Archive | May, 2013

What The Heck Was I Thinking?

16 May

I’m sure when my friends and family heard I was in Thailand, they imagined I’d be chilling on a beach (most likely Phuket) sipping Pina Colada, being fanned by the gentle sway of tall and green palm trees. I’d be a lady of leisure, reading all those great books I always talk about and very seldom think of those back home suffering at the dominance of British weather. If I’m being honest, yes I somewhat imagined that too, even though I knew the purpose of this trip, I hoped deep down it wouldn’t be too farfetched.

Yet, right now all I can ask myself is What the Heck Was I Thinking? Fair enough, I wanted to teach English and Thailand presented (so I thought) the least obstacles to be able to do so without a PGCE. I ruled out many non-native English speaking countries; in Europe? Too close to home. Japan? Their standard of living is pretty high, just like London, therefore EXPENSIVE. In the Middle East? Some places have a prejudice towards women and prefer long term commitment. And you already know how I feel about commitment. In Africa? Too similar to my culture. So Thailand somehow came about based on affiliations with Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Ko Samui and a much lower standard of living. As a result of my “in-depth and detailed research”, my first impressions didn’t tally with my high expectations.

WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?

I knew that Thailand is a developing country, so maybe I was tired of living in a city that fed its inhabitants with a silver spoon. Living in London, things are so accessible and convenient (except for Sunshine, which these less developed countries seem to have in abundance) so it’s easy to take for granted such privileges. Then maybe I’m here to see how the other side of the world get by and develop a greater sense of gratitude for my side of the ocean. Or maybe I wanted to ‘find myself’ and develop thicker skin by being subjected to a less convenient environment.

WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?

This aint Eat Pray Love and I certainly aint living Under the Tuscan Sun. To answer my beloveds question, “How are you enjoying Thailand?” – enjoying is the operative word. It’s hard to focus on much when all I’m bothered about is how UNBEARABLY HOTT it is. I definitely feel like I’m suffering in the Ghetto of Nigeria and I learnt the meaning of humidity. How there is sun and I’m sweating. No sun, I’m sweating. At night, I’m sweating. It’s raining and guess what? I’m sweating; dripping buckets of sweat all day, every day. All the days of sun in London in 25 years could not prepare me for one hour of this tropical weather.

'It's getting HOT in here, so you can stand under my Umbrella-ella-ella- eh'

‘It’s getting HOT in here, so you can stand under my Umbrella-ella-ella- eh’

I moved into my apartment on Monday and am yet to unpack my suitcase. I guess as I’m still dealing with the culture shock, it’s making it harder for me to settle in. My accommodation is an en-suite room, big in size, clean, has WIFI, a TV, fan and AC. (Thank you Jesus). There isn’t much to do; stay inside and die of boredom, or go outside and die of heat! However, I have a roommate and he’s a Gecko. Though he gave me a fright the first night and made me cry, we’ve come to an arrangement; he stays on the walls and ceiling and I stay on the bed and floor. We’re still testing our friendship so most moments at home consist of me watching him watching me. Monday night I went looking for food. As I don’t have a kitchen, I have to walk a bit to get some ‘Street Food’. As cheap as Street food is, much doesn’t seem appealing when watching people eat with one hand and move flies with the other. As I was walked back to my apartment, I was confronted by a gang of dogs who snarled, barked and followed me to my compound. I was so scared of being bitten that I stopped traffic in the middle of the road and had a Thai person scold the dogs, whilst I sprinted into the building. The day after that, I was escorted home by a Policeman after reporting the incident through sign language and facial expressions. For two days, I didn’t eat dinner as I wouldn’t risk being attacked by those crazy dogs. It was straight to school (a one minute walk) and straight home. Some people only have one meal a day. Thank God for lunch at school!!! *cue sympathy cries*

My lunchtime snack - Coke in a bag!! :)

My lunchtime snack – Coke in a bag!! 🙂

WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?

It’s not all bad news though. The school I’m teaching at is awesome. The teachers have been extremely welcoming and friendly, though every new teacher I meet asks ‘so you married? Oh you single!’ without the possibility of any middle option. The students are so polite and adorable. I only started on Tuesday but I’ve been thrown right in the lessons without a curriculum and it’s encouraging to see that most students have an intermediate level of English and are responsive to my teaching. They run up to me around the school and say “Hello Teacher” and bow their head on pressed palms (this is called the Wai) and I respond with “Sawadee Ka” cus I’m super cool like that.

