Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vlog Blog

If pictures say a thousand words, how many do videos say? Certainly an exponential amount. Here's my genius idea of the week: a YouTube Vlog of my daily life here in Bangkok. YouTube has made it incredibly fast and easy to upload a set of videos and create playlists for easy, 1-click viewing. Please bear with me as I learn how to film my phone videos horizontally. Subscribe to my channel here or see the Vlog here (click).

FYI-- There will be frequent videos filmed from the perspective of my navel while I drive my bike; my camera is hanging from a neckstrap. In case you were confused.

I have to say that tonight is the most peaceful night I have experienced since my arrival. I think we may have had a slight sprinkle-- the temperature has dropped to a pleasant 85 or so. Maddie flew in 2 nights ago and arrived at our apartment yesterday! She is still catching up on sleep so I am taking the opportunity to watch as much TV that I have missed as possible (Modern Family, Parks & Rec...SNL) and majorly chill out. We watched the Bourne Identity tonight which made me go into super stealth mode and feel like sneaking around the apartment to check stuff out.  Proof:

Beautiful, right? I wish there were more people around to have a pool party with. Hopefully I can soak up some rays in the near future. I have been wondering why no one is taking advantage of the pool in this 93 degree weather. Today I remembered one of the possible reasons while perusing the skin care aisle at the store: Thais are just as obsessed with being white as American Caucasian girls are with being tan! It's such as interesting "grass is always greener" situation.

My first whole week here has been very chill overall. I've been eating almost strictly street food--which has saved a ton of money-- and taking my bike everywhere. Salaya is a great little city to live in and the people are incredibly friendly. My apartment is quite comfortable.... 

Though taxis to school generally are not (when full of 8 people):

(bad panorama... it was ridiculously hard)

Clinical work is going to be very interesting. I could understand a lot of what was going on in the clinic and the hospital from nonverbal cues and tone of voice, but there is a lot to learn before I'm going to feel like I can do much work here! For right now, the Thais seem to be thrilled if I agree to sing "Que Sera, Sera" for them upon request... but I don't need a degree for that, after all. I'll post more about clinical work as I am more involved. For right now, I feel like I have a giant "processing" sign across my forehead as I try to comprehend all that I'm seeing. 

I found this book in the music library and I'm really starting to think that it's about to become my best friend. Today a taxi driver had a good laugh at my attempts to speak Thai and my complete inability to understand his teasing.

Tomorrow we will go to Chatuchak (JJ) Weekend Market; the world's largest weekend market with over 15,000 stalls and a span of 35 acres. I'm sure I will have some fantastic pictures and maybe a gift or two for whoever reads this blog :P

Short and sweet! Check out my "vlog"

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

 Sawadee-ka!!! I can't wait to start posting here from Thailand!

Well I'm certainly feeling like post-tornado Dorothy in Oz* after my 10,000+ mile, 31 hour trip on 4 different planes and 3 countries. The flight here felt admittedly faster than the first flight in 2011 but it was still an incredibly long trip. Thanks to my tablet and it's movie collection, I was spared the bore of terrible in-flight movies and a few awkward chats with my Canadian neighbor. There were plenty of awkward conversations, don't get me wrong. What kind of person looks at someone that's already sleeping and decides to strike up a conversation about ice fishing with them on multiple occasions? I didn't sleep the night before I left (as all Thai flights leave at 6am and arrive there at 12am the next day, it seems) and am pretty sure that I barely dozed on the plane..... but alas, I arrived and slept.

[It's really frustrating to get photos to align in any sort of way in Blogger (I even looked up HTML codes), so please pardon the lack of photo feng shui.]

* On a random Oz-related note while I'm thinking about it: the movie "Oz" will probably be playing in Thailand while I'm there! I hope that movie really looks as otherworldly as the previews. There's nothing like a refreshing piece of home after you've been gone for a while. I can say that confidently since my study abroad group and I went to see at least 2 movies in the 5 weeks we were here before.

