Shrewsbury School

A Week in the Life of Carys Gittins (EDH 2010-2012), from Shrewsbury International School, Bangkok

Wednesday 6 March 2013

We asked Carys for her 'Week in the Life' to hear a bit about our International School in Bangkok, where she is working as a Music 'Gapper',along with Chris Hardman (SH 2007-2012).  Carys will be continuing her studies in September, when she starts at the Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Carys Gittins and Chris Hardman at Shrewsbury International Bangkok

An early start greeted me as this was the week where the teacher who I usually work with, Stewart McClenaghan, was away in London and as a result Christopher and I were teaching all of his classes to sing the Book Week song and others all week. As well as an early 7.15 staff meeting, preparation for classes was needed so it was six o’clock when we were out of the door where a taxi was waiting patiently. It was dark. Leaves were blowing along the empty playground. The school was as I'd never seen it before. The rest of the day consisted of dancing around the class room and singing very loudly to a revamped book related version of 'I've got a feeling' by Black Eyed Peas and drinking coffee with a quick lunch and a quick choir practice. After the school day was over it was time for the full choir to rehearse for Tuesday morning's assembly. After a long day at work I was back at the apartments and thought a gym session was in need. Fifteen minutes on the treadmill and it was most definitely time to stop. Then came the difficult decision of what to have for tea that night. After a long, hard think we came to the conclusion that we were in need of 'The Shack' which is a space on the pavement with tarpaulin over top and an outdoor kitchen by the road. The food is some of the best in Bangkok and the cheapest I've ever had for such a big and tasty meal. 

Tuesday morning and it was important to be in school early again to be there in time for a choir run-though before the Senior School assembly. Alarm was set for 5.30am but this had to be the first day in the whole time I've been here that I slept through it. I woke up in a panic as it was an hour and a half after I was scheduled to wake. In less than five minutes I was out of the building and in a taxi - a record breaker! I made it in time with two minutes to spare and ten missed calls off Chris who was in choir wandering if I was ever going to turn up. The choir sang well and I was back to the office with some photocopying and other jobs looming over me. The rest of the day was similar to Monday with some more classes but an earlier finish. A slightly longer run on the treadmill was achieved this afternoon before the daily decision of what to have for tea. 

Wednesday was somewhat a less hectic day with only one class to teach so I managed to catch up with my flute practising which was falling behind schedule. With the teaching of the songs for Book Week and International Day in full swing, it was very difficult to not sing them in the office. We decided that whenever one of us would sing one of the class songs in the office we had to put ten Thai Baht in the chocolate fund (let’s just say we might put on weight next week!).  The intermediate recital was after school today and so I went along to watch. The talent that was presented in such a young age group was incredible. The performers were mostly playing strings and piano and were aged around six to twelve and there were even accompanists who were members of the prep school.  

Carys performing at Birmingham Town Hall in March 2012

Thursday was the busiest day of the week with five lessons to teach out of six. However, I had a big shock after walking up four sets of stairs up to the usually freezing cold music department where I wasn’t met with a cold rush of air when opening the door. There was a power cut. The air con had failed. The day had just become ten times more stressful than it should have been!  We were rescued by the technicians and we finally cooled down. Chris and I decided to bribe the children to be quiet with some games to play at the end of the lesson, mostly consisting of ‘who stole my chickens and my hens’ which they went crazy over and which Chris and I really enjoyed too!  We got home around four in the afternoon and accidently fell asleep straight away and woke up at 7pm! I think it showed how tiring teaching really is. 

On Friday we had to lead the singing in the Book Week Assembly. It went terribly wrong with Powerpoint and the slides, but we did quite well to keep everyone going on a big stage and some very confused people. With the stress over we returned to our class room to teach some more singing to the year four, five and sixes. That evening we ventured out of our area to go to a famous German restaurant but after a hectic week we didn’t stay out for long. The week was not over yet. We had to go to school for 7.30am Saturday morning to do the very important job of time keeping for the internal swim trials which felt like it went on forever. The rest of the day consisted of lots of sleeping and film watching for a total relax. Sunday was also very chilled. After a lie in I went outside to the ‘Chicken Woman’ who cooks tender chicken with rice and sauces on a stand on the side of the road which is my substitute for a roast dinner. It was amazing and fuelled me for the rest of the day. I then spent some time at the big local shopping plaza while it rained and returned while it was clear. It was quite nice when it rained as it reminded us all of home for a brief moment! I then ‘skyped’ my family and some friends and had a rejuvenating face mask before having an early night and the week started again. 

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