Here I sit on a scorching (95 degrees to be exact) yet beautiful day in Suratthani. Don’t let the title fool you, I’m not actually packing. It has been god knows how long since I have written a personal blog. Everything I’ve written since my last post on here has been for Tickets To:. I would attribute my blog-o-sphere silence to what is probably 61% laziness, 35% being busy-ness, and 4% not-giving-a-shit-ness (it took me longer than I’d like to admit to find out if those percentages were equal to 100%, and even now I’m not really sure. Math is hard.) Oh, and I forgot to factor in how much I hate my new computer. My Mac to PC transition has been a struggle to say the least, but alas I am but a pauper.
My electronics are starting to turn on me thanks to the incessant humidity, my clothes are worn and holey, and the goodbyes have begun. This all means one thing, the time has come to move on. My time here is quickly coming to an end.
Honestly, I thought I’d be ready for this impending moment. I thought I’d have my bags packed waiting for a tuk tuk to take me to the bus station. I’d say goodbye to this hot, smelly, bug ridden place and never look back. Exhibit A. My journal entry from night #1 in Surat:
April 30th, 2013
I’m completely overwhelmed, tired and I don’t know how to feel. I’m scared and totally out of my element and a little uncomfortable. I need to sleep to keep from being so negative right now, but my biggest fear is that I made a mistake. Hopefully a few months down the road I will look at this first entry and the fact that I counted how many days were left, and laugh.
A few months after and I still wasn’t laughing. In fact that journal countdown became an I-phone app which included countdowns to the last day of school, the end of my contract, my trip to Italy, and my eventual return home.
At the beginning teaching only made my hatred worse. It was hard and draining and my students were disobedient. I had no idea who I was as a teacher either. Do I want them to love me or hate me? Hug me or fear me? Ultimately, I opted to be on the stricter side. However, by the end of this semester, despite the language barrier and my tough-guy attitude, my students finally got me and vice versa. I was finally able to show them my real personality; to joke with them and have fun. My favorite phrase that I was able to teach them this year was “I’m just kidding.”
You know that one, right? Now imagine trying to explain that to a child who can’t speak English. My approach:
Teacher, what is kidding?
Ummmmmmm…. it’s like a funny lie.
Maybe not the best explanation, but I was put on the spot. Anyway, I started sarcastically answering my students incessant ridiculous questions.
Teacher play game today?
NO, WE HAVE A TEST!!!
No, I’m just kidding.
At first I was always met with a look of fear or bewilderment. Eventually they started to get it. They would ask me for their test grades and I would tell them they all got 0%. They wouldn’t even flinch. They’d just smile, roll their eyes, and say “Teacher kidding.” God I’ll miss that. Whoops off track…
My life started to get markedly better right around my birthday. We all traveled to Koh Phagnan. Koh Phagnan is one of Thailand’s most famous islands, known mostly for its crazy parties held every month for the full moon. Thankfully my birthday fell on an off weekend so we got to spend some leisurely time on the island. I started to come out of my shell and to really get to know what would be become my Thailand family. It was one of my best birthdays thus far. Which I never would have expected spending it with people I hardly knew.
That is by far my favorite thing about living abroad. The quick yet strong bonds you make with people along the way. The bonds that allow you to message people you met one day on an island to see where they’ll be next weekend. Or to offer them a couch to sleep on if they’re coming through Surat. That’s one huge reason I made the decision to come here in the first place. After my amazing experience in Italy, I craved those types of friendships again.
But I work against myself. I’m always cautious when meeting new people at the start of a trip. My self-conscious fueled craziness triggers the voices in my head to tell me that people don’t really like me. That they think I’m too loud, too annoying, too immature, too American, the list goes on. Sometimes they get the best of me. At the start I was convinced that everyone here didn’t have time for me, didn’t really care to know me, or even that they hated me. Now after writing that down I finally realize how self-important that was. They were all going through their own adjustments to Thailand and I was busy being reclusive and sad.
To say that it all turned around is an understatement. I don’t love Surat. I don’t know if I even love Thailand. What I do love are people. Once I dropped the pitiful insecure act I made some fucking amazing friends. (And yes mom the use of the f-word was warranted there). People who have taught me how to travel, how to teach, how to adjust, and how to accept good and bad things about myself.
So my current countdowns are as follows:
17 days until my contract is over
20 days until my tour through Northern Thailand
32 days until I land in Italy
and 47 days until I’m home.
Can I say I’m happy to leave, yes and no. Can I say I want to stay, no. Basically, what’s happening is what always happens. I’m sad to say goodbye to this chapter and the people in it. All of us, living and working together, and making memories that we can really only share with each other.
So in typical Haley fashion I’ve compiled a list of thank-yous to the people who have changed my life along the way.
