Arriving to Thailand at the beginning of December, had me a little anxious. I was moving in the middle of a very celebrated holiday season in my home country, to a country that did not celebrate my favorite holiday. Before I departed America, my house was full of Christmas decorations, multiple Christmas trees, and gifts purchased and wrapped for my family/friends. Going into the Christmas season in Thailand, I was a bit anxious that I would feel quite homesick.
Unfortunately, because of a Covid outbreak in my town, school was cancelled on Christmas. Typically, Christmas is just a normal day in Thailand- you go to work, take care of errands, and eat a normal dinner. Many schools have a little Christmas celebration, but we were unable to have a party due to the cancellation of school. Many of my fellow OEG teachers posted videos and pictures from their school Christmas party. I absolutely loved seeing all their sweet students dressed up in Christmas outfits and sing popular Christmas songs.
Although students were not able to come, our school hosted a Christmas party for the staff. I was so excited to have a sense of normalcy to celebrate a holiday that was so important to me. The Filipino teachers on campus hosted a party which included games, traditional Filipino food, and some of the best karaoke I've had the chance to experience. I haven't laughed that hard in a very long time and it was exactly what I needed to distract me from feeling homesick.
On Christmas day, a few of the South African teachers invited us to have a Braai. I had never experienced a Braai so I had no idea what to expect. I quickly learned that a Braai is similar to a BBQ back home except you grill multiple courses over a long period of time. We had a 5-course meal which included grilled mushrooms, bacon, chicken wings, grilled pork, followed by a popular sandwich. There were about 7 teachers and we spent hours laughing and playing games in between courses. I finished off the night with a few phone calls to family and friends in Texas to wish them a merry Christmas! I was expecting to be sad during Christmas time, but having the opportunity to celebrate in very different ways, left me feeling very thankful.
For New Year’s, a few teachers from my school and I escaped our city and made our way down south to a beach town called Hua Hin. We spent the days hanging out on the beach and the nights at various night markets and restaurants. On NYE, we made our way to the beach, where we enjoyed a few cocktails, shot off fireworks, and watched fireworks over the ocean. This NYE was by far, one of the most fun NYE I have ever experienced! Ringing in the New Year with new friends, in a new country, and on the beach was something I will remember forever.
Although the holidays were spent away from family, I kept thinking to myself, "Wow! I can't believe this is my life now." I've spent many moments just in awe. It is just a surreal feeling knowing that I spent so many months dreaming about this moment and I'm finally living it.