Friday, June 25, 2010

Working at BUIC - an overview

Students are the same everywhere. Are they? Of course there are some similarities as we are talking about Generation Y: they're craving attention in the forms of feedback and guidance after they feel comfortable enough to deal with a new teacher. "Generation Y is willing to trade high pay for fewer billable hours, flexible schedules and a better work/life balance" means in their student days that everything should be enterteining and easy and half-readymade by teacher, and they're living in accordance with their personal schedules, not with the official school timetable. In a way it's the same in Finland too, but Finnish student culture is a bit more punctual.

Added to this, the polychronic concept of time typical for Asian people, we punctual Finnish ones are in serious troubles - easily feeling offended because people do not respect your time and presence the way we are used to. Well, I have tried to change my attitude to cope with this - and pretty well succeeded so far.

Anyway, sometimes it is really frustrating to notice that there is only one or a few students present in the beginning of lecture. Then the others come and go as they wish, and sometimes even the whole group happens to be in class. I do not use such methods as locking the doors because it doesn't suit my democratic and on-demand coaching ideology.

In general, I enjoy my work here at BUIC really much - the students are lovely, and talkative. This experience is a good opportunity for me to learn several things about intercultural communication in practice!

to be continued...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's hard to be on a holiday-like break - and it's great to be home!

I am more tired than before the Midterm Break - too much fresh air, too much sleeping in Hua Hin. Okey, that's a joke - I was just going to get bored in Hua Hin but otherwise I'm refreshed.

Now I'm back at work and it's Midsummer Eve in Finland. Here there is not a faintest idea for that kind of festivities which is only positive thing: I've never ever been a big fan of Finnish Midsummer traditions of boozing heavily somewhere in remote wilderness by a lake or at some overcrowded festival.

Hua Hin is a small tourist resort town, and after my 5 days' stay I can say: "been there, seen that" but no need to go back there. Somebody told me that Hua Hin is kind of a miniature of Pattaya. Anyway, it was an adequate choice for my relaxing and resting purposes. Night Market offered some aromatic and aesthetic experiences, more visual ones for me, though. For example these roasted bugs and worms are all too much for my not so madventurous taste. The more traditional ones instead make me enjoy Thailand by eating.


Hua Hin does not offer too much cultural experiences. I was lucky to stay there during the Hua Hin Jazzfestival, even though it was nothing compared to Pori Jazz (which is on the other hand too commercial and too overcrowded nowadays) by the list of performing artists - they're not worldwide famous but it did not impede the mood because jazz IS jazz.

A short visit to Chopstick Mountain and a monastery there, and approaching the hill from the beach seeing a 20 m high Buddha statue, facing seaward, standing amongst some rocks at the foot of the hill were the highlights. That was the very certain day not having the camera with me.

I decided to take a train back to Bangkok. A 2nd class AC ticket was over twice the bus fare. Hua Hin Railway Station is acclaimed as Thailand's most beautiful train station, and I had plenty of time to scrutinize it as the special express train of mine was over two hours late. The train journey took over 4 hours, and the Not So Very Special Express Train consisted of two cars and was more like a tram. I was the only Farang and people, not even the staff, did not speak English. Anyway, there was pretty cool in the car and I finally had a safe journey.

It was just wonderful to come home! And have a cold shower before hugging the pillows.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hua Hin is fresh and tiny compared to BKK

I took an "Air Conditioned" bus from the Southern Bus Station. Everything just happened: somebody sold me a ticket and somebody else took me to right bus at 8.45 as the deaparture was scheduled to be at 8.30. Air conditioning in this certain bus was not an issue, but the blue curtains were far more efficient against the sunshine. Anyway, it cost only 150 baht's and took a bit more than 3 hrs. Reasonable by all means.

In Hua Hin a friendly taxi driver offered to drive me to the hotel from the bus stop - well, thanks a lot! The hotel was just round the corner and the taxi driver did not switch his taxi meter on, neither did I ask for the cost... so I had to pay 100 baht's for two minutes ride! Stupid me!
I booked hotel Citin Loft on-line in advance, and fortunately it really reminds a lot of the descpriptions and photos on their web sites. Here are my own shots.

A cloudy day, so, I just walked around in Hua Hin, had late lunch and finally tested swimming pool above - which happens to be on the top of this hotel. Right now I'll pop in to Hua Hin Jazz Festival for a while.
Meet you here soon!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Midterm Exam activities mean that I'm free for a few days

I´m going to take this opportunity of not being necessarily present in the office by having a mini-vacation in Hua Hin. Further information with documentary pics will be delivered through this channel.

BTW, I've noticed that I miss my IBS (Innovative Business Something ;) ) students a lot! I am going to organize one afternoon in the beginning of September to have kind of a Back to IBSness afternoon at my home.

Keep in touch - I might have something to report on...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Shopping is a demanding activity - I am not good at shopping!

Today I spent hours and hours trying to be a decent shopper. It is something that just isn't natural way of spending time for me. The biggest obstacle today was that there is SO much everything - items to purchase and crowds of co-shoppers - that I got tired in less than an hour. My eyes are literally aching because of all those colourful lay-outs of shops and boutiques one after another.


