I got the vaccination for Japanese Encephalitis (JE) the other day at the hospital. It’s a 2-shot vaccine, so I have to go back in another week. The hospital was fairly nice and not half as ghetto as I was probably expecting, though the waiting rooms seemed to be a little packed. Maybe they’re like that back in the states and I’ve just never noticed, probably because when you go to get a shot you don’t mingle amongst the people with eye patches and gauzed heads. Back in the states, the vaccination costs something just shy of $400. Over here it’s something like $15 in total, plus it doesn’t have any of the risky side effects that the vaccination carries over in the States. Kind of ironic that my parents had me get vaccinized for Rabies, but not JE, which actually seems to be the much greater risk over here. Even though most of the everyday people I encounter in Chiang Mai have never even heard of JE, the doctor at the hospital who I spoke with was quite aware of its seriousness and 100% recommended the shots. After I get the next shot, I can go and camp out in rural Thailand, naked under the stars and free of mosquito repellent. That’s actually probably not the smartest idea because I still have to worry about other mosquito-borne diseases like Dengue Fever, not to mention that mosquito bites suck in general, but it’s still fun to think about.
Continuing on in the realm of hospitals and doctors, I recently had to get a medical certificate proving that I’m healthy in order to obtain a work permit and the doctor’s checkup cost me 90 cents. All they really did was take my blood pressure and fill out some forms.
“Are you healthy?” the doctor asked.
“I think so.” I responded.
“You look healthy" he said with a big smile. "Have a good day.”
And that was that.
On other fronts, I had my first teaching experience with the 7th graders yesterday. After being introduced to the entire student body during an early morning assembly, I’m pretty sure it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that life went downhill from there. It was grueling. Teaching five hours of the same class to completely out of control 12 year old kids is kind of like being Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day (only without the devious perks). You have to do the same thing over and over again, all the while being forced to maintain some semblance of interest in a class full of kids who talk at the top of their lungs except when they’re called on and then they turn into little church mice.
Flashback to yesterday while in the thick of it all…
Oh my God, I’m really teaching middle school monsters. They’re infinitely more rambunctious than the middle-schoolers I remember back in the states and the furthest cry from the stone-faced university students. I futilely tried to lay some discipline foundations at the beginning of class because I was told it’s better to start off firm and then lax up as the semester progresses and not the other way around. I’m not sure if my “Hey, everybody, be quiet and don’t speak when I speak” qualifies as starting off firm, as I continuously have to “shh” them and talk really loud, not to mention it’s only 25 minutes into my first class. I’m actually writing this in the middle of class while they work on an activity in pairs interviewing one another about their English nickname, number of siblings, hobbies, and what they would do with 10 million baht (editors note: not surprisingly, everyone wanted a new house and car, though one random kid did say he would burn it).
I just tried to end the activity and nobody’s paying attention to me. This one runt toward the front of the class refuses to stay put in his seat. Is it permissible to choke kids in Thailand? I wonder to myself.
Afterthoughts: While I singled out several kids in semi-failed attempts to elicit participation from the class, I’m pretty sure I accidentally picked on the only autistic kid in the whole school. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that I had no idea.
Another kid randomly came up to me after class, an incredibly small, young looking boy with thick glasses and a face somewhat reminiscent of a simple person. He inexplicably took my arm and began holding and gently caressing it. His initial hello was all I could make out. And then I blacked out.