Friday, August 10, 2007

Vermont, Boston, and back to NY.

Since this is already way past it's prime, I'll just let the pictures do the talking. A brief photo tour of the VT, Boston, and NYC parts of my trip home. Actually it's almost all VT but there are a few from the other places too.

If you want to appreciate a place, you should go somewhere else as far away and as different as possible. Vermont is BEAUTIFUL. I was so happy to be home. Here I am in Burlington with Lake Champlain behind me.

And here are Noah, Gianna, and Devin. Cutest picture ever.

And another. I didn't take many pictures of grown ups... they just aren't as cute!

Also cute? I'll leave that for you to judge. Me at the VT Teddy Bear Factory.

Church Street in Burlington.

Famous Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury.

Dad, Annemarie, Noah, Gianna, and Devin with their souvenirs. See the sign they made? Sawatdee :)

Me and Mom at our house.

SO happy to drive again. Driving is one of the things I miss the most.

Forget Ithaca. Vermont is Gorges.

With friends in Boston. I didn't take a lot of pictures in Boston, but this shouldn't reflect on the people I saw there. In fact, that it rarely crossed my mind is an indication of how engaging the company was.

Random NYC shot. I just took it because it kind of represents the typical feel of busy midtown Manhattan, which interestingly was the only place I went to the in States that even approached the feel of Bangkok. NYC never felt as calm to me as it did during this trip.
I finally bought a Taylor, the only acoustic guitar I've ever really liked, and immediately put it to good work.

Katherine and Emmeline joined me in Manhattan for some good American bbq, which is definitely the food I miss the most.

Look at this! It's beautiful! And I ate almost all of it myself. Im jai mak luhee! (That's something like being really, really, really satisfied. Which I was.)
Attempting to Learn Thai 13

August 10, 2007
Months in Thailand: 13.5
Hours at AUA: ~1120 (Level 5-10)
Reading and Writing: AUA Level 1 (~2 weeks/~10 hours in class time)

In Class:

As predicted earlier, I have now plateaued in AT 5-10. I typically understand the gist of the classes 99% of the time, and I understand with precision exactly what is being talked about 90% of the time or better. There is still benefit to be had attending classes, but I really wish there was a higher level to move to as my progress is going to be really slow from here on out.

So, this means in less than one year, I've gone from being completely clueless in AT1 to being bored in AT 5-10. This ALG thing really works.

Speaking in class is rockier, but I'm getting more and more articulate, and when giving answers (or cracking jokes...) the teachers seem to get it 80 or 90% of the time. Additionally I can chat with the teachers outside of class now with little trouble.

Reading and Writing:

After 4 months or so in AT 5-10, my work schedule has finally allowed me to enroll in AUAs reading and writing class. Classes are once a day M-F, for 1 hour, and there are 5 levels total, each of which will take one 6 week term to complete. It's going to be a long process, but even after learning just 14 consonants and a few vowels (less than half the alphabet) and none of the complicated rules for irregulars and tones, I can piece together many words that I see around me. Last night I read the name of my favorite cow man gai stand (Cow Man Gai Champ Lok... World Champ Chicken and Rice), and everywhere simple things like some signs (room for rent, emergency exit, etc) are starting to make sense. Also when teachers write on the board now in class I can piece many of the words together since I know what teachers are talking about, if not truly read them. Additionally, just through exposure I can often recognize and guess the role of many of the letters and tone marks that I haven't been taught yet.

Out of Class:

Progress is also slowing outside of class, but it's still quite noticible. Day to day Thai (taxi directions, food orders, chit chat with fruit vendors, etc.) is rarely a problem anymore, and real conversations in Thai are almost a daily occurance now too. Group settings where I am in the middle of a bunch of Thais talking are still a problem, but it's all slowly getting easier.