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Si, one of the teachers has taken on the big sister role. She’s always checking up on me and taking me to my classes. Last night she even picked me up at the apartment and took me for dinner. How convenient the dogs were on their best behaviour.

Troublemakers!!!

Troublemakers!!!

Last week, I was in Hua Hin staying at a beautiful beach resort with a group of people from South Africa, Australia and the UK. We had a week orientation on Thai Culture so there were different activities planned. In the mornings we had Thai language lessons. We went to a banana/pineapple plantation, and then to the Elephant Sanctuary. We had a cooking class making Phad Thai and spring rolls and on the Friday we had a BBQ down by the beach, and I swam in the ocean for the first time. It was nice to bond and establish relationships with such an amazing group of people on the teaching English programme so it was a bittersweet moment when I left Hua Hin Sunday morning and travelled 5 hours by bus to this small town called Suphan Buri. It gets quite lonely in the evenings, but I’m sure as soon as I make more friends and find my way around, things will get much better.

Fun times in Hua Hin!!!

Fun times in Hua Hin!!!

Brighter days already, I found a KFC that’s a 10 minute walk from my crib!

WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?

Sometimes, I just sit and ask… can I really do this? For 6 months? And to think there’s people that will be here for at least a year. It’s not like when I travel to the States for 3 – 4 months each summer. This really is a hard knock life. Ok, it is similar to the time I went to Nigeria for 9 weeks and had to change my ticket after 6 weeks because I couldn’t bear it. However, it’s still early days. Who knows what may happen as the days go by. I’m tryna take it ONE DAY AT A TIME!

I really don’t know What The Heck I Was Thinking, but I do know I’m definitely breaking barriers. I’ve stepped far outside my comfort zone to the point I’m so darn uncomfortable. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s something I will understand and appreciate in retrospect. Maybe this is the place that will fix, heal or reveal. Maybe it’s the experience that will change all things that would have remained the same if not ventured out…

Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.

Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.

…until then, keep on keeping on!
Ms Tola xx

The Four Clocks

9 May

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Today I saw four clocks that represented the Past, Present, Future and What May Be. Four places I have been to and all places I am at right now. Of all faces, you chose these four.

London

This is where it all began. As I watched moments pass, I wanted to run away from it but I couldn’t take that step. Things are so familiar yet I don’t even know who I am. Long before, a journey started within me and now I’m going through life looking from the outside in. I believed there was more to life than that which I had known. There is love and there is beauty beyond the clouds of grey and the puddles of rain.

“Do you know where you’re going? Don’t even know where I’ve been!”

New York

If there was a place to really call home, my heart yearned for you long before we even met. Whether it was your astounding lights, how you captured the closeness of my expressions or the way you moved fast, beating like drums in the wild safari, I knew it was the beginning of a spark that would set ablaze the shadows of yesterday and re-kindle a love that lay dormant. We parted and said goodbye, though we both know somehow life will bring us back together like a candle that burns throughout the night.

“Concrete jungle where dreams are made of!”

Tokyo

Sometimes you have to go far to see close. You have to let go to know if there’s anything worth holding on to. I’ve been at my lowest but climbing to the highest I know it takes a step at a time. You can be in tomorrow before today has even concluded and that is a gift given to those who travel long and distant lands. Though I didn’t understand your words, you saw the determination in my eyes and somehow, I found my way. I’ve got to keep going; I won’t give up.

“Do you know where you’re going? Don’t even know where I am!”

Bangkok

Your mind speaks different words than your mouth utters and your ears hear neither but deciphers sounds from external voices. Your heart speaks faintly not wanting to interrupt the discord of communication. Then before you know it, you find your feet walking, running and stopping. You don’t really know why you’re here but something makes sense even though it’s not clear right now. How can you be found if you’ve never been lost? How can you enjoy the company of others if you’ve never been alone? How can you hear if you’ve never stopped to listen?

“I’d rather have 30 minutes of something wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special…”

I’m on 4 time zones, of 3 continents, in 2 minds, with 1 purpose! And The Four Clocks never stop ticking.
Ms Tola xx