“I don’t want to wait until I’m ‘established’ to be able to live my life. Instead, I’m thinking that these kind of moments are exactly what will shape me as a person and point me in the right direction to become more than just established. I want to live my life knowing that I did exactly that. I lived.”
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I totally do and I am okay with that! #traveladdict
What’s stopping you?
“Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family.
You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless.
You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more.
This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country.
So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t.
You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society.
Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t.
And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realized too late that there is so much more to living than this”
– Wunderkammer, Did you know?
I am part of an online English teacher community. It is basically a Facebook group where all of us soon to be/current teachers are able to help out one another by answering any questions that many of us may have. The other day one girl asked whether or not anyone else was leaving a significant other behind to go teach in Thailand. As soon as I saw this I smiled because many months ago I was wondering the exact same question. Last November I made a huge and final decision that I was going to pursue my dream of temporarily moving to Thailand and teach English as a second language. It was the best and most effortless decision I could have made. I was at a point in my life where my wanderlust was growing immensely, I had graduated University, I was ready to move on to a different career and I was completely single! However, fast forward to the New Year I had started dating a very special man. I promised myself that since I would be moving I would not under any circumstances date anyone! Uh oh. Guess I failed at that lol. Anyways, It was the scariest thing to think that if I started to date this person I would soon be leaving for almost an entire year. However, although my mind urged me not to go on with the idea my heart screamed at me to do otherwise. So, just like most, I listened to my heart. Our dating quickly led to one of the best decisions I could have ever made. For the very first time I found someone who truly makes me happy and has made me realize how a healthy relationship should be. But I don’t want to carry on and make you all throw up with the mushy, gushy love details, so I won’t go much more into my relationship. However, I do want to touch up on a topic that has been weighing heavy on my heart and is totally related. Independence.
The first thing that many people asked me before I left was “what are you and Mike going to do?” At first, this seemed like a completely rational question. I mean sure, I was getting ready to move to the other side of the world. At the time, it made sense to even ask myself this question. After all, many relationships cannot last when two people live only 10 minutes from each other. Therefore, my long distance relationship couldn’t possibly stand a chance! However, since moving and being away for almost two whole months I’ve had a lot of alone time to process this question and have come to many realizations.
- Society can be lame, real lame.
We are too caught up with society’s idea of how a relationship should function. One guy answered the above mentioned girls question by stating “I feel like I am in Ellen’s audience. All will be okay-it’s just a job and if he loves you, he will make the effort to support you. If he doesn’t, then the answer is…” This guy hit the nail on the head! If you’re with someone they should support your decisions and vice versa! Obviously moving far away is a decision that should be seriously discussed among one another. However, I feel that so many people are quick to avoid perusing their dreams because they don’t want to risk putting strain on their relationship, maybe because their significant other is unwilling to let them do it or they are just too needy and cannot do anything without them. But how unfair and selfish does that sound? I feel like this applies to many scenarios, not just moving far away but the smallest of things such as hobbies or interests one might have but is discouraged to do so. I’ve seen this happen in many relationships (even my own) and this paves one of the biggest roads to resentment that I’ve seen yet.
- Many of us are afraid to be alone.
Why? Why are so many of us so terrified to be alone? I feel like my generation lacks independence. I am always confronted with people who are not comfortable with alone time or being single. So many constantly feel they “need” to be with someone and hop from one relationship to the next or stay in their current shitty one because they can’t fathom to be alone. Many may think that I do not have a place to comment on this particular point because I have only ever been in long term-relationships. However, since dating Mike and making my decision to leave home for a while I have been confronted for the first time with having to learn some real independence. Although I am an only child and have always liked my space the thought and act of leaving him absolutely broke my heart. However, my recent adventure has really made me realize the importance and beauty of being alone altogether. Being alone opened up a lot of new opportunities for me. For the first time, in a long time, I accepted a lot of new experiences with open arms because I had no choice but to. I have always been very open about the fact that I struggle with social anxiety. Luckily, my anxiety has never got to the point where I am unable to attend social gatherings altogether, but I have not had the easiest time with it either. I always have mini freak outs in my head about meeting new people, small talk, being socially awkward and just coming off as straight up weird! I over analyze everything in my head to the point of exhaustion and sometimes wish that I was as outgoing as everyone believes me to be. Since being all alone, I kind of feel like Jim Carrey in the movie Yes Man, where he plays a super negative man who is stuck in a rut until he discovers the power of saying “yes” and trying new things. Well I guess that is pretty much what I have been doing. My independence has pushed me to say yes, regardless of my fears of social anxiety. I’ve meet so many wonderful people that I wouldn’t have otherwise because of it and have already had so many life changing experiences.
