Stereotype Me, I Dare You

                As promised I am back with my weekly thoughts. I started reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle two days ago and I can’t put it down. Every free second I have I have been gobbling it up. But I promised myself that I would write and the power of now makes me want to get these thoughts out immediately. In recent news and media, especially in America, there has been an overwhelming amount of stereotyping and blatant racism, sexism, and discrimination. Both in the political campaign for President of the United States and everyday affairs with riots, protests, and a whirlwind of media attention directed toward the police force and their treatment of criminals, particularly African American people. Now, more than ever, I am disgusted by the fact that people strongly  protest against these injustices toward the group they identify with while simultaneously insulting or stereotyping another group of people in the process. This happens across the boards in our world. It is not socially acceptable to call someone  fat, overweight or too heavy but it is socially acceptable to call someone too skinny, skin and bones, tell someone they need to eat or criticize them for their obsession with bodybuilding or being fit. It’s not acceptable to call someone uneducated, ignorant, or stupid but it is acceptable to call someone a nerd or a weirdo for being intelligent or highly interested in a certain subject matter. Why do we deem some discrimination okay? Why is it socially acceptable to judge certain people but looked at as politically incorrect, cruel, and evil spirited to judge others?

          When I look back at my life, I realize that I have a tendency to associate with groups that are often stereotyped. First and foremost we are all stereotyped by gender, that is inevitable. In my lifetime I have received stereotypes  for being “too smart” or “a nerd” as a child. Once I grew into my looks, got rid of my braces, glasses and unibrow and barely grew into my lanky body I was then stereotyped for being “pretty” and “skinny”. When deciding on a university, I landed on my dream definition of the college experience but was then stereotyped for going to a  “party school” where I studied to become a teacher which is a career that is highly misunderstood and publicly chastised. To make matters worse I joined a sorority and entered into one of the most stereotyped organizations I can think of. After that I decided to veer from the beaten path of American culture and  move abroad after graduate school. I became stereotyped as a “backpacker” or someone who needed to “find themselves.” Life lead me into an opportunity to turn my passion for health and fitness into a career in a network marketing company and I began my journey as a young entrepreneur building a following and business predominately through social media. Yet again, network marketing companies are a group that are highly misunderstood and blatantly stereotyped.  Now let me rephrase that paragraph, and show you not how others decided to categorize me but how I, in fact, see it myself.

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More Than A Something

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Try as I may, being published on Thought Catalog still eludes me. Sadly I fear it’s due to the anti-stereotypical format of my pieces. I can’t bring myself to succumb to the dreaded lists! I am sharing this on my own blog because I think my thoughts are worth sharing! Today is also my 1 year blogging anniversary (thanks for the notification WordPress). No better way to celebrate than a new post that means a lot to me! I went back and read my first post and I truly can’t believe how much I have changed over the course of this year. This experience is so different than my expectations and I have gained more than I could possibly put into words. I have met incredible friends that will be a part of my heart forever and made enough memories for a lifetime. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my journey as much as I have enjoyed writing about it. I can’t believe how fast time goes by! I only have two months left in The Land of Smiles! “The days are long but the years are short”. Read & heed my message, whether you are apart of Generation Y or simply young at heart. 🙂 Cheers! xx 


More Than A Something 

Thanks to the eccentric depiction of “twenty somethings” in today’s society; whether it be blogs splattered all over the internet, television series, films or simply trendy hashtags such as #postgradproblems, twenty something has been turned into an exceptionally stereotyped and dare I say dreaded age group. Most twenty something’s are graduating college, searching for our first “real jobs”, finding our purpose, hooking up, breaking up, making shit up and eventually getting married, buying homes, paying bills, having kids and slipping quickly into adulthood.

It seems like just yesterday we were getting ready for theme parties, eating at the dining hall, planning our outfits for the football tailgate or staying up all night in the library. I’m not sure if it’s just my friends, my acquaintances, or my alma mater (LET’S GO MOUNTAINEERS!) but transitioning from “the wonder years” of college and turning into a “real person” is a difficult transition (to put things lightly). Unfortunately, social media has turned into a barometer for insecure twenty something’s to stack up their life against their peers. Who has the coolest job? Who’s engaged? Who’s having a baby? The real question should be WHO CARES? Turn the focus on who you are and who you want to be. I promise you will feel much better about your life. Many of the articles about twenty somethings depict us as angst ridden, awkward human beings who lack the hutzpah to get out there and grab the bull by the horns. I beg to differ.

Personally, I would like to defend not only myself, but also the majority of my fellow twenty somethings. I am not saying we aren’t angsty sometimes. We are definitely broke and we undoubtedly miss the carefree lifestyle of being university students. We may be heartbroken, we may be confused but I can tell you one thing; we can thrive dwelling in the possibilities.

