Last Sunday I arrived in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, to begin a one month CELTA course. This is something I’d planned on doing for a long time in order to make myself a better teacher and perhaps improve my chances of finding a better job in the future, so I signed up for the International House program in Thailand. Being close to China, it meant it was only a short, cheap flight for me.

When I first arrived at Chiang Mai airport I found that there was no driver to pick me up, which was an unfortunate start to my trip. An hour later, though, I recognized the International House company logo next to another person’s name at the arrival gate and hopped in her car to the school.

We began classes on Monday and soon were overwhelmed by information. I’d spent the previous month learning what I could about CELTA from YouTube and a couple of books I’d bought on Taobao, but I knew I wasn’t fully prepared. The CELTA is infamous because of the volume of work packed into just four weeks.

By the second day I was undergoing my first observed teaching practice with a group of 16 young Thai men and women – although actually many of them were just 17 years old. I was surprised because it’s a course for learning to teach adults and to me they’re practically children. Fortunately, my class went well, and so did the second one on Thursday.

We’ve had courses on lesson planning, phonology, classroom management, and many other areas of teaching. It’s been valuable, informative, entertaining, but above all exhausting, and we’re only now one quarter of the way through the course, with the two most difficult weeks just around the corner.

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Today, I decided to escape the IH compound and explore Chiang Mai. I stopped off for breakfast at Jasmine’s Restaurant, which is only ten minutes north of the school, and then set off on a long walk to the mountains that lie west of the city.

I visited Wat Doi Kham and then followed country roads through the mountains. The weather flitted between hot and sunny and torrential downpours. I was caught in one particularly bad downpour and never managed to dry out.

The whole walk was about 30km and took eight hours. Sadly, I didn’t see much wildlife and thus didn’t take many photos, but it felt good to escape, to go a day without studying, and to finally get some exercise.