Living in Limbo

This feeling has become all to familiar to me. The feeling of not belonging. The feeling of leaving a place that was once strange and unfamiliar, but over time became home. The anxiety of heading to another new place to make new friends, have new adventures, build new bonds, explore a new culture. It all seems so exciting in theory, but when you’re in limbo, that’s when thoughts of home come flooding in. The little voice in my head that keeps telling me how much I miss my family and friends. That here I’m just a wandering soul with no real place to call home. It’s hard to fight these thoughts, but I know what I’m doing is what’s best for me, even though it gets tough at times. The hardest part though is that everywhere I go, I’m just meeting more people for me to miss when I leave.

I feel like it was just yesterday that I came to Valladolid. Nervous because I was moving in with a family I knew almost nothing about. And now I feel like I’m leaving the little home that I’ve built, the people who have become like family to me for the past couple months. The streets I’ve walked down every day, the supermarket where the girls and I would buy fresh bread. Our daily trips to the neighborhood swimming pool. The little blue BMW that I learned to drive stick shift in. My pink room filled with Disney Princesses and Hello Kitty stickers. (Okay, maybe I won’t miss the Hello Kitty decorations). But I definitely will miss this place and this family! Spain has really made an impact on me and I have a special place in my heart for this country. I will always love and cherish Thailand also, but my experience here in Spain has been so different. Actually living with a Spanish family and being a part of the every day Spanish lifestyle really made me feel part of the country, instead of just an outsider looking in. It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget, and now I’m off to do it all over again!

I was lucky enough to find a new family to au pair for. They are also a Spanish family, but they’re moving to Ireland for a year so their kids can improve their English. Perfect for me, because Ireland isn’t part of the Schengen visa countries and I have to leave Spain very soon, but now at least I get to take a little piece of the country with me. And I can continue to cherish the words “vale, venga and vamos” spoken at least 50 times a day. But I’m still feeling out of place right now, anxious about having to adjust to a whole new family. I think maybe I’m also a little sub-consciously depressed about all the food I’ll be missing! 😂 Spanish chorizo, tortillas de patatas, tintos de veranos, alubias, jamón, and using olive oil for just about EVERYTHING. On the bright side, maybe Ireland will have more vegetables. Or anything other than meat and carbs, which is pretty much all the Spanish diet consists of. 😅

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Life as an Au Pair in Spain

So I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been super busy with the girls and then I got locked out of my account for a while 🙈 haha. I’ve spent the past couple months working as an au pair, which is basically a live-in nanny. In my mind it was only for Europeans, or French people mostly. In reality though, most families are looking to have an au pair help their kids learn English. So lucky me, I found a job after only 2 days of searching, and I thought I’d share a little bit about my experience au pairing and let you guys know exactly what it is I do. (Since most people don’t know what it is, or have only seen the movie Au Pair that came out on ABC Family years ago) First off, fitting into someone else’s family and trying to find your place isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Especially in a different country, where there’s different customs, practices, routines, even simple things like the way they eat or prepare food. (And let’s not forget the times of the meals, 9:30pm is hardly a normal dinner time back home). Being an au pair means adjusting to all of these things and having to take care of children while your at it. However there is a plus side! Your food and accommodation are paid for and you get a weekly stipend of money (not much) but it’s usually enough to do something fun in your spare time.

Noja, Cantabria

Noja, Cantabria

Most duties as an au pair range from childcare, helping the kids with English, or whatever language (but mostly English), as well as some household chores. Here’s what my day-to-day schedule looks like:
7am: my alarm goes off, I hesitantly roll over and hit the snooze button until about 7:20 when I finally drag myself out of bed and get myself presentable enough to leave the house
8am: wake up the girls (this takes a full 20 mins for Irene)
8-9am: have their school uniforms ready for them, make their beds, give them breakfast, make sure they brush their hair and teeth, prepare them “almuerzo” basically a morning snack for them to take to school
9am: drive them to school, with my awesome manual car driving skills
9:30am-3:30pm: free time for myself
3:30pm: pick up the girls
3:30-7:30pm: help them with homework, practice English with them, play games, etc.
7:30-11pm: The rest of the night is pretty much free, but I enjoy the family and my favorite part of the day is helping Bea cook dinner. I also clean up afterwards and help the girls get ready for bed
Now that it’s summer time the girls are home with me all day, so we spend time practicing English, going to the swimming pool, and I do more household chores like preparing their meals, cleaning up the kitchen and tidying their room, helping with the laundry, and other things like that.

