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First Everything

Sawat-dee kah!

First Thai tea. First motorbike ride. First year-long mourning period. First blog post. It feels like everything I do in Thailand is something I've never done and probably wouldn't do in the States. When I applied for this job in Thailand, I loved that it was so brave. Moving across the world all by myself got me a lot of "Wow!" and "Really?! That's so cool!". And I loved the attention, honestly. But now that I'm here, I know that talking about being brave is easy. Being brave is hard.

I guess I'll start by introducing myself. My name is Chloe, and I graduated this past May from a small, conservative, Christian college in Missouri (studied English). I've rarely left my state, let alone the country, so this move to Thailand has had some challenges. I'm teaching high school ESL at a school in Phetchabun (Central Thailand) through the organization CIEE. I've been fortunate enough to be placed in one of the nicest participant housing areas at what I've heard is one of the best schools in the program.

I've only been in Thailand for a week, but I've learned that when you move everything changes: your bed, your routine, how you feel about yourself, how you feel about people in your past. Everything. When you trade the people in your life who know you, I mean the ones who understand your flaws and appreciate your strengths, for people who know nothing about you and may not care to ever know you, it's hard to remember who you are. In college, people thought I was more aggressive or assertive, a leader maybe. Here, I'm the quiet one. The agreeable one. That's definitely a challenge I didn't anticipate, and honestly, it's been really hard on my self-esteem to be here because I think everyone wants to feel known or understood. I thought Thailand sounded like a paradise of beaches and coconuts, sunglasses and awesome temples, but I have yet to see a beach and probably won't until after the semester. I only wear sunglasses so the bugs don't hit my eyes when I'm on a motorbike.

So, I'm going to write an honest blog about my time in Thailand. Hopefully, my blog will reflect what it's like to live in the Land of Smiles, even during a time of great grief (The King of Thailand passed away this month) and what it feels like to trade one life of comfort and familiarity for one of uncertainty. I know I'll have some amazing experiences and see some incredible things, but as I've already learned, I also have some serious struggles ahead.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me! chloe.derks@gmail.com

Here are some photos of my trip so far (sorry couldn't figure out how to turn them the right way) but keep in mind that people only take pictures of the highs in their lives--not so much the lows.

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