I had a plan to buy some necessities like a mouse rag and a towel, but I forgot everything planned as soon as I entered the MBK Shopping Center. The result is that I've no mouse rag nor towel, but I'm a proud owner of a Magic Mouse for my pretty new MacBook Pro. In addition to that cute and handy mouse I bought some books: one of them is "ACHAN - A year of teaching in Thailand" by Elayne Clift, who is writing about her year teaching at a university in Chiang Mai sharing her pleasures and pitfalls of living in a new culture. I recognize some of her feelings even now.

According to the book in the center it takes only 5 weeks to become a Buddha - how come?? Did not buy that one, yet.

What it comes to my intentions to buy couple of new dresses to wear at work, it was an utterly frustrating intention: all the reasonably priced ones were either too tiny for me or I was too robust to fit in them - I happen to be a solid Finnish womantype streight from the woods, strong enough to fight with a bear, haha, and the local dresses are not designed for my type of women.

This has been SO tiresome weekend with all these shopping activities that tomorrow I'll certainly have a lazy day by the swimming pool.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Feeling lonely?

No, not at all. Missing only a few things.. or merely like some of the closest people over there. And every now and then some of my colleagues to share these experiences. But otherwise, I am so oriented to this summer session at BU that I process these issues even when I'm sleeping. Intensive period to come, and I'm happy for the fact that this is the first time for eight years when I can concentrate in one and certain job for a while- with my heart and soul.

Today I had an intensive shopping center visit to The Emporium. I did not feel at home at all! Anyway, some sterile - but impressive - visual experiments I had - in addition to buing my favourite perfume...

Tomorrow I'll continue my shopping experiments in BKK, in order to find some dresses to wear at work. So, hard work to come even tomorrow.

PS. No redwine for 16 days...OMG!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Grand Opening Ceremony for the Freshmen impressed me!

I had an opportunity to attend the Freshmen's Grand Opening Ceremony near Rangsit Campus as a VIP guest (another morning for demanding gymnastic exercises to dress up the black dress...).  Unfortunately I forgot the camera at home. Anyway, it probably wouldn't have been appropriate to snap photos while sitting on the stage with all the vice precidents of BU.

Buddhistic ceremonies were touching, as everything else too, though I did not understand the words - but as we are here in a high context culture, everything else means more that just words. Anyway, it was quite an experience as its whole, but especially the moment when the Freshmen came to me (and other supervisors) and we bound a white ribbon on their wrists wishing them good luck in their studies and life. After the ceremony I had a fancy lunch time with Dr. Siriwan and The President Dr. Mathana and the other executives of BU.

Once again I have a feeling that I'm lucky and priviledged to be here.

                                           (Photo: Dr. Siriwan)

Bye the way, the traditional Thai greeting, "waii",  is a very beautiful one: I demand that we'll start greeting like that at SAMK too, to bring some aesthetics and at least some formal respect for each other in our everyday life!

Now it'll be time for shopping:  Designing 120  multiple choice questions with 4 reasonable answering alternatives for each (= 480 choices!) for midterm exams was such a heavy duty that I really have earned some pampering...
I'll be back in this blogging business during the weekend in case internet connections allow me to.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Swelter of the First Working Week at BUIC

It is Saturday (again!) and fortunately I'm not jet-lagged anymore. I have managed to work in the heat of Bangkok for one working week now. A wise way of standing with everyday life is probably to hasten slowly and to play it cool. To keep cool is a mission impossible outside when the temperature is around +40 C, that's what I really experienced yesterday when I joined in the Freshmen's Ice-breaking group activity day at Siam Park City Amusement Park. My face turned to bright red, which actually goes pretty well with BUIC's grey poloshirt...

Everything was big at the park, as you can see in the pictures: even the carousel was a double-decker! Seven teams of 30 students each had several team activities in the heat but they did it really well and with newbies' enthusiasm.

My working week included conducting two courses two times per week, meeting colleagues and trying to get sense of the local grading system. Attending the opening ceremony of the Freshmen was an experience too! Before the opening ceremony I had a real pleasure to meet the President of BU, a charming lady Dr. Mathana Santiwat. I have never before walked in a cavalcade in step with colleagues up on the stage accompanied with energizing music - it was hilarious!  Another story was to get dressed up for that formal occasion: the zipper on the back of my black dress forced me to breathtaking gymnastic exercises.

Contrary to the information I got from my colleagues about dress code, times have changed: overall dress code is more informal than it used to be even two years ago, and no tights needed! Anyway, I always check from the BU colleagues what would be appropriate to dress.

Some slight problems has occurred as well in addition to getting along pretty well. My PC is totally confused with changing networks and Mac refuses to get connected to wireless after the first and so far the only successful attempt. Another annoying phenomenon is that students tend to come to classes according to their own concept of time, as Kimmo had warned me in advance, and it is to say: hopelessly late or never.

Otherwise everything is just fine! Tomorrow I'm going to explore the used-to-be riotish action area.

Let's keep connected, and, even interconnected!

Lovely Ms Jiab, more formally A. Somjai,  is the one who makes everything happen! My great support at work - dozens of warm thanks to her!