With our RTW 2.0 behind us, it’s hard to believe that a whole summer has gone by. It’s also hard to believe that we’re already into our second year of teaching at ABAC. Given that we’ve been here for some time now and are really feeling like we know the ropes, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the past year and also look ahead to the new one (and I’m talking in terms of school years here:).
This summer was incredible. Every single day we were visiting amazing new places, from beautiful beaches to huge volcanoes to stunning rice terraces to underwater life like you can’t even imagine. For me, it was another summer filled with firsts (I swam with my first sharks, climbed my first volcano, etc.). As you may recall from before we left on this whole journey, the trip we took this summer was one of the main reasons that we left our jobs and lives in the US and also the main reason that we chose Bangkok as our new home – we wanted to travel through SE Asia.
It was amazing getting to see all the places we’ve been dreaming about for the past few years. What was even more amazing though was that after traveling through 6 different countries filled with many different types of people, religions, cultures, food, and more, we are happier than ever with our choice to make Bangkok our home. Now that we’ve seen much of this amazing part of the world, Dave and I can both confidently say that Thailand and Bangkok was 100% the right move for us. 6 SE Asian countries later, and Thailand is still our favorite country with our favorite people, and of course, our favorite food.
By the end of our three month trip, both Dave and I were ready to come home – with home being Thailand. We never could have imagined that a country so foreign could ever feel like home to us, but it does. And that’s a nice feeling.
What’s even better is that we both couldn’t wait to get back to our jobs. For maybe the first time ever, we were actually excited to come back to work. We weren’t just not dreading it as we both did so many times after coming back from vacation to our jobs in the US, we were actually excited to go back to work. Imagine that!
We’ve been back at school for a couple weeks now and it’s been really nice to get back to our everyday, normal routines. Going to the grocery store on Sundays to pick up food for our BBQs, picking up our favorite coffee frappes from the lady next to our apartment after we work out on the weekends, making our sandwiches for lunch during the week, going for runs before class during the week, having our weekly Thursday night out near our campus apartment, eating at our campus mall (which we like to say is like a little mini SE Asian Epcot)… we missed all of these things and it’s been great getting back to them.
And it’s also been fun discovering all of the new things that happened since we left. There’s a new Subway on our campus which is pretty much my dream come true (you may remember I used to be the Mayor of Subway in Chicago!). We also recently discovered a fancy mall (called the Nine) near our city home with a bunch of trendy Western restaurants, a local craft brewery and a nearby burger joint. And just last weekend, we discovered a very local market selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to all kinds of meat and seafood. We’re already planning to add it into our mix for our Sunday night bbqs.
In addition to missing the social aspect of living in Thailand, we also missed our students and teaching. Now that we’re a couple of semesters into our teaching jobs and really feeling like we have the hang of everything and know what we’re doing, I for one feel very content and very happy to be back. I had missed seeing my students every day, I had missed getting those looks from them that signal that they actually understand something I’ve taught them, I had missed teaching!
Before we moved here and before we started our jobs, I had never expected to feel that way. I figured it would be just another job, a means to an end (our end being traveling throughout Asia). Now that we have a few semesters under our belt though, I can say that teaching has been just as much of an experience for me, just as eye opening, and I think will shape me just as much as our travels have. I am so thankful that we decided on this path rather than our original plan of just traveling for 6 months or a year.
Going into this experience Dave and I figured we’d be in Thailand for a year. We told ourselves over and over that if we didn’t like it, all we had to do was get through was a year – or maybe not even that. We told ourselves we could leave anytime we wanted. Well, one year later and I don’t think either of us could have ever imagined just how happy we’d be. It really is amazing the difference that a year can make, isn’t it?
In fact, we like it so much that this semester we started taking Thai language classes (and Dave is starting to take muy thai lessons). We figure we’ll at least be here for another couple of years so knowing the language would be nice. Plus, after living here for a year, we almost feel guilty for not knowing any Thai yet (particularly since our students, and everyone else it seems, are trying oh so hard to speak English). So we figure we owe it to them to try to learn their language. We’re not sure if we’ll succeed, but we’ll at least give it a shot.