Sunday, March 29, 2009

A new adventure... but not for us!

Well, as many of you may know, we have two bearded dragons. Mike got one as a classroom pet during his first year of teaching. I was completely repulsed by the thought of it and was thoroughly distraught when he brought it to the apartment that summer. Geico grew on me that summer though and the thought of having her go back to the classroom the next fall was too much for me to handle, so I told Mike to get a new classroom pet. Bearded dragons are pretty sweet [classroom] pets because they are pretty clean, low maintenance, they don't bite, they live a pretty long life, have a personality of their own, and have a diet that pretty much consists of fruits and vegetables. So Mike decided to get another bearded dragon, Dino, for his classroom. I'm sure you can predict what happened from there... we kept him too! Sorry students, you got jipped.

Anyway, we have so enjoyed having the two of them as part of our home, watching them run around the apartment, eat crickets, go wild about strawberries, swim in the bathtub, take car rides and stare out the window... they certainly have been fun!

However, needless to say, we cannot take them to Thailand with us. We are sad about this, but knew it was coming. Thankfully, we have found a student from school (ML) who is going to actually keep both of them! So they will have some new adventures too-- finding new places to hide and run around, different bathtubs to swim in, a new owner, and maybe even new names.

Friday, March 27, 2009


So the hubs and I went on a shopping splurge last night. Very unlikely of us, especially keeping in mind that we are headed overseas and we will have to store everything that we aren't taking with us. However, we had all these gift cards to bookstores... yay for X-mas gifts from students. We had two Northwestern bookstore gift cards and two Borders bookstore gift cards... so off we went. We got 4 books at Northwestern and spent $7.00 out of pocket money... remarkable considering how ridiculously expensive and overpriced that store is!

We contemplated going to Borders since we had gift cards and were in the area, but it was 9pm and we were tired (lame, I know). We hummed and hawed over it... but boy were we thankful we went last night because it turns out that it was the last day of the educator sale that they had going on, where we got an additional 25% off of everything (not just educator stuff). I am sure we would have been kicking ourselves had we gone Friday morning instead! So we got a Thai language audio CD program, 2 more books, and a sweet journal for when we're in Thailand. Total cost: $90+. With the discount: $60+. After the gift cards: $30. Sweetness. That was the cost of the Thai language program in itself.

We are pretty content with our good buys/finds and looking forward to some good reading/language learning.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

White as snow

I am crabby at Hamline. I submitted my final paper to them in the very beginning of December (according to the very specific deadline) and anticipated receiving my diploma by the end of February at the very latest. Hamline only orders diplomas 3 times a year. Therefore, my diploma wasn't even ordered until the end of February. It doesn't come in until the end of March, and then I can't pick it up until the beginning of April (which is when I need to send all of the documents to Thailand). However, I had to contact 4 different people to find out all of this information. Nobody really knew what was going on.

I'm crabby because I am being selfish and prideful and just want to be able to check things off my "to-do" list and be done with it. I want things to be done in a manner that I think is efficient and I want things done on "my time." This is definitely an area of sin that I battle every single day... whether I'm the teacher, the wife, the co-worker, or the friend. I have to be deliberate in thinking that the most efficient way isn't always the best way, and that sometimes I just need to slow down and not worry so much about checking things off my list. I also need to be intentional in realizing that other people have more important things to do. It's so easy to be so selfish and self-centered in today's society. God is trying to get through to me and teach me some important lessons during these times though (like patience and selflessness), I just need to slow down, listen and learn.

