I’m down to my last two weeks of living in Thailand and I’ve been thinking back on everything I have learned while I’ve been here. I always believed that traveling is the best way to learn and it has proven to be true every single trip, although I can’t tell my students that because then they won’t listen to me haha. Here are a few of the lessons I have taken with me from Thailand.
1. Take a Chill Pill!
Living in Thailand even if you aren’t in close proximity to a beach still has that laid back beach vibes. You can call this the Mai Pen Rai lifestyle. It means don’t worry, everything will be alright.
Ordering food will take a long time and sometimes also receiving it. You’ll walk by and find shop owners taking an afternoon nap in a hammock. If you’re going to be a teacher don’t expect to start class on time, it takes a while to get the crazy students to settle down.
Get used to not wearing much make-up or being bare-faced most of the time due to the climate. Also, your hair will never look perfect for long. All of this made truly made me feel freedom. Everything is up to you (Favorite Thai saying actually). Embrace the lifestyle and take a break from any rules society was trying to input on your life, it’s a total awakening.
2. Be Less Materialistic
I only expected to be here for 4 months and then head back home so I brought a backpack with teaching clothes and maybe 3 weekend outfits. I got sick of the same old outfits everyday so I had to mix everything up to feel a bit better about my wardrobe.
Having less, helps you be more creative and also save money. I never bought a scooter but bought a cheap hot pink bicycle to get around that I can give away once I leave. I started watercolor painting and have decorated my room with those. I even made chocolate chip cookies with a rice cooker!
Thailand is still a third world country and it’s very apparent if you’ve visited. Look around in any neighborhood and you’ll see tin houses and the people sleeping on their floor. This alone just makes you feel guilty of your “Super Size Life” back home and you realize that even though you are missing many items you would normally have back home, you still have it good.
I admit I miss my shoes terribly…. and might have actually shed a tear over them…
3. Take Care of Your Skin
Living in Florida means you grow up very aware of how to protect yourself from the harmful sun rays. Don’t judge me but when I was a kid I thought it was cool to have a sunburn…So I would purposely run away from my mom trying to rub sunscreen on me. Let’s just say I’ve been making up for that and I wear sunscreen everyday.
Thai people are obsessed with porcelain skin and Thailand also happens to be on fire the entire 365 days of the year. Seeing the extremes Thai people go to, to avoid the sun has made me more aware. I now make sure I carry sunscreen with me at all times to reapply and I also bought a windbreaker so I can wear while riding the scooter.
At 25 years old and sporting my first tan, you realize Thai sun is no joke.
4. Kindness Goes A Long Way
Thailand, the land of smiles. It’s a good start to describing Thailand but it goes way deeper than just smiles.
The kindest and generosity of the people is truly heart-warming. Mr. Scrooge could have definitely benefited from a trip to Thailand. I’ve always considered myself to be a kind and helpful person but living in Thailand you realize how much more you can do.
Neighbors feeding me, random people giving me rides to 7/11 because they don’t want me to walk in the dark, a couple of guys driving the scooter with a flat to the repair shop and then coming back to pick my friends up and I, taking me back to Bangkok from the Cambodian border for free because I forgot my passport ( I know, what an idiot) and the tuk tuk driver offering his hat so the sun wouldn’t bother my eyes are all just a few examples of the kind-hearted Thai people.
I could never thank them enough for welcoming me into their community and getting the feeling of being home. When you visit Thailand, remember a smile goes a long way. It will completely change your experience here.
5. Embrace the Spontaneous
So 2 weeks after the interview, I was on my flight to Thailand not knowing much about the country and knowing nothing about the town I was going to live in because Google only brought up one result about the town.
Weekend trips were always planned the day of because once you’re in Thailand you realize anything can happen and you only get a couple of hours notice. Also, I got into a relationship without looking or planning on this happening as I was taking a break but when you meet someone wonderful you trust your heart. I decided to stay another semester even though I had already bought a plane ticket home.
Now, Mark and I spontaneously decided to move to Taiwan together. Talk about nerve wrecking!
All my spontaneous decisions have been the best memories of my life and hell yeah I was scared but that’s the point of life right. To be scared but to do it any ways. So try something new that scares you, everything will turn out perfectly. Trust me.
6. Thai Food= Spicy
This is probably the most important lesson learned in Thailand and listen carefully. No matter how long you live in Thailand, you will never be able to eat Thai spicy! it’s just impossible, so stick to Farrang spicy. 🙂
P.s. Get used to coughing and closing your eyes when you walk by a food stall from all the spices in the air.
So go out there! Try new things that scare you, actually take notice of the world around you, and make this the life you’ve dreamt of for so long.