Finally, after three weeks of living in Thailand I find the time to write my first blog. This should come as a good sign it took me three weeks to find my first free half hour to do some writing. Which brings me to my first misconception...
I will have a lot of downtime when I arrive which will make me feel lonely.
BOY was I wrong! Since the moment I arrived I have been busy with orientation, school, dinners, adventures. One thing I have not had time for is...downtime. I consider this a blessing though as a lack of downtime has made it nearly impossible to get in my own head and feel lonely and miss home. The first few weeks have been a fast paced whirlwind of events and emotions, but not slow. Be ready to strap in for the ride and go.
I’ll be the oldest one there and won’t be able to relate to anyone.
This was a huge fear I had. Coming into this experience at the tender age of 27 I felt...old. Or at least older than the average would be. In all the trainings leading up to Thailand there was this subtle hint of how “great an experience this is for recent graduates” but, what about us not so recent grads? I feared I would be the only one coming here with multiple years of experience and life under my belt and therefore would struggle to relate. However, there are a wide range of people and ages who have commited to this experience. I was one in the same because I was different. Yes, there were a lot of young people at orientation but we all shared the same love and adventure and desire for change. Luckily I was blessed with a group of elderly friends (sorry, had to). We found each other over a shared love of kindles and hence, the KindleClub was born. And just when I thought it couldn’t get better, I met my roomates. We instantly clicked and already are planning a mural of us to be painted in our living room, pending landlord approval. Three weeks in, I can already say I’ve found my Thai soulmates and lifelong friends.
Everyday will be an adventure.
Everyday is an adventure, in a way, but not the adventure you see on instagram posts and post cards. Google “Thailand” and you’ll probably see crystal blue waters and people with a mai pen rai giant smile on their face. And though the whole ‘land of smiles’ saying is legit, life isn’t a beach, life can be a real bitch (sorry mom). We are here to work and live in a foreign town and that sometimes can be really hard. We are far away, out of our comfort zone, and frankly, have no clue what we’re doing. But I think the point is, that’s the adventure. Everyday may not be postcard worthy but its a memory, an opportunity to grow, it’s an adventure. A video of me getting lost walking home from school or a picture of a failed lesson plan with my students confused faces may only get 40 likes on instagram but it’s those memories I’ll cherish. It’s in the ordinary moments we can find the most beauty.
I know what I’m doing and will be a good teacher.
I thought coming into this as an experienced teacher would give me a foot in the door. I thought I’d only need to get used to Thai style living but that the teaching part would be a breeze. For you experienced teachers reading this (I like to pretend my blog is super popular and I have a following) save the packing space and leave this misconception at the airport. Teaching is completely different here. The style, the schools, the expectations ALL different. Think of yourself as a brand new teacher starting from scratch. Actually...worse than a brand new teacher because we have these prior misconceptions tainting our ability to adapt. Now of course a lot of your experience will come in handy, don’t get me wrong, but know that it’s your turn to learn not just to teach. And though everything is different, the one thing that remains the same is the kids. My third graders are wild, chatty, hilarious, annoying, unmotivated, aggravating and freaking adorable all at once. Three weeks in they have my heart and already have me dreading the goodbye. That part of teaching, hasn’t gotten any easier.
I’ll lose weight.
I came to Thailand thinking “with all my extra free time I’ll get so fit, and I won’t be eating junk anymore so I’ll basically be a size zero model by the end.” What no one told you was Thai’s are magic. Thai’s basically live off of rice, noodles, and sugar and yet the majority are small. I can only account this to magic. But for our unaccustomed American bodies, the carbs may pay a toll on us. Turns out I won’t get magically fit in Thailand but may actually have to order no rice sometimes, get the black coffee over the latte, and workout. What a let down.
Learning Thai and getting accustomed to Thai culture will be hard.
False. It’s REALLY hard. No way to sugar coat this one, don’t think even the Thai can add sugar to this one. The language is hard. But keep trying. It’s amazing how much the Thai people want to help and enjoy hearing you try. They love having us here and are patient as we learn, so make sure to put the extra effort in to learn. Even my third graders are helping me. It’s a sweet deal, I teach them and they teach me. Just make sure you triple check if Johnny in the third row who always acts up in class and never listens is the one teaching you new words...maybe check with sweet Sandy in the front row before using the word in public.
I can’t do this without my boyfriend.
One of the hardest parts for me coming to Thailand was leaving my boyfriend, Mike. After years of being together, and living together the past few, I feared I couldn’t do this alone. I was so used to him being a part of my everyday life. He was my one constant so I didn’t know me without him. But the amazing part is, I’ve met me. That sounds cliche but I think this whole experience will be filled with cliches come to life. I’ve come to realize that I am more than capable of standing on my own two feet and I that I don’t actually need Mike at all. Typing those words sound harsh but I mean it in a positive way. The first few weeks have been eye opening for me that I am capable of making my own happiness. For the first time in a while I’ve had the chance to realize I don’t need Mike but that I want him. I’ve had the unique pleasure of finding my independence while also growing my relationship and In the end this experience is as much for us as it is for me. How cool is that?
There’s a lot you’ll come in thinking and expecting from this experience, and it won’t be right. And you’ll adjust and adapt……..and then something else will go wrong. But remember. IT’S OK, mai pen rai. This is an adventure of a lifetime, enjoy it.