The girls in their American jackets, celebrating the 4th of July!

The girls in their American jackets, celebrating the 4th of July!

I’ve honestly really enjoyed my experience here in Spain as an au pair and I can’t believe it’ll be coming to an end soon already! This family has been such a blessing. You’re really taking your chances when you Skype a family one time and then buy a plane ticket to go live with them! Luckily, my family here has been amazing and they made it very easy for me to adjust and become “part of the family.” I connected with my host mother right away and I love spending time with her! We have a similar sense of humor and can talk about so many things, although sometimes we need the help of google translate! Toñin, the father, is also really cool and has so much knowledge about so many things, he is always teaching me something new. Bea, the oldest girl who is 9, is very smart and speaks a good amount of English. She loves learning and loves speaking with me in English. Irene, the younger girl, is 8years old and wouldn’t talk to me for the longest time because she hates speaking English and has a hard time understanding it. She has come so far though and will try her hardest to have conversations with me, even though it is usually 70% Spanish still. Or we all make fun of her because her go to phrase is always my name plus One English word. “Chelsea, look!” “Chelsea, help!” “Chelsea, come!” It’s progress though! , and her and I have become so much closer than I ever thought we would have, considering she hated even speaking to me when I first got here! 😂 Of course the fighting between the two girls seems never-ending also, but I can’t help but laugh at them most of the time because it reminds me so much of me and my brother when we were young. The whole, “Stop touching me! You’re on my side of the car!” are still very vivid in my memory.

Irene loves playing with my stuff

Irene loves playing with my stuff

For me, the hardest part is that although living with the family, you get a real and authentic experience of wherever you are, you also have to sacrifice a little independence. Sometimes you get homesick, or your in a bad mood for no reason at all and you just want to be alone in your room all day. Well, that’s not really possible. You can’t tell them to just leave you alone, and no matter how much you don’t want to you have a parent telling you, “Can you take the girls to the swimming pool, can you practice English with them, etc.” I’ve had my days where I’m beyond ready to go home and be with my own friends and family, but the good outweighs the bad. Being an au pair is definitely more for me than being an official English teacher stuck in a classroom all day. I still get to teach English, but on a much more relaxed level and I’m building deeper bonds which I love! I’ve even made some au pair friends from Ireland and Poland! Once you meet people doing the same thing you are and feeling the same things you’re feeling, adjusting to things gets a lot easier 🙂

My friend Deirdre from Ireland

My friend Deirdre from Ireland

Me, Bea, and Ines (the daughter of a family friend)

Me, Bea, and Ines (the daughter of a family friend)

Viva España!

I’ve eaten bread with almost every meal since I’ve been here. Bread and cheese. The Spanish are definitely doing it right when it comes to food. It’s been a week and a half now and man, my life is so different already! Coming here from Thailand is definitely a change. It’s like I’ve stepped back into the real world, but one still very different than my own. There’s still a foreign language being spoken everywhere, but in a way I find it even more difficult here than in Thailand. In Thailand, the people could take one look at me and it’s obvious I’m not Thai. So if they knew English, they would try to speak it, or I would use the Thai phrases I picked up on and even if we had to play a game of charades, the people never seemed to get upset over the language barrier. Here, things aren’t like that. Spanish people don’t have a certain “look” and most of them have pretty fair skin. So when they look at me, it isn’t obvious to them that I’m not Spanish and therefore communicating is more difficult because no one tries to speak English with me. I know basic Spanish and can understand more than I can speak, but it’s a lot different here than the Mexican Spanish I’m used to back home. I’m pretty used to living my life half confused about what’s going on though, so it’s not a big deal and I really love it here! I just started a Spanish class and the girls I’m au pairing for don’t speak too much English, so I’m learning new Spanish words every day. The weather is AMAZING coming from a country that was over 100 degrees and 90% humidity, this is definitely a breath of fresh air. It’s been sunny almost every day, but still very cool and even a little cold in the mornings. And the smells…everyone smells good. Everything smells good. I had forgotten how much appreciation I had for the way things smell because it wasn’t one of my favorite things about Thailand. AT ALL.

