วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 2 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2552

One Year Later

Exactly one year ago today I said goodbye to my small town, my family, friends, my boyfriend…. And boarded the plane to Thailand. I never admitted it to anyone until just a couple of months ago, but when I said my final goodbyes at the airport and walked through that security gate all on my own… I burst into tears. The year that followed was definitely the experience of a lifetime.. And I will never regret deciding to go to Thailand, even if the Thai culture and lifestyle has shaped me into a different person.. A person who no longer “fits in” in Canada. Yesterday was Canada day. I wore a t-shirt with the Thai flag on it… and maybe on some subconscious level I was making a statement about which country I really prefer (although I wasn’t thinking about it in the morning when I was getting dressed.. All I thought was that it was the nicest clean shirt I had…) Honestly, I wish I could tell you all that life was going great here, and that it was like I never left… I wish I could tell AFS that they were wrong when they told us going back to our home countries would be harder than going abroad…. They gave us these huge pamphlets when we were getting ready to depart back home about how when we got back there were 2 routes we could take:

1. We could just forget about everything we learned and experienced while away, and fit right back into society and with our group of friends.

2. We could refuse to forget about everything we learned and experienced while away, but in turn probably not fit in with society or with our group of friends.

And really, AFS was right when they gave us this information.

Personally, the idea of forgetting everything I went through terrifies me… if I’m just going to forget it all, then what was the point of going on exchange in the first place? As much as it disturbed me at the time, I don’t want to forget what it was like to walk past a group of men watching a cock fight while getting my laundry… I don’t want to forget what it was like to not know what the hell I was eating… to realize that the loud bang I had heard outside my bedroom window was a bomb… to be woken up at five in the morning by the mosque call… to travel through downtown Bangkok (one of the scariest, craziest cities in the world) on public transportation all by myself…. To have friends who didn’t speak my language at all.. To truly feel like a member of a family who were a different race and a different religion (okay, now I’m starting to get a little too nostalgic and sappy (something I’m never a fan of)). Why is it that I feel like I fit in more when I was the only white girl in a school of 3,000 Thais than I do here?

Even before I left for Thailand, I didn’t feel like I completely fit in here. And honestly, even then I didn’t really even want to. And now I just… really don’t want to. At least not with these people. Maybe things will be different when I head off to university? A couple weeks ago I went to an amusement park with my family.. And while we were sitting around eating crap.. I noticed that there was a group of Asians sitting at a table near us…. They weren’t Thai, but nonetheless I had this ridiculous overwhelming urge to go sit with them. Like that was where I belonged (as cheesy as it sounds..).

When people here ask me what it was about Thailand that I liked so much (because really, people here seem to think I‘m crazy to be in love with a country that is full of prostitutes and is devoid of technology… and how on could I love my Muslim family.. Since all Muslim men are evil and beat their wives?? (and really, these stereotypes piss me off more than I could explain here)).. I really don’t know what to tell them. It’s not something I could really explain. If I were to try though, I would say that a lot of the whole “mai bpenrai”.. just enjoying the moment part of Thai culture rubbed off on me. People here get too stressed out about making decisions. Everything needs to be planned and organized down to the last detail. Thailand is just so chaotic that it could never be organized. But somehow, amid all the chaos.. Thai people know how to relax.. Just sit around and enjoy a good meal. Eat somtam and khao neow until you get diarrhea (because really, somtam is so good it’s worth the diarrhea).

I watched one of my Thai movies I brought back with me last night… and it made me incredibly homesick. All the Thai things that the Thai people would do in the movie were just… so Thai. Things that I used to do on a daily basis. And now.. They’re just missing from my life.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my future lately. What kind of career I want to have… Part of me thinks I should be a hardcore student in the next few years, get a crazy degree and then settle down in Canada ((because lets face it.. I pretty much have the brain power to be a surgeon)). But another part of me (the part that realized, while in Thailand, that for the first time in who knows how long.. I was really living) thinks life is too short to spend sitting in a classroom working towards a degree. And I just feel so incredibly conflicted in my beliefs. It’s kind of a crazy time in my life…. Trying to figure out the two different sides of myself. The girl I was before I went abroad.. The kind of girl who did all her homework, was involved in a hella lot of extra curricular activities, spent all her time studying and did uber good on her provincial exams. Then me in Thailand….. I did absolutely no school work that year. All I studied was how to give Thai massages, do Thai art, Thai dance, etc. etc. But.. I think that I learned more last year than I learned during my whole high school career in Canada. Now, being back in Canada I’m faced with the decision of which girl I want to spend the rest of my life being. Or figuring out how to integrate both with one another. And honestly, I don’t know what to do. I have no answers. All I know for sure is that Thailand made me a better person (maybe a snobby, thinks she too good for everyone else type of person (at least that’s probably how people her perceive me)) and I don’t want to ever forget the journey I went on to reach this point.