- Love fully but more importantly love yourself.
The most important thing I have realized is that you learn to become your own best friend. There have been many times in my life that I haven’t had self-confidence or have considered myself nothing but dumb. Being alone has pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me realize there is so much I am capable of. You learn to trust and love yourself and it is a pretty good damn feeling. I have always said that if you cannot learn to love yourself how could you possibly love anyone else?
Self-discovery is a beautiful thing and I truly believe that one can only accomplish that alone. Only you can discover who you are and what you want from life. Many amazing people come into our lives to help us grow but if you do not give yourself some alone time you hinder your ability to grow as an independent person. Ultimately everyone deserves to feel confident alone. I feel that my time away will not weaken my relationship but only make it stronger. It gives both of us a chance to grow independently without many of the constraints that most relationships have today. But one thing I know for sure is that I cannot wait for the moment I get to see him again, for me, close to a year is long enough.
Well, would you look at that. I have already been living in Thailand for 3 weeks! How crazy is that? In the short time that I have been here I definitely feel like I am learning so much. Not only am I learning extremely important things related to Teaching English as a Second Language but more importantly I am learning a lot about myself. The last couple of weeks I have been struggling with adjusting. Although I am having fun and enjoying every moment of this adventure, there has been many moments where my anxiety has been extremely high. There have been times where I have felt lonely, confused and worried about everything in general. However, I know that these emotions are expected, so I have found some comfort in that.
I have always been home body but I have never been homesick before. Lo and behold I Chayla for the very first time ever have experienced an extreme case of feeling homesick. Everyday so far has come with it’s own struggles but I slowly find myself getting over those obstacles and falling in love with Thailand. This is a major break through! I think it is fairly easy to fall head over heels for this country though. Everything about it is enticing. It’s beauty and the people who live here make it one of the most amazing countries I have visited so far. The sense of community you feel when you are around the Thai people is incredible. Furthermore, I have never felt this safe in another country before. I can honestly say that I feel less nervous walking alone around the streets here at night than back at home!
As you can tell I have quite a bit to catch you up on. So let me start off by telling you about the fantastic week I had suffering with a severe ear infection. I am going to assume it was from the shower but I don’t know for certain. Anyways, last week this friggen thing destroyed me! It started last Wednesday but it was very mild. I really didn’t think much about it until Thursday, when the pain started to get more intense. That Thursday I wasn’t sure what to do, so I went to the pharmacy and picked up some ear drops specifically for ear infections but the dumb thing made it a hundred times worse. Thursday night I tried to go to sleep, took probably one too many Tylenol, but nothing helped. A few hours later the pain was so unbearable I was literally in tears. Completely agonizing! My lovely roommate suggested that we should go to the hospital. Totally annoyed with this whole scenario I agreed, mostly because we are lucky enough that the hospital is our next door neighbour! I was so thankful that she came with me. Nothing is freakier than being sick in another country and not knowing what to do or where to go. Also, I felt terrible because it was getting late and that following morning would be our very first day teaching English (6 classes of approximately 40 students). Of course, the one night we needed a decent sleep, I had to go to the hospital, oh joy.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the hospital is extremely long line ups, sick people looming everywhere and hour long waits just to get sent from one room to another. Now, ask me if this is the case in Thailand? Nope! Not at all. Completely in shock I was in and out of the hospital in under an hour. To be honest I’ve waited longer in bank lines lol. The doctor prescribed me with antibiotics and painkillers, thank the Lord! However, my dreadful night didn’t end there. Once we got back home I took my antibiotics and painkillers. About an hour later I was extremely nauseated and had to dodge myself out of bed and sprint to the bathroom. Whatever you think happened next is EXACTLY what happened. Vomiting, lots of it. My poor roommate. Sarah if you only knew how mortified I was… Lmao. Anyways, not realizing until the next day that the doctor had prescribed me Amoxicillin, which I had told him I was allergic too (I love language barriers). Well, this explained the horrific vomiting scene the night before.
