I have now been in Thailand for three months. Wow, time flies. It feels like I was just in orientation yesterday and now I am over half way done with my term. Each month I am here, I become more and more comfortable and feel closer to a local - or at least more familiar than a tourist.
I live in the city of Nan which is the capital of the Nan province and resides in northern thailand. It is a rural town, which has been a nice change of pace. The slow living allows you to stop and be more present and intentional - which is a good balance to traveling on weekends/breaks. Though I have been here a few months, I still find hidden gems and new things to do every week.
When I first arrived, things went by pretty quickly (I arrived on a Sunday and started teaching that Monday) and I am now able to look back and see how I was able to feel more at home in Nan. I was lucky enough to have some Thai teachers show me around and help me get acquainted. Here are a few things I think can help:
- Meet the locals and other foreigners
Like i mentioned, some of the Thai teachers have been so welcoming with showing me around and explaining things to me. From things like showing me where to shop and where to eat, to taking me to festivals and explaining Thai customs. There is so much to learn and having someone who knows everything definitely comes in handy!
At my school, there is also an Australian teacher, an English teacher and a Filipino teacher - all who have been so helpful to me as they've been here for multiple semesters/years. From my OEG program, there are two teachers in my town and two others in my province (an hour away). It is nice to always have someone to turn to who knows what you are going through!
- Establish a semi-regular routine
Having a routine has really helped me feel more settled here. I am not too rigid on it, but I always have a loose idea of what my week will look like. It is something like this:
- Muay Thai twice a week: I took up Thai boxing as a way to get regular exercise into my week. I go Wednesdays and Thursdays and (usually) look forward to it!
- Weekly cafe dates: at least once a week, me and my teacher friends go to a cafe - usually a different one each time cause there are so many! We will lesson plan, plan things for the upcoming weekend or just chat
- Tasty World Thursday's: There is plenty of Thai food to eat all day everyday, but every once in a whil, it is nice to have comfort food. Tasty World is a restuarant that has burgers, hot dogs, tacos, etc. and after discovering it, we go every week and have designated Thursday as that day!
- Movie and dinner night: On weekends where we stay in Nan, we will have a night (saturday or sunday) where we will cook dinner and watch a movie. It is nice to cook every once in a while, I forgot how much I missed it!
- Continue to explore your town and province
There is always more to see around you! Take advantage of people who have been in the area longer than you or google maps to get ideas. Not too long ago, I went to Pua (another city in Nan) it was only an hour away and there was so much to do and see that I did not know about. I got to see another side of Nan and it made me appreciate it more. Get out there and start exploring, you might be suprised by what you find!
- Embrace the culture
You are a foreigner and you will not know everything. Try to stray away from comparing everything to your home country. You are here to experince a new way of life and that means trying and embracing new things! Thailand has a very go with the flow way of life and it has honestly been a struggle to shift towards that mindset. I am a planner and like to know what is going on and what I need to do. That is not how it works around here. Embrace the unknown.
"Mai Pen Rai"