Sin sure is ugly. Praise God we have a Savior who makes us white as snow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Seeing double

People have asked us left and right about our living arrangements. We haven't really known much except that we would be living on campus our first year. They have the option of a studio or a 2-bedroom apartment. We were kind of wavering back and forth about which one we wanted. The two-bedroom costs more than the housing stipend we receive, so that meant that we would have to pay $22 out of pocket each month (I know that doesn't sound like much, but it is when you're trying to pay off a student loan as quickly as possible so that you can start saving ASAP to travel the world...) We also wanted to live frugally (does $22 extra dollars amount count as living frugally?), yet at the same time we felt that we needed a place where we felt comfortable to do lesson plans. Our apartment in MN is quite small (650 square feet), so a lot of the time we end up going to Caribou to do our LP's. We didn't think we would really have that luxury in Thailand, so a 2-bedroom was what we concluded. One room can be an office, and the other can be our bedroom. Aside from that, it sounds like we will have quite a few visitors coming our way, so having a 2 bedroom apartment will be nicer for those wanting to visit. Besides, if you have already forked over the $2,000 on the flight and gone through the grueling 24-37 hour flights, I think it's fair to say that you shouldn't have to pay for a hotel or sleep on our floor.

However, yesterday we got more information about the apartments. ICS has hired many new teachers that have families, so all of the 2-bedroom apartments that they had available are actually now gone. What that means for us is that we can only have a studio apartment, which is only 430 square feet. However, due to the small size of the studios, what they have done for us instead is give us 2 studio apartments that are connected by a door. Apparently one of the studio apartments in on the end of the complex, which means a lot of sunlight during the non-rainy season... exciting. Anyway, two studio apartments means two bathrooms, two "kitchens", two beds, two tables, and two wardrobes. It seems kind of weird right now, but I'm sure it will be just fine. Besides, I imagine that connecting the two tables in one of the apartments for a large dining/lesson plan/game area (Mike's giddy, I'm sure) will be fantastic.

Come on over and see our double apartment!

An ode to teachers

The bell has rung, the kids are gone, and it's completely quiet. While we love our students dearly, and are passionate and dedicated to teaching, it feels so good to be on break. One week of quiet. A break always refreshes us and helps us to be better teachers. I laugh at people who say, "Teaching has to be the best job ever-- you get June, July and August off." HA!

This is not specifically about the school we teach at, but just teaching in general: Try teaching at a school where you have hundreds of students and need/want to know each one by name (along with their interests), correcting thousands of papers, disciplining children who aren't disciplined at home and are probably quite disrespectful, and teaching children who have an unstable family life (or no family). Try focusing kids who are hungry, or wild and need recess but can't go outside because of the cold MN winters. Try understanding disabilities and dealing with how they influence the rest of your class (turrets, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, depression, anxiety, crack/fetal alcohol syndrome students ... just to name a few), hunting down students that need to make-up tests or homework, being an before/after school tutor for free, catching students cheating, and speaking to parents about their child's failing/poor grades. Try never having an "end" to your job... it's no 9-5 kind of job where you can just stop and walk out of the school. Try lesson planning all weekend, making your own activities, losing sleep while you try to figure out the best way to get your students to learn a concept. Try parent-teacher conferences, school musicals/concerts, lock-ins, field trips with punky kids, and recess and lunch duty. Try repeating yourself 3 times, staying patient when your students don't read the directions, write their name on their paper, or show their work. Try making very detailed and specific lesson plans for a substitute while you are so sick that your stomach is churning and you can hardly keep your eyes open. Try cleaning up other people's puke. Try unconditionally loving 20-30 students in each class even when they are naughty and punky, and wanting the absolute best for them no matter how disrespectful they may be towards you and others...

But try having 20-30 kids in each class adore you and look up to you as a complete role model. Try having kids tell you "I love you" and "You're the best" and not melt when they give you big hugs and smiles. Try having kids with or without learning disabilities have those "AH-HA! I get it" moments, while fostering an environment of diversity, respect and understanding. Try connecting with students based on their interests and learn about the things that they are passionate about. Try playing with them at recess, joking around with them in class until you're laughing so hard that your lungs hurt. Try seeing how much they have grown over the years. Try seeing how they can apply your subject area in the real world. Try giving them opportunities to make good choices and you won't be disappointed. Try establishing relationships and then having them contact you/keep in touch with you after they have graduated high school and have them tell you that it was worth it and "thank you!"

