Happiness is driving home from work on the back of a motorbike, the warm wind brushing your face as you look out across the sea of rice paddies and jungle you now call home as the sun dips into the magical hour of evening, painting the world bright, and you smile.
Happiness is walking from the canteen with crispy mango, dipping it into the spicy sugar mix, while your students shout "Teacher, Teacher" and wave and wai (bowing with hands together as if in prayer - pronounced way) as you pass by.
Happiness is coming home and doing laundry in your sink, in your home, humming the tune to your favorite song as you hang the laundry to dry outside and wave to your neighbors.
Happiness is coming home and immediately changing from your work clothes into your "house outfit"
Happiness is looking at your roommate in shock and awe as your kitchen floods - crying and laughing, tears and shouts bubbling uncontrollably out of you because basically your entire house is flooding and everything is going to be alright.
Happiness is your neighbor dropping a motorbike off at your house, and in the communal language of hand gestures and small words you realize she wants you to borrow it because she saw you walking home and thought you could use it.
Happiness is living minimally, eating heartily, and breathing in Thai life.
Not every moment in Thailand has been happy, not every second or minute or hour or day but when it does hit you it feels like rain, like a drought you never knew existed, filling you up and replenishing your soul. You can't stop smiling and you can't not take a moment to be thankful and of course blog about it .
Greetings far and wide from Tha bo, Thailand. For those of you unfamiliar with the province it is all the way at the very top of the Northeast section of Thailand, kissing the boarder of Laos and it's capital Vientiane. Tha Bo is in the middle of nowhere, with no one around and nothing to do but teach. Luckily I have three awesome co-CIEE participants and friends who will be sharing this journey with me.
But before we jump into life in Tha bo and my general experience abroad, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Gaby Perez-Dietz and I am from Newton, Massachusetts. I graduated from Skidmore College about a year and half ago and am now living and teaching abroad in Thailand! I am pretty excited to be blogging for CIEE and sharing my thoughts and experiences with you all over the next five months. Blogging is not exactly my strong suit but like many before me and many like me, doing this program was a lot about stepping out of our normal routines and experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity, or as I like to put it, embracing the fear. So here I am, embracing my fear of writing, of blogging, of teaching without any knowledge of Thai, of living in the middle of nowhere, of riding a motorbike and dying, of getting lost, of making mistakes, of being lonely, of never being left alone and of course, all the bugs. Here we go.....
Me eating a scorpion in Bangkok
The Crew, from left to right: Relish, Bam-Bam, Me and General Lee Thomas (Aka Lee)