Twenty-Three Things I learned at 23

1. I want to be an elementary school teacher.

2. Trying to save people who didn’t ask for your help in the first places isn’t a good idea.  Doing so might, in fact, make them a bit peeved.

3. An office is not and will never be a natural work habitat for me (see #1).

4. I have been unconsciously faking extrovert for the past ten or so years…

5. …and that, in turn, has made me rather lost unproductive in a lot of respects.

6. The people who are supposed to be in your life have a habit of showing up without fuss.

7. The Washington bus system is cheaper and less high maintenance than the Washington Metro.

8. Other people process the world differently than me, and that’s okay.

9. Social progress isn’t necessarily fluid or constant (or, America can, indeed, elect a Continue reading “Twenty-Three Things I learned at 23”

2017 Goals: The Good Year

Sometimes, I say/write things that aren’t true. Not because I’m a compulsive liar or enjoy throwing people for a loop. Not because I enjoy tripping myself up (because I really don’t).

Sometimes, I say things aren’t true because my whole life is organized around my internal processing skills (both a joy and a pain of being an INFJ personality type). Sometimes, what I actually want/think/believe takes some time to catch up to what I think I want/think/believe.

Truthfully, it’s all a bit of a pain in the ass sometimes, but it’s the way I roll.

— — — —

At the beginning of 2016, I wrote about my lofty goals for the year.

They were very much internal goals and, correspondingly, I spent much more time in 2016 trying to figure myself out and grow as a person than I have in the previous 22 years of my life combined. All the outward changes in my life were based on these internal goals–my decision to leave Thailand and move back to the United States was very much based off of an internal understanding that the growth I needed to accomplish at that time couldn’t be done in a country and culture that were so far away from my comfort zone. My decision to travel to Europe for two weeks was based on a desire to find comfort with an old friend after a jarring few months in Asia, and my decision to move to Washington, DC, was based on an intuitive feeling that it’s where I needed to be to find a bit more of myself.

Even before I decided to leave Thailand, I knew 2016 needed to be a year of internal change–and it proved to be exactly that.

At the beginning of 2016, I had an intuitive feeling that it was going to be memorable and life changing…and it was.

Now, at the beginning of 2017, I have this very intuitive feeling that it’s going to be a good year. What does good mean exactly? I guess I’ll find out, but I’ve also learned in the past few months that more often than not, I can’t simply trust my intuition–I must act on it.

— — — —

I recently texted a friend that I’ve been feeling a bit directionless lately–which was, in the moment, a true statement. That said, in the aftermath of pressing the send button, I found myself feeling very negatively that I had expressed that statement at all. I had a moment a few hours after sending that message where I thought, I think I’m feeling directionless right now…but am I really? It was a classic INFJ moment of clarity that got the wheels actively turning in my head towards a changed mindset.

It’s true that I have been feeling directionless lately but, contrary to that feeling, in the past month I’ve actually started the process of setting out a very clear direction in front of me. I realized in my moment of clarity that the feeling I had of directionless wasn’t a lack of direction in itself–it was a fear of following the direction I’m realizing I want for myself now. Continue reading “2017 Goals: The Good Year”

Early November 2016

Lately, every time I sit down to write a blog post, nothing makes enough sense to put it into words. Or maybe it all makes perfect sense and I just think too much. I’m not sure.

I always want to be writing, but I have no words; I only recently started to understand that maybe that’s okay.

My life is full of so many emotions and ideas and experiences right now and I understand none of it.

One of the main reasons I use writing–and  one of the main reasons I started blogging–is to makes sense of it all. To process and better understand this crazy, complicated, confusing life.

However, I’ve been realizing more and more lately that maybe it doesn’t have to make sense.

Maybe I should just let it happen and see what happens and enjoy the ride.

I’m not done blogging and I’m certainly not done writing.

There is just no room for pondering why right now.

I just want to live instead.

