimes under the front balcony for rides rather than outside of the gate. It is cooler now and so people have started wearing jackets, but not me. It is not cold enough yet. It is more humid thought now.

I can tell I am not going to enjoy doing laundry during rainy season. It was hot earlier today when I started and so by mid-afternoon most of my clothes were close to dry. Tonight when I got ready to head back home all of the clothes were really wet and that is just from the humidity. I have to hang my clothes back in the closet with the door open and drape clothes around the room, so that they can dry. I have both the fan and air con running. It feels like a sauna in my room.  A couple weeks ago I had to take my clothes to a laundry place to get them cleaned. It turned out ok, but I don't know if I want to do it on a weekly basis. I am kind of nervous that something will happen to my clothes. People just drop their clothes off, and they are washed and dried and even ironed there. So, it is not like I am doing the laundry myself. I probably won't sleep well though tonight. So we shall see how long I hold out before I take my clothes and have them done for me. There are some clothes that I don't want dried and they said that they would put them in a bag wet, but I don't want them in a bag all day being wet.

I am sure things will get more interesting as we get farther along into monsoon season. Right now I don't really miss the snow and cold, but I am sure as I get closer to Christmas I will. I have only spent one Christmas with no snow and that was because I was on a cruise, and it didn't really feel like Christmas.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Malay

I would like to learn Malay so I can better converse with people. I know a few greetings and a couple phrases but that is it. It is hard to know what I want to learn to say. Plus, at school we all speak English since it is an International School and not all people speak Malay. It is hard to practice during the day since I am busy teaching and working in an English speaking environment. When I am talking to people though sometimes it is hard, and we have to have another person come help translate some of the words. On the other hand I feel like sometimes people can switch to Malay when they have something private that they want to talk about and don't want me to understand. Sometimes I am glad I don't know what it going on. Just like at other school I have taught at, even though we all spoke English I am not one of those gossiping people, and I was left out of the loop, which was fine with me. I have to also remember that it will take me probably a couple years to speak, read, and write another language fluently, so I must be patient with myself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Library Thing

So, in my cataloging class I learned about this cool website called Library Thing. It allows people to become members and catalog their own library. I am excited. I started just going off of my reading list for the last few years, and I have started with some of the books I had in an Excel document. I will have to wait until I get back to America to add the rest. Besides having my books cataloged finally I hope that I can share my library with others and get ideas of books that I should read and friends and family can also look at books I have read to see if they are any good. If I wanted I could do like an International book club. That would be kind of cool. Where I was reading the books that friends and family are also reading. Just one more way to connect to those I miss. I am doing one for the school, and I thought that maybe I could connect my student here with some of the students back home. Anyway right now my brain is just swimming with all these ideas that I have.

School Library

So, now that I am almost done with the cataloging class I am going to start revamping our library. It is small and not well managed. There is another teacher who kind of takes care of it, but she is grateful for the help. I got good ideas from my class and also from working with people at my old school. 

I am going to create a website which I can do with a gmail account. I am going to enter our books into the website Library Thing that I learned about in class. I am going to decorate the bulletin board and have a monthly theme. I think I might do half the bulletin board like that and the other half book of the week or month. I am spreading the books out so they are not packed so tight into the shelves. I am going to have at least one book every few shelves facing forward. They have not many books but lots of shelves; I think, the library at one time might have been bigger. I hope to have a small display of books to go with the monthly theme. I want the students to start adding reviews to the books on Library Thing.

I am hoping to come up with some sort of incentive program. I am trying to increase their reading. People here are not big readers. The idea hasn't fully percolated yet, but I am think they have to read like so many books on a list and add a review and then they get a prize.  I don't know what kind of list I want to have yet.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Movie Night

Last night I was invited by a lady in the book club I am a part of to a movie night at another lady's house. It was a girl's night in. We were supposed to come in our pj's or sweat clothes and bring drinks and snacks. I wore my clean workout pants and top. We were going to watch Eat, Pray, Love. Several of the ladies have read the book and really like it, and were excited to watch the movie. I was the only one who had seen the movie since I got to see it back in the US a few days before I moved over here. We ended up visiting the whole night. I would have been happy to see the movie again, but I didn't mind just visiting. It gets lonely sometimes. The other teachers keep to themselves. I visit sometimes with the housekeeper and driver but they both speak little English. I visit sometimes with the owner and his wife, but they are busy people. Even though school is done in English, like when I am in the office they speak Malay, and so although I can listen I can't get to know the people. I don't know what is going on most of the time and if students ask me I can only say I don't know. Even with other people that I know here that have lived here for years when they have other people over they talk in Malay so again I am left out. It was nice to have everyone speak English and be able to understand what they were saying and get to know them better.  I didn't talk a whole lot but it was just nice to listen to get to know about them and their families. It was a different mixture of ladies-so there was one from Germany, one from Wales, one from Australia, one from New Zealand, one from Canada, one from England, and one from Switzerland but is married to a Malay and has lived here for several years now. It was interesting to hear about things from different countries. We talked about how names in different countries mean different things and how in one country it might be a normal name in another it has a bad meaning. Or different words mean different things and sometimes it can be a bad word in another language. I think I will refrain from examples since many of them are bad words or not appropriate things. It was funny though, but I could see at the time when they learned it it would be embarrassing.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

We had parent/teacher conferences on Tuesday. The students went home at noon and then the conferences started at 1:00 and went to 3:00 and then from 5:00 to 7:00p.m. It makes for a long day. We didn't have school Monday since it was the Sultan's birthday, so having the Tuesday be the first day and then having to go the rest of the week. I was very tired the rest of the week. The parent's signed up for 10 minute slots. None of my parents came during the slot they had signed up for. I did not care. I stayed during the break too because there was no point in getting a cab back home and then back to school. I would have spent most of my break time waiting for the cab. Plus, I had parents come during the break too. Conferences went well. I wish I could speak several languages and not just English.  I had to have another teacher translate for one, and she was supposed to translate for another but she had a parent come at the same time. So we did it without her. This was a Korean parent who also spoke Mandarin. Then there was a translator with the parent that spoke Mandarin and Malay, but very little English. I spoke very slowly and tried to use simple words and gestures to get my point across. It seemed like I was understood. The very next day I decided to start using Malay though, so hopefully by next conference time I can converse somewhat better in their language.  There is no way though, I don't think, that while I am here I can become proficient in every language that all my students use.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My 2nd hair cut