My first day/night here was a pretty incredible welcome back-- I have to say. Here's pretty much the sequence of events:
  • I got off the plane and walked into a very crowded airport-- following some other passengers on my plane and doing exactly what they did so I looked like I knew what I was doing. 
  • I found my Thai friend Karn (whom I gave a huge hug with excitement and relief and only afterward wondered if it was appropriate, culturallly), who took me to the airport's 7/11 to find "first day" groceries and to a taxi. After a 40 minute taxi ride, we arrived at my new apartment in Salaya. 
  • I walked into my apartment and took in the place that I would be living for 6 months (which really is about the size of a dorm room): everything was white and perfectly clean, many things in the room still had plastic wrap on them, you had to put the key in a slot to turn on electricity, the beds had no bedding (which I was not prepared for), etc. So much to take in! The only part that I was thinking I would need to fix is the lighting-- flourescent lights just aren't my thing. Luckily, the daylight showed the room's true beauty!
Only downside....
But major upsides!!

  • I spent the next 3 hours unpacking-- despite my swollen ankles, bags under my eyes, and knowledge that the smartest thing would have been to sleep. I can't NOT unpack in a new place!! Plus, I wanted to wake up and get going
  • Somewhere within that 3 hours, I took one of the best showers of my life. There's nothing like a hot shower after 31 hours of travel, very little sleep, and worry that your apartment shower would have only cold water and a hose-style shower head. 
            • After a few hours of sleep, my eyes SHOT open and I hurried to get ready and greet the day! I thrust open the sliding doors to my porch and took in the temperature, smells, and sounds of a bustling Thai morning. Thailand did not disappoint my senses. Not only could I comfortably stand outside in JANUARY, but it smelled like barbecue and sounded like a happy, spring morning. Thais politely greeted each other and exchanged money for breakfast, maids chit-chatted as they swept the poolside, and foreign birds and insects completed the soundscape. 
  • Figuring that I needed to pay for apartment first thing, I went downstairs and encountered my first major language barrier issue. Luckily, Karn gave me his phone number for times like these and we decided that I would come back later with him after they created an English apartment lease.
  • Next, I asked the apartment for a ride to the University to go see some familiar faces and places. A nice man took me in an apartment van. When I asked him how much I owed him, he said it was a FREE service! Never in America. He also arranged a time to pick me up from the University that evening. Wow. 
  • It felt so great to finally be back at the Music Therapy office at
    Mahidol and see everyone! Has it really been 2 years since the last visit? For the first day, I mostly hung out around the office, checked out the additions to the MT instrument collection, reacquainted myself with Thai food, and found a computer to contact everyone for the first time since I arrived.
  • After school, we hopped on the Salaya Link (bus to Bangkok for less than a dollar), went to see Dr. D's apartment and retrieve her family, and headed out to the new night market for an evening adventure. 
  • The night market trip consisted of a ride on the sky-train and a boat ride to the market after the hour long bus ride. As you can imagine, my stomach definitely started to say "hey now... take it easy". The night market actually reminded me of home-- specifically fancy parts of Texas-- and make for quite the classy outing. Thailand certainly has an interesting mix of slums and class. We dined, shopped, talked, (I yawned a lot-- jetlag), and found a super cool ferris wheel at the market: 

  • After a lovely dinner with my new "Thai family", I took a taxi ride back to Salaya on my own. My first taxi ride on my own. Which proved quite interesting as this was probably the first time I've truly paid attention to evening traffic in Bangkok. The amount that we were in a lane was significantly less than the amount that we were weaving between cars and dodging motorcycles--just millimeters from taking off mirrors. I probably have video evidence, but I don't want to scare you-- mom :)
  • The rest is history! More posts soon. 
Fyi, I don't plan on journaling any other day in such detail but there is something so memorable about the first day that I want to preserve. It seems incredibly long because the body and mind are going through too much to comprehend in the waking hours that day. 


