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Surviving a Stolen Passport

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How to move on when your most precious possession goes missing.

The awfully bright day all but mocks me as I make my way back to my hostel. My joints ache with regret. My head pounds with misery. Sorrow sits in the back of my throat, pulsing away like the sun, making it hard to speak and my breath hot.

I am trudging up the stairs, sand in the wrong places, when an English lad sticks his head out of his room. I want to ignore him. I’m thinking anymore human contact today—after having dealt with the Thai police for hours now— will cause the tears waiting idle on my bottom eyelids to finally prod over, staining my sun-kissed face. Instead, I catch his eye, give him a weak smile and continue up to the fourth floor to my co-ed dormitory. He manages to stop me with this.

"Don’t dwell on it, think about it."

He prefaced this line with a story of how all of his belongings were stolen abroad, when and where I can’t seem to recall. Most likely because I was still traumatized by the fact that my wallet, along with my purse, passport, upwards of $600, medical insurance card, driver’s license and my bank cards for both Thailand and the U.S. were as good as gone. I listen to his story in the small corridor of the hostel before escaping to my twin bed, sand and all, hiding from my life under the covers.

Bad things are bound to happen while you work abroad, and being somewhere unfamiliar is going to make the situation seem incomprehensibly worse.

It took me about six hours to let his word of advice really sink in. Don’t dwell on it, think about it. Dwelling on it had left me in a heap on my bed, tears periodically flowing like that of a sprinkler system. Dwelling on it made me immobile, essentially useless and depressed for the next six hours. It took his words of advice, along with a shower, to finally put into motion what the next step was: How am I going to get off this godforsaken island with no form of identification or money?

Forget about eating or where I was going to stay for the night. Home, home home: why home? Home is where the U.S. embassy is. My saving grace. Never have I longed for the company of my apartment in Bangkok as I did that day.

For those of you working abroad and ever in need of money, money gram can be a lifesaver. I had my wonderful mother wire money to a friend of mine that lives about 30 minutes outside of Phuket, where I was staying when everything was taken from me. She simply gave them the reference number, showed them a form of identification and off she was to see me with $400 in baht to use as my lifeline.

While working abroad, you are going to come across situations where it might seem easier for your impromptu 16-hour bus ride back to Bangkok to simply not make it there. How easy would it be if the maniac driver was to cross into the wrong lane at just the right moment and all of this would be over?

Allot yourself one good cry. One disgustingly, overwhelming, I can’t breathe cry that consumes your entirety for five minutes. That’s it. Anymore crying and dwelling on the inevitable will leave you helpless, as I was, in that hostel bed.

I interrupt this blog post with the best Facebook message I have ever received in my entire life. As I am writing this, curtains drawn, the only sound the frantic clicking of my keyboard, I get a notification from a man named Ozan. First, he apologizes for bothering me, and then he proceeds to tell me he has found my passport in front of his hotel in Patong.

Bad things are bound to happen while you work abroad, and being somewhere unfamiliar with people who don't speak English is going to make the situation at hand seem incomprehensibly worse. Yet, here I sit at an Internet cafe with my passport but a mere 16-hour bus ride away from me, and my mouth turned upwards.

You will get things sorted. You will fall over and over again, stumbling over the many challenges working abroad throws onto your already treacherous way. You will be, at times, both physically and emotionally, bruised and battered past the point of getting up. The question is will you get up again?

Remember that thing about allotting yourself one good cry? Let me rephrase: you are allotted one good, I-feel- sorry-for-myself-cry. When tears of joy involuntarily spill, by all means, let them be.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Kelly Iverson

Although Dorothy was quite content, Kansas was no place like home for native Kelly Iverson. After studying abroad, she returned with an itch for travel no amount of scratching could alleviate. She lives in Bangkok, Thailand, where she teaches English.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/KellyJIverson/

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