So I got my hair cut for the second time yesterday at the same salon. It was again interesting. I got there and Angel, the lady who cuts my hair was finishing up on a person. She told me it would be about 5 minutes and so I had a seat on the couch. After a few minutes she called me over to sit in the middle chair in front of the full length mirror. I really don't like the full length mirrors. I don't like to sit there and look at myself. She came over and told me they were going to wash my hair. She said pulled sections of my hair up and took a look at my scalp and told me it was sensitive so they were going to massage my head instead of scratching it. So, the girl that did the blow drying on my hair the last time had me come over and washed my hair. It is one of those set ups where there is a little stool at the end of the reclined chair that a person steps on and then settles back in an reclined position. The head is laid on a platform with the hair hanging down in the bowl. She did a very nice job of massaging my head. It was interesting how she wrapped and tucked the towel, so that it stayed on my head, but didn't let water drip down. Then I was taken back in front of the mirror, and she combed my hair out. After that she gave me a neck and upper back massage. She massaged me neck and arms a little bit. Then she did some funky things to my upper back and also pat it really hard like 5 times on the right and then the left. It felt good though. While she was doing that then Angel was finishing up another client, (not the one that she was when I first walked in).  She asked me if I wanted Chinese tea, but I didn't right then. Angel came over and confirmed that I wanted my hair highlighted, and I said yes.  She asked me if I wanted the same trim as last time. I said no because it got too thick and hot. She agreed saying it also becomes squarish. I was going to show her a picture of how I had my hair last fall and winter where it was lots of layers and much shorter. She said she was going to layer my hair. I didn't show her the picture. I decided to just let her decided how she wanted to do it. After she cut it like she wanted then she blow dried it and asked me about my highlights. Angel wanted to know if I just wanted blond or blond and copper. I said I didn't know. I said she was the expert and could decide what would look better. She asked if I wanted the blond chunky so it was obvious or thin, so it was more blended. I told her I wanted it more blended.  She did just blond, but she did a really nice job. While I waited for it to set, I read a couple magazine and had Chinese tea. I love the taste of that. They have a tv on each side of the mirror, but it is on mute and the caption is not in English, so I couldn't read it to know what was being said.  While I was waiting then Angel was working on a new client. When I got done then the helper came back and washed my hair again, and combed my hair out and started blow drying it.  Angel came back over and and asked me if she could straighten my hair, so I said sure. She straightened my hair and told me that if I didn't wash it I could wear it for 2 or 3 days like that. By 9p.m. last night though it was starting to flip a little bit in places due to the humidity. I don't really have many people I will be seeing, so I washed it today, and it is back to curly.  Hair dressers are always obsessed with straightening my hair for me, so I can see what it looks like straight. I don't really care, so I won't take the time to do it myself and the few times I have tried I haven't done a good job, so I let them most of the time.

Angel always seems to be juggling more than one client at a time relying on her helper to do things like the washing and blow drying. 

I was happy with the job she did. Today my hair was a little crazy. It always is the next day after it is cut, so hopefully this will be even better then the last hair cut. She said to come back in two months and she will layer it some more. The highlights should last about 3 months before I have to do them again. The only problem is is that she cut my bangs, and like today when I am doing laundry I find it hot and want to pull my hair back still but it is easier for my hair to fall out. Oh well. Eventually I will find a good style for this heat. It was quite a bit more for all that I had done yesterday, but when I convert it into US dollars to see the comparison it was really cheap in US dollars, so I am fine with the money I spent.

Malay Kampung Field Trip 10/21/10

 We went on a field trip to a Malay Kampung. I was told that Kampung translates to compound in English. So, it basically is a small village. It would be like Erskine, MN or Moorcroft, WY or Belle Fourche, SD.
 We had to take two buses because our school bus is not big enough. It only holds about 30 people. I rode on our normal school bus with the middle school students. Somehow I ended up in charge of taking attendance and counting to make sure everyone was there and making sure students were behaving. Not that I minded. It might be because I can speak loudly (people here speak quietly all the time), and they all are quiet and listen when I speak.  I was being silly when I was on the bus and we were leaving because I was waving to the students on the other bus with this big grin on my face. I didn't quit waving until they waved back at me. They were laughing by then. We left about 8:30a.m. It took us until about 9:20a.m. to get to the Kampung. I was worried that it was going to be really hot and humid. It turned out to be a cloudy day, so it was kind of humid, but not hot. I had sunscreen on, but I didn't get burned, and I didn't end up wearing the hat I brought because the sun wasn't out. Since it wasn't hot I didn't get overheated which is what I was worried about.

I saw lots of poverty on the way there, and lots of vegetation. It was more like a jungle. We got to the Kampung's community library. We stopped there and then had to take two trips on our regular school bus down to the rice field, because the other bus was too large to go down the road. We weren't sure how long of a walk it would be down to the field so we were ok with riding the bus. We had a guide who grew up at the Kampung and taught at the school for several years. He also taught at ISK (the school I am working at) for a few years. There was also a few local men that went down with us to the field. When we got to the field he explained that they had a hard time getting water this year, so there was lots of weeds, and it would not be a good harvest.  They use machines now and not the traditional ways anymore. The rice would not be ready to harvest until November. I was kind of unimpressed because it didn't look much different from some farming field back in the US. I wish we would have gone in November to see them actually harvest, and maybe a demonstration of how they used to harvest.


We walked down the road a ways while the guide was talking to the local guys. He told us to walk on the dirt road and not the grass, so that we didn't get leeches on us. After some of the students were quite far and had walked around the curve of the road we were called back. I took pictures of the field and some flowers that were new to me. The yearbook adviser discovered that the camera was not charged, so I ended up taking pictures to be used in the yearbook. We had to take two trips back on the bus to get back to the library. The boys wanted to walk because it wasn't that far, but I figured the bus was done to keep the student out of trouble (running amok in the vegetation and walking in the cow pies on the road).
When we got back to the library we loaded both buses and went to the Kampung's Primary (elementary) school. It was actually very large and pretty nice looking. We were allowed to use the restrooms. I kind of had to go, but there was only the squat toilets. I wasn't going to use them, but I wasn't sure how much longer the field trip was going to be since new things seemed to have been added to the agenda, and if we would have another bathroom break. I was brave and decided to give it a try. It actually was easier than I thought. While some of us were using the restrooms the others were playing with this basket. They had a basket on a rope that went from the top most level down to the ground. The students were putting things in the basket and raising and lowering it.