This tapa was named

This tapa was named “Obama en la Casa Blanca” haha

It’s become my favorite thing to do-walking around the city and enjoying all those little things like the scenery, the smells, the people and the weather, getting lost in all the streets filled with Tapas bars and old cathedrals, or sitting in the park for hours surrounded by Peacocks. An old man in the park even came up to me one day and gave me some peanuts, then showed me how to feed the peacocks 😁

El Campo Grande is famous for their peacocks

El Campo Grande is famous for their peacocks

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Just a pretty Lotus flower

Just a pretty Lotus flower

I got on the city bus the other day (because I am currently in the process of learning to drive their manual car, so I can drive the girls to school) and of course I ended up taking it the wrong way and the driver told me it would be over an hour before we got to my stop. But I wasn’t upset at all. I had nowhere to be and I loved driving around the city just looking out the window and taking it all in. I enjoy people-watching and seeing how the people change from place to place. In Thailand, the people didn’t have much money, there were monks everywhere, and the wealthy people, (well the women) still wore clothes with designs you could find a 12 year-old girl wearing back in the US. Here, everyone seems so sophisticated. The businessmen and women drink coffee outside cafes before work in the morning, the air smells crisp and clean, instead of monks you see Priests walking around, and the occasional nun. It all just amazes me. I love America and there are things I miss so much about home, but America is so young compared to the rest of the world and when I look around me here in Spain I see so much history, it’s hard not to be happy.

The city is full of buildings that look like this

The city is full of buildings that look like this

Fountain in front of El Campo Grande

Fountain in front of El Campo Grande

Santa Maria de Antigua cathedral

Santa Maria de Antigua cathedral

Entrance to the University of Valladolid

Entrance to the University of Valladolid

Plaza España-behind the globe there's a market with flowers and fresh fruit

Plaza España-behind the globe there’s a market with flowers and fresh fruit

Town Hall in Plaza Mayor

Town Hall in Plaza Mayor

Garden inside the Palacio de Santa Cruz

Garden inside the Palacio de Santa Cruz

My Spanish family has also been so nice and accommodating. I’m already started to feel so comfortable, which is something I was really worried about. It’s not easy moving to a country and trying to fit yourself into the life of a family you don’t know much about. All of a sudden, you’re a part of their daily routines, you have to get used to the way they do things and on top of that, I’m having to learn all this and learn to take care of two other people. They’ve made the transition very smooth for me though and I’m so thankful for that! The girls are great, their names are Beatriz and Irene (“Bea” and “EE-Ren-AYY”) and they are 8&9 years old. Bea had her first communion last Saturday, so I met pretty much everyone right away. It was a great experience (even though I couldn’t understand much of the ceremony) and I’m happy I was able to be a part of it. I’m excited for whatever the universe has in store for me, (especially to finally be able to drive stick shift so I can stop having anxiety about it 😅)

The family at Bea's 1st communion

The family at Bea’s 1st communion

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Thai Memories 💛

(I wrote this 2 nights ago on my way to the airport) I can’t believe it’s already over. I had no idea what to expect coming here to Thailand, what the experience would be like, how long I would stay, what amazing people I would meet. Now it feels like I’ve blinked and almost 5 months later it’s like it was all a dream. In these past 5 months Thailand has really become home. It’s what is familiar to me now, and as I sit here waiting to head to the airport I’m only beginning to realize how much I’ll miss it. The street food, fresh fruit everywhere you turn, 7/11 on every corner, stocked with anything you could ever need. Insane Thai drivers who always seem to be in a hurry on the road even though nothing every happens on time here. I don’t even notice the run down buildings, the stray dogs, or the workers watching TV at a table on the side of the street, sitting on small plastics stools while they wait for customers. This culture is so beautiful and different than anything I’ve ever experienced, even though I don’t think they understand why they do things the way they do half the time. I’ll miss the monks casually walking down the street and the people who are always ready to offer them rice and flowers. I feel like I took my last week here for granted. I let the stress of not knowing my next step in life get the best of me. (Advice for anyone wanting to be an Au pair: NEVER send a family money for any reason, I almost got scammed out of $800. You live and you learn though!) Anyways, I didn’t take the time to appreciate the last moments I would have in this country, and I had no idea I’d be leaving so soon. I’m beyond ready to experience a new culture, new food, new people, but the thing I’m scared of more than anything is letting these memories slip away. I don’t want to forget these experiences and the person that I am in this moment, because I’ll never be this person again. But every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end, right? So tonight I’m off to Spain! I’ll be Au pairing for two little girls there and even though I’m beyond nervous, half wishing my plane was head for home instead, there’s so many exciting new experiences waiting in Spain and I’m excited to build new bonds, experience a new culture, and make new memories. Wish me luck!

