As I sit on the last leg of my journey back to America, I have been able to reflect a lot on my experience in Thailand. I left Thailand sad, anxious, but most of all, I was proud of myself.
I had all these amazing plans to travel and explore the country, but Covid prevented many of my travel plans. Even though I was not able to travel as much as I hoped, teaching in Thailand changed me as a person. I knew I changed lives at school and the community around me, but I’m leaving Thailand such a better person. I had no idea I would grow as much as I did. Living abroad is not easy and it takes a toll on you, mentally and emotionally. Some days were really difficult and it was hard for my family and friends to understand because they’ve never lived abroad. Easy tasks such as going to the grocery store or ordering food is much more challenging in a country with a completely different language. I experienced frustration so many days because simple tasks were much more difficult. I experienced so many awkward moments and I knew everyone around me was staring. At first, I was embarrassed because I knew I stood out and I was so afraid to look dumb but by the end of my experience, I learned to embrace it and just laugh it off. I became more confident doing many things alone- eating, grocery shopping, and taking public transportation.
I made so many mistakes in my daily life. I would walk the wrong way to my destination, forget to weigh my vegetables before checkout, pronounce words wrong, and buy the wrong things at the store. At first, I was frustrated but I learned to just laugh it off and try again the next day. It’s important to laugh it off and give yourself grace because if not, you will be frustrated every day.
As I sit here and reflect, I’m just so proud of myself. Living abroad, especially in a pandemic, isn’t easy and there were many days that it would have been so much easier to just give up and go home to what was comfortable. But I did it and I did it in the middle of a pandemic.
I’ve learned to find joy even on the most difficult days. I’ve learned to ask for help from those around me. I’ve learned to give myself grace. And I’ve learned to just go with the flow and see where life takes you.
If you are ever considering teaching abroad, you ABSOLUTELY need to do it. It’s scary but so worth it. I cannot believe how much I have changed in the last 10 months that I lived in Thailand. I will always be so incredibly thankful for this opportunity. Moving to Thailand has given me such confidence and brought so much joy and happiness. Life in Thailand was nothing like I had expected but I took away so much more than I expected and i’m excited to see what my next adventure will be.