Once all of the students that attended the school were gathered we went down to the ground floor. The building is raised off the ground and cars park under the school on the ground floor (so not underground). We went to a section that had a stage at one end. All of their students were sitting down nice and orderly. Our students were kind of bunched up with some sitting and some standing. Our guide was speaking to the students in Malay. Then he had us come up in front one at a time. Each person was to state their name, the country they were from, and what grade they were in (students) or what subjects they taught (teachers).

As I stated before people talk quietly here. When we have homeroom and announcements are done by the students they talk so softly that people at the back can't here. With the other teachers when students are talking and they try to get their attention it is always a losing battle because they talk so softly.

So, our students were really shy to get up. I was telling them that they all had to do it and then had them start forming a line, so as not to waste time. Only one girl didn't get up. I told her she had to, but the other teachers didn't make her. She is from Korea (hasn't been here long), and speaks very little English and is painfully shy.

I was towards the back snapping pictures after I got the students lined up, and I couldn't hear the students from where I was. They finally got a set up with a microphone for the students to use. That helped quite a bit, but it made the students' voices sound funny. Then it was the teachers' turns. When I got up I told the guy I didn't need a microphone.  I said in a nice, loud voice. Hi  and everyone starting laughing because I was able to be heard all the way at the back without a microphone. After I got done the guide translated into Malay for me. I went and sat down after that back with some of my students at the back. It was hot and humid standing up but felt good sitting down because then I was under fans.
Two girls from their school did a martial arts presentation. At first it looked like they were doing a dance, but without the music. They did some sparring with each other and actually did some punching and kicking. While I was watching the performance there was a male (teacher, I think) that was taking pictures of me.

Then they wanted to take some pictures with all of our students.  Our students got up on the stage and just stood in a large huddle, so I had to go up and tell them short people in the front and tall in the back. I had to do some more shifting because some of the people wanted to hide in the back. A group of their students came up and stood in front of the stage. They had them sit down on the stage and kneel because some of our students are about the same height and couldn't be seen behind their students.  After pictures we got back on our bus. The students came to wave us off. The grown ups were standing next to our school bus taking pictures (the name of the school is on the side of the bus). We went back to the community library.

At the community library we got to go upstairs and look at it. I was actually impressed. The library was small, but there were two newer computers that had Internet access. On the ground level was a nursery (preschool) school.  They gave us hot tea, bananas, Kari puffs, and pizza. It was good. All the students walked across the street to the tiny store they have and bought popsicles. I didn't get one. They are like those Freezie's back in the US that come in the plastic that you suck on it and push it up. 

We got on the bus and drove to Pekan and saw the Prime Minister's palace, and the Palace polo club. We drove around Pekan and took a little tour.  Then we headed back to the school. We were supposed to be back by 12:00p.m., but we didn't get back until slightly after 1:00p.m.

On the way back the bus driver on our bus put in a movie. It had the title screen that said Beautiful Animals are Beautiful People. I thought that is a weird title.  I wasn't sure why he put a movie on since people were either watching the scenery or playing games. Anyway he hit play and the movies starts. I was semi watching it because I heard all of the boys laughing. I look up and this lady is running around her house in her bra getting ready for a meeting because she is late. I am thinking I have seen this movie before, I think it is called Pay it Forward. I don't know if it is really appropriate for the middle school level. We get a little father and then the man and woman are getting ready to have sex. We know she is topless even though we only see her collar bone area and above. She unbuttons his top and he is all scarred on his stomach. One of the other teachers and myself are like we need to stop the movie. The bus driver told us it was and ISK movie. We said we didn't care. We didn't think it was appropriate and needed to be stopped. It has been a few years since I saw the movie and wasn't sure how graphic the sex scene was. ( I told the principal about it the next day. He said he was thinking of showing it to one of his classes but he hadn't previewed it yet. I said he needed to do that. He mentioned that there was a censor committee that it should have gone through. I said maybe it did, but there was no way to know and I didn't want to take a chance that it hadn't made it through customs without going through that committee or that it was pirated and had not been censored. He said he thought that one of the teachers had used it in class and shown it to students a few years ago. I said well maybe but I would rather be safe then sorry. )

We were supposed to have a normal afternoon.  When we got back though we had to do homeroom so we could take attendance, then we had to walk across the road like normal and get lunch. After that there was only like 15 minutes left of that class after lunch. I had signed up to be in the computer lab, and another teacher thought her students were in the lab. I went to check the schedule. I had made the mistake. I signed up for the period in the morning when I have World History on Tuesday. The whole not having classes at the same time every day or every other day still throws me off. I was a little annoyed by my mistake, but there wasn't much I could do. So, I just had my students bring their silent reading books and read because there was no point in really getting started on anything. After that it was my planning period. I had been informed the day before that I could decorate the bulletin boards behind the desk I use in room 5, so I brought things to decorate with. I bought this pretty wrapping paper and ribbon to cover the boards. Then I took the calendars I brought with me and picked out the prettiest photos to show my students what my state is like. I also put up a few pictures of family, friends, and cats. I don't have a whole lot up there now, because I didn't have that many pictures to put up. Everyone thinks it looks really nice though now. I wanted to get it done right away since parent/teacher conferences are Tuesday, and there is no school Monday since it is to celebrate the Sultan's birthday.