Teaching certainly has ups and downs, and I can certainly understand why teacher burn-out is so high and usually happens after one or two years. But it's worth it... it's so worth it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bring a good book

I just checked flights to see what's available in July. There are many different options and many different lengths of flights. Total flight times can range from 24 hours and 10 minutes to 37 hours and 25 minutes. Eek. I think we'll be bringing some good books along to make the time go faster. Hopefully we can get a "shorter" flight. HA! If there was such a thing...

Departure date

As both of us will be teaching new classes at ICS... Mike with an entirely different subject, and AP Spanish for me, ICS has allowed us to come to Thailand earlier than other new teachers to have the opportunity to review curriculum, textbooks, and look over other materials/equipment. This means leaving anywhere between July 11-14. Next week is our spring break, so I will be booking our flights since I actually will have some time. We have been asked to book with a certain travel agency in order to receive a missionary rate. It certainly is starting to sink in and feel a tiny bit more real.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

God knew...

Where Christians are Persecuted (map compiled by World Evangelical Alliance):

**Click on the map to see a larger version. :)

Compare the country color to the color of the text below:

Life can be difficult for Christians and harsh for converts

Christian minorities suffer systematic discrimination and persecution

Persecution of Christian minorities is pervasive and severe

Historically Christian minorities at risk of genocide

Notice that we are going to one of the very few green countries in Asia, where persecution is not pervasive. We didn't even think about looking at a persecuted church map when considering where to go. China was even one of our top places. It's interesting to see how two countries that border Thailand (Myanmar and Laos) are both red countries too. God knew what we could handle for now. Perhaps he will ask us to go somewhere else later. American Christians certainly enjoy a remarkable degree of freedom of worship compared to many of our brothers and sisters around the world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Do the Austs have an arrest record or not? Drum roll please...

Our background checks came in the mail today. We were a little taken back as we had sent them a sheet with our fingerprints on them, and they sent them right back to us. However, on the back of our fingerprint sheets, there was an FBI stamp that said, "No arrest record." Boy, I'm glad I paid so much money for THAT! HA! And I bet you were worried...

We also got a book called, "Culture Shock--Thailand" from ICS in the mail today. We are looking forward to reading it and discovering more about the culture of Thailand!! I'm sure we'll share some tid-bits with y'all when we have time to read the book!

Tropical heat wave...or not

This afternoon as we drove home from school, I glanced at the car's temperature gauge and it read 70 degrees. Now, I admit that the gauge is probably a little off, as I don't think it was really supposed to get THAT warm today, but none-the-less, it was a wonderfully warm day after too long of a winter. I mentioned the 70 degree temperature to Mike, who quickly responded with, "That's about the coldest it will be in Thailand!" Needless to say, that put big grins on our face. Bring on the tropical, warm, humid weather! That's certainly easy to say after finally seeing the end of yet another Minnesota winter. I think the only thing that got us through living in MN these last couple of years was banking on the idea that one day we would eventually be teaching in a (cross your fingers) warmer climate.

I love the MN spring, summer, and fall, but could definitely do without the winter. It ruins the outdoor running season, brings a wealth of frozen shut doors (see post from February post titled karate kicks, body slams and dead batteries...), broken snow scrapers, frozen appendages, bulky sweaters that you can't move around in, and slippery roads that result in bad drivers, bad accidents, and bad traffic. Maybe... just maybe I'll miss it once it is gone. But for now, good riddance. MN winter, you are dead to me. So while I am enjoying this MN "heat wave," I am rejoicing knowing that it's actually not a heat wave in Thailand. In fact... it's their "cool season..." LOVE IT!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Seventeen again

We had an eventful day yesterday with Mike's surprise birthday party and then dinner and a movie with my dad. We met up with my dad at Panera and then went to go see the movie, "Slumdog Millionare." (Which by the way, is probably one of the best movies I have seen in a long time... though Gran Torino was very well done too.) Anyway, so after just having celebrated Mike's 27th birthday, as usual, we got in line to get our ticket stubs ripped off at the entrance to the theater. Mike is the first out of all of us to hand his ticket over, and the worker asks to see his ID!!! I started laughing hysterically as the worker then proceeded to ask my dad if he was seeing the movie with us because it was rated R. HA! He was only 10 years off on Mike's age! I know he looks young, but THAT young? REALLY?!?