General thoughts after a few days of being here now: Being here a second time is really so different than the first. On the first trip, I was so excited to take everything in and try to comprehend what I was seeing that I was certainly in a state of shock and awe. This time, I feel like I can relax and take in one thing at a time. Eat at a random food vendor and not worry that I'm not eating at the absolute best place in the area. Relax on my front porch and listen to the birds without worrying about missing out on what's happening in the market or on campus. Or stay in and watch American movies when I'm dead-tired to preserve my precious energy for the next day. I hope I have time to write often and reflect upon everything that is happening to me and the amazing things that I see--both in daily living experiences and in the clinic.

What a Wonderful World, indeed.

One more apartment shot-- my roof :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Decisions and changes are on the horizon...

Sidenote for the reader(s): Did you know that if you click on one picture in my posts, it will open a pop-up slideshow of all the pictures in that blog? A nice little feature I just noticed. See previous post.

My potential apartment looks AMAZING-- right?

Hyper-organized packing list-- my style!

This blog is about to take a massive shift from a rarely-updated mish-mash of random facts, opinions, or pictures to a semi-focused and fairly-regularly-updated log of my life in Bangkok, Thailand.

In case I didn't make it clear in previous posts, I will be living in Thailand for the next 6 months and completing my clinical internship and, thus, my music therapy degree! This experience will wrap up my 5th year at KU and will double as a period job searching and application. My teaching license should arrive in the mail to my parents house while I'm abroad and my music therapy board-certification exam will happen sometime after I arrive back in the States. Crazy times, right? Somewhere in there, I will have to decide some very big things:

  • Do I want to be a music therapist or a music educator? Both? 
  • What do I want my day to look like? How do I find that job?
  • Where in the world do I want to work? Am I choosing based on availability, interest in the actual position, pay-scale, etc.? Will other factors in my life decide where I need to work/live? 
  • When do I start a family, buy a house, etc.? I'm about to be 23! Is it really up to me? 
    •  Fact: People don't sing songs about 23 because it's old and boring (except Blink 182 #NobodyLikesYouWhenYou're23).
  • When is a good time to go to grad school? What do I want to study when that time comes? 
  • What is my "5 year plan?"
I feel kinda like these guys: 

But EVERYONE has to decide these things in their lives! I feel like I'm over-thinking it. But then again, I also think that if more people thought more about it, they would probably make wiser life decisions. How would I know?

For once in my life, I am not the first one--of my friends and family-- to have to make these decisions #OldestChildProblems (did I really just hashtag twice?). I have been witness to +Aaron Gillespie's transition in the past few months and I am very proud of him, as I mentioned in my last post. If you know him personally, you know why. I'd definitely say he's a catch :)  To be fair to myself, he did have a few months to hang out and think about it before he got a job/apartment. I would have been more efficient with the month I just spent at (my parent's) home but I am still maintaining an open mind about the first couple bullet points (above) until I complete my internship. Who knows how long I will have time to ponder once I get back. If I teach, I will probably have about a month. If I decide to therapize, who knows.

Because I didn't post much regarding student teaching, I would like to quickly recap what I learned/decided in my 17-ish weeks:

  • Kids are awesome (most of the time). They give frequent compliments that are sometimes pretty ridiculous and unexpected, they frequently make me laugh (I like laughing), they are awesomely impressionable (if I like something, I can probably make them like it too), and they are so fun to learn from. Yes, learn from. 
  • Teaching music is awesome. The kids generally seem to enjoy music class far more than their other classes and are generally well-behaved because of it. 
  • Putting on a production is incredibly hard but the pay-off is pretty fantastic. There will always be kids who don't show up and kids who smile for the first time all year during the concert. 
  • Basic music concepts are very hard to learn (and teach) when you are very young. Who knew? I certainly don't remember anyone telling me what a quarter note was. 
  • Teachers love to complain and gossip about their students. There is a lot more to gossip about than I ever knew as a child. Maybe it was the nature of the districts?
  • One child's favorite song will always be another child's least favorite (and vice versa). So the concert program should be diverse and the focus should be on the concepts. 
  • Elementary-age children are so much more pleasant than middle/high school-age children. They are more forgiving of mistakes and bad hair days, they smile more, they forget that you had to scold them the day before, and they complain about petty things (ex: loose teeth) rather than your music program.
Because of that last bullet, and some others that I probably forgot, student teaching definitely helped me decide a few things (that I pretty much already suspected). In general, I like teaching general music to young children so much more than to adolescents. The person in me definitely outweighs the "musician" in me that might prefer better intonation, more difficult literature, etc. I'll save secondary music for the (majority of) music majors that are dying to go out and teach band... or possibly me when I'm older. I also decided that I am a much more successful choral director than band director. 20+ different instruments at a time with their own nuances and potential problems simply blows my mind.This is why I am waiting to decide a few things until after my internship. 