Maybe I’ll let you know how things turn out in a few years.. But for now, I think this is it.

Take Care Na,

p.s. if any of you ever get the opportunity to go to Thailand in the future… go! And always remember, “ka” is for females, “krap” is for males”… if you ever encounter a squat toilet, the left hand is for wiping… leaving food in the sun kills bacteria and therefore makes it safer to eat… food is eaten with a spoon in the right hand, fork in the left hand…. And always remember to smile (you’ll be in the Land of Smiles, after all)

And NEVER say/do anything that is offensive to the King (he is practically the God of that crazy country).

วันศุกร์ที่ 19 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2552

and another month later

So I've been home for about 4 weeks now, and it's been suggested to me that I should write a blog post kind of about reverse culture shock and all the things that have been happening to me since getting home. And since today has been a pretty "I miss Thailand and being back in Canada sucks" kind of a day.. I figured it would be a good time to write this blog.

Way back last summer, when I had been in Thailand for about a month, I was starting to feel alot better about the whole being there. The food, language, people, etc. was all starting to feel familiar, and I was starting to feel alot more at home. The total opposite is true for me being back in Canada. When I first got back, it was really exciting to see my family, friends, pets, and my home all again. And although nothing much has changed around here (so you'd think it would be easy for me to just fit right back in).. I feel like I've changed. Alot.

I swear, the first thing I noticed when I was in the Vancouver airport, and for the first time in 11 months I could understand EVERYTHING that EVERYONE was saying.. I realized how much stupid stuff people actually say. At least when I couldn't understand everything I could at least imagine all the Thai people were saying intelligent things. But now it's really apparent to me how so many people just talk for the sake of talking. And I guess I have kind of become more introverted too (which is weird because you'd think exchange would make someone more outgoing).. so I'm not really keen on striking up random conversations about random things. The one thing that I do feel really passionate about talking about is Thailand.... But I quickly found out that people just really don't want to hear about it. I kind of go by the rule that if someone asks me a 3 word question ("how was Thailand?") they get a 3 word answer ("it was good").... oh, and since I turned 19 in Thailand, I came back to Canada legal drinking age (for my province). So one of the first things I did with my older sister when getting back was going to the local bar for dinner and some drinks. and honestly, it was one of the saddest sights I've ever seen (the food was good, though). We went on a Friday night, and it was just packed with all these small town locals.. and obviously this is the big thing they do every Friday night. And I know I'm not one to judge.. and if they are happy with their lives then good on them.. but it just made me really realize how much I do not want to end up like that... I've already had 2 jobs since being back.. the first one sucked, so I was happy when I was offered a new job working as a waitress at the local golf course. But honestly, I never really liked golfing type people very much, and apparently alot of the ladies who I was waitressing on had lots of complaints about the shitty service I was giving them... which kind of sucks for me, but mai bpenrai. I don't want to blame my actions on Thailand... but part of me feels that after being in Thailand for so long I've kind of become somewhat antisocial. (which also seems weird because when I was in Thailand I was trying all kinds of things I would never have done in Canada). and although I guess becoming antisocial is kind of a shitty attribute to pick up, it's helped make me realize that I really need a career where I don't have to deal with people. Honestly, I'm not a people person (again, weird for an exchange student).. or maybe I'm just not a Canadian People Person?? I just need to be a writer who lives in a little cottage in the middle of nowhere on a mountain and has about a million cats. (or dogs.. because lets face it, I'm not a cat person either.) ok, enough for now. actually putting all these things I've been feeling for the last month into words is kind of depressing. I'll update again later when things are (hopefully) looking a little more up.

