Thai Tidbits

I thought I should do a quick little post. I haven’t done anything “special” recently- I’m going to Pai this weekend which will warrant a blog post soon- but every day is filled with something cool! Here are 5 little things which have happened in the last MONTH I’ve been here which aren’t particularly of note but which characterise my time in Chiang Mai.

  1. I finally decided that I needed to wax my hippy-vegan-femme-tacular legs (they were starting to bother me a little bit, but to be honest, I never felt particularly self conscious about the hair. A nice change from home when a tiny bit of stubble caused me to wear tights on beautiful days…) and so went into a little salon that looked clean and reasonably priced… I managed to convey I wanted a half leg wax and so the lady motioned for me to sit on the low couch and stick my leg out. In the main shop. Just in the open. Now, I’m assuming (hoping) it would have been different for a full wax or God forbid, a brazilian, but for a half leg it was fine, if not a little amusing. I was given a free bottle of water and LOTS of compliments that I was “SO WHITE”. It was the smoothest and most pain free wax I’ve ever had so will be back next time.
  2. There are plenty of Facebook expat groups which people update pretty regularly with questions, local events, services, recommendations for cafes, inane banter, bitcoin advice and requests for meetups! I love these groups because it means I have a social life and it keeps me up to date with what’s on around town, even if I can’t go this particular week- it’s pretty likely that it will be on again. In one of these groups, a man (who I later learn is SPOILER ALERT lovely) posted asking for volunteers for a special kind of Thai massage as he is currently training and needs to practice on people as much as possible. This sounded a) amazing [yay! Free!] but b) suss as hell. So, I messaged him and asked:
    Where is the massage located?
    What parts of the body are massaged? and
    What would I be wearing?
    He responded quickly that it was in a public temple training school, it was full body apart from the normal areas avoided in FBM and that I would be fisherman pants and a loose top. I quickly responded that I would LOVE to be a guinea pig for this massage practice and I WAS NOT disappointed. Simon was LOVELY and I’ll definitely be back to help him out again. I know it’s a sacrifice and even I’m shocked at how altruistic I am, but sometimes you just have to give back.
  3. During my cooking class, we went to a market (like most classes) and the lady took us to a stall with- according to her- over 50 kinds of garlic. It was all I could do not to just DIE in happiness. The love that Thai’s have for garlic in their food knows no bounds and one of my favourite things is the regularity of getting raw slices of garlic on the side to add to my curry or soup or stir fry. Honestly, SO delicious. Speaking of delicious things, one of my most favourite street food snacks has become whole roasted sweet potato- cooked over the grill. A bag of them will set you back 20baht or so and it’s literally just sweet potato. Makes a nice change of carb from rice- though I do love that too.
  4. I did a boxing class recently which  was SUPER awesome and I need to go back (I literally have something on every night this week which means I can’t do this week) but I was struck (heh) by how different it was from boxing back home… mainly in the physicality of the instructor! I don’t think I’ve ever been slapped so much. “Power from HERE (slaps thigh) and  HERE (slaps shoulder)” “Hands Up! (lightly hits me on the JAW!)” It was definitely an experience and one which taught me to a) loosen up- (I never felt unsafe or anything! It was just the style of teaching) and b) keep my guard up!
  5. I know I keep posting about this but OMG the rain. Rainy season is not a misnomer in any way. It rains at least once a day and  when it rains, it pours. It can be beautiful in the morning and then pour in the afternoon, or vice versa, or just threaten all day, or something else entirely. I’ve become better at bringing my gorman around with me everywhere but I’ve also just started to embrace it at times. It does sometimes suck when you’re on the bike, at night, though. Not a fan of riding in the dark and the rain. It makes me feel like my travel insurance is being voided, haha. But if you stay in because of the rain then you’re not going to get anything done so you just need to BE PREPARED and also, be prepared to change your plans- something I’m learning to accept 🙂

There’s lots more of course, from my tutoring of the chef at Free Bird Cafe to my adventures in trying to find sugar free bread to becoming lost almost every Sunday morning getting to church, to my weekly runs which have been different every week so far, to my daily workouts/sweatfests, to my attendance at zumba/aerobics thing… every day is slightly different and it’s been so wonderful to have a casual routine but to also have let go of control and instead just trusted that I’m going to be ok, whatever happens.

