I moved into my Thai apartment late one night in the middle of rainy season. My school coordinator walked me through a dark parking lot, past the outdoor school canteen, up a steep flight of stairs and ducked around a corner to my room. An older man met us, the janitor, who spoke no English and let me inside. My coordinator left me with a stern warning, “Don’t leave after dark, it is not safe for a girl. I will pick you up at 9am tomorrow.”
|the view from my apartment|
As soon as we got back, I immediately called the director of Overseas Education Group (OEG), my teaching program. He was of little help. “Oh, it’s just a language misunderstanding. I’ll have one of the Thai-speaking girls call your coordinator - she was just overreacting. You’re safe, I promise.” It was hard to believe that he could be so callous, brushing me off with a promise that my coordinator wouldn’t talk like that anymore, rather than send someone to make sure that I was safe or try to find me a better place to stay. I was alone, after all, in a strange and now scary country. If they even could help, it was clear that they weren’t going to.
Fortunately, my situation turned out to be a (very) little bit better than I first thought. I discovered that the janitor was a very nice man. He lived with his daughter and was friendly and helpful whenever something broke in my apartment. The school surrounded me and insulated me a little from the rest of the city – a good thing considering how rough my town could seem. Traffic was terrible and crosswalks were non-existent. Another teacher told me the park next to my school was a place to buy drugs. I lived next to a jail (right next door to an all-girls school, of course). On top of that, I stood out as the only American in town.
|the vegetable market next to my apartment|
As you can imagine, I had a lot of free time in my apartment. From sundown until I went to bed, I would be in my little room with spotty Internet access, waiting for the weekend. How did I pass the time and was I productive? Find out tomorrow!