Leaving the Land of Smiles

After a bit of a mishap in the flight department (I’ll skip the story due to my own embarrassment) we finally made it to Thailand and back to our favorite island, Ko Phi Phi. It was so strange to be back in Thailand after being in such a westernized culture for two weeks. But even more strange was how NORMAL it felt. It was normal to not understand anything going on around you, for men to be screaming “I LOVEEE YOU”, to see a family of four on the motorbike next to you and to see more 7-11’s on one street than in all of Australia. Since we had such a hard month in Bali and Australia we knew we would need time to kick up our feet and relax in Ko Phi Phi for our last week abroad. Hey, c’mon you can’t hate us for planning the best vacation ever. 😉

Unfortunately the weather in Thailand was not cooperating with us. We were there for 7 nights and we probably had two days of sunshine. Lots of rain and mud puddles which caused us to find recreational activities inside… There isn’t much to do on an island when the weather is bad, especially Ko Phi Phi. We kept ourselves entertained with lots of stories and laughs from our trip, food, and an adult beverage or two. I finally got the chance to meet up with my friend from high school, Fallon who started teaching in Thailand in March. It was so awesome to catch up with her, reminisce on life in Syracuse and bond over our unexplainable desire to find what we need out of life even if that means traveling all over the world to find it. As the rain fell the reality of the end of my journey getting closer and closer washed over me. We didn’t want to talk about moving home because that made it real. I was so excited to see my friends and family, meet my nephew, squeeze my puppy, eat real pizza and finally feel clean but I couldn’t help but hate having to leave behind this place that I have learned to call home.

Thailand is a magical place for many but for me it changed my life in a way I will always revere. Thailand taught me what it means to be myself. That is the most beautiful gift anyone can give you. By no means did I feel “lost” in life before, but Thailand opened my eyes to a world I needed so desperately to see. A world beyond sorority formals and football tailgates. A world where people don’t have shoes on their feet or have to share a small room behind their restaurant with 13 family members. A world full of dreamers, teachers, and travelers; young people who have the same desire to see new horizons as I do. Like I said in an earlier piece, I joined a club I didn’t know existed. There are so many people, so different than I am, who went to different unis, speak different languages, were raised in diverse situations that have the same fire burning inside of them. This fire can not be extinguished or “gotten out of your system”. There is a whole world full of people who want to experience life, other cultures, have heart to hearts at 3 am on cruise ships in Vietnam, explore ancient temples in Cambodia, eat traditional Indonesian food at 6 am with locals and talk to strangers about their lives simply because it matters. I am so grateful for each and every one of you I have met along the way and you have inspired me to continue dreaming, no matter what anyone thinks.

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Party in the USA

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The last few months have been quite the adventure themselves leading up to my Thailand adventure. I have been busy traveling visiting family, friends, and beautiful places all across the country. It is so amazing how many beautiful places are on the East Coast. These photos give you a taste of what I saw including Southern West Virginia, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Pittsburgh, Boston, NYC, Long Island, West Virginia, and Syracuse, NY. The fact that I am traveling into such an unfamiliar world has given me a fresh set of eyes for the world that surrounds me; especially the people. I know I will not be able to see them, drink a glass of wine with them, laugh with them or hug them for a whole year. It is honestly scary but I thank my lucky stars for Skype and all of the technology we have in society today to make things easier. I also appreciate the opportunity to go away because it reminds me how much I value these special people in my life and how lucky I am to be surrounded by such supportive, intelligent, loving, funny individuals. The joy that my family and friends get from watching me succeed makes my success and desire to conquer new continents vastly larger. I am so happy to have this outlet to stay connected to the people who matter the most to me because I presume the time difference and busy  life schedules will make communication challenging.

I leave for NYC this Friday for one final reunion with family, friends and my boyfriend. I am so excited but so overwhelmed to have to say goodbye to so many people I care about all at once. Then I am flying out to LA with Jackie to visit our friend from WVU and break up the long journey to Thailand. In TEN short days, I will be hopping aboard the 19 hour flight to Thailand! I have been looking forward to this trip since February! Now the nerves and an anxious giddy feeling is building up inside of me! I know how amazing this adventure is going to be; but truly as much as I can talk about how much it will change my life and how incredible it will be; I don’t know how it will change me as a person, what I will learn, who I will meet, what I will see or what I will feel. I sit here in the home I grew up in as I write this, safe and comfortable but yearning for more. Yearning to touch, to see, to feel, to dance, to shout, to climb mountains and ride elephants, teach children and let them teach me. I would start running to Thailand this very instant if I could, but for now I am soaking up the precious moments with those I love the most and will miss very much over the next year. The greatest gift these people have given me is the confidence in my self to embark on this journey, the love and support. I feel you cheering me on from all over and that is the only reason I am able to go confidently in the direction of my dreams.  Thank you so much. I will leave you with a quote about adventure that sums up my feelings at the moment,

” Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to,perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground”- Judith Thurman

Catch me if you can! CHEERS ❤ xoxo