First things first, my name is Megan, or as they like to call me here in the land of smiles, Teacher Meg! I am from upstate New York but this October, I decided to pack my bags to see more of what this world has to offer me. I have always known that traveling and experiencing new cultures was something that I was interested in, and with the covid-19 pandemic hitting during my freshman year of college, those plans to travel were delayed until after graduation. I landed on Thailand as my destination simply because it was foreign to me. I had traveled to Europe before and knew in my heart that it was time to see more.
When I first arrived here, I was welcomed by so many people from the CIEE/OEG family. I met people who are doing the same thing that I am and we got to spend so much time together learning about Thailand and all it has to offer. OEG puts on an incredible orientation schedule filled with Thai language, history, cooking classes, boxing and dancing, and even an excursion to the Grand Palace.
The bonds you will make during this short time in orientation are ones that you will hold onto for a long time. It creates a support system that I know I wouldn’t have had without this program. It was very difficult leaving those people to branch off to our own schools in their own parts of the country, but alas, that is what we signed up for!
Arriving at my school is when reality hit. I wasn’t in a hotel anymore with a bunch of the friends I had made. I was alone in my own apartment, for the first time ever in life. Most people would maybe try living alone in their home country first, but hey, go big or go home right?
Don’t be fooled, this is no vacation. Living in a new country gives you way more of a cultural experience than just visiting somewhere for Spring break. The school days here in Thailand are long, hard, and hot which is a huge adjustment that you really can’t understand until being here. That being said, even though it is the beginning of my journey, it has already been so rewarding and I know it will continue to be.
The Roller Coaster
When my flight landed in Thailand, I could already tell that this was going to be a journey full of ups and downs. I like to compare it to a big roller coaster; you think it is going to be so fun before getting on the ride, that you don’t really think about the scary parts. I thought going to Thailand was going to just be fun, fun, fun … boy was I wrong.
Of course it is fun, going to see another part of the world that you’ve never seen before, but the truth is that it is a huge adjustment. Culture shock is so real, and all that I had ever known had to be set aside for a completely different lifestyle. Three things that I like to follow personally: structure, organization, and communication, are totally altered here in Thailand. If you are like me, give yourself some grace with this.
With that being said, learning their way of life in just a couple of days has given me a completely different outlook on the world around me. Things aren’t always going to go according to plan, and that’s okay. Things will be thrown at you, and that’s okay. Some moments will be good and some moments will be bad, and that’s okay. When I am having some bad moments, I try to think with no worries, or “mai pen rai.” I truly believe that is the mindset you have to have to fulfill you on this journey.