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The Mad Ones

As the school year in Thailand is winding down, it is time for final reviews, exams and projects. Teachers can understand and commiserate that during this busy time of the school year personal reading and/or writing for pleasure become exponentially more attractive. Some may define this as  “procrastinating”. Okay, everyone defines this as procrastinating… but I can’t help it and I promise I still get my work done on time! We had a long weekend for the Buddhist holiday a few weekends ago (which happened to fall on Valentine’s Day). Jackie, Erin and I decided to visit our close friend Kevin who we went to WVU with. He teaches at a university about an hour away from us and we have heard countless stories about his town and living situation. It was something we couldn’t leave Thailand without experiencing first hand. It turned out to be an absolutely comical weekend, filled with lots of wine, whiskey, stares from locals, delicious food, rap/guitar/harmonica freestyles, heart to hearts, moped rides and tons of laughs. Since our backpacking trip we have gone on several other weekend trips to close by cities such as Bangkok and Ayutthaya and spent weekdays grading papers, teaching, working out and trying to get back into a routine to make life feel “normal” again. We often discuss and marvel at the fact that we live and teach in Thailand. It is still mind blowing some days. It is absolutely incredible how quickly human beings can adjust and morph into members of a new group of friends, community, and even a country. In my day to day life, it becomes increasingly difficult to pick out things that are “different” than life in America. Of course when I think about it, the list goes on forever but for right now this is my stomping ground and I am becoming very comfortable with that.

Here are some highlights from the past month. They prove to be a hilarious balance between “Teecha Susie” life and 20-something Traveler Susie life.

Sensation White– My Suphanburi teacher crew (who have quickly become my close friends and traveling partners) and I went to a world famous music festival in Bangkok. It started in Amsterdam but has spread to all different countries around the world. It was an awesome experience with famous DJ’s from all over the world, a “wicked wonderland” theme, and of course an endless sea of people dressed in white. It felt great to dance the night away with my girlfriends. Oh, and of course eat Mexican food in Bangkok. Any chance we have to eat good Mexican food is an instant burrito party.

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Field trip to Ayutthaya– The English Program took a fieldtrip to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand, and had the privilege of having our M-2 (8th grade) students be our tour guides. Each foreign teacher got a group of 3 or 4 students and they led us around the temples, historical landmarks, and museums for the day while spouting off more facts than I could possibly process. My group was absolutely adorable and I learned so much. I loved all of the ghost stories they told me and found out that Thai people have many tales about ghosts that are passed on from generation to generation.  Field trips in Thailand are NEVER disappointing!

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College besties booked their trip to Thailand – Some of my best friends from college finally bit the bullet and booked their flights to Thailand in April. I am SO EXCITED to play tour guide and already made a color-coded itinerary for our jam-packed 10 day adventure! I am blessed to have such great friends who are willing to trek half way across the world to see me! Love you guys! It’s going to be EPIC!

Kasetsart University trip– As I said before this was a hysterical weekend with too many laughs to count. It reminded me how important good friends are and no matter WHERE you are, the company you keep is what matters the most! ❤ Love you guys! ImageImageImageImageImage

Thailand’s National Storytelling Competition– One of my favorite students made it to the national storytelling competition that took place in Bangkok. We have been practicing her story since October so she asked me to come along and watch her at the grand finale. It took place in a huge convention center with thousands of people and I could count on two hands the number of foreigners who were in attendance. There were also political protests going on right across the street and everyone seemed extremely casual about it(I was slightly freaking out). All in all, it was awesome day chalk full of Thai culture, shopping, and bonding with my student & coworkers. She took home 6th place overall and absolutely rocked her story. I am so proud of her!

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First Suphanburi FC Football match– Personally, I never understood other countries fascination with soccer (football). I never played in high school and I only followed it on TV when it was the World Cup. When I first moved to Suphanburi I heard that we had a professional football team that was very talented and well followed. My crew and I decided to attend the first match of the season since some of them will be moving away from Thailand after this semester. Let’s just say… I GET WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT! It felt like a college football game at WVU!Despite the fact that we were the only 5 white girls in a stadium full of locals…The whole town was decked out in orange and blue jerseys, and cold beers, and food vendors were everywhere. The whole shabang! It was SO fun, despite Suphanburi FC’s loss; they definitely gained a group of new loyal fans! GO SUPHAN!

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Birth of my nephew Samuel Benjamin Bell – My nephew was born yesterday (2/24/14) weighing in at 8 lbs. 2 oz. and he is just as adorable as his older sister, Layla. I am so happy for my big brother and sister-in-law! Being an Aunt is one of the best jobs around and I can’t wait to spoil this little guy. I am definitely extremely sad that I can’t be there to meet him, hold him, and spend time with my family but I am grateful for technology and looking forward to getting to know him once I return to America! I can hear myself telling my niece and nephew stories of my adventure in Thailand when they grow up. I hope to instill a wanderlust in them and the confidence to follow their dreams, no matter how radical they may seem. Sending lots of love your way lil Sam & Bell fam!

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With a little over a week left of the first semester, I am looking forward to my summer break while simultaneously marveling at how quickly time passes us by. “The days are long, but the years are short”, ain’t that the truth! There have been many moments of nostalgia, culture shock, despair, excitement, joy, fascination, realization, stimulation, longing, and frustration in the past four months.  I have grown so close to my friends I have met here, and joined in a mutual “teacher/foreigner/American/20-something” bond that feels as if I have known them forever. As I write this I am reminding myself how incredible my life is here and how lucky I am to have the chance to enrich my mind, body and spirit in the Land of Smiles. The month of March will be an extremely exciting one as my travels will lead me to Vietnam and Cambodia with the crew. Then, my WVU friends will join me in this amazing country in April. Many thrilling stories and photos to follow! I’ll leave you with a final thought that continues to drive my actions, mind and life,

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”- Jack Kerouac

Here’s to finding the mad ones! Here’s to the ones who truly believe anything is possible! We gotta stick together! Cheers! Xoxo