Level One – Done!
Yay! Yippee! Yahoo! I’ve finished my first year of full-time Thai studies at OMF‘s language center here in Lopburi, Thailand. The day I, at times, never thought would come… yet, at the same time, arrived so quickly!
The craziest thing about this – aside from the fact that I can now read and write a completely foreign script, and speak enough Thai to be mostly independent in everyday life, as well as hold my own in general conversation all in a totally new, totally tone-dependent language – is that it means we’ve been living in Thailand just short of a year already. We arrived in-country July 29th (crazy enough, my dad’s birthday), last year – 2009.
It’s been a year since we’ve been able to hold onto or see either side of our families in person. It’s been a year since I’ve eaten cottage cheese (I used to eat it like every day). It’s been a year since I’ve seen a field of corn or soybeans, seen a proper cow, or witnessed a traffic jam in the suburbs of Chicago. It’s been a year since I’ve experienced an actual change in seasons.
That’s just crazy.
So, what is it that I’ve spent the last year doing? Studying. Lots and lots of studying. Kinda weird, tough, and humbling to go from being the one teaching others for a few years back to being a student. And, even at that, being like a pre-schooler. During the course of my studies at the center here in Lopburi, I’ve gone through 9 learning modules:
- 1-3 : basic survival Thai (numbers, colors, days of the week, etc.) written in English phonetics.
- 4 : the writing module, where I learned to read and write the Thai script (because all modules after #4 are completely written in Thai!).
- 5 : how to carry out certain daily life tasks, with sample conversations on ordering a gas tank, reserving a hotel room, both giving and asking for directions, etc.
- 6 : Thai family structure, as well as cultural norms and traditions and how they’ve changed through the generations.
- 7 : easy Gospels unit where I studied 3 Bible storybooks which contained each of Jesus’ parables.
- 8 : self-study/ module out – I learned about kitchen terminology and Thai food with a woman from our community instead of a teacher at the school.
- 9 : Christian communications – learning how to use the high royal/religious vocabulary set for prayers, opening/closing church services, how to both read and explain passages from the Bible, how to tell stories for children (I drew the picture cards below to help me tell the Creation story during my exam), tell my own testimony, and explain why I came to Thailand.
After every module, every student has what we call a “check” – a one-hour oral exam with a teacher other than your own, and a language advisor writing down their evaluations as you speak. Yesterday (Wednesday), I had my final check – Module 9. It was crazy knowing this would be my last one while in residence at Lopburi. It went alright, despite the fact that I’d not been able to sleep more than a total of 2.5 hours in the last couple of days, nor was I able to study as a result of some pretty crazy neighbors and their noise. I guess that means I’ve truly learned the language, right? If I can still speak it well enough to be understood and pass my exam, while unable to see straight, without studying, and feeling a massive beating headache… I’d say my progress is just dandy. Yep.
After my final module check, then it was time for the big humdinger – the Year One exam. Dun dun duuun. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be! I can’t really give you any details on what it was, or how it was carried out on here though. The Year One exam needs to be kept secret so every student has an equal chance at displaying their true skill level. I will tell you though, that it was comprised of both an oral exam and a one-hour writing session. I actually thought they were both kind of fun. Yeah, I just said an exam was fun. And, you’ll just have to take my word for it, since I can’t tell you what I did! In all seriousness, part of the fun came from the fact that I felt like I’d truly accomplished something.
Brook doesn’t have his last set of exams (same ones I did) until next Wednesday, the 7th. So, what am I doing in the meantime? Packing, chilling, and doing lots of cleaning. Why? Because now that we’re finished, we finally get to move out of Lopburi and get our lives started! But, I’m not going to tell you any more about that yet… you have to wait at least another week until we move, and hopefully get the internet all hooked up at our new house. 🙂 All I’m sayin’ is we’re headed to Bangkok, and I love the house.