The Reasons Why I’m Going Home

Okay guys, I have been doing some serious soul-searching lately on what to do when my English teaching contract ends in April. Should I stay, should I go, what I will do if I go, where will I go next if I stay?
I came to the conclusion to go home, and here are some of the reasons why:

1. Thailand is known for not being the best place to save money, and it’s true, I’m way better at saving money in Canada.
2. I’m reluctant to live in another Asian country for another year after my current contract is over. I’m sure I could do it, but it’s not what I want right now, to my own surprise. I expected to want to go somewhere else.
3. There is more opportunity for me to contribute in the ways that I want to, in my own country. I’m personally finding it to be quite expensive to volunteer for causes I’m passionate about, all the while not making much money on the side teaching. Having to return to the high cost of living in Canada looms over me.
4. My goal to teach ESL is not dead if I go home. My goal was always to eventually return to Canada with enough experience to teach ESL to adults in Edmonton or Vancouver, where many refugees and immigrants seek settlement and support. I can find work in Edmonton and volunteer to teach ESL and use that to gain employment in the future.
5. I miss my community. I love Thailand and its people, but I miss my own as well.
6. I have nothing to lose by going home, and as long as I’m healthy and set up right, I can go overseas again to explore and/or to teach English, making more money this time. My current time frame does not adhere to the amount of time it takes to get to Japan or Korea. I considered teaching in China because it takes less processing time to get there, but for some reason the more I think about it, the less I want to live there. I would love to visit though.
7. I feel a pull to go home and be closer to the people I love. Home, or family, is more important to me than ever. Thailand is a very family oriented place and I’m seeing for the first time that it’s okay to let go of a need to be 100% independent from your parents. Before I moved here, I admit that I judged others even if unintentionally, for living with their family as young adults. I now see this differently, and value the benefits of family support for overall well being in a different, better way.
8. I’m curious as to the opportunities that await me in Canada after having gone through extensive personal growth.
9.  I think I’ve been away just long enough that I should be able to handle the reverse culture shock of going home relatively well.
10. I have noticed that among the teachers I have met and spent time with in Thailand, they seemingly have something in common; home isn’t their home country anymore. I love Canada, but I do feel that the longer I stay away the more distant I feel with what I consider to be my home or what it means to be home.


To any travellers or people who work away from home, have you ever struggled with the decision of whether or not to go back home? Has the meaning of home changed for you throughout your life at all? While you were away? I would love to hear your thoughts or stories.

