New City, New Job, New Rules

This last week in Chiang Mai has been hot.  Really hot.  I’m sweating at 7:30am.  On my scooter the hot air burns my eyes.  The air con oasis quickly evaporates into a slightly less-tropical meeting room.

14 new teachers have spent the last five days in orientation.  Unlike my last post, ALL the teachers have prior teaching experience.  Mostly in Thailand.  I’m excited about working with some seasoned professionals.  They come from all over the English speaking world – most from America, and some from England, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and one other Canadian.

Orientation covered every topic you could imagine.  And with each topic came a plethora of rules.

  • Dress Code – Shoulders and knees must be covered at all times while on campus.  Even if it’s Saturday night and you’re leaving the dorm for a night out.
  • On Campus Housing – Free accommodations are a perk with the job.  It’s a dorm-like room with a single bed, desk, tv, fridge, microwave, kettle, wardrobe and private bathroom.  It’s very nice and comfortable, with excellent air con.  The rules include: No smoking.  No drinking.  No shoes.  No men on the women’s floor.  No women in the men’s dorms.
  • Laundry – The dorms come with laundry services.  (I’m so spoiled!).  But, no bras or underwear.  We can wash our unmentionables in the machines in our building, but only after 5pm on weekdays or weekends.
  • Working Legally – My school follows all the laws, which is not very common.  And the laws are much more cumbersome in Chiang Mai than the rest of Thailand.  (Why?  Because it’s Thailand.)  With my non-B visa and a WP3 form, I can get work permit.  Then I’m supposed to get a teaching certificate, which you can get if you have the word “Education” on your diploma.  As in “Primary Education” or “Physical Education”.  Since I’m lacking in credentials I can get a waiver, which will let me teacher for a maximum of four years unless I can make progress on obtaining a teaching certificate.
  • Motorbikes – Wear your helmet!  Don’t drink and drive.  Be safe.
  • Police Bribes – If you’re riding a scooter, you will eventually get stopped at a police checkpoint.  You’ll get a “ticket” for not wearing a helmet, for driving without a Thai motorbike license, or for just being a foreigner.  They’ll want you to pay it in cash on the spot, and you’ll pay it to stay out of trouble.
  • Lesson Plans – Lesson plans must be entered into the system each week and must be based on the syllabus provided.  (Yup, they have a syllabus!)

I could go on and on with the rules, but I honestly don’t really mind them.  Most are common sense, but had probably been broken in the past.  But it was overwhelming.  We’ve already gotten into trouble – skirts too short, hair too messy, too many shoes at the door, too many people in the sign out room.  And with each note we get a gentle reminder that the entire school is watching us.  Judging us.

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