วันอาทิตย์ที่ 24 พฤษภาคม พ.ศ. 2552

Home Again Home Again

So I'm still alive, and now home. It's kind of hard to describe how it feels. But I must admit the fact that I survived a year in Thailand without any major injuries or illnesses is pretty amazing. I feel very accomplished. I guess this is the end of my blog though. I feel no need to keep it up now that I'm home (however I've been told by some people that they enjoy reading my blog and I should keep it up, so maybe I will start a new one to document other exciting happenings in my life, who knows)... So I guess this is the end.... Byes for now. Cheerio. Take care na.

วันอังคารที่ 19 พฤษภาคม พ.ศ. 2552

The End.

So this is it, the last post I'll be writing from Thailand.... which, for me at least, is both a super exciting but also sad fact.... I'm gunna keep it short and sweet though because I think it's better to spend my last time here visiting with my host family and just enjoying Thailand rather than trying to type out and explain things here that really are too hard to explain... I think the only way a person could understand how I'm feeling now would be if they've been through the same exchange situation too. It's just kind of a bittersweet feeling. Saying goodbye to everyone here is shitty, but the reality is that before I can go back home and enjoy Canada again, I have to say goodbye to Thailand.... Today was an exciting day because my host mom had her baby (a girl, who I'm going to see at the hospital in about 20 minutes)... but also an incredibly sad day because I had to say goodbye to P'Beam and P'Patch... Everything that needed to be done was done... I closed my bank account, finished my souvenir shopping.. and this morning I packed my suitcases, changed the tags on them from my address in Thailand to the one in Canada.. zipped everything up, and stood in my room with the 3 bags that contain the last 10 months of my life... Tomorrow morning my host dad will take me to the hotel for the AFS End of Stay camp where I will say my goodbyes to all of my AFS friends, and then on Thursday morning at 4 I head to the airport to begin the journey home. The strangest thought occured to me the other day. I was talking on MSN to someone from back home in Canada, and I off-handidly (is that a word?) told them, "I will be home next weekend." and then it hit me.... I will be home next weekend. I can't even begin to explain how that one sentence makes me feel..... I will be home next weekend.

วันเสาร์ที่ 16 พฤษภาคม พ.ศ. 2552

322 Days Down... 5 To Go

Last night was my farewell type party thing with my host family... although I must admit it was just about the strangest farewell party I've been to. At first I thought it was just my host family taking me out for dinner, but when we got to the restaurant I saw that my Coordinator and Advisor were there (along with the vice principal lady from my school), which to be honest I wasn't too thrilled about.. mainly due to the fact that I haven't talked to either of them since March (I was also a little dissapointed in the fact that they both forgot my birthday...) But, it ended up actually being a good thing that they were there because they were the only ones who really talked to me.... A bunch of "family friends" I guess you'd call them showed up, including that whole family we went to Trat with, so my little host sister was off playing with all of the other children, whilst all the adults conversed in rapid Thai. And I was just that lone person who was too old to play with the little kids, and too young to fit in with the adults... so I mostly just sat there and talked to my Coordinator once is a while. Apparently I have to go into school on Monday to get my AFS Certificate or something, which kind of blows because I was supposed to be going to this amusement park in Bangkok with P'Beam on Monday... so I'm kind of pissed that my Coordinator didn't tell me about this sooner, or else I could have made plans to go with P'Beam sometime earlier this month........... So anyways, I was just sitting there feeling a little bored with no one to talk to, also a little bummed out about the fact that it was my farewell party and soon I would have to say goodbye to everyone for who knows how long. Then my 2 host aunts showed up carrying a cake, and I swear the thought that went through my head was, "awwe how sweet of them to get me a cake." Then I realized that it was actually my Advisor's birthday, and the cake was for her.... then we went home....

And today I stayed at home again. I was planning on going swimming with my host sister early this morning... since she asks me to go with her every weekend but I'm either already busy or am too lazy to wake up at 5 to go swimming.. but I figured since this was my last weekend here I should go... but then for some reason we just didn't go... I had my alarm all set for early in the morning... but when it went off nobody else was awake in the house.. so I sat around and waited for them to get up until 7.. and they didn't. So I just went back to sleep. Spent the rest of the day just kind of bumming around my room.. thinking about the fact that I should be packing... kept on looking at my suitcases which were laying all open on my floor, but came to the conclusion that there really wasn't much more packing I can do since I still have to wear most of my clothes.... In the afternoon I made a slideshow type thing on my computer with a bunch of pictures from my year in Thailand.. since it's too long or whatever to upload it on here, I uploaded it on youtube.. you can find it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqlXxOJvwQU and while I was working on that, my crazy old host gramma just kind of came into my room, sat down on the floor in the midst of all my packing.. started looking through all my crap (she was rifling through my underwear drawer.. looking through all my boxes, etc).. I didn't know what to say to her, mainly because she is old and kind of crazy to begin with.. but also I didn't know how to ask her what the hell she was doing (in a nice, polite way of course) in Thai... so I just kind of sat there and looked at her through the corner of my eye. Eventually she zipped up all my suitcases and pushed them to the side of my room and said something about now I would be able to walk through my room... which I guess makes sense.. but I was in the middle of packing and I'll just have to unzip my suitcases and bring them back out into the middle of my room again...