They're hiding... in the closet!!

So yesterday I threw Mike a surprise birthday party. I can't think of the last time that he had a birthday party with a few friends, and since this was his last birthday in the states for some time, I decided to make an obnoxiously big deal out of it this year... and fortunately he loved it.

I planned the surprise birthday party 3-4 weeks in advance and I still can't believe that I actually got away with it and he didn't find out (and that I didn't tell him... I'm sooooo bad at keeping things a secret from him!) So the plan was to "babysit" for the W's two kids, and the other 2 couples (the L's, and MB & LL) would arrive at the W's shortly before our arrival. Then we would go to the Summit brewing company for a tour and some adult-like beverages, and then head back to our place for lunch and games.

A week or two before the party, the W's ask us to "babysit" their kids from 10-1 on the appointed Saturday. Mike loves having open gym at school with his basketball kids from 8-10:30-ish and was bummed out about the conflicting times. He first told me that he would have open gym and that he would just meet me at the W's after he was done at school. I tried to put a stop to that immediately by telling him that I thought it was silly to have two cars out in St. Paul for only a couple of hours. He sighed at my disapproval while I died of laughter on the inside and tried my darndest not to smile or laugh, but he was determined to make the two events work.

He hummed and hawed over it and finally decided to ask the W's if they could push their lunch date back to 11-ish. I laughed aloud when he proposed this to me, which resulted in him asking, "Why are you laughing? Are you laughing at me?" I didn't know what to say, so my excuse was, "I just got the giggles, that's all!" That was enough to convince him, as I have truly had the giggles before. So I called the W's to warn them of what Mike was going to ask of them and pleaded with them to come up with a fool-proof way to not only get the two of us out there, but to not push it back to 11 (all this while hiding in our bedroom closet and whispering... living in such a small apartment, it's hard to have a truly private phone conversation.) They came through and came up with the idea that baby W had nap time at 10 and toddler W had a music class at the community center at 10:30 so they needed both of us there at the same time. Mike, not one to always question people or force his opinion on others, did not even make a peep about pushing the time back to 11. Victory. However, the week prior to the party, Mike started coming down with the nasty cold that is going around and I had to really pray that the whole ordeal would work out!

So Saturday morning arrives and we drive to the W's, only to see that as we are pulling into the married housing area where the W's live, Mr. W. is driving right in front of us with "the real" babysitters for the day. They park and jump out of the car and Mike sees the babysitters... he slowly parks the car and the wheels in his head start turning. He turns to me and asks, "Did the W's not think we were coming? Maybe it's a trick. Maybe we're not babysitting at all." I just started laughing and kept saying, "I don't know, I guess we'll just have to ask them when we get inside."

We get inside and toddler W greets us and starts yakking away about getting us a chocolate snack at the grocery store. Mike thinks, "Maybe we are babysitting... he's talking to Karly as if we are." Plus, there is no sign of the other babysitters around. Mr. W starts distracting Mike with conversation about basketball while toddler W continues yakking and then says, "They're hiding... in the closet!!!" I burst out laughing, knowing full well that the other two couples are hiding in the closet. I scoop toddler W up in my arms and distract him with a toy. With my outburst of laughter, Mike is suddenly interested in what toddler W is talking about, but by that time I have toddler W distracted with other things. This is when the other two couples pop out of the closet and non-chalantly (because they thought toddler W ruined the surprise... hehe, three year olds are so funny!!!) say, "Surprise." Mike was surprised though!

So off we went to the Summit brewery. We had a tour, took some pictures, drank some adult-like beverages (or not... I was thankful that they had root beer!), and had some good laughs and conversation. Then, as planned, we headed back to our place for a spaghetti and meatball lunch with salad provided by the L's, homemade bread made by the W's, and non-adult like beverages provided by MB and LL (3 after the brewery tour was quite enough.) I also had ordered a raspberry torte from Cafe Latte for the event (which was another lie in itself, as I bought it at an auction right under Mike's nose... thanks to CA for her help in this!!) We played Scattergories and apparently need a re-match with the W's to verify the true winner.

