Hello everyone! I’m happy to say that I have successfully made it through my first week of living in Can Tho, and my first week of teaching!
I’d love to say it’s been a thrilling, busy week, but really I’ve pretty much been laying low and adjusting to my surroundings. Pro Tip for anyone looking to travel abroad – kindly remember that culture shock is a real thing, and allowing yourself a day or two to adjust to your new surroundings is sometimes necessary. My first few days were filled with mild panic and a general sense of being overwhelmed, and I found myself hiding out in my house more often than I’d like to admit.
But the funny thing was, the minute I would step outside and explore my surroundings, I would instantly feel better. I think that being around people, even if I can’t communicate very effectively with them, is something that does wonders for my general well-being. So I made short trips out to eat and find various house supplies, and as the days went on I felt better and better about where I was in the world, and what I was doing here.
It also helped that work kept me busy from the get-go. I arrived on Sunday, observed classes on Monday and Tuesday, and taught my very first class on Wednesday. When I say trial by fire, I mean it! Given two days notice and the course book, I was left to plan and teach a 2.5-hour IELTS exam-prep class. When I looked up teaching techniques online, I found that often schools reserved these classes for the most experienced teachers, which I found very amusing. But in any case, I planned everything out, arrived and discovered that my introductory activities took significantly less time than I’d planned, and basically just decided to wing it for the rest of the class. Everything went well, and I’ll be teaching them again tomorrow.
Since last Wednesday I’ve taught 5 other classes to varying degrees of success. I enjoy the conversation classes more than the exam-prep, and strangely my favorite class so far has been the middle school course. While anyone can tell you kids have never been my favorite people, I found that my class was both incredibly bright, and totally willing to play along with my silly antics. I think this class was also my greatest accomplishment – when we had our mid-class break, one of the kids came up to me and asked if I would be teaching them again next week, and when I replied she ran off to celebrate with the other kids. I think that’s the best compliment I could have gotten, I was over the moon with excitement, and left feeling like I could handle whatever happened next.
Bring it on, Can Tho!