So many people have been asking me about what its like living here and I’ve just been so busy living here that I haven’t had time to answer all their questions! So I’ve decided to answer them all in one blog post. This is what an average day looks like in Bhutan:
Wake Up 06:30
I set my alarm for this time every morning - I quickly get up to turn the water heater on and then get back into bed for another 20 minutes while the water heats up. I fill a bucket of water the night before and then put an electric coil into the water which heats it up perfectly. This was really scary at first but now the thought of being electrocuted doesn't even cross my mind. Once the water is heated I use a smaller bucket to scoop up water and pour it over myself, soaping up between scoops. There is a drain on the floor so the water goes everywhere and runs out the hole. The bathroom floor is always wet here and its just become a normal thing. Our squat toilet does not flush so you use another bucket to pour water down the hole when you use it - basically a manual flushing system.
It is currently winter in Bhutan but in our village it already feels super warm. This is really worrying because if I’m hot now, what is summer going to be like? I’m really grateful at the moment for the warmth because bucket bathing and walking to school in the mornings isn't painfully freezing like some of the other places in Bhutan. I then have to put on my kira (the Bhutanese national dress). I wear this to school everyday and everyone is really impressed that I am able to put it on myself! Sometimes the kids will have to fix me at school but they love doing it so I don’t mind. The hardest part of the kira is putting on the safety pins that hold the top closed and together. I’m finally able to do it myself without Dylan’s help. I guess I should admit that I have the best husband in the entire world because while I’m getting ready for school he makes breakfast. He recently went away for a week and I had to cook and fend for myself - I much prefer having him at home! We usually eat oatmeal or eggs for breakfast. There has been no fruit in Rangjung because of winter but hopefully we will get some soon. I quickly eat because I’m normally running late after battling with the kira or my knotted hair.
We then begin our walk to school. There are two routes and we’ve recently found that the one that the kids take is far quicker. This takes us through the rice fields which will be too muddy in the monsoon but for now its absolutely perfect. I think Dylan is getting sick of me saying every single morning as we weave our way through the fields “oh my god, we are actually walking to school right now and look at whats around us”. We walk past horses, cows and all the school children. Whenever the children see us, they stop and bow “Good morning, Madam! Good morning, Sir!”. I don’t think I’m used to it yet, and I hope I never will be!
My School Day
I teach English as a subject to Class 3, 4 and 5. When I first got to the school they really wanted me to take the higher grades but I was adamant on taking the lower ones because its what I’m trained in. I so get why they wanted me to take the older children now! The level of English here is really poor and most of the little children had no idea what I was saying on the first day, but now they are pretty used to my accent and we both love each other. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the children. I always do, in my own country as well - but here I feel they need it more and I all I do is give. I teach for half the day (my periods are spread out) and then have the rest off for planning. This concept is totally foreign to me but I love it. Everything is so relaxed and I feel like I’m thriving here because there is no pressure from the school. With that said I am still putting in so much effort, I work the whole day and then still go home and do more. In Bhutan I feel that its more because I want to than have to though.
The children really struggle to speak in English and the only way I’ve been able to get through to them is by letting them ask me questions - they are so curious that they don't care that they actually have to speak English! I started singing English songs the other day and I’ve never seen children so excited in my entire life. Its so weird because if I had sang with Grade 5s back home they probably would have laughed at me but here its all they want to do. There is no art or dance or singing in the school so when they are given the opportunity they just love it more than anything. I was asked to take an art club at the school and 40 kids signed up - I was honestly dreading it so much because I thought it was going to be totally chaotic. But all the kids want to do is draw and they just sat quietly and focused on their artworks for the entire time. They just want to be creative and its so amazing to watch children be given an opportunity when they never are. We get an hour lunch everyday and all the teachers eat together. We have to bring a “packed lunch” of curry and rice. We all put all of the curries in the middle of the table and share it out. One of the other teachers came to our house when I first got to the school to teach me how to make Kewa Datsi (potato and cheese curry). We now make it every day for lunch and dinner! School ends at around 4pm and one of the teachers normally drives me home because I have too much to carry. The children have a long day at school compared to back home and they are still playing sport after I leave. We also teach Monday to Saturday (Saturday is a half day) so I basically live at school.
The first thing I do when I get home is change into comfortable clothes, even the Bhutanese do this when they get home. If I’m honest, once I get home I do some more work and am usually making posters and charts until 5:30. I probably don't have to do this and most of the other teachers think I’m crazy for always working but I’ve always been this way, even in my own country! I love my job and give it my everything. I then start preparing dinner, not surprisingly - Kewa Datsi. I also have to put the rice cooker on and the rice cooks while I chop and cook the curry. While I am cooking I have water boiling in the bathroom. I use half of it to wash the dishes and the other half stands throughout the night to cool down. In the morning I pour the water through our water filter to drink and cook with. We cant drink any of the water here because of Typhoid so everything is boiled and filtered. Dylan and I then eat our dinner and watch series or read until bed time. We also get invited out A LOT. We are always eating and drinking at Bhutanese households. I’ve never drank so much alcohol in my life and it is literally impossible to say no, I will usually try about ten times and still end up with a mug full of chunky (fermented rice wine) at the end of it. I’m so happy though because we really are experiencing this culture first hand. I feel grateful for how quickly I have adjusted and really feel that I have my new friends to thank for it! The staff and my principal are just so kind and friendly - they made me feel right at home on the first day.
Right now I love eating Kewa Datsi, drinking large amounts of naja (milk tea), being extra social, walking everywhere I need to go and of course, I love teaching these precious children!