Friday, October 21, 2011

Preparation is Key

     Knowing that I’ll be in a different hemisphere inside of two weeks, I feel rushed to prepare. This is my first time in a country where the language is not based on the Roman Alphabet and I am not familiar with the everyday customs. So I have been reading. And reading. And reading.
     To date, my favorite guidebook on Thailand is the one published by Lonely Planet but I can’t really make an accurate assessment until I’m over there. I’ll let you know how correct it turns out to be. The kinds of things I’m reading up on are pretty much the basics. I'm laying some foundation so that, hopefully, I don't come off as a complete American tool. Thai currency is the Baht. The exchange rate, the last time I checked, was 0.03211 to 1; the USD goes pretty far in Bangkok.

     Everyday etiquette is something I’m particularly concerned with. In Thailand, certain parts of the body are regarded with varying levels of respect. The head is considered the most sacred part of the body and therefore you should never touch anyone on their head. The feet, however, are regarded as the lowest and most filthy part. You should never point your feet at someone, and if you are in a temple or near a Buddha statue, never point your feet at the Buddha. VERY rude.
    Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles, which I find to be an odd dichotomy because while keeping a calm, polite demeanor is important to me, I’d also like to know if the person I’m currently dealing with is genuinely pleased with me or just being condescending. Growing up in the South, I place a great deal of value on hospitality and manners. Yes, manners Do matter. The truth also matters. So, I’ll let you know how that one works out as well.

     These are all considerations for after I land. I suppose you might be interested in how I got the job in the first place. After leaving college during my second year to work for a cruise line in Alaska, I developed an affinity for work + travel. The summation of this particular equation is me happy. Well, happier than if I keep my butt in one seat for too long. I develop a sort of numb bum, a rear-end rot if you will. One thing led to another and I found myself a member of www.newaupair.com, a website that connects families and au pairs/nannies.  I remained an active member of this site for several years, meeting several families but making no real connections. That is, until about six months ago when I met a very lovely family in Bangkok, Thailand. After the perfunctory emailing back and forth, background checking, and all that other boring but completely necessary stuff we did to make sure the other party was not, in fact, some psychopathic, mass murdering cyber-stalker, the family invited me to become their au pair and I graciously accepted.

     For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term au pair, it is derived from 19th century French term and it literally means ‘on equal terms’. Usually a foreigner, an au pair will look after and teach the young children in the family. In my case, I will be responsible for a beautiful little Thai girl named Nadia, playing with her and teaching her English over the course of a year.
     I think I should mention that I’m a bit of a compulsive picture taker, so look forward to many different pictures of Thailand from many different angles. I will take requests if anyone so wishes.
     Feel free to participate with me and if you’ve got any questions or ideas, I am all ears. Well, I’m not all ears because that would just look weird. But I am available to take questions. 

4 comments:

  1. Hey, this is really cool. I will definitely be following.

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  2. I will definitely be following you as well! And guess what...I could make sense of all the big works in your blog entry!! :)

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  3. What a neat experience. I did the au pair thing for a year in college and it was wonderful, although there were trying days, of course. I'm so glad you're a compulsive photo taker because I'm a photographer too and I'm SO looking forward to seeing the trip through your eyes.

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