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Tales from Thailand is a series that will be written over a course of a year of my daily life in Thailand as I live abroad teaching English. These tales will include the good, the bad, the funny, and sad. I hope they entertain you and encourage you to try living abroad!
Read the first of the series – Surviving Week One
When I pictured myself moving abroad I knew I would be doing it alone (I don’t have a boyfriend to drag here with me!). I pictured myself being one of at least a few teachers at whatever school I was working at, and that we would bond over our confusion of all things Thai (the food, the language, the customs we didn’t understand). But that’s not exactly how things turned out.
Before I get into it, let me share a little bit of my background. I used to be scared of a lot of things. And quite honestly even this year I was still scared of a lot of things. I moved to Toronto when I was 18 years old to go to school and was lucky to be surrounded by people all in the same situation because I lived in a dorm room. But here in Thailand I am not surrounded by people in the same situation, I feel like I’m the only one.In Toronto I was also terrified of so many things. The idea of taking a streetcar for the first time was a daunting task, I didn’t even know where the stops were. I spent my first weekend of college in my dorm alone because all the friends I had just met went home for the long weekend, but I was too far from home. The idea of eating dinner alone brought me to think about how sad it would be, and driving somewhere that I had never been to before was almost enough to send me into a panic attack.
Forget about asking a stranger a question, that was too much for me. Luckily I now can and often talk to complete strangers.
Now, I sit here in my rented apartment in Thailand, some 13,000 km away from home and alone. I don’t know how to speak any Thai, I can barely drive my scooter, and I point at pictures to order my food.I have no friends and I am the only full-time teacher at my school. I’ve been here for 2 weeks. I can count the amount of people I’ve met who can speak English on both my hands, one of those hands is just expats I met the other night.
The daily struggle to want to wake up and explore is too much some days to handle. Those days I stay in bed watching Netflix and see my friends post about warm lattes, comfy sweaters, and Christmas on Facebook. But even those days I have to leave the house because I need food to live.
In my second week I came down with a fever and couldn’t leave my bed all day. Luckily I came prepared with a first aid kit full of medication and I survived off of peanut butter, crackers, and Pocky.
I have a few hours window a day where I can Skype my family or text my friends. I feel sick when I eat because it’s so damn hot here (most restaurants are outside), and I’ve had a few close encounters with bugs and gecko’s that I am still getting used to.
I can hear stray dogs barking and fighting at night, and even walked past what I hoped was dog’s and not human blood one night in my buildings parking lot.
Everyone stares at me and are usually afraid to talk to me, while I’m too afraid to venture out past the small area that I’ve come to know so far.
I’ve cried more days while here than I haven’t, because what am I doing with my life?
But I knew this. I mean, I didn’t know exactly what everything was going to be like, but I knew coming here that I was going to be challenged. I knew that I would have to change my ways, reach out to other’s, and get used to doing things on my own. And sometimes I do focus on all the negative above. But I find myself focusing even more on the positive.Like how I’ve kind of made a Thai friend who works at a restaurant I usually have my lunches at. She was kind enough to give me her number and told me to message her if I had any questions.
I have the best bosses ever who have shown me around the city, taken me to temples, eat out plenty of meals with me (ordering for me because I just have no idea), who helped me find my apartment and have made me feel like I have a family here that I can reach out to if I need to.
I’ve been brave enough to venture to a night market by myself, I’ve ordered food and eaten it even though I don’t even know what exactly I’m looking at. I found an expat bar this weekend and spent the night drinking with very friendly middle-aged men who told me about their first days in Thailand and gave me some tips about the culture.
I met a fellow Canadian (he teaches part-time at my school) and he talked of putting me in touch with some friends and taking Thai lessons together.
I’m not always alone!
I flew across the world to a continent that I had never been to before knowing that it would not be easy. I took the risk moving to a small, historic city with almost no foreigners and being the only full-time teacher. But I know that more will be hired soon.
And if I’ve learned anything in the past two weeks, it’s that positivity is the key to being happy. I have looked at every situation and said “If I don’t try it, I’ll never know if I like it.” Even when I blindly bite into meat that I don’t know of, even when I rode a scooter for the first time and thought that I was the worst at it, even when I stood teaching my first class having no idea what I was doing, I told myself that if I didn’t try, I wouldn’t know if I liked it. There is so much to learn and I am already beyond impressed with how far I’ve gotten myself. I feel as if I’ve grown so much as a person already, and that’s because I’m constantly being challenged and pushed past my limits.
I’ve been told how brave I am, and how independent. I can’t help but smile and laugh because they really have no idea how terrified I was to come here, and how scared I am to do the simplest everyday things. But here I am, now very proud of myself, because I not only made the decision, but I did it. I made the move and I’m living the life that I promised myself I would.
have you moved abroad? What was your first 2 weeks like?