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I was really looking forward to my time with T2T, even though I knew, once I would have settled completely, it would be time again to say goodbye.
Arriving in Nong Khai, everybody was very welcoming and I started my time in Thailand with a so much enjoyable tuk-tuk ride. I expected to need a bit of time to settle in, to get used to the heat, humidity, food, language, culture, people, etc, but actually it was quite easy! Things that were really helpful were other volunteers who introduced me to the most important things one should know living in Nong Khai, like bars/ restaurants, cycling routes and the big western supermarket. Another great help were the Thai people themselves. Their lifestyle and never-ending smiling faces did not even allow you to feel homesick or uncomfortable in your new surrounding. After only a week it felt like I had never known another world.
The main reason I came to teach in Thailand was to have teaching experiences, more than I would have gathered on an internship in Germany. Studying for a teaching degree back home, I was sick of internships there, where you, if you are lucky, get the chance to teach one lesson yourself.
Being placed at Meechai School was a perfect way to get adjusted to the idea of being a teacher. Everybody loves you at Meechai; the students carry your bag, your shoes, or give you their toys as a present. That’s just normal! At first I was dropped off in front of a class, having their teacher leave the classroom, and never return again. Like that it was difficult to get an idea of the level of English the students obtain, but to be honest – looking back at it - I am happy I was thrown into the cold water. It is one good way to find your own way in life. When my four weeks at Meechai School were finished, I got really sad leaving my class and so were they.
Apart from the kids teaching the monks was a life-lasting experience. I was expecting a few serious religious men, but what I saw where grown-up children, spreading so many positive vibes, which made it possible that - whenever I left the temple after teaching - I was happy feeling new energy, no matter how unmotivated I felt before. There is something amazing and magic about those monks!
In my free time I tried to get the most out of my short stay with T2T. On a weekend trip to Namsom, I had the opportunity to experience a small village, which doesn’t get to see too many falangs. We felt like being in a zoo, “Ahh, falang, falang” was the echo out of every corner and from every passing motorbike. Namsom is the village that embodies pure Thailand. No westerners, big supermarkets or western entertainment areas. Instead, a Thai food market, a very Thai karaoke bar, beautiful temples and an amazing landscape of the surrounding mountains. I am glad I went to Namsom, but I was also happy returning to Nong Khai.
In the end I can only say that on the one hand I was sad leaving Nong Khai and Thailand, but on the other hand I was happy having my bag filled up with new experiences. Being a volunteer was surely one of the greatest experiences in my life. It means getting to know a new culture a lot more than just superficially as a tourist. It means making a whole bunch of great new friends from all over the world, who share one big memory.
Thank you Travel-to-Teach!