It was a fun Saturday and Mike felt really loved.Thanks to the W's, the L's and MB & LL for joining us for the festivities! Oh, and the chocolate snack that toddler W was talking about was a gift that the W's got for Mike. :)

A few more pics from the day...

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's all Greek to me...

อาจารย์ Apparently that means teacher in Thai.

About the Thai language:
-5 tones (mid, high, low, rising or falling... this makes the language sound sing-songy)
-Written Thai language was introduced by King Ramkhamhaeng in 1283
-4 major dialects
-Phonemic alphabet
-44 consonants
-15 vowels
-Words are not modified or conjugated for tenses, plurals, genders, or subject-verb agreement (a hard thing for a Spanish language teacher to grasp...)
-Articles such as a, an, and the are not used

I think it will be quite difficult to learn, but we're willing to try...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


The hubby turns 27 today! 27 birthday spankings are in order!

Today I gave Mike a birthday card that listed some evidences of grace that I see in his life. His life bears much fruit and I wanted him to be made aware of some of the many things I have observed. A few that I mentioned, plus a couple more...

1. His willingness to serve his wife (the guy takes out the garbage, starts the car in the winter, cleans off the car and rids it of snow, does the dishes, vacuums, clears the dishes after a meal, and does the laundry every Sunday. Needless to say, I am one blessed wife.)

2. His ability to have victories over the temptation and sin that each of us face each day.

3. His openness and willingness to discuss not only his victories, but his weaknesses as well.

4. His leadership. He has grown so much in this area and is learning to be a great leader in our relationship, particularly in the area of devotions and prayer each night.

5. Controlling his anger. Mike hates bad drivers and he voices his frustration and sometimes has acted upon his frustration as well (don't we all?!), but he has really grown in patience and being able to control his emotions.

6. Decreasing in selfishness. Mike confessed that he felt that he needed to be more selfless when it came to giving me attention (undivided), and I feel that he really has. It is easy for both of us to get carried away in a book or correcting papers and only partially listen to what the other has to say. Mike has really worked hard at this and I see the fruit.

7. Increasing desire to be in the Word. Mike gets up between 5 and 5:15 each morning to be able to spend some quality time reading his Bible. He does this every morning... even on Saturdays.

Mike, I am so thankful for you! You are an amazing man of God and I am blessed beyond measure to have you in my life. I love you. Happy birthday, sweetheart!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We're makin' a list and checkin' it twice...

We are slowly and steadily checking off our "To do" list! Mike just got his ACSI certificate and the passport in the mail today! (PTL!)

So now we just have to wait for:
-Karly's Hamline University diploma (due to arrive at the end of March)
-Mike and Karly's FBI background check (due to arrive at the end of March)
-Mike's renewed Virginia License (once he finished his adapted PE class over spring break, he will have to submit the paperwork to the state. Who knows how long it will take to process though...)

Oh, and one more thing. The MOE is apparently sticklers on names. Mike's diploma says Michael Louis Aust. His license reads as Michael L. Aust. The letter from the university verifying attendance and graduation reads as Michael Aust. So we also need to get a notarized letter verifying that Michael Aust, Michael Louis Aust and Michael L. Aust are the same person.

Cutie pants

This cute face turns 27 tomorrow! Happy birthday, love!
(And yes, that's a superman shirt that he's wearing... hehe)

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Dear Spring Fever,

Please go away. I need to be productive. There are far too many lesson plans to write, classes to teach, lessons to learn, and things to prepare for Thailand. Much appreciated.


Oh so blue...

We have been busy printing documents to courier to Thailand in order to obtain our work visas. All of these documents have to be signed individually in blue ink. Blue ink proves that it is not a copy, I guess. Anyway, I looked everywhere in the house for a blue pen. I have come to realize that we are truly pencil or black pen people. We happened to have ONE blue pen in the house that I could find. We started signing the documents, but every 3-4 pages, the silly thing died. We'd have to scribble to get the pen to start working again, but despite our efforts the pen would continue to die after just a few signatures. Since signing these documents, I have found two more blue pens in different purses and Mike brought home three more blue pens from his desk at school. Now we have a plethora... now that we are done signing the majority of the documents. Too funny.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

FBI, open up!

