I had such high hopes for my blogging while in Thailand. Alas, I got caught up and overwhelmed by the teaching, the traveling, and the heat. I hope to remedy this by adding stories from my personal journal retrospectively.
Now as things stand I am home stateside, just in time for the government to “reopen” after its little “sorry we’re closed” episode. It’s weird.
I was gone for only a little more than five months, yet it was one of those experiences that both felt infinitely longer and incredibly short at the same time. There were days where three more months, or even three more weeks felt like a lifetime with no foreseeable end. Then there were those days where it was if I had only just gotten there. Everyone’s familiar with this sort of sensation. There’s also a feeling of familiar strangeness. Everything is innately recognizable, generally well-known, yet oddly foreign as well. It’s strange coming home and seeing so many people who look like me, and everyone speaking in a language I completely understand. However, it is nice being able to read again. If I feel this odd coming back to my home town after only half a year, I can’t imagine how weird it must be for those who stay away longer.
Also, it’s cold. I briefly stopped over in New Zealand before coming home, where it was also cold. Compared to Southeast Asia, even the transitional seasons of NZ and the American Midwest felt like absolute winter. Going into Wellington I didn’t even have appropriate clothes with me to wear for the weather. Luckily I had brought the one pair of jeans I owned anymore with me from Thailand, so I wasn’t doomed to walk around in shorts and skirts. Unfortunately I had no suitable tops. My backpack was full of t-shirts and tanks, which frankly just did not cut it. Don’t get me wrong, Thailand was still a little too hot for me, but I hadn’t realized quite how much I’d acclimated to the weather. So, even though I only had ten days in Kiwi-land before home, I broke down and bought a fleece jacket and some leggings to help keep me warm. The jacket was a nice little zip-up thing from the local discount warehouse in high-visibility neon orange. I actually matched the construction workers’ and security guards work vests. Several people I met made comments about how they’d need to fetch their sunglasses in order to strand next to me, or how no one would ever lose me. Yes, I was quite bright, but I could care less about any teasing. If I ever went missing, someone would remember seeing me in the bright jacket. Plus, I was much warmer and happier.
My last week s in my school in my small Thai town in Isaan I debated heavily what my next move should be. Should I stay on for the second semester? Should I try to switch to a new town but stay in Thailand? Where should I go next? What should I do next? The co-teachers in my school and my program enthusiastically encouraged me to stay. I had a gut feeling, however, that it was time to try something a little newer. The final week at school, however, I discovered that many of students actually liked me! I hadn’t realized they’d been so fond of me, until they were giving me roses (a Thai tradition), bouquets, other little trinkets. I got a hand-knit little pouch from one student. Another class had brought me a huge array of fake flowers, and a new cover for my iPhone. They’d also written me a couple notes, with phrases like ‘I love Teacher’ ‘I miss teacher’ ‘Do not forget me.’ A few of them wrote down one of our inside jokes about going IN the toilet versus TO the toilet. Another class made me a beautiful big card with a minion ( I love minions) and drawings of all the kids in the class colored on the front. Then they all signed it. It was enough to make me want to cry! I was fairly convinced throughout the semester I was mainly just a source of entertainment and laughs. I didn’t think they actually really enjoyed my class that much. Even with the heavy concentration of in-class games and activities. It was quite an emotional departure. Sometimes I still think maybe I was wrong in leaving. That ever-nagging feeling of doubt and fear…it’s annoying. At least I know now that if ever I need a job, there’s always Thailand.
So now, I am in America again, and still unsure about what to do next. Part of me would love to be home for the holidays with friends and family, but then part of me thinks escaping winter would also be lovely. I’ve been doing some odd jobs these first few weeks, for family and my previous company while I try to figure out my next steps. I could try to find something nearby and attempt to establish a long-term career or home or something along those lines. Or I could continue teaching English abroad in another location. Honestly, while it is nice to see friends again, my time overseas really just added to my longing to travel and see the wort;d. Now, though, I am more convinced that I ca ndo it, and that I can do it on my own. Where would I go next? I need somewhere where I can also make money while I travel, ideally. I only spent ten days in NZ, which taught me I need more time to travel there. Being in Thaland taught me that I really miss using my second language and that I would love to be able to legitimately acquire it as a second language. Decisions, decisions. Something I am notoriously terrible with. I still don’t know what I’d like to do with my life long term, but I am more convinced I want to see more of the world. However, after only just a week home while walking about the local Renaissance Faire, I had a complete stranger tell me that she could sense I had a gift for teaching. And for writing. So while I still am uncertain about what I am doing, I must be on the right track. The Universe has just told me so.