by Victoria Biggs (October, 2006 – October, 2010)
People often ask Randy and I why we have stayed in Thailand for over 1 year. The general, simple response is, “We love Thailand!” However that grossly oversimplifies things. Randy and I have stayed for different reasons but many of the core reasons are the same.
Randy and I found wonderful friends in each other. We both felt that it was not something to let go of lightly.
I had the wonderful and fulfilling opportunity to advance at Super English. I adore my work both as a teacher and as head teacher. Having often worked with children but never as a foreign language instructor, I felt I was only genuinely hitting my stride just as my contract was finishing. I didn’t want to deprive myself of the opportunity to become an excellent teacher. I also didn’t want to leave my students just as I was seeing (and hearing) great advancement. Randy had never worked with youth in a steady work environment. He took his time adjusting to teaching. It was only towards the end of his contract that he was feeling very secure in his lesson plans. He realized he should keep pushing his boundaries. He had never thought that speaking in front of 55 children could possibly become enjoyable, but it had. He wasn’t ready to let go of his students. There is also a lot of pride when you work with youth. Forgive the sappy/hippie mentality but you feel so much better when you know you are touching children’s lives. That happiness spills over into all aspects of your life.
Thai is really hard. Really. I am also a slacker when it comes to studying (don’t tell my students). Personally, I needed well over a year to feel good about my attempts to speak Thai. Learning a new language is rewarding but I needed more time.
Thai culture is different than Western culture. I read all the books but the best way to learn is to make Thai friends. I did that, and frankly I wasn’t ready to leave them. A year gives you enough time to scratch the surface but if you stay longer it feels like you might actually be able to understand some of Thai culture. Everything starts to seem less shocking and different and starts to make more sense. It broadens your perspective. Also when you can say you have lived in the country over one year you do stop feeling like such a tourist.
Thailand is fun. I love the freedom to go to an island on the weekend and dance until 7 in the morning. I love dancing and I will never stop wanting to watch Thai men dance. It is the most extraordinary thing. (You have to come here to see it!)
Silly little things that I wasn’t ready to live without……
- – Being chased down by 20 students shouting “Victoria is beautiful!” (I’m so vain.)
- My bicycle. I am proud to use my own power.
- Thai food. The vegetarian restaurants rule.
- My unofficial title as best ‘farang’ female pool player. (And consistently beating cocky Thai men)
- Lie. The name of the street dog that sleeps on my porch and guards my house.
- Ferry rides. My time to read. – Pleasure in the simple things, like cheese.
- The prices. So low.
- Riding my bicycle and hearing ‘good morning teacher’ from folks on motor bikes
- Sang som. Thai whiskey. You’ll understand when you get here.
- Thai music. I can’t stop dancing like a Thai man.
- Geckos, cockroaches, fist-sized spiders, poisonous centipedes. They all add a little excitement to my life.
- The smell of sunscreen year round.
- Not having cable.
- The hugs. I am now addicted.