So I called the FBI. How many people can say that? We had to get background checks done for the MOE in Thailand to make sure we're not wanted individuals or creepers. So apparently there are two different background checks: the state of MN background check and a national FBI one. Since both of us attended college out of state, we needed the national FBI one. We got fingerprinted, they gave us the fingerprints and told us to contact the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) to submit the prints and get the report. Well, it turns out that the BCA only does the MN check. The BCA then informed me that I needed to contact the FBI. That's not intimidating or anything... :) So $86 dollars later, we will get two reports that say that we have no record. (That's like 14 meals at Chipotle, friends (28 since we split a burrito), or 86 meals at food carts in Thailand...) Perspective.

Time warp

Mike submitted his request and a sizable check to ACSI to renew the International Christian Schools license that will tide ICS over until he receives the renewed state of Virginia license. Shortly after sending it in the mail, he realized that it would take 60 days to process. We don't have 60 days according to ICS and the MOE in Thailand. In order to get our work visas, we need to give every necessary document to ICS by early April. He then realized that he could pay additional money to have them process it within the next 2 weeks, so he called ACSI a few days later, only to realize that they didn't have any record of receiving his request and check. He checked back a few days later and the woman said that they had received all their mail from last week, but that they still hadn't received his request and check. Interesting! The next day, we got an envelope in the mail from them. Slightly confused, as they had claimed that they had never received anything, he opened the envelope to find the check he had sent. They sent it back and refused to process the request/cash the check because he had dated the check February 2008. Oops. It's all settled now. This time he just called them and gave them his credit card info. They said they would start the process that day. Phew-ta.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Frozen doors, karate kicks, body slams, and drained batteries

What do they all have in common, you ask? Well... with the nasty storm that we got on Thursday afternoon/evening, the driver's side door of my little car got frozen shut. I didn't realize this until Sunday though. On Sunday morning, I made a quick trip to the grocery store before church. However, my car door was frozen shut and I was to the point of yanking off the handle of the door, so I crawled through the car from the passenger's side door instead. In an attempt to open the driver's side door, I slammed my body against the door a few times from the inside while holding handle open. That didn't work, so I kicked it a few times too. With no such luck, I made my way to the grocery store, did my thing, and crawled in and out of my car through the opposite door. I made one more last ditch effort to open the door when I got home, which only resulted in a stinging shoulder, so I stopped. This afternoon I headed out to teach my ESL class, only to find that the driver's side door was slightly ajar and that my car wouldn't start since the dome light had been on since the previous morning. I had to call my father-in-law, DA, to come jump my car as my battery was completely drained. Thankfully, my in-laws only live 10 minutes away so it wasn't too out of the way to rescue me. And trust me, this isn't the first time that DA has had to bail me out...

I am looking forward to no snow, no ice and no car in Thailand. Asking DA to come rescue me in another car predicament in Thailand sure would be expensive!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Highest bidder?

The school that we work at has an annual auction and spaghetti dinner in the middle of March. As teachers, we are required to donate something to the auction that requires 2+ hours of our time. In the past, we've done Twins games or game night with current/former students. This year, in light of us leaving for Thailand, we are offering dinner for up to 6 people at a Thai restaurant, so that our students or some family can get a "taste" of the yummy Thai food that we will be eating in Thailand. Thanks to TB for the idea!

Will you be the highest bidder?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Q & A

People have asked us many questions about Thailand and the school, and while sometimes we know the answer, we are definitely learning as we are going! We love it when y'all ask us questions though because if we don't know the answer, it gives us something to look up and learn! So onto a few common questions that have been asked:

1. Q: Where are you going to be living?
A: ICS has on-campus housing for first-year teachers and they give us a housing stipend. We are so thankful that we don't need to worry about looking for an apartment right away when we get there! Our second year we will need to find an apartment though, but by then we should hopefully be more familiar with the area!