A Day in the Life of Kindergarten

Attempting to teach a group of 3 year olds English has already proved to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but I know it’ll also be one of the most rewarding in the end. Going from teaching Mathayom (high school) to teaching Kindergarten is definitely a change for me, but after just a little over a week, I’ve fallen in love with so many of these little devils kids. I’m basically their mom for 6 hours a day, trying to teach them English and life skills at the same time:

It’s okay Proud, mommy will be back soon!

Let’s wash our hands!

Clean up time everyone! 

What’s this? Flower! Floowwweerrrr. Good job!

We don’t kick people, Ryuka.

Please don’t stand on the chairs, Pryn!

Inside voices please!

And after a long day I go to bed singing, “Clean up! Clean up! Everybody, everywhere! Clean up! Clean up! Everybody, do your share!” Then proceed to dream about a bunch of 3 year olds hitting each other, crying, throwing things, peeing their pants, etc.

But instead of going into more detail about my day-to-day teaching experience, here’s some pictures that show just what it’s like to teach ESL to snot-monsters little kindergartners. 🙂

Arts and crafts time 

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He's confused

He’s confused

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VOLCANO!

VOLCANO!

Play time!

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Best kid ever.

Best kid ever.

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I’m guessing that’s a wink?

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Library time

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Cuddle time with Teacher Hardus

Cuddle time with Teacher Hardus

LUNCH 😛

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Phat Phat

Phat Phat

…..and the crying begins.

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Pryn washing Proud's face after she cried all morning

Pryn washing Proud’s face after she cried all morning

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He's crying more because I started laughing, oops.

He’s crying more because I started laughing, oops.

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Now me and Pukking are both laughing 🙂

andddd he's still pissed

andddd he’s still pissed

At the end of the day, even though I’m exhausted, I’m having the time of my life. It takes so much energy and patience (which I’m still working on), but by the end of this camp I can already tell it won’t be easy for me to say goodbye to these little faces.

One Day at a Time

Everything is happening so fast. My mind feels like it’s in a constant whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. I’m finally beginning to adjust, and I can confidently say that I’m happy now. Genuinely happy. I think a lot of that has to do with the friends that I’ve made. They work at the main school in town and we go to dinner together pretty much every night. We also try to do yoga together most nights also. Meeting them has helped me to take my mind off of concentrating on nothing but school and lesson planning. I’ve realized how easy it is to become so close to a group of people in such a short time. There’s such a family-like mentality because when you’re so far from home, all you have is each other. Yesterday we were all gathered around in a circle on the beach talking and playing games and that’s when I realized how lucky I am to have met such amazing people. What makes it even better is that we are all from such different places, with different accents and different cultures, but all our paths somehow crossed and brought us here together.

I’ve never heard so many different accents in my life. Emma, one of my South African friends, even sang me a song in Xhosa, which is one of their clicking languages. (I should also mention that I had no idea people still communicated with these languages, or that there was more to it than just a bunch of clicking.) She was very understanding of my naivety though and explained that there are 3 types of clicks for the C, Q, and X sounds. And yes, people actually still speak this language, along with multiple other clicking languages. It was also more beautiful than I would have ever imagined, who knew!