The day of our “camp” arrived (that Friday) and as you can assume I was feeling like complete and utter shit still. I could barely keep my head up. However, this was going to be my first day of teaching and I didn’t want to miss out because of a stupid ear infection. Luckily for me my instructor helped me out by giving me a partner to help teach my classes (Thank you!!!). The day was complete chaos but worth every second! The kids were unlike anything I have ever experienced. Totally wild, but adorable. I have never been greeted with so many high fives and hugs in my life!
As week three is coming to an end, everyone in my program has become close. Friendships have been made between all of us and it is going to be bittersweet to have to say goodbye. However, it is time to do what we all came here to do! This week we have been told about our work placements and where we will be moving. It seems like everyone is going to be scattered evenly throughout Thailand. Starting this Sunday most of us will be moving from Hua Hin! So soon, it seems crazy, I have been told that I will be moving to a town in the province of Isan called Khon Kaen. It’s north eastern Thailand and approximately 8 hours away from Hua Hin and close to Laos. I got placed into a Catholic private school with about 400 students and only 1 other foreign teacher (how cool is that?!). I will be teaching 4-6 year olds and have about 35 students per a class. I am so excited! Definitely cannot wait until the next part of this journey and meet these cute little kiddies!
It’s already been almost a week since I left home and I can honestly tell you that I am still in shock that I am here. For many, you have this idea that I am In Thailand, soaking up the sun, probably laying on a nice beach somewhere, white sand between my toes and maybe, just maybe a cold drink in my hand. Nope, not even close. Instead, I am literally dying of heat, sweating 100% of the time (and I mean dripping sweat), not using an air conditioner at night in order to save money, having an extremely hard time adjusting to the food here and constantly feel like there are so many unknowns about this trip that I am on. However, although daunting, something about it is making me feel more humbled as a person and I am loving that. Visiting a country is completely different when you are not visiting as a tourist! So many people have these ideas of how amazing it would be to live in another country but do not realize how complicated it is to fully immerse yourself in that culture and live like a local. I am still experiencing some of the luxuries as a tourist however in a little over three weeks that will change dramatically. In September I could be moving to a place where I may be one of only a few English speaking people in my town (lmao I’m terrified)! The mix of emotions that I have been experiencing this week are surreal.
Most of you know that I have come to Thailand to teach English as a second language. As a result, I am taking a course that lasts a month and will certify me to teach English within Thailand and just about anywhere else. I just moved to a “resort” town called Hua Hin, approximately 3 hours south of Bangkok and will be living here for the duration of that month. Everyday I have to be at school around 7:45 am and generally have class all day until 4:00 pm with a little over 20 people that are pretty awesome. Our apartment is a far walk from school so everyday we have to take a Songthaew. This thing is hilarious. It’s a little passenger vehicle that is basically a truck that people can hop on and off of like a bus. They’re super cheap so they are very desirable to use in order to get around town.
