First Day of Class:
A Monday. Class does not start till 2 pm but I show up at 9 am because I do not know where I am going. Orientation the week before did not include a tour. I wander around for over an hour before I finally get pointed in the right direction. I end up eating a chicken sandwich from a food stand nearby because I do not understand how the cafeteria (excuse me, canteen) works; yet another thing orientation did not cover.
The class before mine runs late. Then the professor stays and chats with students. At 1:30, I impatiently walk in and sit down anyway. The professor in the class before me turns and includes me in the conversation. Air quality. Better wear a face mask.
1:40 rolls around and I am the only person in the classroom.
1:50 and still no other students.
2:00 and the cleaning lady comes in and starts shutting everything down. She turns off the computer and begins wiping down desks. I ask her if the class was moved. She doesn’t speak English.
2:05 and the professor walks in. He is surprised to see only me. He gets the cleaning lady who is also apparently the tech woman to turn the computer back on. We wait.
2:30 and no other students. He decides to start the lecture anyway. We wrap up without anyone joining us.
We meet the next week but he informs me the school decided to cancel the course due to lack of interest. I feel rather bummed. I was really looking forward to Law of the Sea.
Last Day of Class:
A Saturday. Since March began, I have had makeup classes almost every Saturday. For this one, the professor assigned us group presentations.
We had a month to prep, but my group started working Wednesday night. It involved a group phone call where we divided up the work and I had to keep reminding everyone to speak English since I don’t know Thai. As it was, they spent 50 of the 60 minute call in Thai.
Class begins at 9:30. My group mates want to arrive at 8:45 to practice. I show up at 9:20. We are still missing nearly half our group. The professor punctually shows up at 9:30 and wants to kick things off. Unfortunately, all of the groups presenting are missing members.
We wait nearly an hour.
The professor asks if we have any questions. We don’t. He sits scrolling through his phone. My group is still missing a member. This happened the last time we did a group presentation with the exact same person.
The professor asks if anyone will do the presentation without their missing group member. I’m all for volunteering us. Not like our missing member actually did much work anyway. Plus, his usual style involves reading straight from the slides. Any of us can do that!
But my group members are made of kinder stuff than me. They worry that presenting without him means he will not get a good grade. I think that sounds brilliant. Maybe next time he will show up on time.
Eventually, someone walks in and the first group gets up to present. The professor announces he will interrupt with questions, so instead of 15 minutes, they can present for 30.
They present for 50 minutes.
During that time, our missing group member strolls in. We present and manage to keep it around 30 minutes. During both presentations, the professor frequently looks bored and scrolls through his phone.
The third group goes up to present. By this point, I’ve mentally checked out and all but pulled out my coloring book. Everyone around me stares at their phone or computer. The group fumbles around for about 40 minutes, laughing at their own mistakes and forgetting who to pass the mic to. Every now and then the professor glances incredulously across the room, as if to say, ‘Y’all saw that too, right?‘
We end 30 minutes early. The professor pauses to remind us about a take home test. It is the first I am hearing about this, and I suspect the first my classmates are too. Apparently he sent it to the office but they forgot to forward it to us. In acknowledgement, the professor offers to push the deadline back from May 31st to June 15. I now understand why it takes forever to get final grades.
Instead of chicken, I take a 40 minute bus ride to get Domino’s Pizza for lunch. My resolution to eat only Thai food while in Thailand lasted until March. Still, not even deep dish pepperoni satisfies my craving for food from home. I swear Thailand has never heard of tomato sauce. WHY does all pizza here come with a weird sauce?
I have finals over the next two weeks (at least, of the finals I know about) but I, for one, am grateful to be done with the classes portion of this semester. I’d say we’re not ending on a positive note but in truth I’m not sure we ever found one.