Friday, June 26, 2015

Hey, I'm Home!

I've been home for a week now. I've slept off the jet lag, caught up on both Once Upon a Time and Parenthood, and stuffed my stomach full of cheese! And I already have cabin fever; ready for a new adventure. Sky scanner is my best friend at the moment (a one-way ticket to Puerto Rico is less than $200... that's all i'm saying)

Okay back to right now and being home. People keep asking me how it feels to be home and all I can think to say is it just feels weird. On one hand it feels as if I've been gone forever and on the other it feels like I never left. Very few things have changed since I've been gone. It feels as if I just pressed pause on life, moved to Laos, moved back, and pressed play again. And I haven't experienced much reverse culture shock either. However, I have found that I have a tendency to drive like a Lao person and have to constantly remind myself that in America we DO stop at stop signs. (kidding...sort of) I also purged my closet and threw out lots of clothes because I found it overwhelming to look in there after a year of wearing the same skirts and handful of shirts everyday. But other than that life here feels the same as it did before I left.

Oh one more thing I want to share before I end this rambling post (maybe i'm still a little jet lagged). So back in January I posted this on my cousin's Facebook about what exactly I wanted to happen when I came home...

Now I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your cousin, but me and my cousin are practically besties (and by practically I mean we are) So I was disappointed when she posted this a week before I came home...

But imagine my anger/surprise/joy when I discovered she is a little liar! 

Also I got everything I wanted from that original post... my whole family was there, I got a cupcake, Mexican food, and lots of hugs. (There wasn't any confetti though.. i'll have to talk to them about that)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Teaching in Laos // Behind the Scenes

As you read this I am probably packing up the last of my things and getting ready to catch a flight to Bankgok. From there I will head to Seoul for a couple days where I will do my best to avoid the MERS virus and eat some authentic kimchi. Then I will finally make my way back to the USofA.

I am still coming to terms with the fact that my year teaching in Laos is over. Wasn't it just yesterday that my cousin dropped me off in Greeley for TEFL training? Sheesh.. And you can bet that there have been some hardcore tears shed this week. I'm talking the Kim Kardashian ugly cry here.

And as this year comes to a close and I begin my long journey back to the States, I wanted to share with you what life is truly like here in Laos. Sure I spend a lot of time doing observations, lesson planning, grading homework, and trying to figure out how exactly this indirect communication thing works, but that's not really what being a teacher is about. But instead of me rambling on about all the joys of teaching and living in Laos, I will stop here and you can see for yourself. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

LP Bucketlist

Back in the first days of my Laosy adventure when there wasn't much to do besides sitting in a guesthouse or studying Lao, I created my LP bucket list. Now with less than a week left I am proud to say I have crossed off every item on my list. 

Ride an Elephant

I know there is a lot of debate about whether riding elephants is ethical or not.. but let's not get into that right now. The point is I love elephants and had a blast swimming and splashing around with these beautiful creatures. 

Visit Tat Sae and Kuang Si

If only I had know how many times I would actually visit Kuang Si. (note: it was a lot of times) Fortunately it is a beautiful place and definitely worth multiple visits. Tat Sae is also beautiful but dries up during the hotter months.

Sunset at PhuSi

Have you really even been to Luang Prabang, if you haven't walked up PhuSi?

Boat ride on the Mekong

My friends and I took a boat to Pak Ou cave. The boat ride was amazing.. the cave was not.

Have an entire conversation in Lao

It was definitely broken Lao. And mostly consisted of talking about what I ate for breakfast, but I did it. (Since its just a little bit difficult to take a picture of a conversation, please enjoy this series of pictures of me being tied up and fed yogurt) (Also, I just noticed I am wearing the same exact outfit right now that I am wearing in these pictures #outfitrepeater)

Pak Ou Cave

One word.. disappointment. But at least I got to spend time with these lovely ladies. 

Visit a Lao village

You can read about my morning at Hua's village here

See the monks during the morning alms

Many foreigners go downtown to watch the monks, but living among the locals meant that I could watch this Buddhist tradition from the steps of my own house.

Learn to cook a Lao meal

Celebrate Pi Mai Lao

I celebrated and then I locked myself in my house. So much water, so much traffic, there is no escape.

 Do you have any city bucket lists? or travel bucket lists?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

English is Difficult

Despite being an English teacher I am afraid that my ability to speak proper English has been destroyed. Though I know better it is easy to succumb to speaking English like a Lao person. Even when talking to other Americans I still use broken down language and refer to myself in the third person. So this is my pre-apology to everyone I talk to when I come back home. There is a good chance I will compliment you on how good your English is and speak to you in fragmented sentences. I might even throw some Laonglish into the mix and act out everything I say. I truly am sorry. But can you really blame me? English is difficult. It's no surprise that my students pronounce marriage like marry age or stomach ache like stomach H. They are excellent at sounding out words, but unfortunately English isn't that simple.

Try and read this poem out loud and you will see why my students (and I) struggle

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.
Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).

Made has not the sound of bade,
Say — said, pay — paid, laid but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
Missiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.
From “desire”: desirable — admirable from “admire”,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.

Hiccough has the sound of sup.
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

I made a couple pronunciation mistakes myself even on words I know. How about you? Were you able to get through the whole poem without messing up?
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