Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Making the Most of my Free Time

I spent the first few days in my new apartment in Thailand getting oriented.  After the initial fear that my school coordinator instilled in me wore off and I settled into my new job, I realized I had more free time than I knew what to do with.  I taught 20 hours per week, and I only had to plan for two different lessons.  My apartment was inside the school so there wasn’t even a commute time to factor in my day. 

My alarm would go off at 7am; I’d throw some clothes on and be in the teacher’s office by 8am.  Throw in a few classes and a lunch break and I was done.  By 2:30pm my teacher duties were over for the day.  So with about seven hours to kill before bedtime, how did I occupy my time?

  • Cooking terrible food using my hot water pot.  I’d buy packs of ramen at 7-11 and toss various spices or vegetables in it.  My best dish was probably ketchup noodles.
I know I can make something with this
  • Reading.  I discovered my love for Maya Angelou, Truman Capote, and free romance novels from Amazon.  I read some great pieces of literature along with some downright filthy books. 
  • Exercising.  I hate running, and after one failed attempt to run outside in the sweltering heat I decided to move my workouts indoors.  With no gym available I had to be creative.  I’d do lunges across my room with jugs of water in each hand mixed in with jumping jacks. 
  • Redecorating.  While I couldn’t paint the walls or buy new beds, I could add touches off home.  I covered the walls with pictures, bought hot pink towels and strung Christmas lights.  
Doesn't it look cozy?
  • Trip planning.  Every weekend was a mini adventure.  I used the week to plan where I wanted to go so I always had something to be look forward to.
  • Gchat.  I hate to admit it, but I’m not going to pretend like I was constantly being productive.  I’d spend hours on Gchat swapping stories about my students, and it was nice to have some human interaction.
  • TV.  The only English shows I got were Law and Order, House, Royal Pains, and Criminal Minds.  The television also worked well as a nightlight and for covering up the sounds of animals in heat outside my door.
  •  Eat.  Most nights I’d venture to the market before it got dark to grab a smoothie before popping into an outdoor restaurant for a plate of fried rice.  Then I’d inevitably hit up 7-11 for dessert. 
what I had to look forward to at bedtime
While I'm not sure I made the most of those 100 square feet and I had some terribly lonely nights there; I grew tough, strong and developed some serious coping mechanisms that I know will help me get through anything, or at least to the weekend and somewhere better.

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