When I told people I was moving to Thailand to teach they had two questions. The first being, do you know anyone that's going with you and the second one being do you know any Thai language. The answer to both of those questions is a hard no. I actually specifically chose Thailand to teach because I did not know anyone. As I mentioned in my last post, two of my best friends from college are teaching through CIEE in Madrid. I thought about going to join them but I realized I wanted to do something more independent than I had ever done before. This was something that I was very committed to and I am still not really sure why. I think there was a big part of myself that just wanted to prove that I could do it. There have been times where I really, really regretted this choice
When I decided that I was moving, thinking about making friends or making connections did not really cross my mind. I figured it would happen but the question of how did not really come to me. Making friends had come relatively easily in the past, like in college it was also sorta forced together because we were all in the same boat and my friends from growing up and I had been close since 7th grade so I do not even remember making those connections. The night before I left, I had my first freak out about not making friends and worrying about not making connections with anyone. I got into the mindset that I was just going to go, do my thing, not make any connections and then come home. In hindsight, not only was this mindsight heavily pessimistic but I was being a bit of a drama queen. Nevertheless, I still boarded my flight and told myself that I needed to give myself that push.
Having to start the trip in quarantine was honestly difficult. I have always struggled with social anxiety and got nervous to put myself out there in the different chats or facebook groups that we were set up with. I am initially a very introverted person until I am a little more comfortable in a group and find my footing. In quarantine, I felt like I was a step behind or constantly worried I was saying the wrong thing. Even once out of quarantine, I was still feeling a little overwhelmed and I do not think that feeling was unique to me. Pretty much everyone on this trip came along but I just was not able to be so quickly comfortable in myself and in the group as I perceived them to be. When I got to Khon Kaen where I teach, I spent the first few days saying that I just wanted to give up and go home. I felt like I was the only one feeling this way (I know that this was likely very very untrue).
All this being said, I do not feel this way anymore. I have found friends and connections, and will write more about the different adventures we have already had in a future post. I do not spend every single night on my own. At times, yes I still feel lonely just like everyone does but not in a way that feels incapacitating. I did push myself way outside of something that I did not think I could do and do something that I thought would be impossible for me. I wanted to write this post, as exposing as it may be to myself to show that it is possible for someone who is not used to putting themselves out there to put themself out there and have fun. I have made connections with people and can now say I did come here with friends. I remind myself that everyone that’s here came here for a reason and we all have that to connect on.
Back to the questions I got before I left. I can now say I have friends! I am not here alone. And as for knowing the Thai language? That is still up for debate.