A Day Trip to Si Satchanalai

When I was planning my trip to Sukhothai, I knew I wanted to stay there for a few days. While I knew Sukhothai Historical Park was the main attraction for visitors coming to Sukhothai Province, I decided to look into other things to do in the area to keep me busy for the entirety of my stay. When I travel, I like to spend at least a few days in a given area. I tire easily (a reality of being a highly sensitive person) and I also like to take time to really get to know and appreciate an area. I’d always rather see less overall on a trip and take in as much as I can in one place than constantly be moving from place to place. During my trip to Sukhothai, I was satisfied to just explore the town of New Sukhothai on one day and had Sukhothai Historical Park planned for another day. Given that I had three full days in Sukhothai, I wanted to find another adventure to go on elsewhere in the province for the third day.

Enter Si Satchanalai. Si Satchanalai (more commonly know as Si Satch by the locals) is a district in Sukhothai Province about an hour north of New Sukhothai, the capital city of the province. It is home to Si Satchanalai Historical Park, a veritable treasure trove of gorgeous temple ruins in a wooded and rustic setting.

Si Satch was the sister city of Old Sukhothai and the administrative center of the Sukhothai Kingdom.

Lovers of history and architecture and those travelers intrigued by sites off the main tourist path will love Si Satch. It’s a bit out of the way and requires more planning, more walking/biking, and definitely more water (a mistake I ran into that I will get to later), but, as someone who is both a history nerd and appreciates places outside the main tourist path, I absolutely adored Si Satch–and came away with a few lessons about solo travel along the way. I wouldn’t recommend going to Si Satch in place of Sukhothai Historical Park–you’d be missing out on a lot of really great sites and culture by doing that–but if you have an extra day in Sukhothai Province and aren’t put off by spending two days in a row visiting ancient cities, I definitely recommend the trip to Si Satch; it is an absolute gem of a place. Overall, I found my experience Continue reading “A Day Trip to Si Satchanalai”

My Search for Personal Independence

One of the things I have always prided myself on is my independence.

I have never felt the need to go along with the most recent trends (as teenage Britta proclaimed more than once with much disdain, “Ugg boots are so appropriately named…because they’re soo ugly”) or to go along with societal ideals that make little sense or seem soul-sucking (there seriously has to be a more productive and effective method of working than the 9-5 job construct). I am a firm believer that we have built a society around ourselves that is much too complex, and the idea of having to participate in it is, really, somewhat maddening.

I listen to my heart and do what feels right, regardless of what other people think.

I mean, this is how I ended up in Thailand in the first place. That independent spirit, that desire for adventure and, quite frankly, the desire to avoid our ever-complicated society for as long as possible.

Seemed simple, right?

In fact, for me, it was almost too simple.

When I tell people about my Thailand experience, I often hear, “Oh, you are so brave. I could never do that.” Meaning, they could never move to a different country with a completely different language and culture.

Well let me tell you, it was hard. Living there was hard. The country and the culture were so exhausting to me and, as much as I wanted to become more comfortable there, to call Thailand a long-term home (because, oh, I did want that), it eventually became quite apparent that that wasn’t going to happen.

So, yes, actually living there didn’t work out for me. But–getting on a plane and actually moving there? Geez, that was almost too easy. Too easy that I barely even thought about it. And you know why? Because once I got there, I didn’t have to Continue reading “My Search for Personal Independence”

The View from Home

It’s an incredibly good feeling, knowing that you did the right thing for yourself regardless of how hard it was or how difficult it was to get there.

As I watched the plane I was on for the first length of my journey back to the States take off from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok a handful of days ago, I was overcome with a burst of emotion and I started to cry. They were brief tears. They didn’t last long. But they were tears none-the-less.

It’s really hard to explain my feelings toward Thailand. How, at  times, while I was living there, I hated it. How unhappy I was while I was living there. How I couldn’t wait to leave when I was preparing for my two week trip to Europe in mid-March.

While in Europe, the friend I was visiting with gave me some really good advice. At that point, I was still feeling a lot of animosity towards Thailand for the hardships I experienced while living there; I was more than happy to be spending time on European soil. I was telling her how much Continue reading “The View from Home”

Where in the World am I?

