Friday, August 12, 2011

First Week of School my Second Year in Malaysia

This year I was here before school started so I was able to be present and participate in teacher meetings. We met the last three days of the first week of August. We talked about field trips and our visit this year for our Accreditation. It is a mid-quarter (?) visit. We talked about the activities we were going to have this year. The thing that took up the most time was figuring out our schedule. We are continuing to grow and the new school building has not been started yet. So we still have too many students, and not enough teachers or rooms for all of the classes and big enough to fit all of the students. This year they got a portable building that they put on the side of the school and we moved the library into that, so the old library could be turned into a classroom. We are only licensed for the current rooms as far as teaching and so that is why we didn't make the portable building a classroom. Since I spent many hours organizing the library and putting all our collection on Library Thing the Director of Studies wanted for them to wait until I was around before moving the library. He knew I probably wouldn't be very happy if it got all messed up and I had to start all over again. We did finally settle on a schedule that worked so that everyone had at least one break/planning period a day, so that we all had manageable classes and taught as many classes as possible for all that the students wanted and fit them into the classrooms that we have. On Friday we felt good to go for Monday and felt we accomplished many things.

For me, I felt, the first week went pretty good. This year I found different transportation to school, so that I can sleep in, because I no longer have to wait a long time for the bus or ride the whole route. I get to school early though because with just taking me to school it is a short trip. I like being to school early and having some time to prepare before the students arrive. On Monday I spent the whole day moving the library. I had help from students. I thought it was also a great way to get them to see how the library was organized and why it was organized the way it is, and why they should put books back in the correct spot. It was a very hot and humid day and the portable building did not have air conditioning yet. So, I was dripping sweat almost the whole day. I also did most of the work, not only because I wanted to keep the library organized but it was also fasting month and since I do not participate in Ramadan I was able to drink water and eat while those who are fasting could not. So I mostly had them do light work. We got all but two book cases moved that first day. On Tuesday morning the first two classes of the day we finished moving the library. I also had some books that had been found over the summer that I had some students enter into our Library Thing account. Once we got the books all moved I went through all the books one more time and did some minor adjusting. The rest of the day I taught my normal classes. I had to teach some of my classes in the new library since the old one needed to be cleaned out and had no desks or chairs. On Wednesday I taught my classes again and really had my students get to work. They thought we were going to take it easy for the whole first week and were disappointed that we were actually going to work. The old library got a fresh coat of paint to help it spruce up a bit. On Thursday and Friday it was more getting settled into the new schedule. I taught two classes on Friday in the old library and I thought it was nice. It is a small room, so it is pretty cozy. I still rotate rooms this year, but I am hoping to be able to switch some rooms so that I can rotate less. We have talked that maybe I would move my work area into the old library and then not so many teachers would be in room 5, the room I currently share with two other full time teachers and one part time teacher. I still have to look at the schedule all the time so I know where to go and what class I am teaching. My classes are bigger this year. My 6/7 class is 9 students, 8th-10 students, World History 11 students and 9/10th 20 students. We have some more students on the way. They are working on getting their visas so the classes are going to continue to grow in the next few weeks. I will also have 3 extra English classes but they have not started yet, so those numbers are still to be determined.

Last year when I started it was also Ramadan. It was the very ended of it, so I did not experience much of it. This year I am here for the whole thing. This week on Monday and Wednesday we did food from a Duck Rice place. I had duck rice. On Tuesday we did McDonald's and Thursday, KFC. I knew that they fasted during the day and could not eat or drink, but I did not know that they are not supposed to swallow their saliva. I think that is something that would be very hard to do. It is such an automatic reflex that I would have a hard time remembering not to do that.  Two of my co-workers are pregnant and both are fasting. They don't have to fast now but they have to make it up later, so both of them are opting to fast now. I also think that would be very hard to do. One of them earlier in her pregnancy was hungry all the time, so I cannot imagine how hard it would be for her now.  It is interesting sometimes to see similarities and difference between cultures and religions. In Christianity we are not supposed to talk about our fasting. It is just something between us and God. Here they are very open about it. They ask each other all the time if they are fasting (girls also do not have to fast at their time of the month, but must make it up later). Some of the younger students announce many times a day that they are fasting. I do try not to drink water in front of them but it is hard if I am very thirsty and develop a cough to not take a drink in front of them. I also try not to eat in front of them. We do have a designated room for eating and that is where I stay to eat. Sometimes those who are fasting come in to hang out and talk. I don't leave when they do that because they are choosing to come in and I am eating in our designated area. I am not going to hide in the bushes behind our school and eat. I learned many things this last year and I am sure that I will learn many more this year. I feel that this is something where if I had visited here for just a few weeks there are some different things I would see but within a short time of being home those things would be forgotten. By living here for a decent length of time (almost 2 years at least) I am learning and experiencing many things that I would not had I stayed in my hometown or a town similar to my home town for the rest of my life. I think it is a good thing. I like to be open minded and knowledgeable and this helps me to do that.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Trip to Kuala Lumpur