After school I took the group of students again to the Autistic center. I was a little annoyed because I had many students say that they wanted to go but most of the backed out and the last minute. When we got there they were preparing for Children's Day the next day. I think it was an open house and party. They were counting on ten people to help them, so they were disappointed that there were only a few of us, so they had to change the plans at the last minute which isn't good for the children. We helped them color some letters that they were going to put up and blow up balloons. After that, we played with a few of the children who were out doing water therapy in the swimming pool. We were on the outside while they were in the pool. There ended up being a water fight/duck war and some of the students got pretty wet. Some of my students also wanted to swing while we were waiting for the bus driver. One of the guys didn't know how to swing, so I got on and showed him how. Then he got back on and really got going and high. When he went to get off the swing seat broke. I am going to have to have a talk with our students about their commitment to going.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a Few observations

-I have now seen smaller trucks like the 4x4's that are mostly Fords. I have also seen more trucks for hauling small loads of vegetables and like hay (only I have not seen hay, but that type of truck). For the most part the vehicles are still small.
-There are a large number of men that carry man-bags or man-purses. My bus driver is one of them. I mean he does have to carry documents when he is running errands with the owner's wife, but he has it on all the time. It is one that goes over the chest. I bought a purse like that because it is much easier to hold on to it so that no one snatches it. Mine is more feminine though.
- People at school share food. Teachers share food with students and students share food with teachers and other students.  Mostly I don't share with people unless I know them really well. Like it was probably a year before I left my best friend eat my food. There have been a few times when a student has offered me a taste of something when I inquire about it. I will only do it though if it is something that is individual pieces. I don't bite off their piece. Today we had KFC and I asked one of my fellow teachers which sandwich she got because hers was larger and looked better. She told me and then offered me a bite, but I declined because she had already bitten off of it and even if she hadn't I wouldn't want to bite off of it and then hand it back. I told her I would just try it next time.
- I have been told that sometimes I am very smiley. I don't always notice that I am smiling. I have had people in the past and even students ask me what I am smiling about because I am smiling but don't realize it. It must be rubbing off. I have noticed that some of my co-workers and other staff smiling at me now when I say hello or good-bye. I am also joking around a little because I think as they are getting to know me they will understand some of my humor. So they now smile when I say something funny.  When I first got here I noticed that everyone always had a serious face. (I notice because my Dad rarely smiles even when he is really happy. We had a friend once tell him that he needs to tell his face that he is happy so that it will smile. We tease my Dad about that. So here I meet all these people who didn't smile like my Dad, and I thought this a perfect place for my Dad. I wondered if any of them were capable of smiling.)  The other day on the bus on the way to school some guy was pointed at the bus and then stopped along side of the bus and was pointed right towards me. I thought maybe there was something wrong with the bus. The bus driver laughed and smiled for the first time. He never did explain, but maybe the guy was pointing out that I was a white lady riding a school bus. Anyway since then I have noticed that when I now say hi to people in the morning or good-bye after school the people I work with are starting to smile at me. Even today some student say some lyrics about smiling makes her cry or something. So I said I wouldn't smile anymore. I was trying to conduct the lesson without smiling and my students were like its not working you are smiling, and so they all started smiling back at me and laughing.
-My World History class is working on power point presentations. The topics we are covering are Greeks, Romans, and Christianity. When they signed up last week, none of the signed up for Christianity, so I had to go back and assign students to do it. Today when they started working the students who were working on Christianity wanted to put very little information on their presentation. I understand that it is a Muslim country. We are learning about all types of civilizations and religions, but they don't seem to have a problem with any other. I talked to the whole class today because they were not happy with how I grouped them, so I talked about sometimes in life we have to work with people we don't really get along with or like. I also talked to the whole class about how this was history. That we were learning how our world came about and was has happened in the past to shape our world today. I told them that they don't have to agree with what people believed but they must be respectful and do a good job. I told them that they didn't have to change their beliefs in anyway concerning what they were learning about other people's beliefs. Now I am not being critical about it just because it is Christianity. If it was about the Greek or Roman religions that they were reluctant to do research and a presentation about I would have the same talk. It makes me wonder what they have learned about though that would make them so resistant. It is not like I have told them what I believe and am forcing them in anyway to change their beliefs.  I don't expect them to provide us with extra information or make their presentation any different than other presentations, but one page of only 5 bullets with a few words of information is not enough when the other students are doing over 5 slides.  One of the groups is doing Paganism and that is still around today, but they don't have any problems with it.
-When they ride motorcycles and when they wear jackets, they always wear jackets backwards. I would think it would be warmer to put them on the correct way and zip them up. 
-All of the larger school buses have curtains on all the windows. On our own bus we have curtains. I have to keep my curtains open, so that the driver can see out when pulling out into traffic. There is the door, but to see farther back he has to look out the window. People pass buses all the time when children are being picked up and dropped off. They don't have the flashing lights and have traffic stop like in the US.
- I have heard they have car carriers here, but most people just hold their babies or small children when they are in the car. Even our new secretary was holding her baby and when she got dropped off she passed the baby off to someone else to hold while they went wherever they were going next.
-There are trees that have these little plastic in them all the time. I don't know if it was for some festival or something, and they have just never removed them or what.
-The houses here are connected. I don't know that they call them townhouses or four-plexes or anything like we do. Anyway I have noticed that sometimes the houses will be a different style on the top floors. Like some will have columns and others will not. Sometimes they will be painted different colors. It is interesting to see like if they share a column or up at the top how precise they are in having the color divide the column right in half or at the top how the front part of the roof will be exactly half one color and have the other. They must use something when they are painting so the line is exactly straight, and it looks good.
- Many Chinese have this red and gold boxes that sit in their yard. They are used for ancestor worship.  People bring food and tea that they leave at the altar, to provide comfort for the person in the afterlife. Incense is usually burned. They also bring "Spirit money" which is paper used to symbolize money.  There is usually a tablet with the peeople's name on it and a picture of the people. I noticed one had lots of statues on it.

World Hunger Day


On Monday my school did something for World Hunger Day. One of the classes, I think the Western Cultures class, brought food to share with all of the students. They distributed food to all the students, teachers, and other employees. When they distributed the food they read a little piece of writing that they came up with to talk about world hunger.  I admire what they tried to do, but I don't think it came across like they wanted. I noticed that all the little papers that they handed out after they read their spiel ended up on the floor. The other students were more into the fact that they were getting free food than they were in thinking about world hunger and how we can help lessen it. They had equal portions for each student, but some students came earlier and just took food without asking because they were tired of waiting. They made a huge mess too.

I saved my paper, and this is what it said: On this World Food Day 2010, when there have never been so many hungry people in the world, let use reflect on the future. With willpower, courage, and persistence-and many players working together and helping each other- more food can be produced, more sustainably, and get into the mouths of those who need it most. The theme of this year's observance is United again hunger, chosen to recognize the efforts made in the fight against world hunger at national, regional and international levels.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Benefits

So, in the past I have talked about some of the difficulties but there are also many benefits of this job and experience. I have many areas of endorsement-Middle School Math, Science, Socials Studies, and Language Arts, K-12 reading plus my Elementary and Secondary English. Previously I have only taught 10-11th grade with just experiences in Elementary and Middle School. So when I applied for different jobs in the past I had not actually had much experience. After this job I will have actual teaching experience in Middle School Language Arts 6-8, High school English 9-11 and and Audited AP English. Plus, I will also have experience in teaching Middle School Social Studies 6-8 World History.