My Mother Would Not Approve…

When I was a child, and all throughout my teenage years, my parents instilled in me that if ever I was in a situation where ‘mom n’ dad’ would think it unsafe, that I should leave or stop what I’m doing. To be honest these words of advice have managed to keep me out of a lot of trouble and have given me, for the most part, a healthy conscience.
..Until I moved to Thailand. Most of what takes place here and what I do, my mother would not approve of.
Sometimes you don’t realise how truly sketchy something is until it’s too late and already happening. My mother’s face literally flashed before my eyes in disapproval as I was sitting in the middle of two other people on the back of a motorbike going up pitch-dark mountain roads to get to a full-moon party this weekend. The guy behind me was 6’2, I’m 6’1 and the girl driving was quite tall as well. With nowhere to put my feet, I had to flex my thighs for twenty minutes to keep my feet from dangling too close to the ground. Did I mention the motorbike was barely making it up the hills? We all had to lean forward and I had to hold on to the guy’s thighs behind me, Ron, for dear life.
But we made it to the party! And saw some amazing stars on the way from it being so dark.
On the way back, I think from the amount of weight we had on the motorbike a few hours prior, the back tire went flat.
I thought we were going to have to walk home, without Ron this time, but my friend driving said “Nah girl, get on. We’ll drive slowly”. So there we were, in the middle of nowhere in the pitch dark mountains of Thailand, alone, with a flat tire and still managing to drive back over hills and turns to our motel. We were driving at a snail’s pace and we were able to talk about our favorite places to visit in Thailand the whole way back. I was impressed at how smoothly we were handling the situation.
When we pulled up to the motel, our friends thought we were heavily intoxicated because of how wobbly the motorbike was from the flat tire.
The next morning, I found myself awake before everyone else, as is the norm. I got up, went outside, and drank some water and read my e-book that I can never seem to ever finish, The Great Gatsby. Around 9:00AM I started getting antsy and decided to go on a coffee search up the road.
As I slowly made my way, I noticed that nothing was open, so I turned around, disappointed, and decided to walk back to the motel. There were three Thai men sitting at a table drinking beer as I walked by the closed coffee shops. They were laughing and listening to music and said hello. They asked me what I was looking for and they found someone to open up the shop for me to get an iced coffee. I thought to myself, how kind! When I paid for my coffee one of the men waved and said ‘friend! Sit!’.
I was slightly reluctant but smiled and sat anyway.
They offered me beer and I accepted. It was 9:30 AM in the morning but hey, whatever.
For the next hour we shared beer and cigarettes and serenated each other with songs from Adele, Maroon 5 and Beyoncé. It was incredibly random and absolutely wonderful. We both knew very little of each other’s language but it didn’t stop us from spending time and laughing together.
They were drinking because they were waiting for a bus and had a 4 hour drive ahead of them. Their plan was to visit a city called Udon Thani and they invited me along. To be honest, I was tempted! But I explained that I had plans with my friends that were still asleep.
When my group of friends  went their separate ways for the day, me and another girl decided to stop for some lunch on or way back because it started pouring rain. Motorbikes, mountain roads and monsoon-like rain are not a good combination. We had plans to go visit a temple but were now unsure with the sudden weather change. After lunch we were getting ready to leave and it started to downpour rain again. So, we sat our asses back down and cracked open a beer. We sat there in a quaint Thai restaurant and talked for over three hours until the rain subsided and then finally continued on get back home to Phetchabun.


What a crazy weekend. There is some more to this story but I won’t bore the world with all the details.
At the end of the day I was very entertained with how the mishaps of the weekend were what made room for the most wonderful and memorable moments. Maybe as in life in general, but I find myself reflecting on how a person absolutely has to be willing to roll with the punches, have an open heart, and appreciate the little things to live in Thailand and get the most out of it.
Even if more often than not, my mother would disapprove ;).

It’s My Way or The Thai Way

I’m sorry for the terrible blog post title, but the pun made me chuckle enough to publish 😂.

Thailand is an interesting, beautiful, disorganised and at times very frustrating country to work and live in. And yet, after three months of being here, I’ve noticed myself adapting and changing in ways I was not expecting to.

For instance:

  1. I no longer think about speed limits. I just drive the speed I’m comfortable with. In fact, the speedometer on my motorbike doesn’t even work.
  2. I expect people to cut me off and no longer get angry when it happens. Back in Canada someone cutting me off could ruin a good mood or make a bad one significantly worse.
  3. I forget to put my seat belt on in cars. NOBODY wears a seat belt, even small children. Unless… the car infuriatingly beeps until  you put it on. Sometimes I snap myself back into safety mode and buckle up, but not as often as I used to.
  4. Driving on the left hand side of the road is a no-brainer.
  5. Sitting on the back of a motorcycle with two other people barely makes me nervous any more. But it still really burns my thighs. My legs are long and have to dangle without my feet touching the ground! I can compare it to feeling like you’ve been downhill skiing and your legs are ready to give-out half way down a steep hill.
  6. Ice cream at 10 in the morning isn’t that weird. Kids even eat it for breakfast on a regular basis. Rotten teeth are also the norm (not for me! I brush!).
  7. Frequent last minute class cancellations used to bother me. The longer I’m here, the better I am at shrugging it off. 🙂
  8. I no longer get annoyed with people staring at me.  I just ignore or smile back and it works every time.
  9. Cooked vegetables in any kind of sauce make me incredibly happy. They’re hard to find.
  10. I shower every day and wash my hair every day. Call me gross but I didn’t find this to be entirely necessary on a daily basis back in Canada.
  11. My spicy food tolerance is much better!  I prefer spicy food now, actually.
  12. I think more often in Baht than Dollars when making every-day purchases.
  13. I don’t walk anywhere I don’t have to (It’s so damn hot). I use my motorcycle to go just down the street because I can.
  14. I’m curious about foreigners I don’t recognise!!!! I get it now! That’s what people think of me!!
  15. I’m a pro at carrying hand sanitizer and tissue paper almost wherever I go. There’s never any toilet paper or soap in bathrooms. Ever.
  16. I now shiver in 20 degrees Celsius
  17. 3 in 1 crap coffee is my go-to and I used to think it was disgusting (because it is, what’s happening to me?)
  18. I expect appointments and anything involving standing in a line other than in a grocery store to take hours.Because it does.

