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.

IMG_20160319_141431799
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”

It’s Christmas?

Oh hey, I guess it’s December 25th today.

By western standards, that means it’s Christmas.

By Britta living in a primarily Buddhist country standards–it means it’s just another day. As in, oh hey, I work today!

Tis the season to be jolly?

Sure doesn’t feel like it! For someone who’s used to spending the holidays in a frigid climate, I can’t grasp my head around the fact that it’s December…the holiday season…that it’s almost the new year.

It all feels weird and I’m okay with that…because lately, in the last couple years, I’ve been finding the holiday season more stressful than anything. Because I love this country and don’t want to be anywhere else in the world.

Most Thais view Christmas as a western curiosity–so yes, we are having Christmas festivities at school today, and yes, there are decorations here and there (by here and there, I mean primarily at Tesco). But it feels different. It doesn’t have the same meaning here.

In Thailand, I’ll be celebrating Christmas (and Hanukkah, even though that ended a few weeks ago) with some of TESOL friends. That said, it WILL be different because it IS different. This is Continue reading “It’s Christmas?”

When Your School Abandons You on a Country Road for Boy Scout Camp and You’re Just Kind of Like, “Whaatt?”

Okay, so the word ‘abandon’ is a bit excessive.

They did come back to get us eventually!

— — —

Boy Scout Camp rolled around at my school at the end of November. For three days, the upper primary students slept over at school and participated in many different team building activities. They put on lengthy show for parents on Thursday night and got to experience a lot of fun activities.

The kindergarten and lower primary students didn’t have to come to school on these days.

By contrast, the western teachers were expected to be there on Thursday and Friday to put on activities for the boys and girls at camp…

…which included sitting in the hot sun for five hours in the middle of nowhere waiting for the students as they made their way through a three mile hike on the country roads around the Continue reading “When Your School Abandons You on a Country Road for Boy Scout Camp and You’re Just Kind of Like, “Whaatt?””

Contemplations on My Place in Thailand Thus Far

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days.

Processing everything that has happened in the last two weeks.

Trying to understand everything that has happened from the good, the not so good (and yes, there has been some of that), and the just plain stressful (and perhaps there has been a bit too much of that).

I’ve been thinking a lot, as I do…and I’ve come to this perhaps profound(?) realization:

I am not in Thailand.

……………….

Okay, yes, physically, if you pin point my location on a map, I am currently located in Northern Thailand in the city of Chiang Mai. Currently, you will find me writing up this blog post at the most Western ass coffee shop possibly in the whole city, if not the whole province (it’s almost obnoxiously cutesy and hipster, grossly overpriced, an expats haven…and man does it feel like home).

So, yes, I am in Thailand.

But you know, just because you are physically somewhere doesn’t mean a whole lot. I think Continue reading “Contemplations on My Place in Thailand Thus Far”

What are You Doing in this Room. Right Here. Right Now.

I’ve spent so much of my life afraid.

Afraid of everything–anything that was different, anything outside my comfort zone, new people and ideas.

Perhaps it came from my own social anxiety and perhaps there was something more….but if there’s anything, I’m a pro at being uncomfortable.

I always felt like there was something inherently different about myself. Not in the “you’re special” type of way but more that I didn’t connect with anyone. I still struggle to build meaningful relationships with people today.

I’ve always been exceptionally independent, but for some reason, growing up, I thought that was weird. I thought being an introvert was weird.

I couldn’t accept myself so I looked for someone else to latch on to.

Enter sexually and emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend of almost two years.

I had never been in a relationship before and I felt like I needed one more than anything in the world. I had my first kiss at 18, and I was kind of ashamed of that. I desired a reationship in high school and there were some potential suitors. But I was sooooo shy it just never happened.

So, when I saw ex-boyfriend in my orientation group at college in the fall of 2011, I decided to pursue him. He was attractive. Quiet. But I was curious.

I don’t regret my relationship with him. I wouldn’t be the person I am without it. He never meant to hurt me. We recently chatted after graduation and he told he felt terrible for what he Continue reading “What are You Doing in this Room. Right Here. Right Now.”

An Ode to the Gas Station I Called Home this Summer

I’m not one who believes everything happens for a reason.

Life is too sporadic, too uncertain for every single thing in this life to happen for a specific reason.

Life just happens. We make meaning out of what happens. What happens affects us whether for better or for worse. But I don’t believe there’s any rhyme or reason behind it. One small second, change of plan, different action could have changed something, everything. But it didn’t…and life goes on.

I also believe that the best things in life happen when we aren’t looking.

So, around four months ago when I found a job posting on Indeed.com for an espresso bar barista at a gas station situated in the suburb over from where I live, I wasn’t looking for a life changing experience. I was simply looking for something to keep me busy between graduating from college in May and heading off on my next big adventure as an English teacher in Thailand
in September. A full time job where I could earn enough money to be able to pay for all my Thailand travel expenses without having to worry too much about finances, while spending the Continue reading “An Ode to the Gas Station I Called Home this Summer”

Vulnerability

I’m feeling vulnerable right now.

For a lot of reasons, really. I don’t think I can properly explain it all entirely.

I’m feeling vulnerable and I’m going to tell you about it because I hate pretending I’m okay when I’m not and I think, in general, humans are too apt to cover up less-than-cheerful feelings. I think, in general, humans are too afraid to really feel.

Well, I’m feeling a lot right now and I’m not sure I can articulate all of those feels because their
pretty damn complex, but I’m going to make an effort because I’m a writer and this is how I do.


I’m feeling vulnerable because I spent the last hour of work today wiping counters that didn’t need to be wiped and washing dishes that didn’t need to be washed. I didn’t get a single order Continue reading “Vulnerability”

Guest Post: Britta of It’s a Britta Bottle, On Choosing to Let Life Happen

Back in late November, early December, I connected with this blogger whom I have next to nothing in common with, but who none-the-less welcomed me into the blogosphere and made me feel like I could actually succeed at this blogging thing.

Eli, from Coach Daddy, was one of the first bloggers I connected with here on WordPress. A father of three girls and a general sports guru, he writes about parenting and sports, among other things, on his own blog. As a young twenty-something who has no intention of becoming a parent anyy time soon and who generally doesn’t follow sports at all, we really don’t have anything in common on the surface. Yet, we still made this awesome connection based on our shared love of writing and words.

When he asked me to guest post for him, again, wayy back around six months ago, I was thrilled. The knowledge that someone else wanted to showcase my work on their blog was a huge confidence booster for me, back when I was a baby blogger, and I eagerly looked forward to this summer guest post with fervor.

“On Transition Periods and Why I’m Choosing to Let Life Happen” was published today, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way it turned out. I would love if you could all take a mosey on over to read it (the link is below). Seriously. I am so proud of this piece and Eli has formatted it beautifully. Writing this was such a pleasure for me. When it all comes down to it, this is what blogging is all about. These connections and the amazing collaborations that can come out of such connections. This is why I write and this is why I blog. This is why this community is such a beautiful thing.

Guest Post: Britta of It’s a Britta Bottle, On Choosing to Let Life Happen.