Cool things coming up:

  • I’m going to Pai this weekend (literally the most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done) for the Jazz festival!
  • I have a church BBQ on Friday night
  • My visa run to Penang in September! I’ve booked a food tour for my first night there and a cycle tour for the Saturday. I CANNOT wait. It looks so beautiful.
  • think I’m going to go trekking in Doi Inthanon in August… it depends how many people I can recruit.
  • Class starting on the 4th of September!!

Hope you guys are enjoying the blog- if you have any questions about anything, every day life or otherwise, feel free to comment 🙂

Love and miss you all,

Amy xx

 

Workout Wednesday (belated, sorry!)- Good Morning, Body!

 

This quick workout is a nice little Good Morning burn to wake you up in the morning or after a long period of sitting down at work. It’s perfect for these cold Melbourne mornings were getting out of bed is tantamount to an ice bath. Basically, it’s a HELLO to your body and a little message to say that you know it wants to move and GET WARM! (You can tell I’m feeling the change in weather, can’t you?!)

Perform 1 minute of each exercise, back to back.

Jumping Jacks
Plank Jacks
Walking Pushups (Both hands on a step, one hand on ground, both hands on ground, other hand on step, both hands on step)
Lunges (1 minute each leg)
Plie’ Pulses
Twist side planks
Dips
Knee repeaters
High Knees

And it’s done, within 10 minutes! If you like, you could shorten the work time to 45 seconds and have 15 seconds of rest between each exercise. You can also make this a full length workout by taking one minute after finishing the 10 exercises above and then repeat it twice through (with another minute between the 2nd and 3rd set).

Feel free to add weights to these exercises as well, to challenge yourself further but it’s not necessary! Your body weight is enough!

Let me know how you go!!

 

Workout Wednesday- Tabata TRX Total Body Toner

Holidays are the greatest gifts the modern world has given us.

octo

I mean, yes- vaccines, the 8hr work day, human rights and the 24hr news cycle with the accountability it brings are all fabulous too… but holidays, man. Just fabulous.

I am especially blessed as someone working in the education field, that I receive school holidays every year. Now, in my previous position as a full time Secondary Teacher, I would spend a fair whack of my “holidays” marking, prepping for the term ahead- both mentally and in terms of class work-, and ensuring that all the admin stuff I’d neglected throughout the term was finally dealt with.

This holiday is a little different. When I found out about my new role I went into overdrive and planned out everything for the whole semester, and while I have a little bit of thinking I need to do for a collaboration project with some of the other teachers I work with- there’s actually not too much for me to do this break!

So, I’ve run away with my parents to the sleepy little town of Lakes Entrance. It’s been good for me as, like my previous getaway destination of Yea, there isn’t that much to do beyond going for seaside strolls, SUPping and chilling out with a book.

beach

It’s been lovely to relax.

But rest assured, I haven’t been body snatched and replaced by some weird “zen” version of myself- I’ve still packed my days with lots of fun things and been keeping more active than is really appropriate on holiday (there’s been many “what have I become” moments these last 4 days) with slow, short runs with my parents for the first few mornings followed by fast, furious circuit work to get my heart rate up and muscles twitching. I’ve been Stand Up Paddleboarding- the most relaxed way to work your upper body and core. I’ve given my legs a work out by not only walking everywhere but by walking through the softest sand imaginable while watching dolphins frolic in the waves (#humblebrag… like this whole post really). Today, my mumsy and I are kayaking (to a winery) and back (I’m looking forward to the comparison of pre tasting and post tasting kayaking prowess) before doing some more beach side wanderings.

While there’s been plenty of activity out in the sun, sand and surf, it’s also been super handy having my knock off K Mart TRX trainer with me. I’ve anchored it to my door and used it in the following circuit. It’s a great little burn and the perfect way to kill time while my parents enjoy not having the most evil body clock in the world.

 

It uses the Tabata method of training  (20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest x8) so you can really go hard or you can work at an easier pace. If you’re just beginning, consider doing each exercise x4 instead to make the workout shorter.

I did a tabata of each of the following TRX exercises, with 1 min of rest between each exercise to adjust straps, get in position etc. For the plank at the end, I didn’t rest for the 10 secs, instead using it to transition to a side plank or a plank in the pushup position. No knees down. Try it, for a last challenge!

Have fun and let me know how you go!

