Wanderlust – How I became a Teacher in Thailand

I’m a 23 year old Californian who decided to step a little outside my comfort zone.  Ok, a lot outside my comfort zone.  Now I know I’m not blazing any trails here.  Teaching English in Thailand wasn’t just developed and I know people leave home and travel all the time.  But for me, this was a huge leap of faith. 

I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Psychology.  I played softball for four years and was the centerfielder for the 2005 National Championship team.  This is what has defined me for so long.  Or in other words, this is how I have defined myself.  When I left Michigan, I felt lost.  I was no longer a college athlete or even a college student.  I went from seeing my best friends every waking minute of the day, to never seeing them and barely speaking to them.  I joined the workforce at a small money management firm in my hometown of Pasadena.  But I still felt lost.  I didn’t feel like what I was doing was important or that it was helping me figure out who I really am.  I always yearned for more.  I was constantly thinking of the next big thing I was do or where I was going to go.  But those were just words.  I didn’t have the courage to make them my reality.

Until now.

I realized that I needed to get out.  I needed to see the world and experience another culture, another country.  I needed to push myself and discover that I could depend on myself.  My entire life I have been depending on others.  Not just wanting them in my life, but needing them.  I wanted to change that. 

I chose Thailand.  Everyone asks me why Thailand.  I just felt like that’s where I wanted to go.  Where I needed to go.  I just felt it. 

I started researching what I needed to do to get there.  Teaching is one of the easiest ways to travel and see the world, so I decided to get my TEFL Certification online from International TEFL Teacher Training (ITTT) .  It was a 100-hour course and I felt that it would give me ample time to figure out if this was what I really wanted to do.  Once finished, I received a list of contacts and schools from ITTT and I started rattling off email after email, just hoping to find an opening or get a reply.  No luck.  Most of the openings I found were immediate and I was in no way ready to leave quite yet.  I then found AYC Intercultural Programs Thailand.  They are a company that hires teachers and places them in schools within their network.  It was a guaranteed job.  In Thailand.  Exactly what I wanted.  I took it.   

So here I am.

Being in Thailand has opened my eyes to the amazement of being in another country.  Of living and learning another culture every day.  It has taught me to be on my own, think for myself and rely solely on ME.  It has taught me to relax and go with the flow.  It has taught me that life can be what I want it to be.   It has made me want more.  It has lit that fire in my heart to discover other places, people, history, everything.  It has taught me to feel my dreams, to connect with them and make them a reality. 

Thailand has shown me that I am on the right path.

And It won’t stop at Thailand. You can bet on seeing me somewhere else in the very near future.  Hope you join me on my Wanderlust…from here on…

Advertisements

Transitions

Coming to Thailand was the most overwhelming experience I have ever had.   I had never really been out of my comfort zone.  I had always been surrounded by friends, family and those that I love.  I had never travelled to a foreign country.  I had never been on my own and alone.  Put all of these things together and I found myself completely out of my element.

 It took me a long time to get accustomed to Bangkok and its quick, crowded and crazy lifestyle.  Once I was used to that, I was thrown into the little town of Lang Suan, a town where only 5-6 people are fluent in English, my bathroom was sans sink and flushing toilet, and the sounds of the train tracks 20 meters away and crowing roosters kept me awake all night. 

Two months later, I was comfortable.  I loved my life in my little town.  I was used to the trains passing all through the night.  The roosters were now comforting and were a sign that I was at home.   My transition to my life in Thailand had taken a few months, but I had done it.  I had battled through heartache, solitude, and fear and I had come out on top. 

Then I went home…

I slept in my bed.  I took a hot shower for the first time in months.  I ate food I had been dreaming about. I was able to use my iPhone features again.  I called.  I texted.   I drove my car.  I listened to the radio.  I watched TV.  I hugged my dogs. I saw my most amazing friends.   And most importantly I spent a lot of time with my parents. 

I became so comfortable at home, that even though I had just left “home” in Thailand, I was once again apprehensive to go back.  I definitely hadn’t foreseen that this would be so difficult.  That it would be hard to go back to a place where I was already acclimated and happy.  Where I had friends.  A paradise.  A vacation spot.  A place where I could travel to tropical islands on the weekends and attempt to speak a foreign language. 

I found myself wanting these next few months to go by quickly just so I could be back home again.

Then I went home…Thailand home.  And it fits too.  I know this is where I need to be for the next few months.  Home rejuvenated me.  It helped me close the book on certain aspects of my life and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go.  It inspired me to go out and do more.  Learn more.  Experience more.      

Life is full of these transitions.  Once one chapter is over, another one starts right up and we have to adjust.  We have to start anew.  We have to believe that we are on the right path and we will be stronger because of it.

New Years Resolutions

2009 was a year of many ups and downs, most of which were extremely unprecedented.  I made some big decisions and some big decisions were made for me.  I switched apartments, switched jobs, switched countries, and pretty much switched my life in for a brand new one.  I experienced every emotion in the book and began the adventure of a lifetime.  On January 1st, 2009, I would never have pictured myself where I was this January 1st.