So far my classes have consisted of Thai Language, Thai Culture, a Teacher Workshop and a class about our teaching placement once we finish the course. This week we also got to go on a couple of field trips and see some pretty cool things! Yesterday we got the opportunity to travel to a little rural area and visit a Pineapple farm. The pineapples here were amazing (so sweet and refreshing in this insane heat!!!)! Any pineapples that aren’t considered “good enough” for human consumption are saved and given away as a donation to the Hutsadin Elephant Sanctuary. After the pineapple farm this elephant sanctuary was our next little adventure. We all donated a little bit of money in order to take a few large bags with us to feed the elephants. This was an awesome experience. The elephants here are adorable! One in particular named Songkran was the cutest little thing I’ve even seen. This little baby Elephant is only 7 years old and can paint flowers and even play soccer (yes I just said an elephant could paint)! I’ve never seen anything like it in my life lol! It was super cute.
Today, we got to visit a dog rescue here in Hua Hin called Rescue paws and The Khao Tao Temple. Rescue Paws is amazing. All over Thailand there is a high population of stray dogs but Hua Hin in particular has a massive population of them. So, Rescue Paws was created by some amazing dog lovers who provide a place to take in these stray dogs and provide care for them in to ensure they live a better and healthier life. The goal is to have all of these dogs spayed and neutered to decrease the amount of homeless dogs in the town. Anyways, this place was great and even has some of the dogs up for adoption. They had mentioned that if we are interested we can adopt one and bring it back home with us. Not going to lie, I considered it a few times lmao. The dogs even have pretty sweet access to the beach which is clearly used to help aid their rehabilitation as well. After Rescue Paws we went to Khao Tao Temple. This temple was so serene. Located on a mountain, surrounded by trees and the ocean. We stayed there for a little while, hiked up the mountain to see the huge Buddha, learned a little bit about meditation, Buddhist monks and then headed back home. It has been crazy rainy all day so my roommate and our other friends decided to call it an early night and relax.
So here I am, inside my hot and sticky room, drinking warm beer and contemplating whether or not I should eat my instant noodles bought from a convenience store. Have a good night everyone- Or I guess good morning/afternoon for the most of you lol.
Day 1: I’m in Bangkok. Is it hot? TOO hot. Is it busy? Insanely! Are people friendly? Extremely! Am I homesick? Yes…
Now I am not a dumbie and I know that I was going to be in for a change. After all, I did move to the other side of the friggen planet. But I can assure you that I was not mentally nor physically prepared for the differences in culture that I have experienced in this single day alone. Jet lag was brutal for me and after traveling for a little over 19 hours total I was and still am a mess. Upon arrival to the Bangkok airport I was lucky enough to have airport pickup waiting to bring me to my hotel! I’ll have to admit, it was kind of neat seeing a man standing in the pick up area holding a sign up with my name on it. It took about an hour to get to my hotel but to be honest it seemed like hours upon hours. I kept dozing off on the drive so I was pretty out of it for that duration lol. Anyways, after all that time and travel I finally arrived to my sketchy but cozy little hotel in the city around 8 pm last night. The hotel is cute but it is located on some super narrow creepy side street which made me feel like I was in a horror movie while we were pulling in last night haha (don’t fret, this totally adds to the adventure of it all!). The foyer of the hotel is an open concept so there are no walls… Essentially it has no windows and is basically outside. Once I got dropped off I stood there all alone. No front desk employee, no other tourists, no one, absolutely effing no one. Clearly not knowing what else to do I decided to just stand there and wait. About 20 minutes later some wonderful Thai man, about my age staying at the same hotel tried to help me find an employee so that I could check in. His English was very limited but he did the best he could and literally just smiled the entire time! I told him that he could leave and that I would just wait for an employee to come. After almost half an hour of waiting a sweet little lady came to the front desk. She checked me in immediately and guess what? She smiled the entire time lol. Yup, welcome to the “Land of Smiles.” I get to the sixth floor and I am ecstatic to see that my room is fairly large and there is an amazingly working air conditioner (bomb!). Anywho, you’d think after all of this I would be a zombie and ready to crash, considering I barely slept the entire travel over here. Instead I just