At the end of October in 2015 I hauled my big pack across the world to settle down in Thailand for a year. I got a job teaching English before I came over and got an apartment the day after I arrived in a small city in lower northern Thailand, called Phitsanulok.
I moved to Thailand extremely hopeful, and definitely nervous. I was the first full-time English teacher at the language school where I work, but was promised a second and third teacher would be coming soon.
The food is delicious, and I learned to ride a scooter about 2 weeks after arriving. I was excited to explore, to learn a new language, to work with children, and to meet new friends who could relate with my crazy idea to move abroad.
But very quickly my hopeful attitude towards all the good things I wanted to happen changed. Now I’m no longer hopeful and am just down right sad, bored, homesick, and not loving life. (Those promised teacher’s? Still not here.)
Do I need to be loving life every second? No. But I need to be loving some part of my life enough to make me stay here. And the truth is that there is nothing I love enough to stay here.
A short two and a half months after I moved myself across the world I have decided to leave, and go right back to where I came from. I’m going home without traveling through Southeast Asia first, or to Australia like I thought I would. I’m going back to cold, snowy Canada to live with my parents (and I’m more than happy to).
Before I left Canada I told myself I would give it a full three months before I made a decision, to truly get a feel for the city, culture, and job. But I think I got a feel of it a lot faster than I expected and I knew my answer sooner.
The truth is that moving abroad is not easy. It’s not all fun and games and discovering new things. Yes, those are parts of moving abroad, but anyone who has moved abroad will tell you that it’s terrifying, exciting, thrilling, and nerve-wracking all at the same time. It’s a whirlwind of emotions everyday.
I like Thailand, I really do. But living here has me craving more things from home than things I like here.
I live in a small city with very few foreigners, tourists or travellers rarely pass through here and when they do that’s all they do, is pass through. And I know that looking for foreigners is not the way to go, but in a city where so few Thai people speak English I found myself heading for spots where I could find some friendly faces that spoke more than my awkward sign language and broken English to communicate.
Many Thais are scared of me, because I’m a farang, which made it all the more difficult to find people to communicate with. The ones that could talk English were so nervous to that I didn’t know who they were because they’d never speak.
On top of that majority of the foreigners here are middle-aged men who have Thai wives, who are all very friendly, but not exactly a crowd I thought I would be spending my year with. And my teaching assistant’s English is so weak that our conversations usually involve me miming, or her showing me pictures of her travels.
So with a lack of friends (believe me I made an effort to find some) I was lonely, spending my days scrolling through Facebook and Instagram looking at pictures of other travel bloggers explore beautiful cities while I sit here day-dreaming of where to go next.
And with little communication I found myself going crazy. Majority of the people I talk to are under the age of 7 as I teach mostly kindergarten. The number of times I’ve said all the colours, and counted to ten…
Not to mention that this city is an hour away from anything “major.” Sukhothai is the closest city, but nothing is easy to get to. Public transportation? Forget it. No car or scooter? You’re getting no where even just in the city. So even exploring nearby areas is challenging.
I also didn’t love my job. I thought teaching would be more fun, but I found myself more disappointed than anything. Frustrated that I had to repeat the same thing for the millionth time, and losing my voice because I spent most of my classes yelling over screaming children.
I was told that I just had bad luck, that I ended up at a school that didn’t show me the real kids in Thailand that are enjoyable to teach. I was told that Chiang Mai or another more touristy city would be better.
I agreed, but still I wanted to leave.
With all the “bad luck” that I’ve had I’m a little turned off of Thailand. I still have every desire to travel here, but living here is not my thing.
Are these all excuses for me to leave? Maybe that’s what you think, maybe you think I didn’t give it enough time, or that I didn’t explore or try enough. Did I give it my absolute all? No. I could have tried a little more or explored a little further.
But I was tired of everyday being so challenging that I wanted to quit. And quitting is not the end of the world.
I knew that staying here would only make me more unhappy, and I know that the moment I decided to go home was the moment that I started feeling better. I stopped crying everyday over the smallest of things like thinking of my family or getting frustrated from driving on streets with no rules that anyone actually follows.
No, there is nothing wrong with Thailand or the school I work at. It had everything to do with me. We weren’t the right fit, and I’m not going to sit around any longer telling myself that only time will help. I know what makes me happy, and right now I now that only home will make me happy.
Did I find all of the answers I wanted to while living here? Absolutely not. I definitely set my exceptions for self discovery a little too high. But I sure as hell learned a lot about myself in a short time that I never would have learned at home.
I have zero regrets about my choice to move here or move home, and I believe that I’m leaving this situation a better, stronger, more confident and caring individual. I even squeezed in a vacation to Phuket (no regrets ever when it involves a beach).
I was told that everyone loved Thailand, that everyone who moved here to teach English had the time of their life. That’s great, but it isn’t for me. And listening to what everyone else had to say made me hopeful, but it doesn’t help change the situation I’m in here.
Moving abroad is not for everyone, but I like to believe that it is for me. Now that I know Thailand wasn’t the right place maybe I’ll make a smarter choice next time. Australia anyone?