dinner at an all-you-can-eat bbq

Dinner at an all-you-can-eat bbq

painting with watercolors at the beach for our friend Chelsie's birthday

Painting with watercolors at the beach for our friend Chelsie’s birthday

My grandparents also came to visit this past weekend, which was exactly what I needed. It was so nice to see familiar faces and hear words of encouragement, all while having what seemed like a mini-vacation from my day-to-day life. I honestly can’t thank them enough for making the effort to come and see me. BUT…even though I feel happier than I have since I arrived in Thailand, I still can’t seem to completely let myself live in the moment. I’m constantly stressing out about the future and trying to plan things. My daily thought process looks something like:

“Should I work over the school break, or use the time to travel? Do I even want to keep teaching? But if I don’t, how will I make money? I’m so happy I made some new friends, why do they all have to be leaving already? I’m gonna need to plan a visa trip soon. If I move out I’m gonna have to buy an extra bag to pack all this food in! Where am I gonna live 2 months from now? What if I move to a town where I have to ride a motorbike?…Maybe I should go to grad school in Turkey.”

Obviously, going with the flow is something I could work on. I am making some progress though. I’ve decided to hold off on traveling and work over the school break. I’ll be teaching at an English camp for 3-7 year old kids in the outskirts of Bangkok. Since my accommodation there will be paid for, I’ll be moving out of Chumphon on March 10th. Although I do feel like I’m ready for a new adventure already, I’m really gonna miss this city and the people I’ve become so close with. It does help to know that they’ll all be going their own ways too though–some to China, some to Vietnam, and some back to their home countries. As of right now, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do after my English camp ends (see, even everyone here has their shit together more than me) but I’m trying to convince myself to just take things one day at a time and that everything will work itself out.

Mornings

I guess I should start by saying I’m not at all a morning person. I don’t normally exist before 9am and having to wake up early is one of the WORST feelings in the world to me. Okay maybe that was a little exaggerated, but I really don’t like it. There’s something about mornings that I do love though. Especially when you get up just because your body decided to, not because your alarm is blaring at you. There’s a certain type of atmosphere in the morning, no matter where you are. The smell of the morning is different than any other time of day. I loved waking up back home and drinking a cup of coffee, eating peanut butter and Nutella toast, while I stared out the huge window in the kitchen at my granny’s beautiful backyard. It’s like nothing matters at that moment, except you and your coffee. The airport is also one of my favorites. Especially, first thing in the morning. I told my friend once that I love it because it smells like coffee and the unknown. She thought it was hilarious, but it really is true. So many people coming and going whether it’s for vacation, business trips, or family gatherings. Add in the smell of freshly brewed coffee and there you have it. The smell of an airport morning.

Whenever you’re traveling, the mornings are the best part (in my opinion). You get to get up when you want and drink your coffee, or eat your breakfast while you sit and just take it all in. The cool air, the smells of the city, the food–just being somewhere entirely different from what you’re used to. Seeing all the people waking up, doing their daily routines of going to work and school, is just a feeling that can’t be explained. Here you are visiting this place for whatever reason, but when you leave these people will continue to live out their daily routine just as they did before you arrived. It’s something that has always fascinated me.

Being a part of it is much different though, it’s something so strange. Here in Thailand, I wake up I make coffee and my usual peanut butter and Nutella toast bread that I pull out of the fridge, (so I guess technically it’s the opposite of toast) and I walk outside to see the sun coming up and hear the roosters crow. I love the sounds in the morning, I could do without the roosters and the birds at 4am, but once I’m up I don’t mind. After I’m ready to go, I walk down to the main street where I wait for the school bus.

The main street in town where I wait for the school bus

This was an unusually deserted morning, there are typically many more people

It’s like I’m in middle school all over again. But I love sitting and watching everyone start to set up their food stalls, selling sticky rice and bananas, or fried pork. The streets smells of food, mixed with a little bit of smoke and fresh morning air. I see monks and backpackers walk by simultaneously. Sometimes I make eye contact with the backpackers and for a small, fleeting moment we almost have a connection. But then it’s broken by the fact that they’re passing through, and for me this is my life right now. This is my daily routine and sometimes I feel like I have nothing in common with the backpackers who are just passing through for the day. Although I’m so excited for the day when I’ll be traveling carefree just as they are, I’m thankful for this time that I actually get to experience and start to feel somewhat a part of this culture. So no matter where I am or what I’m doing, enjoying the sounds, sights, and smells of the morning wherever I am, will always be one of the little joys in life that I treasure.

