Five weeks ago, I arrived in Chiang Mai to make a new home and start a new job. This past month was filled with adventure, learning, joy, and a fair amount of “oh, shit” moments.
Note that time to blog is missing from this list. To catch you up, I thought it would be fun to give you a run down of my experiences by week and “theme”…
Week one: The week of unbridled enthusiasm
In a nutshell: My enthusiasm was unbridled
The moment that captures everything: Riding my bike through the old city and realizing that this is my daily reality
Overheard saying: “I am just so happy!”
Lingering questions: When am I going to clean my kitchen? Why didn’t I bring any dresses? Is my transition really going to be this easy?
Week two: Learning at every turn
In a nutshell: I started my new job, began daily Thai language classes, and figured out how to feed myself, get around, be a host, and do laundry
The moment that captures everything: That time I realized I’d washed two loads of laundry with only fabric softener…
Big takeaway: Never leave your house without a rain jacket
Lingering questions: In such an international city, how do I be intentional about connecting with local people and culture?
Week three: This is why I came here
In a nutshell: My co-workers and I headed to Mae Hong Son province for a week to meet with our community partners, hike up a mountain, and review the field activities for the Forests course
The moment that captures everything: Hanging out on the stoop of a neighbor’s house having the kids teach us how to make paper airplanes and say Thai tongue twisters late into the night— and by that I mean like 21:00
Overheard saying: “Tableu!” [hint: the Karen greeting and word for thank you. Be careful with your tone though, otherwise you are saying “crazy”]
Big takeaway: I already love my job
Week four: The week where it feels real…and lonely
In a nutshell: I had this depressing thought that if the three friends I’d made couldn’t hang out, I had no one else to even ask. Then the thought followed me through a week of really long training while my Person was without access to the Internet.
The moment that captures everything: Walking through the aisles of the farang grocery store clutching a box in my hand while repeating out loud, “I will not lose it over goldfish. I will not lose it over goldfish.” after going to the grocery store for some goldfish (there weren’t any) at the end of a hard day
Overheard saying: “I will not lose it over goldfish.” [people nervously clear the aisle as she walks by]
Big takeaway: If you see something you want at Rimping, buy it
Week five: Sprinting the marathon
In a nutshell: In response to the week prior and my training having wrapped up, I booked my social calendar a bit too full and then hit a wall on Friday giving myself a solo weekend to reconnect and reassess my daily rhythms
Overheard saying: What are you doing tonight?
Big takeaway: Though an extravert, I do still need alone time even as—especially when— I deny myself it
Lingering questions: How do I create balance in developing community and cultivating healthy rhythms? What self-care practices do I need to dedicate myself to? When am I going to clean my kitchen?
For more beautiful, challenging, and funny moments—or really to see a lot of pictures of pretty things and my favorite drinks (read: beer and coffee)— follow me on Instagram @staceystravels