A year ago, I hopped on a plane to Phetchabun, a small town in the heart of Thailand that neither I nor Google near anything about. When I arrived, I was completely overwhelmed. I actually bought my ticket home just so that I had something to look forward to over the next four months.
Eventually though, I lost interest in my countdown and forgot all about it. Before I knew it, Phetchabun was becoming home. My daily walk to school involved so many smiles, greetings and even offers for a ride to school. I had my own fruit lady, pad Thai guy, and found an array of night markets to peruse.
When I arrived, I was completely overwhelmed and bought my ticket home, just so that I had something to look forward to.
I also felt as I had gained a huge extended family, especially within the students of my new school. To start off, they are all insane! But seeing all their smiling faces and all their attempts to tell me a joke really made me glad I stuck it out and got to know my little crazies a lot better. It actually helped me become a better teacher. (Probably the biggest advice I could give if you are considering teaching in Thailand is to just expect the unexpected and learn to go with the flow.)
Of course, when I decided to teach in Thailand I was expecting to be on one of their gorgeous islands because that’s really all you hear about from anyone who has been to Thailand. I began to explore the area with all the new friends I had made and started to realize the area I was in couldn’t be any better. I was surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges, sunflower fields, national parks and enough waterfalls to chase a new one every weekend. It’s also a very convenient location to explore other provinces; usually the gang would leave after school on a Friday and come back Sunday night from our little adventures.
Thailand has the bluest blues and the greenest greens my eyes have ever seen. I feel that living in this unknown region, which is unexplored by tourists, gave me an incredibly enriching experience. I’ve never felt more free in my life. Seeing how happy Thai people are and how incredibly generous they are truly awakens you to see that this world has so much more good than evil—and that you can help create more goodness.
Every time I travel I seek to learn and become a better citizen of the world. Thailand has done that and more. I’ve learned so much in the short year that I lived here and I will forever be grateful for this experience; and the beautiful smiles of the Thai people will always be etched in my brain.
Now, the school year is nearly finished and it's time to move on to my next teaching adventure in Taiwan. My time here has gone by so fast, but I have so many amazing memories looking back. So I pack my bags with a heavy heart to leave this land I ended up loving so much—but I have hope that Taiwan will be just as awesome.Add this article to your reading list