Friends, Dogs, and FOOD

So I’ll admit, my last post was a little bit of a pity party. I had a rough weekend though. But bad times don’t last forever! I met some new friends last night and I feel like things are going to improve a lot from here on out. I went to dinner with the American guy from my building, and 4 other girls who also teach at his school. I think most of them are from England? I asked a lot of questions, but I think I was just overly excited to have found friends (who even live just around the corner from me) that I don’t even remember most of the things they told me. They have been living here for almost a year and they love it. They said they would take me out and introduce me to the city, so I’m very excited for that! And now that I’m over my pity party there’s a couple of things I realized I haven’t mentioned about Thailand:

The dogs

The dogs are an issue here. I have never seen so many stray dogs in my life. And I am a dog LOVER, I’d rather hangout with a bunch of dogs than people. So normally dogs everywhere wouldn’t bother me at all. In this case though, more than half of the dogs are skin and bones, missing chunks of hair, and having babies left and right. Apparently it is against the beliefs of Buddhism to spay and neuter dogs, or to euthanize them. I understand that every religion has their beliefs and that’s a line of respect that one shouldn’t cross, but I can’t help but think that these beliefs are doing more harm than good to all of these living, breathing animals. I don’t really see the positive side of it. There are, however, some organizations that have started to address the issue of both stray dogs and cats in Thailand. Rescue Paws is a non-profit organization that helps the strays on the streets of Hua Hin. They provide them with food, basic medical care and all the love and attention they need. There are also many other organizations that have been started, some of them just do what they can to help the animals, but some also provide them with sterilization even though it is still frowned upon by the majority of Thai people. I think all of these organizations are doing amazing work and I hope they will continue to make a difference in the lives of these animals.

The school pup.

The school pup.

The stray dog that guards my apartment

The stray dog that guards my apartment

Missing chunks of hair and was very scared of me :(

Missing chunks of hair and was very scared of me 😦

one of the school strays

one of the school strays

another school stray

another school stray

Oh , but the one dog that I do see everywhere–and you will NEVER find this type of dog just roaming the streets. These dogs are always someone’s pet and very well taken care of.

The Pomeranian.

So fluffy.

So fluffy.

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His mom owns a barber shop-if you couldn’t tell

They wouldn't let me pet them :(

They wouldn’t let me pet them 😦

superstar pom.

superstar pom.

The FOOD:

Coming to Thailand, all I really knew was that they were famous for their food. Almost every Thai dish contains 5 basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy. Well my meals usually contain one less than that because one of the first phrases I made sure to learn was “mai phet” or “not spicy”. I can’t even handle Hot Cheetos back home so let’s be real, there’s no way I would survive a spicy Thai dish. I loved Thai food back home too, especially the Tom Ka Gai, or chicken coconut soup. They have it here and it’s delicious, but (don’t kill me for saying this), I like it better from the place back home. I think I’m probably an exception to the rule in the case of Thai food. I wish I was more like Anthony Bourdain-who is my hero by the way. He tries everything, and boy is he living the life. I’d like to consider myself on the adventurous side of the food spectrum, but I’m no where near that adventurous. I’d prefer to stay away from the chili peppers and the mystery meat. So I usually order chicken with cashew nuts, Tom Ka Gai, fried pork and rice, pad thai, or when all else fails, my go to meal is a good plate of fried rice with chicken. That’s one thing I can confidently say is much better than back home. There’s no comparison when it comes to the fried rice. And I’m usually so excited to eat that I forget to take pictures, so I’ll update the post with more pictures later. But for now:

chicken with cashew nuts

chicken with cashew nuts

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fried rice

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Pad thai

Although it’s very cheap and convenient, I try not to eat out ALL THE TIME. I buy bread and make PB&J sandwiches for lunch or dinner a lot of the time. Peanut butter and Nutella are basically what I survive on. Oh, and these delicious little pineapple cookies.

the delicious little pineapple cookies

pineapple cookies

I think being anywhere on your own though, cooking becomes very important. I love to cook and no one wants to go out to eat by themselves every day. If I could cook while I’m here, it would take my mind of things, it’s like therapy and the best  part is enjoying the meal you took the time to create. That’s not really an option here though, I have a fridge and a hot pot, so yeah not much happening there. But i guess you win some, you lose some right? Even though I can’t cook for myself, going out to eat alone isn’t terrible, I’ve already gotten used to it, and with my new friends, hopefully I won’t have to do that as much!