I have been lucky in the past where I have always gotten a job and had at least a month to a couple months to prepare for the most part. At my last job I did have another grade and classroom add only a week before school started but it was not too bad because nothing else really changed.  I never wanted to have a job where I had to move, prepare, and teach at the last minute.

Well, that happened with this job, and it was actually not too bad. I got this job but with trying to pack my house up, do paper work and tie up loose ends I was not able to move here and start until after school had already started. I handled it well and did not get too stressed because I knew they realized some of what it took for me to move and get settled and create lesson plans when I had little time and could not bring much with me. It has been over a month now, and I am finally all settled and have taught four full weeks. I am finally getting into a routine and people back home have been so helpful in sending things that I need over the e-mail to help me out. My students have been very understanding and helpful. Now I know that if it were to ever happen again I can handle it and not get super sick or totally lose it.

In my first teaching job I had one classroom. I remember older teachers at my first job telling me how lucky I was that I had my own room and did not to share, and that I was not a floating teacher. At my second teaching job I had two classrooms both years and had to travel back and forth between campuses (across town from each other) all except for one semester. I had to share a room both years at my second job. Well, here I am a floating teacher, and I have to share every room I am in and there is usually a teacher on their planning period when I am teaching in whichever room I happen to be in. In the room that I do have a desk I share it with other teachers so I pretty much have to haul all possessions and books with me every class. I am getting used to this. I always double and triple check to make sure I have everything with me for each class. I try not to go back to the classroom with the desk I use between classes unless I have too many books to carry.

The week before last was tough because I printed out grades to show the students their missing grades. It was hard if they had a question to not be able to get on the computers in the other rooms to show them or go back to the room with the computer I use. I do not want to haul my own laptop everyday so that nothing happens to it. I did talk to the principal and we got me set up as a user on one of the other computers so that when it is locked I am now able to log in. Another one still has a different program and can mess up the grades if I am not careful. There is also a room where neither of the computers are currently. So, I just try to do my best and meet with them at another time if it does not work to get on the computer in whatever room I am in.  This has made me appreciate having my own classroom even more but have taught me even more about preparedness and flexibility. I also don't really have a place to store things so I must take most things home with me and haul them back if I need to use it so I try to teach with the minimum of hauling but still do quality lessons.

Another thing we also don't have is overhead projectors or LCD projectors to hook up to computers. So everything that I don't copy off and want to write on the board I must do at the beginning of class (another reason to carry as much as possible and not run back to the other room between classes). I also have to rewrite the information if I use something similar between classes since I share the rooms. I remember back at my first job not wanting a overhead projector and it taking so long writing things down on the board and when I was given to option to change my mind I did so and it made things so much easier. Here I don't have that option and must do my best to write quickly but legibly. We do have two laptops with projectors for presentations but no one teacher can use it everyday for every class. We have to share and so use is limited only to student presentations.

I have always been used to inter-school e-mail for communication. Here I must track down whatever I need to talk to. This can be good in some ways since the communication is then in person but some teachers are harder to track down then others especially if there class is held in the computer lab, and I need to switch them for a few class periods so that I can have my students use it to type up essays.

Another thing I have always had access to it a grading program. Where all I had to do was plug in the assignments, weighting, and grades. The computer already had all students names in there and figured out the grades for me and printed out grade reports or report cards. Here I have to make a separate spreadsheets for each student and figure out each grade individually. It is quite time consuming, but it is teaching me another skill so that if something ever happened in a future school with a grade program not working, I now know how to do it the old fashion way.  We also have to go into each student's folder to enter the grades and enter comments plus turn in all the grades on paper as well. Again it takes lots of time but is another good skill that may be beneficial in the future.

Some people may read this and say, wow that is too bad. I look at is I am learning all these skills that will benefit me in the future. I am not saying that it is not hard sometimes. It certainly is, but I don't know what my future holds and there could be another job where all of this pays off and helps me in a crisis when other teachers who haven't gone through this will have no idea how to handle it. It also makes me more appreciative of the things I have had in the past and may have again in the future that makes my teaching job easier and smoother.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Silence vs. Noise

I don't mind quiet. But it seems like other than the traffic outside it is always quiet in the house I live in, almost silent. I don't mind that sometimes but it seems like lately it has just been too quiet for me and I just think, think, think. Not that thinking is bad, but sometimes I over think about things. I brought my Ipod, but I left the little speakers at home. I really wish I had brought them because so far I haven't found any in the stores. One store did have this huge speaker system with it, but I didn't want to spend that much for use for a few years, plus I can't be too loud here. I have my headphones of course, but then I can't hear if a servant knocks on the door, or my phone rings (not that it rings much). Plus, then I am kind of attached to the Ipod and have to watch out for the headphone wires. I am trying to be better about playing the few songs that are in my Itunes on my computer. Even as I started typing this I finally realized that yet again I was sitting in silence. (Music is now on) I have been trying to remember to have music on when I wake up in the morning and when I am working or studying after school. It can be very noisy at school because since we share classrooms and rotate then some of the classes in the room where I have a computer are loud, very loud, and so then I do crave quiet so I can get work done. Sometimes I will listen to my Ipod while working during my planning period so I can block out the yelling and screaming. I think this week I am just really missing my friends and family and being able to visit with them. I do e-mail my parents and friends, and there is Facebook, and I have Skyped a few times with my parents, but it is not the same.  I am used to staying after school and visiting with my fellow teachers, but here the other teachers don't really visit with me even when I try to start a conversation. They pretty much keep to themselves. I do visit with the housekeeper and bus driver, but they both speak limited English so the conversations are a struggle ( not that I mind but it takes a long time to get a simple thing across).  This next week is book club. I am really looking forward to as I can talk with other people. It will pretty much be about books, and one lady the last time did most of the talking (it was the first time), hopefully we can all talk more this time. I keep hoping that we can start more planning of doing things. I am a member of the website for ex-pats and have posted things I would like to do if others would like to join me but I have not gotten any responses. Most of the ladies do things together during the day since they stay at home and then in the evenings and weekends they are taking care of their families.

