It’s hard to believe that five months ago I was driving to the airport to embark on my journey to teach in Thailand.
Although so much has happened between now and then, I still vividly remember everything about that day. I remember that I hadn’t finished packing until 20 minutes before leaving for the airport (which drove my mom crazy). I remember the leggings I was wearing (that I ripped the first week by walking into a barbed wire fence). I remember where we ate dinner on the way to the airport and what I ordered (seared ahi and mac n cheese). But mostly I remember the thoughts running around in my head. I’ve never admitted this to anyone, but I was questioning if my decision to teach in Thailand was the right one. I was wondering if I would make friends. I was doubting if I had what it took to be a good teacher. I was second guessing, essentially, if this was all worth it.
With just two days left until my semester comes to an end, I can tell you that I absolutely made the right decision. I made friends and then I formed friendships with people that will be in my life forever. I can tell you, with 90% positivity, that I’m a good teacher. And I can tell you, without a doubt, that it was all worth it.
While it was worth it, it wasn’t always easy.
It wasn’t always easy to find the motivation to get to work in the morning. There were days when I would have given anything for my own bed instead of the rock hard, potentially bed bug infested mattress I currently sleep on. Sometimes I’d get a Facebook invite to an event at home and I’d remember the gender reveal party I’m missing for my best friend. And occasionally, a girl just really needs a meal that doesn’t involve white rice. However, I wouldn’t change a thing. Being here has taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons and has given me some of the best memories I could ever ask for. It taught me that you don’t have to speak the same language as someone to have a relationship with them. It showed me, firsthand, just how much love a five-year-old has to give. It reminded me how lucky I am to have been given this opportunity. So I’d sleep on this mattress and eat a pound of rice a day one thousand times over if it meant getting to relive these last five months.
Now that the end of the semester is finally here, it’s a bittersweet feeling.
I feel incredibly grateful to have formed such a special bond with my students, but I also feel an overwhelming sense of sadness having to leave them. I thank God for the wonderful memories I have with them, but I dwell on the fact that in a few years they won’t remember my name. I can’t help but smile when I think about my worst behaving class running around the classroom while I’m trying to teach and it’s hard to picture anyone else attempting to control them. I am eternally grateful for the invention of cameras that allowed me to take hundreds of pictures of my students, but I am saddened by the fact, that in all likelihood, I’ll never see their smiling faces in person again.
The reality is, though, that this is life. Sometimes we have to say goodbye to the ones we love in order to pursue our passions elsewhere. It’s not always fair and it’s certainly not easy, but it’s the price we pay for living the life we do. So while my heart hurts to think about the 150 students I’m leaving behind, I take solace in the fact that I was able to be a part of their life at all.
So as my semester as an English teacher in Thailand comes to a close, I feel incredibly grateful.
Grateful for this opportunity and grateful for each and every one of my students. Grateful for the growth I have made as a person and in the direction my life is heading. Whether I’m teaching English overseas elsewhere or I’m working in a cubicle in my hometown, I will never forget the sheer joy I feel in this moment.