Since I’ve been rather silent here on the blog for the past few weeks…

Currently: Northern Thailand. I am presently sitting in a small room in the guest house I’ll be staying in for the next few days as I explore a new part of Thailand. There’s no AC and it’s a bit dingy, but it was mega cheap and I can’t complain. It’s also quaint and homey and hearing the calm conversation of the Thai people and the small fountain outside my window is quite comforting.

The last two weeks: Denmark and Germany. I had such a wonderful time being shown around Europe by an old friend who is an au pair there. Her and her friends made my experience there so memorable. More to come on that later.

The next two weeks: Thailand. I have a few days to myself and am using that to embark on a short solo trip. My parents will arrive soon and I can’t wait to show them around this country that I’ve called home for the past six months. For now, it’s just me, myself, and the small amount of possessions I’ve carried with me for the last six months.

Later (or, when the next two weeks are over): Minnesota, U.S.A. It’ll be strange to be back in my hometown but I’m ready. These last few months have been really hard for me, but I’m so grateful for all that I’ve taken away from them and all that I’ve been able to see and do in the process. Thailand will always be one of my homes on this Earth, but it’s time to move on.

I expect to have a lot to write about once I return to U.S. soil.

Stay tuned.

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Møns Clint, Denmark. Taking it all in.

Travel Realizatons–The Value of Putting Money into Experiences

Last March, when I took a road trip to Seattle with two of my best friends from college, we had one simple motto that was our official trip slogan: “Save money, live better.” (I claim no originality for this…we did knowingly borrow said slogan from Walmart)

In many ways, I would say we were successful. We booked a hostel dorm room instead of paying for a more expensive hotel room (and, as a result, met some awesome new friends). Other than a few overly expensive dinners (one of those was an accident due to a misunderstanding between us and our waitress about a nightly special), we kept our food expenditure pretty low. We relied on our feet to walk around the city instead of using up gas. We also took in as many free sites in Seattle as possible–Pike Place Market, the gorgeous waterfront, and the architecturally fabulous Seattle Public Library to name a few.

That said, I left Seattle with an unfinished feeling that I can only now describe–after allowing for time and space and clarity–as lack of satisfaction with my time there. Really, I find myself wondering if we did indeed, live better by saving money the way we did. It’s not that I didn’t have a great time, because I did and I will always cherish the memories with my two college friends there. More so, there was the fundamental feeling that I had missed out on so much of the city because generally speaking, if it cost money, we didn’t do it. In our poor college student minds, this was logical to us. We were still seeing and experiencing a new place, so what Continue reading “Travel Realizatons–The Value of Putting Money into Experiences”

To Be a Traveler

When I first decided to come to Thailand, traveling wasn’t a priority.

I came to Thailand because I’ve always been interested in living abroad for a time and I had recently developed a interest in education.

Sure, I guess I figured I would occasionally go on trips and I had talked with blogger friends who live a reasonable distance from Thailand about potentially visiting them.

That said, I never considered that traveling would ever become a part of my identity.

Than again, there’s so much about Thailand that I never considered would happen–the amazing, life-long friends I’d meet in my TESOL course…how deeply I care about my students and how badly I want them to succeed…how in love I became with this country in such a short amount of time…how I sometimes think about how I’m twenty-two years old and I live and work in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area and holy man, this is the amazing, post-college life I have created for myself. No, I never considered any of that. How could I? When I signed myself up to move to Thailand, I knew I’d learn a lot in the process–but didn’t realize how fundamentally it would change me.

As I move on with my life here, as I become more aware of why I’m here and what I hope to accomplish as an expat, I’m realizing more and more that I do identify a a traveler.

To be a traveler requires a whole different mindset. To be a traveler requires less of a concentration on material goods and more on living and breathing and experiencing. To be a traveler requires an understanding that money is necessary to get from place to place–and that a lot less of it is needed than one might think.

As I look ahead to my two month semester break in March and April, I’m realizing that if I want Continue reading “To Be a Traveler”