I do listen to the radio on the bus to school and back. It is growing on me. It is always like the same five songs with every once in a great while a different song. In the morning they have their morning show with a GOTCHA call where they trick people over the phone. That has grown on me, and I am finding some of them amusing. Then they have Richard Reed, and his Hollywood Hook-up, so I always have the latest scoop on Hollywood, but that is getting old. I tried listening to my Ipod on the bus a few times but the radio is too loud. Oh well. The music is ok.

I got satellite radio last year, and I really miss having that and being able to pick the music that I was in the mood for, and it had a much bigger selection than I could ever have in my Ipod. 

Since the landlord has been gone this week the servants also have had a radio or something on in their room with the door open in the morning so there is some music/talking in the morning when I am eating my breakfast which is nice.

I didn't have T.V. (cable, dish, etc) back home, but I did have my four favorite tv shows on DVD that I watched over and over again. Sometimes I would turn it on more for sound than actually watching it if I didn't feel like music. I don't have that here, and I miss that.

Update-10/19/10 This last few days there has been a new bird around. It cries all day long and the cry is so annoying. To me I think it sounds like a female moaning when she is having sex. It starts out slow and a low tone and then as it gets faster and faster the the pitch gets higher and higher. Until it gets so high and fast that it is like the bird has an orgasm and then the bird stops for a minute or two and starts all over. This has been going on for the last three days. The last two days when I have been waiting for the bus one of the servants is crying back at it, so then they are two voices moaning.  I am now to the point of I hear the bird start up then I immediately put on my headphones so I can't hear it because I think I would go insane otherwise.  You will probably think I am crazy, but if you heard it you would agree with me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Touch

Ok, so I am not a real touchy feely person. I don't go around touching people all the time, and I don't even hug or kiss people much. But when I move to a new place that is what one of the hard things. When I have a bad day and really need a hug, I can't just randomly go up to some co-worker and hug them. Especially not in today's society. I would probably be looked at as trying to hit on them. Even though I am 30 years old and still boy crazy and talk about how much I love James Bond and wish I could marry a man like him, they would probably be suspicious of a hug. Plus, it would be awkward to just randomly go up to them and be like, I need a hug. I struggled with this in college (before I got to know people and made friends), Jackson Hole, and Idaho, and now Malaysia. In all of these places I also don't have my cats that I can snuggle with or pet to get some touch. I would even take a pat on the back. I don't hug my parents much or my brother, but back home it was nice because if I had a bad day I could just go to my parent's work or house and just give them a hug. I always felt better. If they weren't available I could put a cat on my lap and pet her, and the purring made me feel better.  I have slept with cats most of my life. Whenever I don't have a cat to sleep with then I sleep with a teddy bear so I have something to cuddle with at night. When I sleep I feel that presence but I don't register that it is not my cat, so I sleep well. It is also the release of the good endorphins that I am not getting when I don't get hugs, or pats, or get to pet an animal occasionally. There is the cat at school but it is semi wild and they don't take cats to the vet like we do, so who knows if it has like fleas or some disease or something. I try not to pet it that much. If I do I wash my hands right away. This another thing that one doesn't notice until it is not available to them.

Massages do help though. They release all the toxins in the body and relieve stress. I think it is a combination of working on the knots and touch. So, I always feel better after a massage, but it still isn't quite the same.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Heat and Humidity

I am tired of the heat and humidity. I think if I could get rid of that everything would be perfect here. I am tired of being hot all the time. I am tired of getting super sweaty without having to do much physically. I am tired the humidity and having my clothes stick to me. I wear makeup most days but it is almost pointless since I get sweaty in the morning while eating breakfast and waiting for the bus, so that my face already looks greasy by the time I get to school. Although it looks greasy with no make up too. I was hoping I could do lots of exercising and lose weight, but it is always too hot in the afternoon and evening to do it. I haven't worked out a schedule to do it in the morning before I get ready for school since I am not a morning person. It is cooler then but still humid.  I am not very hungry because of the heat and don't eat as much, but I feel like with the lack of physical activity I am not going to lose much weight. On the other hand this is a tropical climate, and it is what provides the area with all the lush green plants and gorgeous flowers. It is what allows there to be a beach and not a prairie. I was watching the housekeeper at the school the other day. She also takes care of the plants and the grounds. I wondered if she ever gets tired of taking care of the plants everyday. They are all outside and some days it is really hot and humid, and I feel bad for her.  It made me not mind too much that I have had winter where I am from so that the plants and grass die and then I can take a break from taking care of it. I think it makes me appreciate the plants and flowers more. At first I noticed all the different vegetation, but not so much anymore. I still have not seen a Plumeria flower up close though. I see them in the morning when I am riding the bus. There seems to be several different colors. I wish I could have the bus stop at each one so I could take pictures.  I wonder how it will be like at Christmas, if it will even feel like Christmas. I was in the Caribbean islands once for Christmas and as fun as it was it didn't really feel like Christmas with no cold, and snow. Plus, even though the Christmas carols were very cool with the steel drums, they felt different. It will be interesting to see how Christmas is celebrated here with the cultural and religious differences.

American Food

Ok I will admit that I am now missing American food a little bit. I actually look forwards to McDonald's food every other Tuesday. I mean I like McDonald's, but I was going to always bring my own food on Tuesdays so I wouldn't be eating American food. I am tired of eating chicken and rice everyday. I get the quarter pounder with cheese so I can get beef. I still love Thosai which I have on Saturday mornings before I do laundry, but it is also special since it is only once a week. I have a craving for Pizza Hut pizza. They do have a pizza hut here. I may have to get their phone number and order it one of these days. I also miss Papa Murphy's Pizza, Quizno's, Subway, Dairy Queen. I mean I didn't eat there that often, but when I really have a craving for it now I can't satisfy it.


This is not American food, but it is food. I love chocolate, especially dark chocolate. They have lots of chocolate here. I picked up my best friend's habit of nibbling my chocolate to eat it slowly and savor it. That does not work here because it is too hot and starts melting. So I just have to pop the whole piece in my mouth and let it melt without chewing. M&M's also melt in my hands. Even when they are in the bag they start to get soft. The same is true for Oreo's. I had some that I had opened, and I had them in a plastic bag in a tupperware to keep the ants away. When I took them out and ate some more the cookie kind of fell apart because the frosting was so soft.

