My first 30 days in Thailand

My first 30 days in Thailand

It’s officially been one month since I left my life in Richmond to explore Thailand as an English teacher. What a ride it has been! My first days here were so packed with organized cultural excursions and TESOL training courses, that I barely had a moment to breathe- let alone reflect, write, and upload a blog post! But here it goes: my best to summarize 30 incredible days with 27 incredible people.

I’ll spare the details of my very long flight from RVA to Bangkok (spoiler alert: it sucked), and begin with my departure from Thailand’s capital. I was only in Bangkok for one night so I did not get to experience the bucket drinks, ping pong shows, or scorpion skewers that some of my new friends talked about with both fondness and horror. Instead, I got to know my roommate, drank my first Thai beer (chang), and timidly tried street Pad Thai. We then met the other 25 people on the “Yellow Team”, loaded into vans, and made the 3-hour journey to Hua Hin.

Now, these people are my Thailand family, so it’s really weird to think about those early days in Hua Hin when I struggled to remember everyone’s names. We spent the first few days exploring the culture of Hua Hin, and drinking cheap beer at the local bars. The turning point came in a workshop in which we were encouraged to share some of our most private and emotional reasons for wanting to come to Thailand. We talked for hours, cutting into our lunch break and our afternoon class. The shift in our group dynamic was tangible- we had connected through stories that some of us had never even spoken aloud to our dearest friends at home. True, we still continued to explore the town (mostly the beach) and drink (a lot) in bars, but we also had long talks in our dorm style apartments- laughing, telling stories, and discussing things about being in Thailand that we couldn’t quite articulate to our loved ones back home.

Beyond making friends, I was also learning how to become a teacher through a fairly intense TESOL training course. Our teacher, Jon was honest, blunt, funny, and understanding. He gave us genuine, practical teaching advice, and was always very open about his struggles both personally and as an educator. I think it’s fair to say he inspired all of us in many ways, whether he is aware of this or not.

October flew by unfairly fast, and finally it was time for the first of us to leave the Hua Hin nest to teach for real in a town 8 hours south. Her departure was reality smacking us in the face- we were going to be separated! And I mean like REALLY separated. We were going to be in different corners of this country that all of sudden seemed much bigger and scarier. Two days later, more of my friends departed for their placements. And we cried. Every. Single. One. Of us cried. We were sad and scared, and I will admit that I spent the next two days in a state of anxiety and loneliness.

Now, I’m in my placement town (a beautiful province named Uthai Thani….more on this in a later post), and I could not be happier. I still talk to my new friends from Hua Hin who are now scattered all over Thailand, and I am extremely comforted by this sprawling network of support.

During my stay in Hua Hin, I learned a lot about being a better teacher while making some truly wonderful friendships, but now it’s time to truly take that leap and begin this Thai adventure on my own.

And if I can’t handle it, my new friends are only a Facebook message/Skype call/ motorbike trip away. 🙂

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