Exercises: Tabata/1 min rest between each

TRX Row

TRX Chest Fly

TRX Bicep Curl

TRX Tricep Extension

TRX Jump Squat

TRX Push Up

TRX Pull Up (for this one, I pull myself off the ground and hung there for the 20 seconds… or at least I tried! The 5,6,7 set I just did normal pull ups before smashing the 8th with another hold)

TRX Y Fly

TRX Knee Tuck (I alternated Straight Knee Tuck with Oblique Knee Tucks (tucking to each side)

TRX Hamstring Curl

TRX Pendulum/Pike (Again, alternating between the two)

TRX Plank

And that’s it!! How do you like to spend your holidays?

Happy holidays!

Amy xx

 

Boot Camp for Burma!

One of the reasons I started this blog was to get me into the habit of writing regularly. Why did I want to write regularly, you might ask? Well, beyond the obvious benefits of improving my writing flow, fluency and depth, improving my vocabulary, strengthening my voice and developing my online presence; I wanted to start writing on the reg so that I continue this habit when I go to Thailand later this year.

Image result for thai freedom house

And later this year is rapidly approaching. Last Friday was the 3 months to go point. That’s less than 90 days. Writing that made my heart skip all sorts of beats. It’s been such a long process and now that departure is getting closer and closer to being here, everything is starting to feel extremely real. I’ve paid for the majority of my trip (the only thing I have to pay for is food, activities and accommodation in the places I choose to “hop off” at during the travel portion of my journey, and my flights home), I know when I’m applying for my visa, I have my cards and phone sorted, my gym membership is set to finish on the day I leave (last minute bootcamp, yes please!) and I’ve started figuring out the points of my journey which I linger over and those which I’ll breeze through. That said, I want this plan to remain flexible enough for unplanned excursions to take place and to allow for locations I never knew about to capture my heart and never let it go.

While all the travel planning is desperately exciting, what I am most looking forward to is my time at Thai Freedom House which will make up the bulk of my trip. The Thai Freedom House is a “non-government, not-for-profit, language and arts community learning center in Northern Thailand dedicated to assisting families and individuals who are refugees from Burma and members of minority groups of Thailand.” They work specifically with these people to ensure that they don’t become victims of exploitation, trafficking, harassment, gang violence, or the poverty cycle. There are plenty of complex reasons behind the mistreatment of Burmese refugees in Thailand and I encourage you to pay the Thai Freedom House website a visit to learn some info about the issues inherent in the refugee/immigration situation.

I have always had a heart for refugees and asylum seekers and the way our own (Australian) government treats these marginalised and often highly damaged people disgusts me. I refuse to sit back and watch and am hoping to one day work more closely with community groups to raise awareness, advocate and educate. My decision to work with such a grassroots group instead of a more well known, “voluntourism” organisation is a part of that process. I want to learn from the people I’m working with, not just provide a few English lessons a week.

I also went with the Thai Freedom House because of their volunteer program and the fact that all the money I spend on said program will go straight to those I’m teaching, not on shiny brochures. It’s transparent and it’s real. It’s also got real needs. Receiving no government funding and only earning money from donations and their on site café and op shop, Thai Freedom House struggles at times to pay rent and ensure the minimal staff receive payment.

This is also the reason I held my “Bootcamp for Burma” earlier this month! I knew I wanted to raise money for TFH and I love fitness so I decided to combine my two passions and run a charity “pay what you feel” boot camp on Labour Day!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had about 15 people come along to get their sweat on while simultaneously doing a good deed, as well as multiple other people donate money even though they couldn’t attend due to being away (or not willing to workout- which is FINE!)

It was an incredible session and everyone gave it their all, spurring each other on and encouraging their friends and team mates to push just a bit harder.

Not counting the donations people made directly to TFH online (which I have no way of tracking so THANKYOU if you did!), I raised about $500, all of which is to be donated directly to the organisation.

Thank you so much if you came along and donated, or if you just donated! It was such a great morning and I hope the sore muscles were an acceptable price to pay in exchange for knowing you’ve improved the lives of vulnerable children and families in Thailand.

I’m hoping to do another boot camp session before I go to raise more money for the program so please stay tuned and stay awesome.

Amy xx

If I were you- Navigating the new Year 12 English Exam

The day has finally arrived! Kill the fattened calf- VCAA have released a sample English exam!

This is what English teachers around the world* have been waiting for. At last, something which will tell us what this new study design will look like in examination format.

For sometime, the school I used to teach at has been developing their unit plans with a focus on what we want students to learn by the end- that is, what we would like them to produce. Annoyingly, at least a component of that is based on the assessment they will be completing. While we have had an idea of what will be on the exam in that it will be similar to the SACs, it still wasn’t 100% set in stone.