Servants Part 3

So my landlord is gone now back to his town or whatever. I noticed last night again that the one servant seemed buddy, buddy with the one guy. But maybe they are just friends. He did haul something heavy down the stairs for her last night. She was up in his room visiting until he hauled it down. The door was open, and I was eating down the the dining room that looks up into his room. I eventually left since I finished and couldn't sit there forever so I don't know how it ended. I also noticed today when I got home at 5:30ish that both servants were in their pjs. I wonder if now that the landlord is gone if they don't clean as much. I wonder if they do some cleaning and take care of the grandma of course, but maybe they relax and watch more tv or whatever.  It will be interesting over the next few months what also develops.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10

I know some people are super excited and have something special planned for today. I am not one of those people. I have no idea what I was doing on 1-1-1, or 2-2-2- or 7-7-7 etc. But I like the number 10. Plus 10-10-10 equals 30. I think for me it is more special the age I am. 30. I still don't feel 30 or what I think I should feel like based on what other people have said about turning 30. I am still almost always the youngest person out of any group of people I hang out with on a regular basis. There are many times I am more mature than some of those people. So while on the one hand I feel younger than them since I have no husband or children; on the other hand I feel older since some of them are still really immature. I don't know that I really feel like I am one age. I think I feel young or old depending on the situation I find myself in.
Being here for over a month now it still amazes me sometimes that I am living in a foreign country. When I am in my room working I almost forget that I am not in the United States. I don't forget that I am not living in my house, but it feels much like a dorm room that it really does not feel that odd. I read some other blog recently that says it takes at least 3 months to get settled. I think I have made lots of progress for being here a little over a month now. I kept waiting for it to turn out like when I moved to Idaho and got really sick from the stress. But I haven't. I think some of it is that I didn't feel stressed when I moved to Idaho, which was something new to me. My body obviously was stressed, and it manifested that in my getting so sick. Here I have felt stressed and so I think that has helped me to realize when I need to take a break and relax, take a deep breath and tell myself I can do this.  I know I am older, and I think I am wiser. I know now that everything does not have to be graded every night and handed back the next day. I know that it is ok to do some things outside of working and not work all the time. I know that people make mistakes and people forget things, and I don't have to be a perfect teacher. I know it is ok to admit that I have faults to my students, and they will be ok with that.

I know that as much as I like this and am enjoying it I don't think I want to live here forever. Part of me would like to return home after a few years, but part of me want to keep teaching overseas. I used to love to travel but then after September 11th I was afraid to travel overseas any more. Now that I have done it I know that it is ok. There are countries that are still great to travel too. I can be cautious and hope that nothing happens. Part of me was also afraid of getting some disease and being sick. But on the other hand I could stay at home forever and get cancer or something and still get horribly sick and die. So, I have decided I want to go back to traveling. It is so hard to figure out where I want to go first. I wish that I had someone to travel with though. I think that would be more fun to have someone along to talk with right there and experience the same things I am.

When I was in high school I was asked where I saw myself in ten years.  My answer was something along the lines of being an Elementary teacher, with a husband and two kids by the time I hit my 10 year reunion.  When I was in Europe back in high school I thought that I would like to teach overseas but I didn't think it would ever happen. It is kind of like I always dreamed of being a professional ballerina, but that was not meant to be.

I don't know where I see myself in ten years when I am 40. My dreams don't seem to line up with my life's purpose, so I decided instead of being the planner that I am I will just be a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal-to some extent. I know now that I can do it. I hoped all summer that I would get a job where I had plenty of notice to pack up my house and move and unpack and get settled and get lesson plans done and then start teaching. Instead I had less than two weeks to pack up my house and move to another country (not another state) and then another week before I started teaching and trying to get settled and unpacked and do lesson planning. But I survived with no major crisis or anything, so I know if I had to do it again I am strong enough to do it. Maybe with my next job I will get it right at the end of my contract and have to move and start teaching in less than a week, who knows.  Not that I really want that to happen, but I know now I could handle it.

I know I joked on Facebook once my passport arrived that maybe before my birthday I was going to run away to some country and not come back until my passport expires in 10 years, 2020. Maybe that will really happen. I said I was going to run away to the place of my favorite movie. I never specified where that was and whose to say that I might not end up there eventually.

I had one of my students on that last day of class tell me that he hoped I ended up moving to some place warm. If only he knew that I did move to some place warm.

It is funny now looking back at all the little signs I was given that were pointing the way here, while I was looking for some gigantic neon sign in the sky with an arrow saying "BB, go here". (That is what I kept wishing for anyway.)

This summer when I was applying for jobs some of the ones I applied to I didn't have any actual teaching experience in. When I get done with this job I will have experience in every single one of those grades and areas.

It is funny too. I am a home body, but I have yet to settle down in one place for longer than two years. I enjoyed growing up and not really moving around like my Dad did when he was a child and some of my friends. I always thought I would find a teaching job in one place and be there for the rest of my life. Recently I was worried that would look bad on my resume and keep me from getting a job, but from what I am learning about teaching overseas that actually seems to be the norm. Many of the contracts are only a year or two, and they seem to expect that after that people will be moving on.  One of my professors back in college was from Belgium and taught in Europe before teaching a couple places in South Dakota. I kind of looked up to her thinking how cool would all of those experiences be.  Maybe I will be a gypsy instead and wander around the world for the rest of my life. Eventually I will have to return to the US for a period of time to figure out what to do with my possessions. My kittens have become super attached to my parents so there is no problem there.