I predict that 2010 will surprise me even more than 2009.  No, I don’t predict that, I make that one of my new years resolutions.  I’ve lived my whole life by other’s terms, other’s priorities, other’s ideas, and other’s values.  Well, now I’m completely on my own terms.  I make the rules.  I make the decisions.  I make my  life the way I want it to be.  My 2010 New Years Resolution is to live my life and make it what I want it.  I’m going to focus on happiness.  There are so many things in life that I know can make me happy, but I need to go for them on my own.  I need to first focus on myself and then project that happiness on to others. 

I will travel.  I will improve my photography and share it with the world.  I will be a great friend even though I am far away.  I will not be afraid.  I will not hold myself back and I will not let others hold me back.  I will forgive, but I will forget.  I will become closer to God and my faith.  I will not give my trust away so easily.  I will not doubt myself.  I will follow my dreams. 

Looks like I’m already off to a great start 🙂

My Photography Challenge – 365 days, 365 photos

Photography is my passion and  I want it to be a part of my everyday life.  I have decided to challenge myself to be creative every day…that is 365 days a year.  I want to see every day life through a different light.  I want to make the uninteresting look interesting.  I want to develop new perspectives and begin to look at life and the world through a different angles.  It will be difficult with travelling and whatnot to post a picture everyday, but that doesn’t mean I won’t whip that camera out every chance I get.  I want to improve and become a better photographer and I believe that this is the only way to do so, and have a little fun while I’m at it!!

I have started a new blog called Shutter Speed.  The link is conveniently on this blogs page and its url is http://myshutterspeed.wordpress.com.  My challenge is to take a new, unique picture every day beginning January 1st 2010.  This will be a challenge on those days where I am feeling lazy and unadventurous, but I want to see what I can do with this idea.  I can use all the encouragement I can get!!

Enjoy my creativity and don’t hestitate to share yours.

My Plan to Travel the World

Being in Thailand has inspired me to travel more. As scary as it has been, I have loved adapting to a completely different culture. It has taken a long time and I know I’m nowhere near assimilation, but I feel worlds more comfortable than I was when I first got here. I always love looking back into my journal and seeing how much I freaked out when I got here. I have written in my journal almost every single day. I have loved sitting in parks, looking at the ocean, enjoying a river, or just laying on my bed. That journal has already been to some of the most amazing places and boy does it have stories to tell. I have transformed since I got here. I have changed into a girl that has learned to depend on herself. I feel comfortable alone. I can walk down a dark alley in a place I haven’t been too before and feel nothing.  Something I would never had thought I could do. I can find my way to a place 6 hours away even though I don’t speak much Thai. I’ve had a lady on the bus yelling at me in Thai about something about having the window down. I subsequently started crying, but nonetheless I got to where I was going. But I have been here and there, and I have done it on my own. And I plan to do a lot on my own.

I have looked into volunteering in different countries around the world. I have found orphanages, national parks, isolated schools, you name it I can find a place to go and I want to go to them all. Of course, I’m realistic and I know that I cannot, but I can dream can’t I?? I want to do South America. I want to become fluent in Spanish. I want to live in another rural place. I want to help people. I want to learn about other countries. I want to enjoy my life. I want to be happy and I think seeing other countries and travelling will make me happy. Not sure how all of this is going to be funded, but its exciting to plan and research. I’ll do it. I know I will. And I know I’ll get support from the ones I love, because that’s all I need.

From here on…

When Kyle decided to join the army I knew that I couldn’t just stay idle.  I needed to do something for myself.  I needed to follow my own dreams.  I never quite understood why he was taking such a risk especially during a time of war until he asked me one night: “Isn’t there something out there that you have ALWAYS wanted to do?”  There was no doubt in my mind that the answer to that question was a resounding yes and I finally understood the yearning in his heart to go and do something he has been dreaming about since he was a little boy. 

I have always wanted to live in another country.  I love America and all, but I want to see the world.  I want to learn about other cultures and I want experience what other people experience.  I never got a chance to take a semester abroad because I was busy fulfilling another dream (playing college softball for the University of Michigan).  I’ve only been to Europe once and I was 13, in eighth grade, and definitely didn’t fully appreciate the historical value of a place that has park benches older than our country. 

My whole life I have depended on others.  No matter what stage of my life I went through I always had someone in my life to lean on.  I wouldn’t have survived college if I didn’t have the best friends in the world.  I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t have such a supportive family.  And I definitely wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t have Kyle there for me these past two years.  I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life surrounded by the most amazing people.  According to Kyle, I’ve lived in this sheltered bubble my whole life, which I’m of course not complaining about.  I like to think that people are inherrently good and  that life is made out of rainbows and sunshine.  But I want to see what else is out there.  I want to witness some adversity.  I want to be on my own and discover that I can depend on myself and not just on others. 

Which is where Thailand comes into the picture.  I quit my job and I’m moving to Thailand for at least six months, maybe longer.  I don’t know anyone and I barely even know where I’m going, but I’m going to make it and its going to be my own. 

And now this is my new life…my new self….from here on…