Now, we have a sample paper. Now we can finally have some certainty in what we tell our students about the exam. That isn’t to say the exam will look identical to the sample paper, but at least we now have more of a guide.

So, this post is to highlight any changes and to let you, as students, know what you need to be keeping in mind as you speed toward October (It’s MARCH, WHAT?!)

Click HERE to see the sample exam

Section A: Text Response/ Analytical Interpretation of a Text

This section is basically a safety blanket. It wasn’t broke, so they didn’t fix it and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. The questions are the same types that we’re used to (propositional [ie. posing a statement and asking you to discuss this idea], quotation and direct) and the texts are familiar. The only difference between the 2016/2017 exams are that in the 2016 exam students are invited to write in either an analytical or expository fashion whereas in the 2017, you must write analytically. This indicates a stronger focus on the metalanguage and the mechanics of how directors, writers, poets etc develop their intention throughout the text. There should be more how and significantly more why. 

Also important to note- if you choose a collection of short stories or poetry, it is stated that you can no longer base your text on one story or poem- at least 2 pieces from the collection must be discussed. Personally, if you were ever going to just discuss one poem/short story your essay would have been severely below average and frankly, if you only discuss two (ie do the barest of minimums), I wouldn’t be holding out much hope.

Section B: Section B – Writing in Context/Comparative analysis of texts

The new bit! How excitement! This is the bit we were all chomping at the bit for and wow- it’s a biggie.

Let’s start with the instructions:

“Section B requires students to write a comparative analysis of a selected pair of texts in response to one topic (either i. or ii.) on one pair of texts.Your response should analyse how the two texts present ideas and/or issues, and should be supported by close reference to both texts in the pair.

If you choose to write on a multimodal text in Section A, you must not write on a text pair that includes a multimodal text in Section B.

In the answer book, indicate which text pair you have chosen to write on and whether you have chosen to answer i. or ii.

Your response will be assessed according to the assessment criteria set out on page 14 of this book.

Section B is worth one-third of the total marks for the examination.”

Nothing too shocking but again, the focus is on analysis and developing an interpretation regarding the views being presented in the texts. You MUST engage with both texts. You MUST use high quality evidence- quotes, language, visual techniques, structural evidence- throughout. It is not an essay about one text with a paragraph thrown in on the other text at the end. It is balanced and it examines how the texts, when compared, offer the audience a richer perspective on the issues and ideas within.

Notice how they don’t even mention themes- themes are at the bottom of the triangle; too broad, too general. The issues and ideas which stem from those themes are what you need to be focusing on as that is where you will find your authorial intent hiding.

The questions themselves is what we were really interested in! What would they look like? Would they be quote based? Propositional? Direct questions? Discussion based? Explicitly structure focused?

The answer, of course, is all of the above. There are some really familiar types of questions but there are some which at first, seem particularly nasty. Sorry to any WCC kids, but the Black Diggers/Longest Memory ones seem like the examiners were having a wordy day when they wrote them. Once you scratch the surface they’re not so bad… but at first- wow.

Here are some examples:

‘It is individual courage and determination that help bring about change in society.’ Explore points of comparison in the way this issue is dealt with in the two texts.

This question is for The Crucible and Year of Wonders . It’s pretty familiar to most students. A propositional question at its most propositional, it provides an issue and asks you to analyse how the text(s) engage with the text. It’s important that you provide an interpretation- that is, what the author intends the reader to understand about this issue.

This question also specifies that it’s engaging with points of comparison rather than those of contrast- this invites discussion of similarities between the text but you can also engage with differences, certainly. They should just be less of a focus.

 “… I also know how important it is in life, not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong.” (Into the Wild)
“… you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be.” (Tracks)
Compare how the importance of personal strength is explored in these texts.

This question is more unique though at its core are still the fundamentals of a quotation based question- quotes provided as the launch pad, with a guiding issue to engage with. You must discuss and analyse the quotes listed. If they do not feature heavily; if you do not develop your contention and interpretation without significant inclusion of these quotes then it’s going to be challenging to get anything above a 7. The assessors have chosen these quotes for a reason. Don’t ignore them. Place them in context and ENGAGE with them.