To Dannie (my roommate and semi-fictional husband): Thanks for dealing with my messiness and allowing me to finally admit that I am a messy person. Thank you for pulling the hair out of the drain because you know that makes me gag. For listening to me read my blogs/cover letters/resumes etc. aloud like your an 80 year old in a nursing home. Really, thanks for being an all around great roommate. I couldn’t have wished for a better one.
To Nikki: Thank you for being a sounding board and mentor for all of my crazy thoughts, confessions, and feelings. Despite what you may believe you are a great listener and have offered me a shit-ton of great advice. And despite what others think, you are definitely not Jessa from Girls. She is a calloused, drug addict, bitch. Seriously, you need to call-out whoever told you that.
To Dani Jo: Thank you so much for taking me to Ayutthaya and for not getting matching elephant tattoos with me. Although, I’m not really convinced we would have regretted that. For trying to cuddle with me and getting sand in my bed. For introducing us all to banana cakes and for teaching me how to say not spicy.
To Angela: Thank you for introducing me to Indian mud masks and for being unwaveringly positive and upbeat in every situation. (Especially that time I thought I lost my wallet in Bali. Woah, flashback of my feelings at that moment.)
To Cat: Thank you for always ordering at the Issan restaurant and for not strangling me over dirty napkins.
To James: Thank you for putting up with my incessant abuse and for being the brunt of my workplace angst or simply for being my ‘big brother’. Also for encouraging me to sing again. I seriously can’t thank you enough for that. Long live ‘the band’.
To Daniel Cliffe of Daniel and the Cliffehangers: Thank you for telling me to stay. Oh, and for being a constant form of entertainment in the staff room. Whether I was laughing with you or at you, it was always a great time.
To Ness and Shane: Thank you or cooking with me and opening your home. Ness thank you for sharing your recipes and teaching me how to ride a motorbike. You were both sorely missed this past semester!
To Sophie: Thank you for introducing me to that wooden bar on Donnok that I still don’t know the name of. For assuring me that my time here would fly by (it definitely has). For helping me organize my birthday weekend and for always being so damn sweet to me.
To Joel: Thanks for jamming with James and I. For sharing my love of Say Anything and for singing along to all the angsty punk songs from the early 2000s with me.
To Philip Hardwick: Thank you for allowing me to be part of what became a 3 musketeers type situation between you, Dannie, and I. For not allowing me to fall asleep in my pancakes and also making me feel like a quitter for going to bed. For your heart wrenching rendition of Hello at the staff party. For being the absolute worst person to double with on a motorbike. And finally, for teaching me what a double breasted suit was and how to dress a man for pretty much any occasion. I’m sure that will come in handy someday.
To Marie Eve: Thank you for attempting to help me with my short lived goal to learn how to speak French. For our “party trick” filled Samui weekend, and for always laughing at my jokes.
To Holly: Thank you for all of your Thai cooking knowledge. For our spontaneous heartfelt chats and for sympathizing with my homesickness.
To Jenn: Thank you for being so sweet and genuine and for being totally unapologetic about your weird side. I love that about you.
To Julia: Thank you for playing Mom and for always dealing with my pre-coffee crankiness in the morning. Remember, anything said or done before coffee doesn’t count.
To Pete: Thank you for educating me on British humor (excuse me humour) and consistently keeping me on my toes with your sarcasm. For allowing me to be the shittiest character when we played Fireboy and Watergirl. And for doing a perfect Ygritte accent.
To Patch: Thank you for dealing with all my work related nonsense. And also for encouraging me to argue with that rooster on my birthday. And the eyebrow dances to Du Hast. Basically, any and all of the weekend shenanigans.
To Mari: Thank you for always being brutally honest and considerate. Also for the hand massages and the crystal you gave me in Penang.
To Annika: Thank you for all of the intelligent and heartfelt chats, for pretending to enjoy Twin Peaks with me, and for hitting that guy in the neck with a Frisbee in Koh Lak. That last one will always make me laugh.
To Rachel: Thank you for all of the teaching advice and for always joining into our ridiculous conversations in the staff room.
To Dan: Thank you for the entertaining performance at Beer Olympics and for the hair cutting fiasco that followed. Also sorry for not hugging you the other night. I swear it wasn’t personal.
To Maggie: Thank you for the incessant compliments even though I cannot accept them, and for being very straightforward about trying to be my friend. I know my bitch face can sometimes be intense, but I swear I want to be your friend too.
To Emily: Thank you for finding the lava cake and for dealing with my desk overflow all year. And for helping me work on my goal of getting an EU passport.
In conclusion, I’m beyond satisfied with my experience and I’m looking forward to making the best of the time we have left. It wasn’t easy, but it was pretty damn memorable. Sending unbelievable amounts of love to my Thailand family. You will always have a place to stay in Central Pennsylvania. Hopefully, someday I’ll be able to offer you a place to stay in Italy (it’s a work in progress).