Anyways, hope you guys enjoy the video...

วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 14 พฤษภาคม พ.ศ. 2552

Angels & Demons

Today the best thing that could possibly ever happen happened. And trust me.. the chances of you guessing what exactly that was are most likely slim to none... so I'll tell you... This evening whilst Patch and I were walking to the van station, after a lovely day at the Mall, we were just walking along, chatting and what not, when we both smelled the most glorious smell in all of Thailand and had to stop, back up a couple of steps, and investigate the matter. And to our amazment, right there in the middle of Minburi Market was a stall set up selling burritos!! Seriously I have never once seen a burrito in all of Thailand, and apparently neither has Patch.. but she used to eat them all the time in America. So purchasing of the burritos ensued.. followed by the long van ride home while our mouths watered in anticipation for the food neither of us have eaten in far tooo long. And not even exaggerating, that burrito was amazing. Best thing I've eaten in forever.... and really, I am a lover of Thai food (esepcially not that I can eat real spicy things like all the Thais) but I swear that when I get back to Canada I am never eating rice again for many years.... I actually sent my mom a list of things I need to eat when I get back to Canada.. I forget everything that was on it, but the gist of the whole thing was mainly bread, cheese, salad, tea, etc...

Today was spent at the Mall (probably the last time I'll ever go there) with Elli and Patch.. we went to see Angels and Demons. The three of us had been looking forward to seeing it ever since Patch lent me the book which I then lent to Elli sometime last year... So we all made plans to go see it together on the opening day (today). The movie was good, but personally I liked the book better. And I know that usually books are better than movies.. but since I discovered that The Davinci Code movie followed the book pretty much to a T, I figured the same would be true for Angels and Demons. However there were alot of differences, which I guess were made for the sake of saving time in the movie and what not.. but personally I just liked the way the book gave alot more background information so that the whole thing just made more sense. Not to mention the fact that I somehow ended up sitting next to the most annoying girls in the history of annoyingness. I have no idea where they were from (they looked Asian, but weren't speaking Thai or any other language Patch could recognize)... but for some reason they seemed to think it was okay to have whole conversations while the movie was going on. And they weren't even trying to whisper or be quiet about it. They were just full on talking.. and when the movie got loud during action scenes or whatever, these girls started speaking even louder. And then the one girl also had the annoying habit of repeating half of what was said in the movie. I'm all for people being into movies and "ooohing" and "ahhhing" at all the right times... but you don't have to repeat the dialogue for everyone to hear. I just hate how people like that can ruin a movie experience....

And in other news, in 1 week from today I will be on my way home :) 10 months down. 7 days to go.

วันจันทร์ที่ 11 พฤษภาคม พ.ศ. 2552

Afghan and Packing.

You'll never guess what I did yesterday.... Firstly I finished my afghan. Remember, the one I've been working on since September? Well I casted off yesterday, all I have left to do is sew all the loose bits back into the main afghan. And then once I'd finished that, I spent half of the day packing up all of my crap. Although I felt like I was being fairly productive at the time, it kind of sucks now because all my clothes are in suitcases.. which means I'm gunna have to un pack them to wear them.. and then just pack it all back up again before I leave. On the more positive side though, I was able to sort through the rest of my crap and decide what things are staying and what things are leaving. It turns out that over these past 10 months I have somehow accumulated sooooo many clothes that I think I'm going to have to leave about half of them here. Which is okay, because I still have a whole wardrobe in Canada so I'm not really in desperate need of clothes... and also I can maybe leave them here with someone who is in need of some clothes... Anyways, here is a picture of my afghan all layed out on my bed.