Not that I want to rush to the end of my life but it will be interesting to see how it all turns out in the end. Where I will go from here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Skin

I am not a person that goes around thinking oh they are black or white or anything. I have always just noticed the beauty of the different colors. I loved the Cosby show, and even though I knew they didn't look like me I was never like ooh they are black. It wasn't until just in the last few years when some News thing made some comment about the way they changed TV that I thought about them being black. I know there are other people like me out there, and I don't know why we are the way we are and other people treat those of a different color as inferior. I have a cousin who is black. To my knowledge I have never asked why he was not the same color as me. I just knew he was my family. To this day I still don't know the whole story,  but I don't care. I do know that he is not adopted but both his mom and dad are white. I do wonder if when I was really little I asked questions or was prepped beforehand that he didn't look like the rest of us.
Why are you writing a blog about skin then?
Well, because I now notice different skins to some degree. There are very few white people here and so I get stared at all the time. Tonight in the grocery store some little girl was staring at me and when I caught her she covered her face with a loaf of bread. It made me think, if I had never seen a white person before would I think something was wrong with them? I wonder if she has even heard of white people. Even though my hair is not light blond anymore it is still blond. My eyes are blue and my skin is pretty white. It makes me think back to a family I was close to in high school. At that time the term I heard people using was "our town's resident black family". I knew they were my friends and looked like my cousin, but now that I am at the "being stared at" end of the spectrum it makes me wonder how they felt. Most of the time people eventually quit staring and move on. One of the workers though who was installing my water heater, who looked Asian, stared at me constantly. I really got tired of it, and the childish phrase "Take a picture, it was last longer" entered my thoughts.  I didn't say it and still wouldn't have said it even if he spoke and understood English. Luckily I was able to finally escape to a place where he couldn't stare at me.
I also notice other white people now wherever I go because there are so few of us. Tonight I practically ran into a white guy when I was leaving, and he was entering. He seemed surprised to see me too.
But I still see lots of beautiful skin colors. Some of them are ones I have never seen before. I have also noticed that while there are lighter skinned people here all of them have brown hair and brown eyes or black hair and brown eyes. Ok, I should amend that statement. All of the hair I have seen that is not covered by the tudung the Muslim women wear is brown or black. Sometimes I get a glimpse of the hair on the sides or top that peeks out and it is always brown or black. I guess maybe some of them could have blond hair, and I would never know, but it seems like genetically they all have brown or black hair.
I read another blog about that mentioned skin in it tonight and that also got me thinking. As that person stated it is hard to blend it. Now matter where I go here I will always stand out. I used to wish sometimes that some guy (not every guy) would stare at me because he thought I was beautiful. Here when a guy stares at me for a prolonged period of time it makes me nervous. Especially when I am alone. I am thinking, what is he thinking about. Even at the wine dinner last Friday even though I looked somewhat similar to most of the people there I still stood out. They all had brown hair. I didn't get a good look at the eyes. They were all slender. They all had different accents than me. I still felt like the outsider since they all had things in common and talked similar because I still look different, and sound, and am at a different point in my life.
I used to smile at everyone that looked at me. Sometimes I would smile and say hello,  but now I have quit doing that because they never smile or say hello back.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dorm Room vs. Cloister

When I first moved into my room I referred to it as my cloister. I posted pictures and my Mom thought it looked similar to a dorm room. While it may look similar to a dorm room it is not a dorm. My room is quiet most of the time, for the most part I enjoy the quiet after a day at school (we rotate rooms and sometimes I am in the room with another class during my planning periods and those classes are wild and the students noisy). Sometimes it is just so quiet though. I have my Ipod but I don't like to have my headphones on in case the landlord or servant comes to knock on my door. I wish I had brought my little speakers with me. I have looked but not found any yet. The landlord comes and goes. The servants, cook, clean, and take care of the old lady, so there is some coming and going outside my room. There are not people dropping by to visit of invite me to go do some thing or go somewhere.  I had blank wall, out I must put up with them. The walls are concrete so it would be really hard to nail something, but I am not even allowed to use sticky tack or double sided tape. I don't have a roommate. I do have my own bathroom which I don't have to share. I have to go elsewhere to do my laundry. In my dorm we had a kitchen that was share where we could cook. Here I can just have my fridge and microwave and only do whatever heating/cooking I can in the microwave. It is not exciting like a dorm. I know I am older, and I wouldn't appreciate people up and being loud late at night, but I miss having random people drop by to visit or do things with.

Friends

I miss my friends. I miss visiting with them everyday. E-mail and Facebook are nice, but it is not the same. Instead of getting a reply right then, I have to wait back to hear from them.
The other teachers are ok. They aren't really friendly. One guy I rarely see and never talk to. Another lady I see sometimes, but she also doesn't talk to me. One lady is very nice, and we visit a little bit, but she is part time so I don't see her very often. Another lady I see every day, and she always asks me how its going, but that is about it.  The last lady, who I also share a room with is pretty nice. We visit sometimes. Her husband also works at the school so they are together most of the time. She was trying to be very helpful at first telling me I was paying too much for my place, and that I should get a car. I appreciated her trying to help me but I feel like I am doing what is best for me right now. Maybe after I have lived here for awhile I might feel more comfortable getting a car and driving, and maybe move to a nicer and cheaper place, but for now it is ok. I don't know if she is disappointed that I have not taken her advice and that is why she no longer really visits with me or what.
The friendliest person is the Director of Studies (Principal). He is from America, although he married a Malay woman and has lived here for several years now. We still don't visit much about things not related to school. The owner tells me stories all the time of when he lived in America. Things have been kind of crazy lately with help, so I haven't had a chance much to visit with the owner's wife, but again there is that separation.

I miss telling friends about how my classes went. Any funny or frustrating stories. I miss telling my friends about things I have noticed or learned. I have blogged about some of them, but it is not the same.
I miss talking to my best friend. We haven't lived close to each other for years, but we still e-mailed consistently and would talk on the phone. Now when I have something I really want to tell her I have to e-mail her and wait for her reply or wait for a day and time to call her and try to catch her at home, which is even harder with the time difference. She also can't call me back, so I can leave a message, but she has to wait for me to call her again before we can talk.
The ex-pat group that I went out with the other night had some very nice people. I potentially may have some friends there. I don't know how close we will get. We are all here for a limited period of time before we move on.  I don't know if they would understand my humor either with cultural difference, references, and even the language to some degree. I think they will be helpful to some degree if I need help and will include me sometimes on things, but like I said I don't know how close we will be.

My Mom always says it just takes a minute for your life to change. When you are least expecting it you could meet the guy you are going to marry. I have always wanted to marry a man with a British or Australian accent. I really was hoping that there would be several single guys at the wine dinner, all with THE accent. Alas, it was not to be.

I know myself well though. I would probably meet some guy over here, and I would want to date him, but I would not want to date him because I would think I am going to be moving back to the US in a few years, and I don't want to start a relationship and then break up when I move.  I have done that several times now. I might have met my future husband if I didn't do that. Maybe I met him already but missed my opportunity.

Ok, I am going to stop there before I sound more pathetic than I already am.