The last week of July 2011 I traveled to Kuala Lumpur (KL). It is about 3 hours to get there by bus. I took the 9:30 a.m. bus on Monday the 25th. The bus trip was ok. This was the first time I had done it by myself and the second time all together. Normally they stop about half way for a bathroom break but this time they didn't stop until we were like 30 minutes away. One thing I noticed this time on the drive was that they use dummies for road construction. Instead of having a flag person they either used a dummy or mannequin like one sees in a department store or but up some bars and dressed those in the uniform. We got to KL about 12:30 but then it took awhile to get into town and unloaded and all that. I decided to take the monorail to Bukit Bintang since I was staying close to there and then walk. It turned out the be a longer walk than I though plus there was lots of road construction. When I was on the monorail they announced the wrong stop and some people got off at the wrong place. Luckily I had the little map above my head so I knew it was the wrong stop. I stayed at the Swiss Garden Hotel on Jalan Pudung. It was very nice. Once I got all checked in I went down to their Green Tea cafe and had a burger. It was delicious and large which was nice. Then I had to travel to the Chinese Visa Application center to drop off my application. Even though I left with I thought plenty of time I barely made it before they closed. I did get my application in before they closed though. I was told I had to return the next morning for an interview. I walked from there to KLCC mall. I did a little shopping but mostly walked around. I had Subway for dinner and it was good after at least 11 months of not being able to have it. I also went and saw the Larry Crowne movie. People are very friendly there. I had very nice taxi drivers there every time.

Cow horn fish
On Tuesday I had a 9a.m. interview for my visa. I got there before they opened and there were just a few people in front of me. We all grabbed seats in the order we showed up in. Then a group came in and they stood in front of the window so that we all had to form a line and I ended up at the back of it by the time that happened. If they had used the numbers like they showed on the board at the front I would have been out of there right away, but no I had to wait forever and it took me no time at all since I had everything in order. After that I walked back to KLCC mall to get a new memory card for my camera because I didn't realize I was out of pictures and left the spare one back in my room. I ate at Chili's while I was there. I had a buffalo wing sandwich with ranch dressing. It was another great meal. I enjoy trying food here but I was very glad to have American food. After that I went to the Aquarium by KLCC and really enjoyed all that I saw. There was, of course, another traffic jam when I left so it took a long time to get back to my room. I had not gotten much sleep the night before so I took a nap and then watched movies on the tv in the room since I don't have a tv where I stay. Then I had a burger in the hotel restaurant the Blue Chip lounge.
This is going through a tunnel.
On Wednesday I got up early. I went to the Butterfly park and took lots of pictures. At first I didn't see any butterflies but as I got farther in I saw all sorts of beautiful butterflies. The plants were very interesting too. When I was in the gift shop at the end this lady asked me where I was from. I think she had a bet with the people I was with if I was German or not. I do have German heritage on one side. After I finished up there I walked to the Hibiscus garden and on to the Orchid garden. I ended up buying another straw hat. I had one back in the town I live in but had thought the sunscreen would be enough. It was very hot and humid and I was sweating plenty so I decided I better by another hat. They had some Hibiscus that was a big as dinner plates.
At Butterfly Park
They had some there were also very small like the size of a pen.

At Bird Park
After that I came out across from the Bird Park, so I walked across and did that. There were lots of birds to see. Some I had never seen before and others I had seen. I had one lady ask me if I knew how to get some place and I said I didn't as it was my first time there. I had another couple ask me to take their picture. I made it about halfway through the park. It was huge and it started pouring rain. I did have a umbrella that I had bought because it was a compact one. I walked up to the Hornbill restaurant and had a late lunch. I had their pasta carbonara, but it was not really like what I have had in the past. It was ok. It was still pouring when I finished so I decided not to try to continue. I got a cab and took it to the National Islamic Art Museum. It was still within walking distance but I didn't want to get soaked. They didn't charge me much. The museum was huge. They had several domes that one could look up into that I picture the inside of Mosque domes might look like. They had models of different very famous mosques. Two did not look like typical Mosques. One was in China and didn't look like a Mosque at all. The other is in Malaysia and also does not look like one but instead a long house. Neither of them had any domes. They had jewelry, documents, different Qurans, fabric, clothing, pottery, etc. It was very huge. It was very fascinating to learn about. I was there for a couple hours but then I started feeling tired and unwell. I had done lots of walking and sweating. It was more the sweating. I do not think I drank enough water. So, I finished the Museum and decided to head back to the motel. It was early evening. I watched a movie and then when down to the Green Tea cafe and had a club sandwich and a piece of fantastic carrot cake. After that I showered and called it a night.