“Compare what the two texts suggest about gaining wisdom”

This direct question regarding Bombshells and The Penelopiad is as comforting in its familiarity as it is in its brevity. It is broad without being needlessly general but specific enough to direct your focus without stifling your interpretative skill. You will need to ensure that your contention for this is precise and your essay, well planned. Otherwise you could fall into listing all the parts of the texts where one gains wisdom without coming to a conclusion regarding the purpose of these sections and how they point to the author’s/playwright’s views on wisdom and how one comes to develop it.

“Memory is pain trying to resurrect itself.” (The Longest Memory)
“That’s the thing, the bits left behind, they’ll come out, they must.” (Black Diggers)
Using these quotations as a starting point for a comparison between Black Diggers and The Longest Memory, analyse how, in the texts, memory is simultaneously inescapable and unbearable.

I just wanted to highlight the importance of brevity and being concise. This question could be so much more accessible and interesting. Instead, it’s dense and just annoying to read. Break it down, look for those key words and my point about engaging with the quote is amplified 10 fold here as they specifically direct you to use them as a starting point.

Section C: Analysis of language use/Argument and persuasive language

Generally speaking this is pretty similar and if you’ve had good teachers, then you will have been doing it the way they want you to for years.

While in previous years VCAA have left the instructions at:

Section C requires students to analyse the use of written and visual language

The new exam specifically states:

Section C requires students to write an analysis of the ways in which argument and language are used to persuade others to share a point(s) of view

Notice the difference? You must engage not just with language (which you never should have been doing in the first place) but engage with language and how it works in conjunction with argument to persuade the reader. You must, therefore, engage with structure, style, language, audience, purpose, and progression. If you fail to engage with the way one argument follows another and the reason it does so then you’re not fulfilling the brief. Language refers to verbal, written, visual language- so images and graphs are fair game too.

In the grand scheme of things, not that much has changed, however it’s good to be aware of what has so you know what you’re being assessed on.

Also check out the marking guide:

Criteria Section A will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • knowledge and understanding of the text, and the ideas and issues it explores
  • development of a coherent analysis in response to the topic
  • use of textual evidence to support the interpretation
  • control and effectiveness of language use, as appropriate to the task

Section B will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • knowledge and understanding of both texts, and the ideas and issues they present
  • discussion of meaningful connections, similarities or differences between the texts, in response to the topic
  • use of textual evidence to support the comparative analysis
  • control and effectiveness of language use, as appropriate to the task

Section C will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • understanding of the argument(s) presented and point(s) of view expressed
  • analysis of ways in which language and visual features are used to present an argument and to persuade
  • control and effectiveness of language use, as appropriate to the task

Like I said, nothing majorly surprising or new- but enough of a shift to warrant a re-read.

I hope this has been helpful!

Let me know if there’s anything you want me to go over specifically!

Happy studying!

Amy xx

*Victoria

Workout Wednesday- Boxed in!

I got to gym a bit early for my Monday evening HIIT class so I decided to whip out a quick EMOM which was super fun and challenging. Give it a go next time you’re short on time and wanting a quick burn.

It’s pretty flexible too, so adapt it for what you have.

Set a timer to go off every minute for 12 minutes (or however long you have or want- I just had 12 minutes until my class!).

At the start of every minute, perform 10 reps of the exercise (both sides if applicable). After completing the 10 reps, do box jumps until the minute is up.

Exercises:

KB Swings
Elevated Push Ups
Weighted Russian Twists
KB Squats
KB One Armed Rows
Dips
Side Plank Rotations
Elevated Glute Bridges
KB Upright Row
BB Hang Clean
Medicine Ball Slams
Sit Up

Let me know how you go!!

 

Workout Wednesday. One minute wonderland!

Today’s workout sounds a lot quicker and easier than it is.

You have six exercises. There are six rounds. There are 60 seconds in a minute. What do you think the routine is?

Any guesses?

Well, today you’re going to be doing an exercise for a minute, an exercise for 50 seconds, an exercise for 40 seconds, an exercise for 30 seconds, an exercise for 20 seconds and an exercise for 10 seconds before resting for 30 seconds and starting all over again, but chasing yourself.

So, what I mean by that is that the exercise you did for 10 seconds is now the 1 minute exercise, the 1 min is 50 seconds and so on.

You do this 6 times through so that you do every exercise for a minute by the end.

You can pick and choose the exercises but I did:

Ropes
Dips
Pushups
Plank
High Knees
Burpees

It’s a fun, fast, furious workout which can be targeted to suit whatever area of your body you want to work- or if you follow the above structure- the whole body! Give it a whirl… it’s just one minute!