There you have it, some things that I’ve noticed myself doing almost automatically now. I think it’s pretty interesting, funny, and I’m curious to see what effect this will have when I eventually go home or some other place. 😉

What was I thinking?

How often do you ask yourself this question?

Ever since I moved to Thailand, I ask myself this question quite often. For better or for worse,  I ask myself this particularly often when lesson planning. It usually happens once a day when  my ‘plan’s execution is a complete and utter disaster.

Like today for instance. I thought it would be a fine and dandy idea to form a circle with my kindergarten class and practise the alphabet and flashcards for 15 minutes.

What was I thinking?

15 minutes is way too long. That class, from what I have learned, can practise things no longer that 5 minutes at a time unless it’s made into a game. They ran around the room and lost all focus, and I lost all classroom management from being flustered. Games are challenging to play when you have limited resources and language to use for explanations.

I had the same class in the afternoon and tried to play a game that ended up taking half the class to set up.

What was I thinking?

In other words, today was hard.  I thought I was being an efficient planner when I wasn’t.

On days like today, when I barely have the energy to do anything else but sleep after work, and nearly every class has been a flop, I ask my self what I was thinking in deciding to teach  ESL kindergarten.

I’ve worked with people from all walks of life. Most of my experience has been spent in the non-profit industry. I have worked with organisations to alleviate poverty in communities, for organisations that support individuals with disabilities,with charities that pair adult mentors to children, and I have worked in challenging work environments such as homeless shelters.

But I have never, in my life, worked directly with children. And for some reason I thought it would be a good idea. Or that I would be good at it.

What was I thinking?

With all that being said, I’m not giving up, and I don’t mean to complain. I’m thankful for the opportunity to improve my skills.

At the end of the day, my goal is to teach adults ESL. If I can get the hang of kindergarten, I can do anything. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

After all, I’m truly a beginner and have no prior experience. I work in very unstructured environment with 6 different classes of 35 five year old children who know very little of the language I use to teach them.

Maybe I should give myself credit for simply showing up.

On another positive side, it’s the end of the semester at my school (which means I get a month off to go exploring the country soon, yay!). This morning, my classes were all dressed up in their graduation gowns getting ready to take photos. They were adorable and very excited.

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The Little Things

I’m still working on my confidence to write longer posts. So for now, they might be limited to lists and photos.

With that aside, I want to briefly talk about the little things. They have always mattered to me and I’m very aware of them. Living abroad has a lot of challenges but here are some little things that make me happy and grateful on almost a daily basis.

Such as..

1. The constant, incredible sunrises and sunsets.
2. My free time. I have a lot of valuable time to myself that I cherish to be able to reflect and remain productive and creative
3. Finding Scooby-Doo or Looney-Toons on Thai cable TV and watching it anyway despite not understanding the words

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Thai Looney-Tunes

4. When another teacher gives me candy because they bought a bunch for their students
5. Having my neighbours ask me to sit down and hang out with them. It’s not always easy to connect with people with such a heavy language barrier.

Friday Night Hangout.
The neighbours feeidng me! 🙂

6. Finding food under 100 baht that I actually want to eat. I’m still adapting to Thai food and western food is triple in price

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Spicy fried chicken. Delicious and 30 baht. SCORE!

7. Finding mango and sticky rice from a street vendor
8. Devouring such mango and sticky rice
9. Having some other, usually Thai person, cut the mango for me, as I am truly inept with a sharp knife
10. Coming home once a week to my apartment having been cleaned by the landlady
11. Noticing that my own cleaning is paying off, as there are less ants crawling around my apartment. (They used to be in my bed).
12. Being told last minute that it’s a long weekend. This happens quite often, there are many holidays in Thailand.

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Long weekend adventures in Loei with some new friends

13. Seeing my students in a grocery store and having them say hi to me excitedly 
14. Checking myself for strange rashes and realising there are none! (I had a skin infection for over a month, it was f*cking terrible)
15. Feeling like a champ when I do something new in class and it works. There are just as many if not more times where the opposite happens!
16. Kids hugging me to the point of almost suffocation. 🙂

What little things brighten your day?

P.s -> Random titbit:

My friends that were born and raised in Thailand told me that when they were children, there was a story that parents and teachers would tell them about the moon. The story was about a rabbit because in Thailand, the dark spots that are seen on the moon look like a rabbit. The neat part of this is that the moon in Canada, where I’m from, is seen from a different angle, so the moon has never had a rabbit on it for me!

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Rabbit Moon in Thailand
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Moon seen from Canada

 

 

 

10 Things I like About Living in Northern Thailand

1. I enjoy the simplicity of my mornings. I get up at 6:00 am. I slowly wake up and make my coffee to the birds chirping and the roosters..roosting? I watch the sun rise over the mountains as I get ready for my work day, or any other day.

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2. I love zippin’ around town on my motorbike. Despite the safety risks, I find it to be a very efficient and fast way to travel around my city and it’s cheap on gas. For longer trips, there’s always the bus.

3. The bus system! I can book a ticket whenever I want to go wherever I want in Thailand for a pretty reasonable price. The bus seats are comfortable, makes stops every few hours, and they give you snacks. Oh, and everyone is really quiet as well, which I appreciate.

4. In the specific area that I’m living in, Phetchabun, yes, it gets very hot, but the mornings are quite cool. I know that it’s probably tough on my immune system to constantly adjust to temperatures, but I enjoy waking up to cool air and easing my way into a scorching heat by the afternoon. By nightfall it’s cool again.

5. The cheap beer. Thai beer is also unregulated so sometimes you get a little more tipsy than anticipated.

6. The quietness of my location. There isn’t much hustle or bustle here aside from the odd long weekend traffic or festival and I’m very much okay with that.

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7. That 99% of the time, Thai people are quite friendly and very helpful.

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8. The opportunity to always be immersed in a new culture and language that I have to adapt to. I love the learning process.

9. Mountains, waterfalls and National Parks are everywhere and not too touristy.

10. There are very few foreigners here, as the city I live in is quite low-key.

Start a Blog. Check!

Hey folks,

I’m Jennifer, I’m 25 years young on the 24h of February.

I was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and spent 10 years in Alberta, Canada. I have very strong ties to the prairies, mountains and ocean.

About 8 months ago I left a relationship, quit my job, and decided to go overseas to teach English in Thailand. It has truly been the adventure and challenge of a lifetime and I can only imagine what the future holds for me.

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a long time but never got around to it. Being abroad has taught me a lot about myself and how to take initiative. So this is me, taking initiative with a blog!

This blog is about travel but it’s also simply about my life and the observations I make on a weekly basis. Food, philanthropy, culture, language and art are all things I’m passionate about and plan to write about here. I hope you enjoy being part of the journey, and thanks for stopping by :).