On Thursday morning I took it easy. I went and got my visa and then walked to KLCC to catch a cab since the one cab I saw said he had a meeting. I went to Berjaya Times Square. I bought a movie ticket to see The Hangover 2. I went to Wendy's and had lunch. I had a cheeseburger and the beef patty was incredibly small. I almost should have gotten another but I didn't. I did have a chocolate frosty which I had been wanting. I went to the Border's express book store and looked at books to waste time since I didn't really want to do any shopping. Then I stopped at one more place. After that I went and watched the movie. I thought it was pretty good even being censored. After that I decided to have Subway again. I really wanted to go to this steakhouse but had no idea where it was or how long it would take to get there in a cab. After I got back I read and went to bed.

One of the domes at the Museum
Friday morning I got up and had a leisure breakfast and got ready to leave. I didn't want to be late and miss the bus so I got there early and then just hung out at the bus station. We waited for someone who got stuck in traffic and finally left without them. It took us a long time to get out of town with the traffic. Once we did that it was pretty smooth. I was feeling glad to go back to a city not as busy. We didn't stop again until we were pretty close to the town I am in to stop for the restroom. It was ok for me but I was kind of hungry and ended up just having chips. When I got back I got a cab right away but traffic was busy in town and it took awhile to get to where I stay. I was glad to be done with being stuck in traffic all the time.


I know many of the sayings on patience, that it is a virtue and good things come to those that wait. I am considered by others (and I agree) that I am a mellow and patient person. I grew up having to wait for my mom to get ready, she always took like two hours, if we were going some place together or on vacation. I learned whatever time my parents said that we were leaving for vacation it was going to be two hours from that time. Both my parents are self-employed so I grew up having to wait for rides before I could drive if they were busy or if a client took a long time. As a teacher I wait for my students to complete a step before I go on to the next one or complete the assignment before going on to the next one. Waiting is not anything new to me. Here waiting is more challenging though. I lack independence that I had back home and wait much more.