Stuck.

Today started out pretty good, it’s the weekend and I feel like I can finally breathe. I should have went to the beach, but I kind of liked the idea of having no plans and being lazy all day. Also, I had to finish my final exam for my TESOL certification and attempt to plan lessons for next week. So I just lingered around my apartment, then decided to take a walk around town. I went to a little place called Montana’s (which obviously had an American Western theme). I ordered an iced coffee and fried rice. Weird combination, but I really enjoyed being there and it was the happiest I’ve felt in a couple days. After that I came back to my apartment and started to half-ass work on my final while watching Netflix. Next thing I know, it’s getting dark outside. Last night I met a Russian girl at 7/11 teaching English here also. She told me a lot of the teachers hang out at the Farang bar on Saturdays so I told her I would consider going. And I considered it. But being alone in my apartment all day, with all the thoughts constantly running through my mind, convinced me not to go. Instead I’m sitting here writing this blog post, crying about absolutely nothing. My thoughts are a constant cycle of “I’m okay. I’m depressed. I want to go home. This isn’t so bad, I’ll get used to it.” Right now I want nothing more than to break that cycle, but for now I’m stuck.

Mai Pen Rai

So I’m getting ready for my first full week of real teaching and we had a 3 day weekend this weekend so I figured what better way to relax than to go down to Koh Tao, a small island about 2 hours from here. My friend Tara was going to join me, but we ended up postponing the trip because she may have to do a visa trip next weekend and you have to have a couple hundred dollars set aside for those. Fortunately for me, I got a Multiple entry Non B visa, so I can enter and exit Thailand as many times as I want until next year. But anyways, Tara still came to the city for the weekend to visit (she lives in Thung Kha, AKA the middle of nowhere). We decided to go to the local beach yesterday and that’s when I was reminded that Thai time is a very real thing. They do what they want, when they want. You go to a restaurant, they may bring you your food 30 minutes later and it may take another 30 minutes after you eat to actually pay your tab. I’m actually getting pretty used to that, but it’s hard when it encompasses all aspects of life. We stopped for lunch then headed to where we were told the yellow songthaew (a pickup truck that has a modified cover with bench-like seating in it) would pick us up and take us to the beach. We found it without a problem, but the drivers like to take breaks whenever they feel like it. They also like to wait until the songthaew is at its fullest capacity, with about 4-5 people standing in the back, before they are content enough to drive us to our destination. So we get to the beach around 2:30pm and the songthaew driver says he’ll be back at 4. This wasn’t really what we had planned, but we figured we’d just wing it and try to ask around to see if there were any later pick up times. No one could really tell us much though, which we should have expected. After a very relaxing five seconds on the beach, we managed to miss two different songthaews on their way back to town. As the evening went on no more seemed to be coming so we started walking aimlessly down the street. I kept trying to tell myself “Mai Pen Rai” which means “never mind” or “no worries.” Thais live by this phrase and it’s basically just a reminder to go with the flow. I think it was working because at this point I wasn’t frustrated at all, I just felt like I was floating along with no direction, wondering if we’d ever make it back to the city. Then we spotted some Westerners, if anyone could communicate with us we figured they’d be our best bet. We ended up at their little tiki hut bar-type place with some French men and a very Bob Marley, hippie vibe going on. The man told us he’d call us a tuk tuk to pick us up, and that it would be about 20 minutes. We agreed and sat down to wait. After about 35 minutes and 2 more French men, we were both feeling very out of it. Everything just felt so out of place and I just wanted to be back in the city. When the tuk tuk finally came and returned us to my apartment, we were so relieved. After just being here for 3 weeks, being surrounded by French men for an extended period of time seemed so strange for some reason. Walking down the busy main street by my apartment and seeing all the food stalls, smelling the smells of delicious meat and fried rice, mixed with some fishy smells and the smell of shit, seemed comforting. Yes, it’s still very much foreign to me, but it’s starting to become a familiar type of foreign.