Welp, vacation is about to come to a close. For as much as I learned over this past month and am infinitely more prepared to be a teacher, this first phase has been more of a vacation than a cultural experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s probably been the most fun month I’ve had in a long time. However, real life is about to kick in. Culture shock doesn’t really hit you when you have a safety net of friends around who you can rely on to get through tough moments. That’s about to change.
Originally I was going to leave for my placement city in the north this past Tuesday (it’s Friday right now), which I was sad about because all of my friends were leaving later in the week. Plus I didn’t want to miss Tom’s birthday on Tuesday. But, since my placement city changed at the last minute, I went from being one of the first ones to leave to one of the last. With school and everything this week, there’s been so many people I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to. And as sad as that is, it’s way sadder actually saying goodbye to these people I’ve grown so close with. I’ve had to watch countless friends set off with scared looks in their eyes as they head out into the abyss. I know for sure I’ll have the same look when I leave later tonight.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve actually been away from home for less than a month. I left LA on October 3rd and it’s now November 1st. It’s probably because I’ve been more active and social this month than I really ever have. Back home I would go to work for 8 hours, hang out by myself for a while, and spend maybe 2 or 3 hours socializing with friends on most days. Here I’ve maybe spent an hour by myself each day, if that. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s allowed us to squeeze three months worth of adventures and experiences into four quick weeks. And it’s been awesome. One silver lining to the internet being terrible here is that it’s forced us to forgo our anti-social facebook/twitter/fantasy football habits that occupy so much of our time back home.
Tonight I take a bus to Bangkok and I’m meeting my agent tomorrow morning. From there she will take me the ~2 hours north to my school in Lop Buri. I’m nervous to go, but I’m ready. Plus everyone is gone now and I’m basically all alone in this giant hotel. We have a big Facebook message thread with the people from our group that’s essentially turned into a venting-over-culture-shock forum. Jayme and Andrew got to their house and had no shower… They did have a bucket to wash from though! …definitely one of the rougher ones. They’ll get a new spot soon enough though. Other people have lizard roommates in their house, skeeter nets, no 7/11’s in town, or have had jobs fall through the cracks. I guess I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope that whatever shenanigans I get put through are manageable enough.
Before I head out, I want to say to all my group members and friends that I’ve made here that I am seriously going to miss you all so much. I expected to meet some cool people during this first month, but I really did not anticipate getting so close to so many different people. We’re all so different and come from completely different backgrounds, but the one thing we all have in common is the fact that we had the stones to uproot our comfortable lives back home and voluntarily walk into the unknown. And that’s freaking awesome. We a random, eclectic group of strangers who’ve been bonded by this wild experience, and I wouldn’t change a thing. You guys are my first puak here and will always be the main one. And as sad as it is to all go our separate ways, we now have so many home-bases throughout the country that we can all visit throughout the year. I love you guys, the farang gang will ride again. Red group for life.