“Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are.”- G. Eliot
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”-M. Buber
“If you hold on tight to what you think is your thing you may find you’re missing all the rest”- DMB
“ The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.”-Euripides
I believe the best writers find comfort in words, whether they are their own words or someone else’s. The best writers can acknowledge the process and the product and allow for both to inspire them. I felt drawn to these quotes today and admit that they simply and eloquently depict the image I hope to convey with my post. Hats off to these writers!
Slowly but surely, I am adjusting to my new life in Thailand. I am quickly forming routines, local restaurants and coffee shops I frequent, and new friends. Teaching is beginning to dictate my bedtime and it feels good to form a “normal” schedule. Then… some moments I look around and it hits me “Holy shit… I live in Thailand.” Since my last post I have explored around my town of Suphanburi and found new cafes, bars, friends, swimming pools that I plan to visit again and again. Despite the urge to travel to a new city or place every single weekend; it feels nice to plant some temporary roots and embrace the city I will call home for the next year.
Today I received a package from my parents with various necessities I requested. Just seeing the note with my mom’s handwriting on it made my heart smile. When I describe my feelings, I never want to be cliché, but I have started to see the true power and authenticity of certain cliché sayings in a new light. “It’s the little things.” We have all heard that phrase a million times, but being a foreigner on the other side of the world teaches you this cliché in an elevated manner. It’s the little things you miss about home, about loved ones, about “normal” life but it is also the little things about my new surroundings that excite me, challenge me and inspire me. I appreciate the people in my life and the luxuries that I took for granted every day, like internet (especially WIFI), cable, menus in English, toilet paper, hand dryers, and the ease of everyday communication. But I also appreciate the respect I receive here, the flowers I got to welcome me to my school, the laid back lifestyle and the incredible generosity of strangers.
When everything is different, it forces you to grow, to adapt, to change but it also leaves you craving the familiar and reminiscing about places, people and memories that you love. Each day is a spastic balance of soaking up the adventure, living in the moment and missing friends, family, and especially my boyfriend. I hope each of you know how much you are on my mind, even though we can’t talk as much as I would like. To truly find ourselves, we can’t cling to the familiar. We must trust in those we love and remember they will love us just the same, whether we are near or far. I have learned to embrace the roller coaster of emotions that run through me in a given day. They are there for a reason and to truly live, we must feel. It doesn’t matter if it is cheerful, gloomy, frustrated, scared, amazed, nostalgic, angry, excited or goofy. If we are feeling…we are living.
Luckily, I have the stability of teaching to keep me level headed. Jackie and I have discussed how the place that we feel the most at “home” is at our school. Teaching, learning, laughing, thinking, writing lesson plans, and grading; these are all familiar to us. The students in Thailand (as a whole) are much different than any students I had in America. They seem genuinely happy every single day. I am not sure if this is how they actually feel, but it is the energy they give off. I can’t help but smile when I get to school and am greeted by each and every one of my students as I pass them. Most American students were too cool to talk to teachers in the hallway and would pretend not to see you. Being an ESL/EFL teacher has proven to be increasingly frustrating as time goes on and I am realizing that it is extremely hard to understand what they comprehend and what they are politely nodding to (despite having no clue what is going on). Thankfully, I have found amazing resources in veteran ESL teachers at my school, online ESL/EFL games, lesson plans, songs, videos, etc. I know that if I give my best, there is nothing more anyone can ask of me.
Teaching and learning is the essence of my journey. Yes, I am literally a teacher, but I am also a student. Thailand, along with each person I meet here, is teaching me things about human nature, life, and myself. I am continuously learning, which is exhilarating and exhausting. But I must remind myself, it is up to me which of those feelings dictate my experience. I choose to live. I choose to feel. I choose exhilarating, beautiful adventure.
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us or we find it not.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson