Writer’s Block

Alright! I’ve been wanting to, and have been trying to write a post about several things for at least two weeks. For some reason I haven’t been able to. I start and then feel frustrated or unable to put into words what I’m trying to express.I have half a dozen half-ass written posts saved to my computer but nothing I feel valuable enough to share with you. This is bothering me because I want to be consistent with my blog not only for myself, but mostly for my readers. To get the ball rolling again so to speak, I’m going to share with you an e-mail that I sent to a dear friend last night about how things are going in Thailand. The flow of my writing felt a lot more relaxed, maybe because I knew I was writing to only one person and not a wider audience.

Hopefully I’ll be able to shake my blog posting cold feet soon and get back to you with some cool stories and reflections about my time in Thailand.

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Here it is:

“Sandy!

I hope all continues to be well with you!

I’ve had this e-mail written with the intention to send it to you for a day or two now. The internet in my room isn’t working so I can only send e-mails and texts from my office in school or someone else’s wifi hot spot and I genuinely tend to be forgetful/scatter brained during the day. I apologize for the delay.

However! I’m truly so glad things are coming together for you and your book and I think the cover looks great. There are so many resources available if you search hard/long enough eh? And for only 81 US, that’s not too bad at all. I’m so proud of your persistence and courage. Chapter 7 afterthought looks great. This additional research based insight is going to be really valuable to your readers and overall success of your book. I think it really puts your story into perspective for the reader as well. How are things going aside from your book?  Is spring looking promising? Snow going away If there was any? 😛

I miss B.C, especially the island. What I would give to take my last year’s trip again.

I’m missing home in ways and in others I’m not. I’m really starting to get comfortable here.  I’m getting used to teaching, the pace of life, finally liking the food, learning to speak the language, and getting more involved in the community. Some of the closest people in my life right now, even more than those in Canada aside from family, are Thai. And for that reason alone it will be quite difficult to leave.

But, I’m eager to see what will happen next. I don’t think I’ll be going abroad in the fall like I initially planned. I was, however, offered plenty of jobs to replace the one I have now, which is good to know if ever I were to return. With the amount of free time I have to contemplate my life and goals right now, I’m seriously considering going back to school for environmental science. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and have been passionate about despite my social science degree, but was scared shitless of math. With having been in Thailand and from what I’ve learned of my capabilities, I know I can do anything I set my mind to if I want it badly enough. I’m feeling brave and might go for it. We’ll see.

It’s surreal that I’ll be leaving in a month. I cannot put into words how quickly time has gone by. I have even fewer words right now to describe the experience as a whole, because there’s simply so much to say and so many emotions involved.  A lot of teachers I know finished their contracts last week and have moved on to different pursuits at home or to different countries. The last week or so has been full of goodbyes, self-reflection and a little exhausting. Things are good though. I appreciate every day even more knowing I’m leaving.

Work is slow and to make up for it, I’ve been helping other teachers with high school teaching and I’ve taken up weekend work which extends my experience and helps time go by. There is only so much I can do on my own time in +40 and 80%+ in humidity. The heat is debilitating and rather ridiculous, not to mention April coming up being the hottest month of the year. Although, through experimenting with teaching different ages, I have come to absolutely love teaching grade 2 and 3. If ever I go abroad again, that is definitely the age I will be teaching. And I can’t wait to volunteer my time to ESL learners in Canada of any age.

My official last day of teaching will be April 7th, which is coming up really quickly. On that day, a Friday, I plan on taking a bus to Chiang Mai and then to Pai. I’ll be there for the water festival from the 13-16th  which is supposed to be a lot of fun. Apparently Chiang Mai is an amazing place to be during it, and low and behold I’ll be there out of coincidence. I only have my first week of hostels booked so that I can be flexible on my plans that will inevitably change. After spending time in Pai and Chiang Mai, I’m going to go back to Phetchabun to pick up my bigger luggage that is staying with a friend. From there, I’ll head to Bangkok. I’ll meet my uncle there and explore the city with him for a few days before I head back to Canada on the 28th of April. It’s pretty special that we get to meet, as I haven’t seen him in quite a few years.

I think I mentioned this to you before, about the possibility of taking the train from Vancouver. Well, I am!! A friend is meeting me in Vancouver. We are going to spend a few days in Vancouver and take the train on May 2nd to Edmonton, where I’ll visit with my sister for two days and have my parents pick me up that weekend. What an adventure, and the train was only $177.00.

As always, I’m thankful that we continue to keep in touch. ❤

Take care and we’ll talk again soon,

Jennifer”

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.

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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