chilled out for a bit and tried to relax. I was too wired, lonely and freaked out to go to sleep right away. It also didn’t help that it sounded like there were animals fighting right outside my hotel. By the time I did end up falling asleep I practically woke up every hour throughout the night. Around 6 am I was wide awake and decided to get my ass up and out of bed. Lucky for me one of the girls from my program messaged our Facebook group asking if anyone was around and wanted to get breakfast. So four of us got together and had breakfast! After that we decided to do the tourist thing and explore. We took the Sky Train and one of those sweet longtailed flowered decorated boats to get to the Grand Palace 🙂 ! The Grand Palace was amazing. Pictures honestly do not do it justice in any way shape or form. The detail of all of the buildings is immaculate and unlike anything I have ever seen. I also learned some cool things, you’re not allowed to wear shoes in Temples, you must always dress appropriately when entering a Temple (they take this very seriously- shoulders and knees must be covered), also when sitting on a Temple floor your toes must NEVER point towards Buddha, feet should always point behind you. Afterward, we decided to get something to eat at this cute little restaurant we walked by. I got chicken Pad Thai! As expected it was completely different from any Pad Thai I’ve had back home. But it was just as good! Following that, we went to Wat Pho, where the huge Reclining Buddha is. This was super cool as well and freaking massive! We walked around for hours and sweat poured from us the entire time. Hair a disaster, heat rash all over and thirsty 100% of the time…Yeah not a pretty sight. I have never experienced hotter weather than what I did today! We all just about died. We also walked through a market which felt like I was surrounded by a hundred auctioneers. Total and complete chaos! We finished our sight seeing and decided to call it a day. Getting back to the hotel was a mission, an extremely tiring one. We ended up taking the public ferry back to train station because it was cheaper and immediately regretted that decision. The whole thing was packed. Everyone friggen crammed together like hot, sweaty, nasty sardines. On top of that workers on the ferry were constantly screaming and shouting things God only knows and caused instant headaches to us all. Finally we got to the station, boarded the train and made it back to the hotel. First day was awesome but I am in shock at the fast-paced life here. I thought Toronto was fast, boy was I wrong. Instead of culture shock slowly approaching me I got slapped in the face and run over by a tuk tuk from it.
It is one month until I say my good-byes. One month until I roll that big suitcase of mine-which will have my life packed in it- and board that plane. One month until my life will forever be changed. One month until I will find out where my mental threshold resides and whether or not I can push beyond those capacities. One month until I experience a new world of everlasting heat and humidity and exactly ONE month until I find out if true love can withstand the test of distance.
Do not think for two seconds that I am not scared to death because I absolutely am. Thinking about what is to come is a scary thought, a lonely thought and intimidating one. However, it is those characteristics that drive me. They are exactly what excite me about venturing into new and unusual waters. I guess you could say I am a wanderer. I lust for it.
Today, July 9, 2015, officially marks two weeks until I leave. Holy cow, does time ever fly! I am not fully sure how I am supposed to be feeling but I sure can tell you I am probably experiencing every emotion even freaking possible! I was shopping for professional work outfits yesterday, which has not been the easiest of tasks, but such is life. Anyways, a retail associate and I started talking about my big move. She asked me a question I have been asked a 100 times this month.
“Are you ready yet?”
In my usual, anxious, classic Chay self I replied “Absolutely freaking not! Not even close.”
Well, I probably shouldn’t over exaggerate. I am very organized and I have the majority of my packing and all my necessary documents ready to go. However, despite my endless hours of planning my mind is not quite as organized.
She ended our conversation by telling me something stuck to me like leather clothes on a hot day (that’s attractive lol).
“You can never be fully ready or prepared enough for the unknown.”
Smart girl. She made a point. An excellent point actually. So I guess I am going to have to get used to this-the unknown. My life for the next year or so is going to be full of it. Time to roll with the punches!
I don’t care if people think travel is a waste of money. To me, it is money well spent. & through such a transaction I don’t gain something materialistic or tangible but I do gain memories that will last a lifetime. To me, that is freakin priceless! ❤