So here it is! A blog post I’ve waited awhile to write. This is exciting! Sharing the realities and lessons, both humorous and heartfelt that I’ve experienced and learned from living and teaching abroad. I’m sure I’ll be adding more in the year to come!
The following is a list of experiences to sum up my first year in Thailand:
1. I’ve had coffee/tea with dogs, cats, in a river, in a giant tree, and even a Hello Kitty cafe
2. Had students tell me EVERYDAY “Thank you for teaching us”
3. Slept in a jungle bunglow and in a real treehouse
4. Eaten spicy Thai peppers
5. Woke up EACH morning to the rooster crowing
6. Listened to toddler tantrums from across the street each night (you can hear EVERYTHING in my 'hood)
7. Had a parasite
8. Visited 5 other countries that I never expected I’d visit
9. Own a motorbike (Something that before I came to Thailand, I was so against because they’re dangerous, still are, but it’s how I get around).
10. Have two separate Thai drivers licenses
11. Eat rice everyday (basically, the same as before I came to Asia...Thai White Jasmine tastes good with almost anything)
12. Learning to live in an expat community. I had no idea what an expat community was before coming to CM. Honestly, it was not what I expected and I struggled with it from the beginning, but realized it’s part of what God is teaching me about my current role in Thailand.
13. Learning the world is not American…obvious to say, but if you’re American think of how many things you say and do each day that are truly American...think of seasons, holidays, places, currency etc. that people from other countries don’t understand or have context for.
14. Teaching children who understand what being wasteful is and who have never seen or experienced snow.
15. Teaching children who have lived in more countries and have had 10 times more travel experiences than I.
16. I’ve never met as many Aussies (AUS) and Kiwis (NZ) as I have since living abroad…I’ve learned so much new lingo from living with a Kiwi.
17. Two words: squatty potty
18. Longest I’ve ever gone without drinking from the tap
19. Had up to three currencies in my wallet at a time. So confusing, all the conversions.
20. Had a friend cut my hair with household scissors
21. Fed giraffes 10 minutes from my house
22. Bathed an elephant and rode through the jungle bareback
23. Ran for Burma and almost died from the smoke pollution and heat
24. Successfully bargained in Thai for a pair of ridiculously expensive Thai pants
25. Picnicking in corn-fields
26. Held insects and other things (scorpions, spiders)
27. Been in numerous wats and temples (some even underground in caves)
28. Trying to learn a language I never dreamed I would
29. I can recite the Thai National Anthem by heart in Thai and know what I’m saying
30. Never thought I’d say…I’m so glad I teach at an International school instead of a Thai national school (very chaotic, unstructured environment)
31. Military time as a norm, Celsius, Metric system-everyday
32. Being able to find where I’m going without using a GPS or phone
33. Driving on the left side of the road with the driver’s side on the right
34. Buying a whole meal worth less than an American dollar
35. Worn a medical mask to protect myself from pollution
I'm sure there is a lot more I can add, but I'll keep it at 35 for now :)
3 Things I've learned from living my first year overseas:
1. Don't set expectations to high. I've had to learn over the past year that my life is NOT always going to be comfortable. I'm not always going to "fit" in and things are often not going to be easy or efficient (as we prefer in Western culture). Challenges are not opportunities to be defeated. They're meant to be opportunities to grow.
2. Live presently. I, like everyone else, definitely don't know what the rest of my life is going to be like. Who knows if or when I'll ever be in that place again. I've learned that even if it's just a routine trip to the market I should savor it! Don't take those moments for granted. AND same goes wherever I am, even at home.
3. This year I've realized more of what I love and who I am than I ever have before and accepting those things without feeling shame or guilt. I can love these things because God has put those yearnings on my heart. He gives me peace to accept the things I cannot change and courage to change the things I can.
As I spend the next 6 weeks in the States, I am aware that I will be confronted with change. Changes not only with people and places, but a self-awareness of where I am in the world and the changes I've allowed to take place in me...even though at times difficult to realize. I can't believe that another school year is over. I can't believe how far I've come (literally). As I re-enter, I'm bracing for changes both good and bad. It will be good to see family and friends, but my current life means living between two worlds.
I want to share the passion, the vision that is on my heart. I'd love to share this with as many of you as I can , in person this month. I want to celebrate what God is doing in my life, the young lives of the students I teach and the experiences which have shaped me this year.
With all that said, I hope you too, will have the passion and vision for whatever God is leading you to do in your life. It doesn't have to mean moving across the world, it just means having the courage to step out of your comfort zone and walk by faith (not easy....I'm preaching to myself here...).
Thank you the many of you who loved me, encouraged me, spurred me on, prayed for me, supported me financially this year. I appreciate, more than you know, YOU cheering me on.
I will return to Chiang Mai, July 14. Until then, I'm looking forward to sharing stories, eating Latin food, sleeping in a hammock and climbing some mountains :)
See you soon!
If you want to make sure to see me, this is your invitation :): email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am also planning some share dinners and will send out e-invites when I figure out exact dates and times.
If you want to catch me at church...
I'll be at NWFC in Arvada June 7, 14
CCI Greeley June 21
Fellowship Greeley June 28, July 5 and July 12