Speaking of my internship, I leave for Bangkok in 1 WEEK! And I will hopefully be living here (click me). The apartment building basically looks like paradise on the outside and isn't too shabby on the inside. And for the low, low price of $133 a month! I'm starting to think that the Thailand trip will be cheaper than any internship here, including the ridiculous airfare. My suitcase is nearly packed and I'm getting pretty restless. More on what I'm excited/nervous for later. 
Pretty sure Thailand keeps finding ME in America. Buddha is furniture-mart rage, it seems. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

.... and a Happy New Year

A toast to the New Year! Here comes a massive post because my 2012 deserves some reflection:

Side-note: After a week with my new camera, I have to say that I am quite enjoying the benefits of a good camera and a fun group of people to take pictures of (my family and my bf, Aaron). I have already taken 300 in a week (many of which are perfectly worthy of a desktop background pre-edit-- as a testimony to the quality) and am definitely resolving to take a ridiculous amount in 2013. Despite a severe lack of pictures in 2012, I certainly have many moments to be proud of.

In no particular order, here is a list of Top 10 Achievements and Events of 2012:

  • Graduation from the University of Kansas with a dual degree in Music Therapy and Music Education
  • Speaking at said Graduation on the behalf of the School of Music's Class of 2012
  • Completing 12 weeks of Student Teaching at Tecumseh Elementary with the best mentor I could wish for-- solidifying my desire to work with young children and teach. 
  • Directing my first Show as a student teacher at Tecumseh
  • Living in a House (with my sister and 2 Washburn soccer players) for the first time since college began. This also meant that I was no longer a slave to RA/dorm life.
  • Being in Allen Field house--quickly followed by Mass Street-- as the Kansas Jayhawks won the Final 4. Definitely one of my favorite moments of student life at KU. 
  • Leading a stage full of children with DS in a sing-and-sign to "What a Wonderful World" during the closing campfire at Camp Hi-Lite in Indiana--solidifying my desire to work with persons from all areas of life's spectrum. 

  •  Taking an amazing vacation to Austin, TX with Aaron as a fun, "senior" spring break-- seeing all the sites the city had to offer, eating the MOST delicious Tex-Mex, and deciding that Austin would be a pretty sweet place to live if it ever came down to it.

  •  Going to see Aaron Gillespie's apartment in Kansas City for the first time-- I am so proud of his accomplishments and of the grace with which I have witnessed him become an adult :)

  • Being accepted as an intern at Mahidol University in Thailand for 2013. I never dreampt that my inevitable return to the Land of Smiles would be so soon. 

Notable mentions: Completing my senior recital, going back to McCollum Hall with Aaron to take pictures of the place we met before it is torn down, when Aaron came to visit me at Bradford Woods, Leadershape 2012, Dance Marathon 2012, TMEA in San Antonio Texas (for free!!), receiving the E. Thayer Gaston award at KU, another great year at the Walnut Valley Festival, and passing my PLT/Praxis and KPTP for my Kansas Teaching Licence (no picture could capture my relief)

Speaking of 2012 review, have you seen Google's Year in Review video? They compiled clips taken from the top-searched videos of 2012 into a 2:46 wonder found here. What will Google bring in 2013?

I'd say it's been a pretty darn great year in 2012 but that 2013 could hold something even better.

Stay posted as I work to put ink to paper and come up with a list of "resolutions". I had a good time looking at pictures for this post :)