2. Q: Where in Thailand will you be?
A: We will be in Bangkok. Now Bangkok is a very large city and while we can't exactly imagine what it will be like to live there and how "isolated" (or not) the campus is. However, the headmaster, Darren, gave us a description of the location of the school. He said it was half way between the airport and main downtown, 1 block from the main thoroughfare, and 15-20 minutes from main downtown (with no traffic). Not that any of us can really fathom that without really visiting...

3. Q: Will you be visiting the school/country before you work there?
A: Not unless we want to fork over $4,000 to visit.

4. Q: When will you be leaving?
A: School starts August 10th and there is new teacher orientation at the end of July. However, they recommend coming even earlier to get adjusted to the time and humidity. That being said, we will be leaving mid-July. The earliest that we would leave would probably July 15.

5. Q: Do you need to learn Thai?
A: Yes and no. The school is an English language school based on the American school system. We do not need to speak Thai to be able to work at the school (or else we would not have taken the jobs). However, would it be useful to learn the language? Absolutely... I'm sure it would be plenty helpful in the markets. Additionally, there are two different rates in Thailand: The American rate and the everyone else rate. They assume that all Americans have money so they typically charge you more (especially at hotels). Maybe I can fool them with being Korean and speaking Thai; Mike not so much, considering he has blond hair and blue eyes...

6. Q: Do they give you lessons in Thai?
A: Yes, we get a stipend to pay for Thai lessons. The only hitch is that you actually have to "pass" the class to receive the stipend... and teachers are known to be the worst students. ;)

7. Q: Will the school pay you or will you have to raise support?
A: The school will pay us. We will actually be making less than what we make in the US, but we will be able to save more since so many of our expenses are taken care of. It's kind of backwards thinking, isn't it?

8. Q: How long will you be gone?
A: We will be there for at least 2 years. It is a 2 year initial commitment with a renewable contract afterwards. We may stay longer, we may decide to teach in a different country and "country-hop," or we may come back to the US. This all depends on where we feel God is leading us when the time comes.

9. Q: Will you be coming home at all during those 2 years?
A: We anticipate doing so... we just don't know when. Afterall, 2 years is a long time to not see family and friends!

10. Q: How did you find this school?
A: Mike found it on-line! They had positions for both of us, so we applied! I have another post from early February that discusses this a little bit more, so if you want more details, check the archive and look for the "China gets the ball rolling" post.

11. Q: Are you nervous?
A: Not really. I don't think it has really hit us yet that we are going overseas and I don't think that it will hit us until we pack up our classrooms at school, our apartment, sell our cars and furniture, and say our goodbyes. However, I think that God has also really given us a complete sense of peace about going to Thailand. He continues to make it more evident that he has called us to Thailand and we don't regret our decision one bit. However, see my last post about teaching AP (eek), titled, "Relief for the faint of heart."

12. Q: Will you be teaching English?
A: Many people go overseas, especially to Asia, to teach English. However, we are not going to be teaching English. ICS is an international school that is based on the American school system, so it is similar to a private school in the US. Mike will be teaching elementary PE and Karly will be teaching high school Spanish.

13. Q: How big is Bangkok?
A: Approximately 15 million people.

14. Q: What's with all the elephants in Thailand?
A: Elephants have played an important role in Thailand's history, culture and economy. Elephants have a deep religious meaning within the Hindu religion. A story is told about Buddha's mother and a dream she had about a white elephant before he was born. Thai tradition says that the white elephant is a noble beast of special honor, judged fit for only royal duties and exemplifying a king's honor and glory. The Hindu god Ganesha is said to have the head of an elephant, because the elephant is so smart. Elephants were also used for clearing out forests, making it easy for people to open up trade routes. They are smart land mammals and hard-working beasts, and have also provided transportation for mankind. Additionally, during times of war, elephants played an indispensable role in the war machine of Thailand and other Asian countries.

15. Q: Can I come visit?
A: Please do! We would be more than happy to host you if you can deal with the 13 hour time change, the hot and humid weather, the spicy food, the cost of the plane ticket, and the long flight over and back! Just don't come during the rainy season, as I'm sure it won't be as entertaining for you.

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