I have to wait for rides. I appreciate the fact that people give me rides so I always like to be ready when they show up so that they are not waiting for me and think that it is a hassle to give me a ride. Some of the people who give me rides are great and show up within a few minutes of the time that they say and others I have to wait for sometimes up to an hour before they come.
I have to wait for Saturdays because that is when some people graciously allow me to come to their house to do laundry. After having access to laundry facilities any day my whole life that has been hard. I can't throw in a load whenever I have a minute or desperately need something. Just this week I got something on an item that will stain it. I tried washing that section in the sink but it didn't work well, so I will just have to wait until I can get a chance to wash it. I put stain remover on it too, so I will just have to wait and see. I am not supposed to wash clothes in my bathroom sink and I don't because I like to obey the rules and the sink is really small. If I or they have something that comes on a Saturday that makes it so it doesn't work out then I have to wait until the next available Saturday to do laundry. Now that I have more clothes and weather appropriate clothes that is not as hard as it was when I first moved here as long as I am aware that I won't have the ability to laundry and can plan accordingly. If it turns out to be a last minute thing that is tougher.
On laundry days I have to wait for my loads to finish so I can pop in the next load to get it all done that day. I also have to wait for my laundry to dry since it is too hot here for dryers. If it is hot and sunny the drying time is not long, if it is rainy and humid than it can take a few days for the clothes to dry. 
I have to wait to eat. The place where I live does not allow me to cook but I am allowed a microwave for heating things and a fridge for keeping things like sandwich and salad makings. Even though I don't speak Chinese or Malay I am considered nosey if I go down to eat while the people that live here are eating or they have company. During the school year the only day it was a big deal was Sundays or one day holidays from school. This summer though I have to deal with it everyday. The very old lady who lives here eats many times a day. I now know her schedule and plan my own eating accordingly. However, sometimes there are problems. She always eats at noonish for lunch. Last Saturday I was waiting to eat before I left to do laundry since my ride was later and I was to eat at the place I am staying. She had extra company so I missed breakfast and then she ate lunch around noon and then when I went down at 1:30p.m. there was new company eating lunch. So, I ended up just grabbing a snack on my way out the door. There was another day earlier this week where I had to wait a couple hours before I could go eat because there were people coming and going. Why don't I eat in my room? Well, first I am not allowed and they do come in my room to check things out. Two, ants here are really bad and I don't want to attract ants to my room and have a problem. Three, why don't I leave and eat out? That can be a pain in the butt to get showered and dressed and call a cab to go somewhere. Plus, expensive. There are not many places in walking distance. There is one really nice restaurant across the street but that would eat away my paycheck if I did it all the time.
Waiting on others or for others. Here since I don't have many friends having the friends I do have cancel is felt more. I have a married couple that does lots of last minute planning. When I do things with them I always have to wait hours to do whatever they say we are going to do since things always come up. Sometimes I wait hours and then they cancel. They aren't the only ones. Lots of times I make plans with people and then something comes up with their work or family and they cancel. This week I was supposed to go to KL with a friend and her school changed her appointment from the end of the month to this week so she had to cancel. Another time with that friend I was waiting to hear about the movies and her children got sick. A while ago I was also invited to a Hen's Night and we have been waiting to hear about the accommodations because there has been lots of problems. I am not upset with any of these people because it is always beyond their control. I had things like that happen back home but the thing is I knew lots of people so I could find something else to do with someone else or I had a backup plan or found things to do around the house. Here when I wait weeks in anticipation of an event or activity it is more of a disappointment because I know that means I will be instead spending the time in my room reading.
Waiting because of the time difference. When I send an e-mail or Facebook message to friends and family I have to wait to hear back from them. If it is urgent I still have to wait because I don't want to wake them up in the middle of the night. Even when I call I have to wait usually for the weekend because of the time difference to call. I have to wait until late at night so it is morning there or get up early in the morning so it is evening there.
This summer  for my online class I had a group project  I had to wait on others in my group to get their work done. I had to wait to hear back from them because of the time difference. I waited online to discuss our project but it was hard because of the time difference to coordinate us being on there together. Then I had to wait for my designated group member to submit our project.
When it rains the thunder and lightning are much more severe than back home so I have to wait until they quit to use the Internet. Sometimes since I have broadband I have to wait for it to connect because some days it has issues. I also have to wait for things to downloaded  or load when I need something like a document.
There is one grocery store that is more Western and that I shop at most of the time, not because it is Western but because it is right across the street and I can walk. They don't have the same items all the time. Like they will have marshmallows and then it will be like 6 months before they have them again, so sometimes if I want an item I have to wait a long time for it.
Since I am not super skinny and tiny it is hard to find clothes here that fit me. So, I have to wait until I go to Kuala Lumpur to shop or I have to wait until this one store brings in random clothes from the US to see if they fit me. Other things that I can't find here I have to wait for my parents to ship me. Mail takes a long time to get here so that is another wait and that doesn't count it getting stuck in customs because the box got ripped.
I have to wait to cross the street because they don't have cross walks here or lights for pedestrians. Sometimes I get lucky and time it just right and only wait 30 seconds. Other times I have to stand there for half an hour to cross. Also, sometimes when walking I have to wait for cars to move from the side of the road or for them to drive to get around a huge puddle during monsoon season since they will drive on the side of the road where I am walking because they don't have sidewalks here and I don't want to get run over. 
I know that I am not meant to live in a huge city. I really don't like waiting in traffic for long periods of time. I went to Kuala Lumpur a few weeks back and every day I spent at least an hour but usually longer in a cab. There was a restaurant that I had heard about that I really wanted to try but I didn't feel like spending over an hour both ways just to eat there. I was glad to return to the town I am living in since it is definitely not much waiting compared to KL. I think if I had to live in KL I would probably never go anywhere because I would hate the traffic so much. People would sit in the intersections and not let traffic going the other way go across because they didn't want to miss going. It was really not smart and very annoying. 

Usually when a person is faced with a challenge or a challenging situation they are told that there is something that they are lacking that they need to work on like patience and that is why they have this challenging situation in front of them. I have always been known as a patient and mellow person. I feel that way and others feel that way. I haven't felt that I was becoming an impatient person so I don't know why I am having to continue to work on patience with all the waiting I have to do here.